Tuesday, January 31, 2023 Jan 31, 2023
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Best Lists

The Best of Big D

What is the hottest dance club in Dallas? Where can you go to get your car repaired at an honest price? Who will turn out the best birthday cake in town? We scoured the city to answer these and hundreds of other burning questions to provide demanding Dallasites with the ultimate resource guide to the best of Dallas.

By D Magazine |

 

FOOD & DRINK

Best Upper Crust
The Duke of Windsor sandwich
The Duke of Windsor sandwich at the Mermaid Cafe in Neiman Marcus is one of the legacies of Helen Corbitt, the original doyenne of Dallas cooking. Lightly toasted egg bread (a step up from Ms. Corbitt’s original white bread) is stacked like a club with turkey, a slice of pineapple, chutney, and sharp cheddar cheese—rich as Midas and only available at NorthPark. 400 NorthPark Center, Park Ln. @ N. Central Expwy. 214-891-1209.

 

Best Meal on Wheels
HUNGER BUSTERS
Phil and Lillie Romano put their money where the hungry mouths are. The brains behind Fuddruckers, Eatzi’s, Nick & Sam’s, and Lobster Ranch (to name a few) now spend every Wednesday night driving to three Dallas locations to deliver free food to the homeless. Along with his core of volunteers, Romano feeds between 300 and 400 homeless people a week, and his efforts have inspired many to get off the streets and become volunteers in the program. “Mr. Phil” is currently training staff to add Monday nights to the program. Thanks to Romano, philanthropy is fast becoming a dining trend. 972-404-1126.

 

 

Best Not-Snotty Wine Guy
David Waddington
The huge selection of French wines at Sigel’s is as intimidating to some as it is enticing to others. But easygoing wine salesman David Waddington blows the cork out of wine-buying angst. Tell him what you’re having for dinner and he’ll tell you which wines will work best. Well, a lot of good wine guys can do that. But Dave is the only one we know who can direct you with equal enthusiasm to the best new single barrel bourbon or obscure microbrewed beer. 15003 Inwood Rd., Addison. 972-387-9873.

 

Best Non-Tuscan Italian Food
Cafe Italia
It’s impossible to get tired of Tuscany, but we’re getting close. There are other perfectly palatable regions of Italy we never read about on menus. We’re not sure exactly what area Cafe Italia’s Pasta Nadine hails from, but we suspect it’s somewhere near Tyler. At any rate, closer to Italy, Texas, than to the Mediterranean boot. A toss of fettuccine, peas, ham, and mushrooms in an onion-Gorgonzola pesto sauce, Pasta Nadine is homey, friendly, buttery, and comforting. 4615 W. Lovers Ln. 214-357-4200.

 

Best Guy Gourmet
Ben Helms
It’s the sexiest pick-up line we know: “How about dinner at my place?” But frankly, it’s only appealing when the prep has involved more than plastic containers and microwaves. Amateur gourmet Ben Helms has created a hands-on (the kitchen equipment, that is) series of classes at Sur La Table geared toward the man who wants to do more than boil water. Helms starts at the beginning, with advice on grocery shopping, butchering meat (instead of relationships), and selecting fresh vegetables. 4527 Travis St. 214-219-4404. www.surlatable.com.

 

Best Birthday Cake
Dolci Wedding Cakes
When requested, Tsuki Caspari-Brooks has made a cake treasure chest for a pirate party—she hand-decorated each of the chocolate coins spilling out of the piña colada-iced cake. However, as a rule, the cakes from Tsuki’s bakery, Dolci Wedding Cakes, focus on the delicious more than the decorative. The tropical hummingbird cake is moist with banana and pineapple, crunchy with pecans, and spiked with just a whiff of rum. Her chocolate and vanilla sunburst designs are made of all French butter cream or cream cheese icing. No Crisco allowed. 4681 Fairfax Ave. 214-526-1151.

 

Best ’50s Lunch
Maudee’s
Slip on a shirtwaist dress, a pair of pumps, and a pearl choker and meet your best friend at Maudee’s for a retro luncheon cup of cream of celery soup, a plate of chicken spaghetti, and Jell-O™ salad. This is ladies’ lunch fare, circa June Cleaver, and it’s a rare bird these days. 4333 Lovers Ln. 214-526-9750.

 

Best Sex on the Side
Hofstetter’s Spargel Cafe
Hot, soft, and slathered with butter. Some food is comforting; some is exciting. The best things in life are both. The spaetzle at Hofstetter’s Spargel Cafe are among the best things in life. All the cozy elements of mashed potatoes are molded into tiny, teasingly al dente, curvaceous dumplings. Mmmmm. 4326 Lovers Ln. 214-368-3002.

 

Best Martini
Rockfish
What do you call a trend that’s gone on too long? A martini. We’re tired of weird martini variations and tired of being served everything but gin in a martini glass. But the folks at the Rockfish Seafood Grill do a bottoms-up job with their Mexican shrimp martini. Executive chef Kenny Bowers’ concoction of plump Gulf shrimp is topped with extraordinary salsa—fresh tomatoes and avocado spiked with Cuervo Gold tequila and prepared tableside. 228 State St., Southlake. 817-442-0131. Multiple locations. www.rockfish.com.

 

Best By the Bucket
Jeroboam
Finally, enough French fries. The pommes frites at Jeroboam are not only fried twice so they’re golden crisp outside and tender inside, but the long, thin, kosher-salted potatoes also come in a metal bucket so you have enough to share (only if you’re feeling generous). And you don’t have to ask for ketchup—sous chef Eric Wallace makes his own, or you can eat them the way the French do, with saffron aioli. 1501 Main St. 214-748-7226.

 

Best Veg On the Run
Chipotle
No, this isn’t another bad Paul McCartney song, although the devoted vegetarian would happily eat at Chipotle. Fast food generally implies a dead animal between two pieces of bread. Even quick Mexican joints lace beans with lard and serve salad dressings with gelatin (an animal by product). Chipotle respects the diner’s right to choose, so they don’t use mystery ingredients. Instead they concentrate on fresh vegetables, flour tortillas made without lard, cilantro lime rice without butter or chicken stock, grilled vegetables, and black beans slow-cooked with herbs. Even the chips are fried in soy oil. 1009 N. Central Expwy., Plano. 972-423-5115. Multiple locations. www.chipotle.com.

 

Best Digestion Suggestion
Texas De Brazil
Eating at a Brazilian churrascaria is heavy work—on your stomach, anyway. After gorging on sirloin, beef rump, bacon-wrapped chicken, pork loin, and rack of lamb, you’ve got a lot of digesting to do. Brilliantly, Texas de Brazil serves a luscious Brazilian papaya cream for dessert. Not only is it light enough to appeal, but the natural enzymes in the fruit (often used in meat tenderizers) also help break down the meat, making the meaty meal delicious in memory as well as in your mouth. 15101 Addison Rd., Addison. 972-385-1000; 2727 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-720-1414; 101 N. Houston St., Fort Worth. 817-882-9500.

 

Primo Posto Pasta
Raviolo Arcodoro at Arcodoro/Pomodoro
It made front-page headlines in Sardinia: Efisio Farris, owner of Arcodoro/Pomodoro in Dallas, and his brother Francesco, were the proud winners of the International Best Ravioli “Ultimate Ravioli” contest. The brothers traveled to Italy to teach Aunt Maria and sister Angela how to prepare Raviolo Arcodoro—ravioli stuffed with shrimp, scallops, herbs, pecorino, ricotta, and some special ingredients you can’t find at Tom Thumb—for the final competition. Now you can buy Ravioli Arcodoro in groceries all over Italy. In Dallas, they’ll personally prepare the gold-medal dish for you at their restaurant. 2708 Routh St. 214-871-1924.

