The Best of Big D 2008

For you, dear readers, we present our annual roundup of all things that make our city great. It’s a tough job, deciding what you need to know to have best existence in Dallas, but for you, anything.

Summertime at the Ballpark is magical. It’s the last communal place of our age, an homage to excellence and America – not unlike our Best of Big D issue, which you hold in your hands. Packed in these 19 pages are the greatest things Dallas-Fort Worth has to offer. From the tastiest foodstuffs (sushi, pizza, tempura green beans) to the most splendiferous shopping experiences (V.O.D., Carolina Herrera, Duncan Quinn), we have unearthed the biggest hits you can find on the North Texas playing