 

Best Flaming Dish
Saganakiat Kostas
This is a real eye-opener of an appetizer. Greek kasseri cheese, dipped in batter, fried, set aflame tableside, and then doused with lemon juice before you dig in. Careful or you’ll singe your eyebrows as your waiter lights up and shouts the traditional “Opa!” We don’t know what that means, but it should mean “hot plate!” 4914 Greenville Ave. 214-987-3225; 4621 W. Park Blvd., Plano. 972-596-8424.

 

Best Black Forest Cake
Fritzl’s Austrian Grill
The recipe, according to Klaus Fritz, chef/owner of Fritzl’s Austrian Grill in Garland, dates back to the 1700s. And it’s not like any other Black Forest cake we’ve ever tasted. This one must come from a different part of the woods. At any rate, it’s as quirky and original as Fritz. His concoction has chocolate cake covered with fresh whipped cream and topped (of course) with a cherry. 834 Belt Line Rd., Garland. 972-495-1943.

 

Best Pancakes
Original Pancake House
Thin, supple, and eggy, a full stack at the Original Pancake House equals just one of those puffy, overblown, out-of-the-box bogus monstrosities served in most restaurants under the name of “pancake.” The menu lists dozens of variations on the theme, but the flapjacks are the genuine article: lacy brown, slathered in butter, with real maple syrup. 5100 Belt Line Rd. 972-385-6468. Multiple locations. www.originalpancakehouse.com.

Best Chicken Salad
Central Market, Plano
This is chicken salad to remember: white meat chicken, toasted almonds, mayonnaise dressing, a touch of whole-grain mustard, a hint of honey, and a smattering of chopped dried apricots. Central Market’s Plano executive chef Jennifer Smith told us her secret is to rehydrate the apricots in sherry and add a pinch of fresh rosemary at the end. This one’s worth a drive to Plano, even if you live in Duncanville. 320 Coit Rd., Plano. 469-241-8300.

 

Best Showman
Watel”s
Watel’s isn’t the biggest or the showiest restaurant in town. And chef/owner René Peeters doesn’t have the star status of a celebrity chef. But Watel’s has become a destination restaurant nevertheless, and not just because of its much-lauded très French menu of sophisticated classics and hard-to-find “variety meats” such as brains, kidneys, and sweetbreads. Peeters sees to it that almost every week Watel’s plays host to some special activity—a wine dinner, a musical evening, or a cooking class. Peeters’ persistent and inventive scheduling means that Dallas foodies beat a path to his door. 2719 McKinney Ave. 214-720-0323. www.watels.com.

 

Best Barbeque Sauce
Dean Fearing
We’ve always said his forte was sauces. Mansion on Turtle Creek chef Dean Fearing proves us right again with his bottled barbeque sauce, a fragrant voodoo mix of sweet, smoke, and spice in an unctuous tomato base. This is the real Southern candy cookout stuff—at its best on pork or chicken but fine sauced over brisket, too. Taste it and remember we told you so. Available at fine gourmet stores, including The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Central Market, Eatzi’s, Empire Baking Co., TJ’s Seafood, and Ashers.

 

Best Pick-up Sticks
Empire Baking Company
Everyone knows their bread is the best, but Empire Baking Company also makes some variations on the subject—think of them as curlicues on the staff of life. The cheese sticks are a favorite extra: lengths of buttery dough twisted with grated cheese and baked till fabulously golden brown and crunchy. They’re great on a party tray and excellent for random noshing. 4264 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-526-3223; 5450 W. Lovers Ln. 214-350-0007; 6059 Forest Ln. 972-851-5711; 18208 Preston Rd. 972-769-1600.

 

Best Art of Food
Taco Loco Express
Santiago Peña’s sculptural metal designs grace a number of Dallas houses, including Stephan Pyles’ modern mansion. Now Peña is turning his design talent to tacos. Taco Loco Express is directly across from his gallery on Main Street. We recommend the taco a la pescada: a large, homemade flour tortilla wrapped around catfish, avocado, tartar sauce, and jalapeños. There’s no table service—just get your tacos or a bag of pork tamales and go. 3014 Main St. 214-748-8226.

 

Best Rice on the Run
Cathy’s Wok and Grill
Cooking guru, cookbook author, and restaurant owner Cathy Liu has been preparing authentic Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese food in Dallas for decades, always emphasizing the fresh and healthy aspects of Asian cooking. Her motto: we cook for your life, diet, and health. Now Cathy’s Wok and Grill cooks for your convenience, too, and delivers (literally and figuratively) more than 100 dishes before you can say, “Chicken with eggplant in garlic sauce to go.” 3948 Legacy Dr., Plano. 972-491-7267; 4520 Frankford Rd. 972-818-7667.

 

Best Cocktails
La Duni
Most modern cocktails are indestructible—even the average waitress can carry a tray of frozen drinks across a crowded room without spilling a drop. But the fruits, sugar, and exotic liquors in La Duni’s special South American cocktails are mixed—and all limes squeezed—by hand. The waiter delivers your caipirinha or mojito delicately—only two at a time. Drink it with care. 4620 McKinney Ave. 214-520-7300.

 

Best White Castle Knockoff
Balls Hamburgers
What is it about itty-bitty food? Isn’t it scary when cuteness becomes an appetizing quality? Think of Teddy Grahams, Coronitas, baby Oreos, and the all-time cult food, White Castle burgers. At Balls Hamburgers, you can buy a bag of Little Leaguers: silver-dollar-sized mini-burgers, with pickle slices as big as the patties. Little Leaguers come three or 10 to a bag and make a happy snack or meal. It’s what you crave. 4343 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-352-2525; 3404 Rankin St. 214-373-1717.

Best Family Reunion Food
Civello’s Raviolismo
Don’t be fooled by the name. Civello’s Raviolismo is not only about ravioli. Sister and brother owners Chena and Philip Civello continue to supply restaurants with unique, stuffed homemade pasta specialties, but did you know that you can stop into this hidden gem and pick up fresh tomato and cream sauces by the quart, or a killer lasagna big enough for the whole family reunion? And if you’re really nice, Civello will customize a pasta dish for your next party. 1318 N. Peak St. 214-827-2989.

 

Best Pro-Choice Wine List
Fleming’s
There are 100 reasons why you’d rather drink than eat here. Fleming’s is a chophouse chain (started by the same Paul Fleming that founded P.F. Chang’s with Bill Allen, the former CEO of La Madeleine), but the list of wines by the glass is incredible in quantity, diversity, and price. 18020 Dallas Pkwy. 972-267-3050.

 

Best Way To Get Kids To Eat Their Vegetables
GardEners in Community Development
You may not know it, moms, but Don Lambert is your best friend. Founder of a nonprofit group called Gardeners in Community Development (which supports, among other projects, the East Dallas community garden), Lambert is helping students at Dallas elementary schools plant and maintain organic gardens. Kramer Elementary has a thriving vegetable garden that teachers use as part of their science curriculum and reading programs. The garden provides fundraising opportunities and, obviously, healthy food for the school lunch table. 972-231-3565.

 

Best Cookie Dough To Go
The Festive Kitchen
You, too, can be Martha Stewart—minus the insider trading. You’ve driven carpool, closed two big deals, lunched with the CEO, and brought home the dough. The kind that counts with kids, anyway. The Festive Kitchen in Snider Plaza sells 15 kinds of frozen cookie dough to go. All you have to do is preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (Or have your assistant do it.) 3404 Rosedale Ave. 214-363-5111. www.festivekitchen.com.

 

Best Art of Food
Taco Loco Express
Santiago Peña’s sculptural metal designs grace a number of Dallas houses, including Stephan Pyles’ modern mansion. Now Peña is turning his design talent to tacos. Taco Loco Express is directly across from his gallery on Main Street. We recommend the taco a la pescada: a large, homemade flour tortilla wrapped around catfish, avocado, tartar sauce, and jalapeños. There’s no table service—just get your tacos or a bag of pork tamales and go. 3014 Main St. 214-748-8226.

 

Best Free Meal
Blue Mesa Grill
At Blue Mesa, happy hour turns into dinner hour before you can say Patron Especial. Besides discounting prices on the infamous Blue Mesa margarita, they offer a variety of chicken, vegetarian, and steak quesadillas for nada. Domestic and imported beers are $1 off and everyone gets his fair share of chips and delicious fire-roasted salsa. Mon through Fri at all locations. Visit www.bluemesagrill.com.

 

Best Cure for the Asian Flu?
Green Papaya
Would you believe the common cold? Forget Mama’s chicken soup: the canh chua Vietnamese broth at Green Papaya really soothes your soul. Not to mention your head, toes, and everything in between. It’s a real hot one loaded with tender chunks of chicken, celery, pineapple, tomatoes, scallions, and bean sprouts in a clean, clear broth. If you’re really sick, swirl in a chopstick loaded with chili par
te and sweat it out. 3211 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-521-4811.

 

Best Healthy Choice
The Kurry King
The Kurry King holds court in the most underrated destination in town, the “new” shed at the Dallas Farmers Market. You can taste samples of his one-meal-in-a-bag curry mixes from the crockpots he has simmering on-site. Shop the rest of the market for your fresh vegetables, mix ’em up with a bag of royal spices, and you’ll have a meal fit for a healthy king. Dallas Farmers Market Shed, 1010 S. Pearl St. 214-939-2808.

Best Quick Dessert
Mozzarella Company
Every hostess has some tricks up her sleeve. Here’s one: keep a container of praline torta from Dallas-based Mozzarella Company in your fridge for emergencies. The triple-rich mascarpone cheese is layered with brown sugar pecan praline. Arranged on a plate with thin Moravian ginger snaps and some fresh fruit, this simple but sophisticated dessert makes you look like a culinary genius. 2944 Elm St. 214-741-4072.
www.mozzco.com.

 

Best Deal on Dolmas
Worldwide Food
First you chop up the onions and the parsley and mix it with the rice. Then you roll the rice up inside rinsed grape leaves to make little complicated bundles. Frankly, anyone who has ever made dolmas at home wants to buy them the next time. Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice quality if you get your stuffed grape leaves at Worldwide Food. They’re as good as homemade, and they’re only 29 cents apiece. 1907 Greenville Ave. 214-824-8860.

 

Best Mac and Cheese
Kuby’s
Of course, it’s perfect with brats (and knackwurst, too), but it’s also perfect by itself. Kuby’s own macaroni and cheese is as gooey as kids’ standard Kraft’s, but a subtle hint of grated lemon takes this classic casserole right out of the box. 6601 Snider Plaza. 214-363-2231. www.kubys.com.

 

Best Attention to Detail
Perry’s Restaurant
We all appreciate service with a smile, but at Perry’s, you get the royal treatment. Often four hostesses are posted in front to help remove jackets, check reservations, and escort you to the bar before returning to the stand. Once seated, servers are knowledgeable, helpful with the wine list, and efficient but not suffocating. The handsome, but not macho, steakhouse makes you feel like you’ve just slipped into a warm and fuzzy (cashmere) sweater. 2911 Routh St. 214-871-9991.

 

Best Chef for Hire
Tony Gardizi
We found him toiling away in the kitchen at Bali Bar, the swanky spot on Inwood Lane that can’t decide if it wants to be a bar or a restaurant. As the bartender was shaking martinis, Tony was turning out better food that most restaurants in town. His dedication to keeping things fresh by changing the menu daily was apparently underappreciated by the drinking crowd, so he left. Watch for him to appear in a marquee position—if he hasn’t been scooped up already!—because his is a name you’ll want to remember.

My Favorite Things
Troy Dungan

Bet you didn’t know that the man who made Doppler radar a household phrase in Dallas is more than just another weather guy. For 25 years (and thousands of colorful bow ties), Troy has weathered tornadoes, baseball-sized hail, and the flooding Trinity, and he’s picked up numerous awards along the way. But we’re going to let the croissant out of the bag—he’s also a bona fide foodie who travels with his wife Janet to chichi food and wine events all over the country. His private wine cellar includes a 1990 Solaia (autographed by winemaker Allegra Antinori), a 1990 Merlot from the vineyard of husband-and-wife team and friends Becky Murphy and Keith Marton, and a couple of bottles of Viognier from Dr. Richard Becker’s vineyard in Fredericksburg. Off the air, he scours the bins of Mr. G’s in Plano and Red Coleman’s in Addison for other collectibles.

If the forecast calls for clear skies and sunny:
Troy and Janet bask in the rays on the patio atParis Vendome or Ferre in the West Village.

If the forecast calls for heavy thunderstorms:
They head to the comfort of Lavendou in North Dallas or Avanti Euro Bistro in Addison.

SWEET ENDING
We’ve discovered a dessert to satisfy every craving.

Dessert

Where

The Inside Scoop

Bread Pudding

Upper Crust Cafe
702 S. Goliad St.,
Rockwall. 972-722-1655

Leftover bread never tasted so good. More than seven varieties, including peach apricot, chocolate cherry almond, and strawberry banana nut.

Chocolate Mousse
Pyramid

Ciudad
3888 Oak Lawn Ave.
214-219-3141

An architectural wonder: three triangular chocolate-hazelnut cookies held together with a cloud of spun sugar. The hidden secret inside is a generous scoop of rich, creamy chocolate mousse.

Louisiana Custard

Gumbo’s
100 Crescent Court,
Ste. 140. 214-720-6094

Who says you can’t go home? This dense, rich vanilla coconut pudding is pure comfort—more consistent and unpretentious than the fancy crème brûlées and tiramisus in town.


Chocolate Ball

Cafe Pacific
24 Highland Park Village
214-526-1170

Toss caution to the wind and splurge on a ball of vanilla ice cream rolled in toasted nuts and coconut drenched in chocolate sauce—the perfect four-spoon dessert.

Sopaipilla

Casa Navarro
11742 Marsh Ln.
@ Forest Ln.
214-357-0141

Golden puffed pillows of dough, crisp-fried outside, hollow within—the better to hold the honey, my dear.

Green Tea Custard

Yumeya
17721 Dallas Pkwy.
972-407-1373

How do you spell relief after gorging on yellow fin and octopus dipped in wasabi? An exotic parfait of sweet red bean paste and mild tapioca.

Berry Buckle

York Street
6047 Lewis St.
214-826-0968

Call it a cross between a cobbler and a crumble. Or just call it heaven on a plate—fruit (our favorite is made with Texas blueberries) tossed with flour and cake batter, baked, and served warm and cozy.

Best Mobile Pet Groomer
Curtis Mobile Grooming
For the past four years, Curtis Thomas of Plano has been giving expensive pet-grooming facilities a run for their money. Curtis Mobile Grooming makes house calls and gives your pooch or cat a wash, cut, and style in his grooming van. Prices start at $40. 972-731-9161.

 

Best Dry Cleaning Service
Preston Square Cleaners
The cleaning is effective and they don’t lose your clothes, but the real attraction at Preston Square Cleaners is the delivery service. You expect prompt, you expect regular—but friendly and charming? We know people who make sure they are home to wait for the man they call Joe because, they say, he looks like Joe Louis. He’s not only on time, but Alton (Joe) Morgan’s friendly demeanor and good “bad” jokes make getting your laundry the bright spot in your day. 6147 Sherry Ln. 214-368-6475.

 

Best Designer Wardrobe on a Budget
Neiman Marcus Last Call
The much-anticipated Neiman Marcus Last Call in Grapevine Mills actually lives up to the hype. Yes, it’s last season’s wares. But they’re all in tip-top condition, and the selection is extensive. Plus, you can pick up that darling Chanel suit you were dying for but couldn’t afford retail. Favorite find: a pair of black Gucci pumps with white stitching for $200 and a crème-colored DKNY linen tank dress for $62. Yes, you can use your Neiman’s card. 3000 Grapevine Mills Pkwy., Ste. 233. 214-513-1527.

 

Best Place to Buy a Tiara
Sam Moon
Every girl wants to wear a diamond-encrusted tiara. Unfortunately, that usually requires either a royal bloodline or a title such as “Miss Fish Fry ’01.” For those of us who don’t have either, acquisition of a sparkly crown is as easy as driving to Sam Moon. After picking out your tiara from their extensive collection, browse for cocktail rings, necklaces, and hundreds of other accessories that will make you feel noble. No dowry required. 11635 Harry Hines Blvd. 972-488-1333. www.sammoon.com.

 

Best Automotive Repair
T & M Auto City
When an 87-year-old woman took her Cadillac to T & M Auto City for repair, the mechanic told her that she needed to fix two things. The first he’d do for $45. The other problem he recommended she get fixed at the dealer. Then he proceeded to call Sewell Cadillac himself to ensure she got a fair price. Now that’s service. 11425 Denton Dr. 972-484-8116.

 

Best Excuse To Go To Bed Early
Bliss Linens
After a trip to Bliss Linens in Plano, you may never get out of the sack. You can’t help but yawn as you roam past the handcrafted iron beds dressed in Frette’s fine lace bedding, Ann Gish basket-weave silk-quilted coverlets, and goose-down pillows. But the exclusive deal is the Talia 600-thread-count sheet sets, smooth as a baby’s bottom, delivered straight from the mill in Italy—a steal at $650 for a king-sized bed. 5760 Legacy Dr., Plano. 469-467-0953.

 

Best Specialty Shipping Company
Craters & Freighters
Do you need to ship a five-piece, life-sized, fully animated Dixieland band? Then call Craters & Freighters. The Dallas franchise of the Denver-based company specializes in packages that are too big, valuable, or oddly shaped for your run-of-the-mill Mail Boxes Etc. Family heirloom? No problem. A Pegasus from the Dallas Soars! project? No problem. (And we’d be happy to pay that bill!) Craters & Freighters also works with businesses such as Inessa Stewart Antiques, so you know they’ll treat your packages as if they were their own. 13510 TI Blvd., Ste.106E. 972-680-0177.

 

Best Tire Store
Discount Tire Co.
Between the potholes that checker the streets of downtown and the leftover scraps of metal from the construction of new Tolltag lanes, you’re bound to blow a tire sooner rather than later. Fear not. Dallas has 50 Discount Tire Co. stores. Their customer service and speedy tire replacement is unmatched. On a recent visit, the store manager even jogged two blocks to a nearby car dealership to get the right tire for a customer on her lunch hour. 13645 N. Central Expwy. 972-231-7828. Multiple locations. www.discounttire.com.

 

Best Tailor
Eddie’s Tailor Shop
Eddie Velasquez, owner of Eddie’s Tailor Shop, has been stitching the hems of Dallas’ well-heeled since 1973. The wood paneling in his tiny East Dallas space is adorned with head shots of local celebrities, with their testimony and thanks scrawled under their smiles. We admit that he’s not the least expensive option in town, but he gets the job right the first time. 6110 E. Mockingbird Ln., Ste. 112. 214-827-8000.

 

Best Hand Lotion
Niven Morgan
Two years ago, Dallasite Niven Morgan decided to ditch his marketing job for the beauty business. And we’re so glad he did. His eponymous line of lotions and potions includes Velveting Hand Crème, a fabulous concoction that soothes hands and other rough spots with an antioxidant formula and leaves your phalanges super soft. And the scent, a mixture of Mojave Desert wildflower and amber, is to die for. Of, 1810 Skillman Ave. 214-887-6363; Covin’s Sticks, 114 Preston Royal Shopping Center. 214-368-4260.

 

Best Exterminator
Arrest-a-Pest
Arrest-a-Pest is a family affair. If Shane McAnally doesn’t pick up the phone himself, his wife will. And when Shane shows up to get rid of your critters—whether rats, squirrels, ants, or ladybug larvae—he’ll have a smile on his face. But most important, the man is on time—every time. Even if you call in the morning and he squeezes you in at 1:15 that afternoon, he’ll be there. And he charges what he quotes. 972-218-7400 or
www.arrest-a-pest.micronpcweb.com
.

 

Best Guy to Cool You Off
(Or Heat You Up)

Roger Mallett
When Roger Mallett told us we needed to replace our entire condenser—for $2,500—we were not overjoyed. But then he explained the differences between a 12- and 13-SEER unit, how a newfangled refrigerant by the name of R-410A comes into play, and why we shouldn’t worry about the impending Freon ban. We still weren’t overjoyed. But we understood. And now our house is comfy cool. Roger has been at it for 20 years. He’s punctual. But more importantly, he’s independent. And he installs only Trane. 214-363-2012.

 

Best Exterior Decorator
A.W. Massey
The inside of your house may be perfectly feng shui, but is your landscape overgrown with stumpy wax leaf ligustrum? Whether you want a full makeover or a simple mini yard lift, A.W. Massey can work miracle growths on any budget. He’s also a masonry wiz who can transform your rotting brick patio into a sophisticated slate sanctuary. Don’t forget to ask him about the hottest backyard trend: custom outdoor fireplaces. Finally—you can get rid of that chipped chiminea. 972-240-0484.

 

My Favorite Things

People who don’t consider hair accessories to be art haven’t seen what Eve Reid can do with the humble hair elastic. The Dallas transplant via New York left her high-powered career in advertising 15 years ago to fill the absence of chic hair decorations in the fashion market. Since that leap, her products have appeared in Vogue, Marie Claire, Lucky, Real Simple, and, of course, D Magazine. Reid’s hair bands are topped with mother of pearl, turquoise, coral, and one-of-a-kind Asian medallions, among other unusual semiprecious stones and baubles. A far cry from good old rubber bands, for sure. Eve’s hair accessories are available at Forty Five Ten, 4510 McKinney Ave. 214-559-4510 and Saks Fifth Avenue, Dallas Galleria. 972-458-7000.

Favorite place to shop for yourself:
Carla Martinengo for things I positively don’t need—and, of course, Harold’s, Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus for hair accessories!

Favorite spa: Highland Park Aesthetics. A true example of good things coming in small packages. Siun has the tiniest room right beside my gym. I can run in before or after a workout, and she will look after me from head to toe.

Favorite restaurant: Right now, Paris Vendome because it’s fun and I like sitting outside anywhere.

Favorite hair salon: L’Image. Alpha took me from brunette to blond about a year ago, and he promises I should never look back. I’m starting to think he’s right.

Favorite thing to do: Visit Lakeside with my daughter Claire on any weekend morning. We have hours to spend looking at the turtles, petting our favorite dogs, and making new friends.

 

A GIFT FOR EVERY OCCASION
We have 10 ideas, both thrifty and extravagant, for that perfect special something.

Occasion Cheap Chic
Birthday At Francesca’s Collections, choose from a fab selection of hard-to-find accessories from Tommassini, Tarina Tarantino, and Chan Luu. Mockingbird Station, 5307 E. Mockingbird Ln. 214-370-3646; 10720 Preston Rd., Ste. 1005. 214-891-9866. Legacy Trading Company is the place for the friend who has everything. Unique throw pillows and other hard-to-find home furnishings, such as lamps and vases, are abundant. 3699 McKinney Ave. 214-522-0025.
Anniversary

At Iota, pick a sentimental Storypeople print by Brian Andreas that tells a sweet tale of life and love. 3107 Knox St. 214-522-2999. www.storypeople.com.

Any couple would go gaga over the hand-painted ceramic bowls, dishes, and tiles imported from Italy at
Side Streets. The tiles depict occupations and birth signs. 3109 Monticello Ave. 214-522-0025.

Hostess Urban Outfitters offers unique embroidered and beaded journals and pastel beaded coasters that look pricey but are affordable. Mockingbird Station, 5331 E. Mockingbird Ln. 214-821-4371. At Forty Five Ten, silk and linen drawer sachets filled with roses and lavender leave girlie stuff smelling sweet. 4510 McKinney Ave. 214-559-4510.
Mother’s Day

Get mom a Smart Women Thirst For Knowledge drinking glass set or commission an Andy Warholesque print of her pet pooch at Gifted. 2608 Elm St. 214-752-7839.

Mommy Dearest deserves something exquisite. A tortoiseshell comb from Hermes fits the bill. 21 Highland Park Village. 214-528-0197.

Father’s Day Another boring tie? Hardly.
At Tiecoon, you’ll find everything from hula-girl neckwear to novelty cuff links. 4015 Villanova St.
214-369-8437.
Pick from one of Jackson Pottery’s many assorted gas- and wood-burning barbeque pits for the dad who’s carnivorously inclined. 6950 Lemmon Ave. 214-350-9200.

Best Hot Chicks in Chaps
Desperados Dancers
We admit we were skeptical about the Dallas Desperados, the latest addition to the Arena Football League. But the Desperados Dancers sure caught our attention. This squad will grapevine and fan kick their way into your hearts as the 21 members prance around in hot pants and chaps. Is there a better way to enjoy a hot dog and a cold beer? 972-785-4900 or www.dallasdesperados.com.

 

Best Spot to People Watch
Mockingbird Point Dog Park
Take a portable chair and a sense of humor to the Mockingbird Point Dog Park at White Rock Lake and spend the day trying to match wandering dogs with their owners. Chances are the white standard poodle will eventually return to her mommy with frizzy blond hair and mall bangs. North shore of White Rock Lake, 8000 Mockingbird Ln. @ Lawther Dr. www.dallasdogparks.org.

 

Best Excuse to Play With Your Food
Corndog Festival
Mom taught you not to play with your food, but the organizers of the Corndog Festival count on you to go wild with the State Fair’s favorite food. Choose a category—King of the Prom, Most Likely to Succeed, or Celebrity Look-alike—and style a golden batter-dipped dog (or 10) and join the competition. For the past two years, proceeds have benefited Dog and Kitty City, a no-kill animal shelter. Sep 28, Ozona Bar and Grill. www.corndogfestival.com.

 

Best Excuse to Play With Your Food
Corndog Festival
Mom taught you not to play with your food, but the organizers of the Corndog Festival count on you to go wild with the State Fair’s favorite food. Choose a category—King of the Prom, Most Likely to Succeed, or Celebrity Look-alike—and style a golden batter-dipped dog (or 10) and join the competition. For the past two years, proceeds have benefited Dog and Kitty City, a no-kill animal shelter. Sep 28, Ozona Bar and Grill. www.corndogfestival.com.

 

Best Koi Polloi
Fort Worth Botanic Garden
Step inside the majestic front gate and wander through the spiritual Japanese Garden. Then follow the curving stone path through the 7.5 acres lush with Japanese buildings, ponds, and waterfalls. (The color change of the Japanese maples in October is breathtaking.) Once you cross over the Moon Bridge, buy a handful of fish chow. Before the pellets hit the water, thousands of koi splash and slap against each other in an underwater kung fu battle. 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth. 817-871-7685.

 

Best Mommy Mall Experience
The Shops at Willow Bend
Many of the projected Shops at Willow Bend have never opened, but the children’s play park has been a sell-out since day one. The climate-controlled playground in the middle of the mall provides carpeted steps, comfortable benches, and giant plastic food for the kids to play on. So no matter what the weather is outside or the price of Prada is inside, Willow Bend is a fun place to go. Park Blvd. @ Dallas North Tollway. 972-202-4900. www.shopwillowbend.com.

 

Best Water Park
NRH20
We wish the stock market would slide like The Green Extreme—the only uphill water coaster in North Texas. The adrenaline-pumping experience is located at NRH2O, a small water park in North Richland Hills complete with body slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river where, during the summer, you can float on a raft and watch movies such as Harry Potter, Shrek, or Jaws on the big screen. 9001 Grapevine Hwy., North Richland Hills. 817-427-6500. www.nrh2o.com.

 

Best Reason to Sleep Downtown
Amelia”s Place
Want a quick overnight getaway with authentic Southern hospitality? Spend a night at Amelia’s, where owner Amelia Core Jenkins treats you like family at her loft-style B&B. Jenkins generously offers complimentary red wine and beer after 5 pm in gracious surroundings. And breakfast is so big, you can skip lunch. 1775 Young St. @ St. Paul St. 214-651-1775 or www.ameliasplace.com.

 

Best Windy City
Dallas Wind Symphony
Move over, Chi-town. Dallas has got you beat when it comes to wind. Well, at least if you’re inside the Meyerson Symphony Center when the Dallas Wind Symphony is blowing its horns. One of only a handful of civilian wind bands in the United States, the award-winning band, composed of 50 brass, woodwind, and percussion players, has recorded 12 CDs and, in 1993, won the Indie award for their reference recording of Trittico. And that’s not just a lot of hot air. 214-565-9463 or www.dws.org.

 

Best Reality Check
Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center
It may be tucked away in the lower level of the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center Building, but the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center is a must do. Opened in 1984 by the efforts of the Holocaust Survivors in Dallas, the dramatic enclave contains a boxcar used by the Nazis to transport Jews to concentration camps, haunting photos of victims, and a 2,500-volume library of books and audiovisual materials. The museum features lectures with survivors and tours. 7900 Northaven Rd. 214-750-4654. www.dallasholocaustcenter.org.

 

Best Tom Cruise
Air Combat School
The instructors at Air Combat School will give you the Top Gun experience of your life. After a short briefing (sorry, boys, you won’t find Kelly McGillis), you suit up in flight gear and strap in to the simulator fighter jet cockpit. For the next 30 minutes, you’ll experience the thrill (insanity?) of what it feels like to be a real jet fighter. By the way, it’s BYO hot kiss. 921 Six Flags Dr., Ste. 117, Arlington. 817-640-1886.

 

My Favorite Things
MR. PEPPERMINT

Anyone who grew up in the Dallas area grew up glued to Peppermint Place on WFAA-TV Channel 8. Mr. Peppermint, aka Jerry Haynes, hosted the children’s show for 35 years, until it went off the air in 1996. Some of us are even old enough to remember when Haynes was a news anchor for the station, breaking the story of the Kennedy assassination. But we hold more dearly our memories of Haynes in his straw boater and red-striped coat, dealing with the tiger that one day attacked the puppet Jingles the Dragon. Today, at age 75, not only is he still recognized in public (Mr. Peppermint, not Jingles), but he’s also still working. (Perhaps you’ve caught him in a Miller Lite commercial or as the judge in Boys Don’t Cry.)
When we reached Mr. Peppermint to get a couple of Bests from the legend, he was at Pioneer Plaza, on a cell phone. He and his 7-year-old grandson had taken DART downtown to see the bronze longhorns. “There are 37 of them,” Mr. Peppermint said. “He counted every one. And he tried to milk a steer. I didn’t tell him.”

Other Peppermint FAVES: “The Dallas Zoo on an autumn day. A Saturday morning chocolate shake at the Highland Park Pharmacy. An apricot fried pie from Goff’s. And a hamburger from the Stoneleigh P. I used to eat there when I worked at Channel 8.”

Best Place for Swingers
Sons of Hermann Hall
It still don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that Swing. And if you don’t, go to Sons of Hermann Hall any Wednesday night for lessons and any other night to show off at this historic Deep Ellum dance hall. 3414 Elm St. 214-747-4422.

 

Best Heavy Pour
The Loon
We remember ordering a Jack and Coke at The Loon. We remember watching the bartender make it. We could have sworn we saw him empty the entire Jack Daniel’s bottle into a tumbler, then open a Coke and wave it in the general direction of our beverage. We don’t remember much else. Actually, we remember having a great time, as we always do, in this smoky bar that has a ski-lodge appeal and a good-old-boy clientele. 3531 McKinney Ave. 214-559-3059.

 

Best Pub
The Dubliner
The Dubliner is about as authentic an Irish pub as you’re going to find this side of the Pond. The Lower Greenville bar is small, intimate, and crowded on weekends, mostly with regulars. Real pubs always have regulars. Owned and operated by two blokes from Dublin, this haven for Guinness lovers (whiskey, too) has a fireplace in the corner, a stellar jukebox, and Irish newspapers to keep up with the news back home. 2818 Greenville Ave. 214-818-0911.

 

Best Racks and Balls
Carson’s Palace
From the outside, Carson’s Palace doesn’t look like much of a pool hall. For one thing, it’s in a strip mall. But this is Far North Dallas, where everything’s in a strip mall. Pool champ CJ Wiley, who owns the joint, has made sure the inside fits the bill, with 15 pool tables and 28 big-screen TVs within sight wherever you are. Wiley has made Carson’s much more than a pool hall, though, with live music, a restaurant, and Club Vortex, with deejays and disco lights. Beware the cover charge and long line at the door late at night. 17727 Dallas Pkwy. 972-931-9111.

 

Best Bar If You Plan to Stay the Night
The Library at The Melrose Hotel
Hotel bars always feel fancy and sophisticated, assuming the hotel itself is fancy and sophisticated. The Library at The Melrose Hotel doesn’t disappoint. Sitting in a leather couch or high-backed chair, you can enjoy live background music and good conversation. And for the record, when the Wall Street Journal named The Library one of the nation’s best places to “sip and sup,” we didn’t agree with them. They agreed with us. 3015 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-521-5151.

 

Best Sports Bar
Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill
Other sports bars have bigger TVs. But like other things in life, it’s not how big it is—it’s where you put it. Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill has the game on wherever you look, and if it’s not the game you want, just ask and they’ll find it. The menu is the real reason that Frankie’s is a winner. Bar food has never tasted this good, including yellowfin sashimi and goat-cheese-stuffed tenderloin. 3227 McKinney Ave. 214-999-8932.

 

Best Rooftop
The Green Room
You, discerning patron of the rooftop patio, already know the answer to this one. Sure, The Bone across the street might sound like the place to be, with its loud music and raucous revelers. But the rooftop of The Green Room still wins for the beautiful people and fabulous view of downtown, even if places to sit are scarce and the waitstaff sometimes gets lost in the crowd. 2715 Elm St. 214-748-7666.

 

Best Use of Useless Information
Tipperary Inn
Six nights a week, the Tipperary Inn is an authentic Irish pub with patrons sipping Guinness and downing fish and chips. But on Tuesday nights, the mood changes from easy conversation to cutthroat competition. Starting at 8 pm, trivia teams play for beer money as a live moderator asks questions you know you know the answers to but just can’t remember. 5815 Live Oak St. @ Skillman Ave. 214-823-7167.

 

Best Padre Impersonation
Duke’s Original Roadhouse
We haven’t had drinks at a bar like Duke’s Original Roadhouse since we were underage. The décor is like a Hooter’s restaurant pretending to be a Joe’s Crab Shack, but from the looks of the always-crowded patio, the inside is only for people who showed up too late and couldn’t get a spot on the wooden deck. Duke’s is for guys who use “party” as a verb and the women who love them. 4180 Belt Line Rd. 972-503-2337.

 

Best Place to Drink Beer
The Flying Saucer
With more than 200 pales, ambers, darks, and ciders to chose from, a thirsty patron at The Flying Saucer can suffer analysis paralysis: too many choices, not enough time. Fortunately, the waitresses and bartenders know the menu, and their recommendations are spot-on. You can hang out at the bar and wonder at the wall of taps, sit at a wooden table and play a game of dominos, or chill on the couches in the back room, the so-called Pub of Love. 14999 Montfort Dr., Addison. 972-934-2537; 111 E. Fourth St., Fort Worth. 817-336-7470; 770 Road to Six Flags, Arlington. 817-226-7468.

 

Best Way to End the Night
Don Carter’s All-Star Lanes Dallas West
Has the night been a strikeout? Put those strikes to better use: go bowling. Don Carter’s All-Star Lanes Dallas West is open all night. On Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the lights go out at 10 pm, but the party’s just getting started. A deejay spins current hits, and black lights make even your gutter balls look exciting. 10920 Composite Dr. 214-358-1382.

 

Best Small Venue for Live Music
The Bronco Bowl
If it’s good enough for the Boss, it’s good enough for any band. The great sound system and the intimate seating at The Bronco Bowl have attracted finicky perfectionists like Bruce Springsteen and The String Cheese Incident to perform there. 2600 Fort Worth Ave. 214-973-8088. www.broncobowl.com.

 

Best of the Big Small Bands
Muddy Waters
Music geeks flock to Muddy Waters hoping to discover the next great new band. Located just below Lowest Greenville past Ross, this tiny club veers toward bands rooted in rock and country rock, or what industry-types term “indie rockers.” Here you’ll find the top echelon of the small bands like Chomsky playing to a full house. 1518 Greenville Ave. 214-823-1518.

 

Best Cloud Dancing
Chaparral Club
When you dance cheek to cheek, you feel on top of the world. When you dance at the Chaparral Club, you feel on top of Dallas. You practically are, perched high atop the Adam’s Mark building. 400 Olive St. 214-777-6539.

 

Best Live Music Venue for Short People
Poor David’s Pub
Short people have plenty of reason to live it up at Poor David’s Pub, where the terraced seating levels rise up from the stage, allowing a clear view for tall and small alike. There’s also easy access to the bar (always a concert plus), and their show list features celebrated Texas bands and superstars of folk such as Jimmy La Fave. 1924 Greenville Ave. 214-821-9891. www.poordavidspub.com.

 

Best Place to Flashback
Village Station
Just because the Gay Nineties are over doesn’t mean you can’t dance to ’80s music at a gay bar. Sunday nights are prime retro time at the Village Station, where Boy George and the Go-Go’s live on. 3911 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-526-7171.

 

Best Disco Inferno
Rio Room
On weekends, the Rio Room at the back of Sipango turns into a Studio 54 of funk and disco where Yuppies cut loose and act like their 401(k)s are still the bomb—not bombing. 4513 Travis St. 214-522-2411.

 

Flight Night
Need to get away? Check out these nightspots. They’re cheaper than a plane ticket, and you might forget you’re in Dallas for a night.

PRETEND YOU’RE IN BEST PLACE TO GO
New York At the subterranean downtown bar Umlaut, the cool is so thick that it practically drips off the pretty people who dance to what the local and touring deejays spin. 1602-B Main St. 214-742-2368.
Los Angeles              Local celebrities and the people who admire them love to hang out at Steel, the hip, high-dollar sushi and sake bar in the Centrum. 3102 Oak Lawn Ave. @ Welborn St., Ste. 100. 214-219-9908.
Boston Truth be told, some of us have never been to Boston. But Thomas Avenue Beverage Co. (aka TABC) is how we imagine it to be, with a tree-strewn patio in the midst of the historic State-Thomas area. 2901 Thomas Ave. 214-979-0452.
Chicago The sports crowd at Corner Tap can get as enthused as Da Bears fans, but it’s the bratwurst and Italian beef sandwiches at this Lower Greenville haunt that make it feel like the Windy City. 2101 Greenville Ave. 214-827-0999.
New Orleans The courtyard at The Quarter, especially on a steamy Dallas night, is enough to transport us from McKinney Avenue to Bourbon Street. The throngs of people don’t hurt, either. 3301 McKinney Ave. @ Hall St. 214-754-4940.
Miami Sipping a mojito on a patio couch at Samba Room is so close to a Cuban experience that we half-expected Fidel himself to belly up to the bar. 4514 Travis St. 214-522-4137.
Fort Worth Sometimes I-30 seems like such a long road. And why go west, young man, when you can stay home. Adair’s Saloon, the
graffiti-strewn Deep Ellum spot, is a veritable honky-tonk that we can call our very own. 2624 Commerce St. 214-939-9900.

Best Cultural Buffet
Festival of Independent Theaters
Or you can call it short-attention-span theater. For the past three summers, the Bath House Cultural Center has produced the Festival of Independent Theaters, a month-long showcase for smaller, itinerant Dallas theater companies. Each production lasts 30 to 50 minutes, with two to three productions scheduled per night. It’s a great way for theater lovers and novices alike to discover talented troupes such as Wingspan Theater (pictured left), Ground Zero, and Cara Mia. 521 E. Lawther Dr. 214-670-8570.

 

Best Reason to Replace that Ansel Adams Print
Photographs Do Not Bend
Photographs Do Not Bend specializes in contemporary and modernist photography from artists such as George Kraus, Jack Delano, and Misty Keasler (a regular D contributor, we’re proud to add). But what makes this gallery truly special is its focus on emerging and established Latin American artists, including Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Luis Gonzalez Palma. 3115 Routh St. 214-969-1852. www.photographsdonotbend.com.

 

Best Dance Troupe
Dallas Black Dance Theatre
When watching the graceful, evocative movements of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, sometimes the mission behind the 26-year-old troupe gets forgotten amid the waving limbs and twisting torsos. Founded by artistic director Ann Williams in 1976, the multiethnic DBDT strives to bridge various racial and social cultures with its performances and educational programs. Then again, perhaps that’s the point. 214-871-2376 or www.dbdt.com.

 

Best Alternative to Britney
KNON-FM 89.3
Touted as the “Voice of the Silicon Generation,” Rocket Radio is the only radio program in Dallas that focuses on the warm and fuzzy sounds of underground and independent industrial, dance, goth, and electronica. Airing every Friday from midnight to 4 am on KNON-FM 89.3 and hosted by Cyberina Flux, Rocket Radio boasts technology-driven music you won’t find on any Kidd Kraddick show. And that’s a good thing. www.rocket-radio.org.

 

Best-Kept Art Secret
Valley House Gallery
Tucked behind tall hedges in North Dallas is the Valley House Gallery. You’ve probably passed it 100 times, thinking it was just another big house. But the lush lawn dotted with sculptures always caught your eye. In fact, this house is home to Kevin and Cheryl Vogel’s exquisite art gallery, which shows and sells significant Texas artists, early 19th- and 20th-century art, and dynamically displayed sculptures. 6616 Spring Valley Rd. 972-239-2441 or www.valleyhouse.com.

 

Best Arts in the Burbs
Irving Community Arts Center
“There’s always something going on!” is the motto of the Irving Community Arts Center, and it’s no wonder. The calendar at this vibrant organization is full of art group meetings, kids art programs, chorale concerts, ballet and symphony performances, and live theater at the most underrated facility in town, Dupree Theater. 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving. 972-252-7558 or www.ci.irving.tx.us/Arts/index.htm.

 

Best Inaugural Arts Festival
Out of the Loop Festival
Addison’s WaterTower Theater filled a hole in its schedule this year with its first-ever Out of the Loop Festival, a nine-day event in March featuring risky fare from regional theater companies—a departure from its normal audience-friendly lineup. Late-night cabaret, improv comedy, a Faustian monologue, and contemporary ballet complemented bold theatrical offerings, including WaterTower’s production of a controversial play by Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men). Doesn’t sound like the same old Our Town to us. 15650 Addison Rd., Addison. 972-450-6232.

 

Best Angst-less Artist
Amanda Dunbar
Allen’s Amanda Dunbar is not your typical teen. An instant art sensation at the tender age of 13, she has had a series of successful solo shows, appeared on Oprah twice, and inspired a Barbie DVD, Barbie as Rapunzel, in which the long-haired maven is a successful painter with her own studio. Now 19 years old, the SMU junior has launched Youth Art for Harmony, an initiative created to bolster arts programming in public schools. This, in addition to her own nonprofit organization, Amanda’s Angel Alliance, which has given more than $250,000 to children’s charities across the nation. www.amandadunbar.com.

 

Best Art on the Edge
Forbidden Gallery & Emporium
Some might call it bad taste, others surreal. But there’s no debating the provocative nature of Forbidden Gallery & Emporium and its dedication to the underground—and often lowbrow—arts scene. Past exhibits at this Exposition Park gallery include a modern interpretation of 1950s pin-up gals and “Tiki Time: A Tribute to the Taboo.” In other words, no bluebonnet oil paintings. Ever. Open Saturdays or by appointment. 3603 Parry Ave. 214-887-5939.

 

Best Art Cinema
Magnolia Theater
Sure, we love the scope of the Angelika and the old-school charm of the Inwood (not to mention the martinis at the Lounge). But it’s the well-balanced Magnolia Theater that arches our cinematically highbrow eyebrow. From its neon-clad, art deco façade to its ample stadium seating, we get a well-heeled kick (after all, it’s housed in the tony West Village) out of this homegrown cinema’s eclectic fare. From the latest art film offerings to classic movies to little-seen documentaries, the Magnolia never fails to delight. West Village, 3699 McKinney Ave., Bldg. E. 214-520-0025. www.magpictures.com

 

Best Sweet Release
Sugarbomb
Fort Worth’s Sugarbomb is a power pop confection blended from equal parts Beatles, ELO, Queen, and Jellyfish. In other words, tight harmonies and heavy-handed production. Their RCA debut, Bully, and its subsequent release, “Hello,” seemed set for success. That is, until their label dropped them a month after their record’s release. Ouch. Still, “Hello” fought its way onto the Top 40 and the Orange County soundtrack. Is there a sweet ending to Sugarbomb’s label-less woes? www.sugarbomb.net.

 

Best Art in Action
Jim and Mary Lynn Bowman
Almost every weekend, Jim Bowman and his wife Mary Lynn create art in their South Dallas studio, which is open to the public. Not the common kind with paint and canvas, but the rare art of glass blowing. With heat reaching 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, glass is colored and shaped into glorious sculptures. After you witness the magic, browse through the gallery and pick up a few pieces for your personal collection. 1419 E. Griffin St. 214-426-4777.

Best Jungle Out There
Dallas World Aquarium
The Dallas World Aquarium is home to many marvels. Along a winding path through a multistory indoor rainforest, your kids will discover howler monkeys, river otters, toucans, anacondas, and manatees in a 200,000-gallon tank with a glass wall. But the coolest animals at the DWA are the jackass penguins (so named because of their donkey-like calls). Parents will enjoy discovering the Jungle Cafe, a comfy little affair that overlooks the rainforest and serves cocktails. 1801 N. Griffin St. 214-720-2224 or www.dwazoo.com.
Best Super Fortress
Kidsville
As does every other playground in these litigious times, Kidsville suffers a dearth of apparatus capable of cracking open a kid’s skull (i.e., no teeter-totter or merry-go-round). That said, this place rocks. At 16,000 square feet, it’s one of the largest volunteer-built wooden playgrounds in the world. Kidsville is a multilevel castle maze, with bridges, slides, ladders, monkey bars, and more. Plus, there’s a tree-shaded perch outfitted with benches for parental-types. Armstrong Park, 200 James Collins Blvd., Duncanville. 972-780-5070.
Best Place to Saw Off Small Fingers
Home Depot
One morning a month, every Home Depot store conducts a free Kids Workshop. Led by a store associate, tykes and their parents can build a birdhouse, a picture frame, or one of 48 other rotating projects. Kids get their own orange Home Depot apron and a different lapel pin that corresponds to each completed project. It’s brilliant marketing, but it’s also a lot of fun. Generally the first Saturday of each month, but call your local store for times. Ages 6-12 (but they don’t check ID).
Best Mix of Formula and Fellini
Angelika Film Center
Get disapproving looks from the childless while breastfeeding at the movies? Bring your equipment to the Cry Baby Matinee at the Angelika Film Center in Mockingbird Station. The movie house keeps the lights dimmed and the volume turned down, with the hope that your tot will sleep through the movie for Mom (or Dad). A changing table is provided, and children under 5 get in free. Each Tue @ 1:30 pm and Wed @ 11 am. Mockingbird Station, 5321 E. Mockingbird Ln. 214-841-4700. www.angelikafilmcenter.com.
Best Place to Make Them Relive Your Childhood
White Rock Skate
We used to hang out at White Rock Skate back in 1979, when we were in the fourth grade (the roller rink opened in 1973). Mostly, we played Missile Command and tried to avoid girls; the former we ruled, the latter we still don’t fully understand. Nonetheless, we’ve got ourselves a 3-year-old. He recently discovered that he loves the place, too. The video games at the joint have changed, but not much else has, including the music. On Sunday, parents skate free with kids. 10055 Shoreview Rd. 214-341-6660.
Best Mouth
Eddie Coker
Sara Hickman has said this about Eddie Coker: “He’s the James Brown of children’s music, the hardest-working man in show business.” Coker actually got his start in opera, so he’s got impressive pipes. But his true talent lies in his ability to connect with a 5-year-old without losing the attention of her 12-year-old brother—or the parent of both. His live show packs the most punch, but his CDs rock, too. For private bookings, upcoming public appearances, and CDs, visit www.eddiecoker.com.
Best Train Shop
Discount Model Trains
For all things clicketyclack, go to Discount Model Trains in Addison. It’s a hobbyist’s paradise—they stock more than 60,000 items, most discounted at least 20 percent below retail. Yes, they have plenty of “under the Christmas tree models,” but the majority of customers are diehard builders of scale-model electric trains on a diorama. They carry every size and brand from more than 600 manufacturers. 4641 Ratliffe Ln., Addison. 972-931-8135.
Best Use of Bandwidth
www.dsokids.com
Point your youngster’s browser to www.dsokids.com. There they will find many megabytes of flash and shockwave stuff from the good folks at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Learn how to build a xylophone, make music director Andrew Litton hop around the screen, compose music and hear it played, and listen to Real Audio files from Bach to Vivaldi. Your Net Nanny will approve.
Best Toy Shop with Cats
Froggie’s 5 & 10
Toys R Us might have that giraffe, but Froggie’s 5 & 10 has Frick and Frack, two cats that were abandoned on the toy store’s doorstep years ago. It’s that kind of place. Here you will find just as much stuff for yourself as you will for your short person, from 50-cent super balls to $600 classic pedal cars. 3211 Knox St. 214-522-5867.
Best Story Time
The Enchanted Forest
Sure, the bookstore megachains have their kids’ sections and sometimes do readings in same. But The Enchanted Forest carries only children’s books (about 45,000 titles), and they offer a free story time nearly every day. Sometimes house regulars Roger and Miss Jo lead the session; other times it’s led by the authors themselves. The Forest also offers periodic arts-and-crafts classes, and the store celebrates its 10th anniversary this month with a huge Pooh Party. 6333 E. Mockingbird Ln. 214-827-2234.
Best Resale Shop
Once Upon A Child
You’ll never pay retail again once you’ve stocked up on gently used, famous-label kiddie clothes at Once Upon A Child. We outfitted our kids in designer duds for peanuts, including a denim Baby Gap skirt for $6.50 and Gymboree separates for $2.50 to $4.50. Looking for a Bellini crib on a tight budget? The day we visited, they had one for $265—that’s usually the sales tax on a new one. The store is stocked with used toys, strollers, and maternity clothes, all in great condition. 7200 Independence Pkwy., Plano. 972-618-5800.

My Favorite Things
JEFFREY YARBROUGH

“And now I would like to teach you how to color outside the lines,” proclaims Jeffrey Yarbrough as he holds up a box of crayons to a room of anxious listeners. Preschoolers? Hardly. The audience is full of Texas Restaurant Association members and, as president, Yarbrough is firmly making the point that restaurateurs need to change the way they think to be more creative in business. The crayons he undoubtedly snagged from one of his 3-year-old triplets—Jackson, Garrett, and Mason Elizabeth—on his way to one of his many other jobs. He owns Liberty Noodles in Dallas and Houston, Club Clearview, Red, Blind Lemon, and Art Bar. Oh, and he’s also a hardworking husband to Tara, who reports, “Jeffrey is great at bringing diapers and a gallon of ice cream home from Super Target at 4:30 in the morning.” He leaves expensive toys behind, preferring to hand the kids rolls of pennies to throw into the fountain at Matt’s Rancho Martinez while Jeffrey and Tara sneak in a few margaritas. We caught up with Superdad and asked him for a secret place where both kids and parents can party down.

“We live in Forest Hills, so we take our double stroller, a wagon, blankets, and a picnic basket to the Arboretum for the free concerts on Cool Thursdays. Our children enjoy playing in the grass and rolling down the hills.”

If you spot the Yarbrough clan on the lawn, keep your distance—his daughter, Mason, already has a shoe fetish and will swipe yours before you can say Kate Spade.

 

D Magazine
salutes local high school state champions
SPC STATE CHAMPS  
Boys’ track & field:
St. Mark’s
Girls’ track & field: Greenhill
Division I field hockey: Trinity Valley
Boys’ volleyball: Greenhill
Division I girls’ volleyball: Greenhill
Boys’ swimming & diving: St. Mark’s
Girls’ swimming & diving: Hockaday
Boys’ wrestling: St. Mark’s
Division II boys’ basketball: Greenhill
Division I boys’ soccer: Greenhill
Division I girls’ soccer: Episcopal School of Dallas
Division II girls’ soccer: Fort Worth Country Day
Division I boys’ baseball: Trinity Valley
Division II girls’ softball: Hockaday
Division I boys’ tennis: St. Mark’s
UIL STATE CHAMPS  
2A boys’ baseball:
Celina
4A boys’ baseball: Southlake Carroll
5A team tennis: Plano West
4A team tennis: Highland Park
4A girls’ doubles tennis: Highland Park
4A girls’ soccer: Highland Park
5A girls’ soccer: Plano West
4A girls’ softball: Frisco
4A boys’ swimming: Southlake Carroll
4A girls’ swimming: Highland Park
5A boys’ track & field: Carter
5A girls’ track & field: Skyline
4A boys’ track & field: Fort Worth Wyatt
4A girls’ track & field: Lancaster
Boys’ wrestling: Rockwall
4A boys’ golf: Highland Park
4A girls’ cross country: Highland Park
4A Academics: Southlake Carroll
4A Lone Star Cup: Southlake Carroll
5A Division I football: Mesquite
4A Division I football: Denton Ryan
4A Division II football: Ennis
2A Division II football: Celina
5A girls’ basketball: Mansfield
3A boys’ basketball: Gainesville
4A boys’ basketball: Lincoln
TAPPS STATE CHAMPS  
3A boys’ baseball: Forth Worth Southwest
5A boys’ baseball: Bishop Lynch
1A boys’ basketball: Forth Worth Ambassadors
3A boys’ basketball: Arlington Grace Prep
4A girls’ basketball: Forth Worth Christian
5A boys’ basketball: Bishop Lynch
5A girls’ basketball: Bishop Lynch
Boys’ wrestling: Bishop Lynch
Division I boys’ soccer: Bishop Lynch
Division I girls’ soccer: Ursuline Academy
Division II girls’ soccer: Carrollton Christian
2A girls’ volleyball: Waxahachie Cornerstone
4A boys’ track & field: Lutheran
4A girls’ track & field: Bishop Dunne
5A girls’ track & field: Ursuline Academy
5A girls’ tennis: Addison Trinity Christian
5A boys’ tennis: Addison Trinity Christian
1A/2A boys’ golf: Lakehill
3A boys’ golf: Arlington Grace Prep
3A girls’ golf: Carrollton Christian
4A girls’ golf: First Baptist
2A 11-man football: Rowlett Rockwall Christian
3A girls’ cross country: Carrollton Christian
4A boys’ cross country: Dallas Bishop Dunne

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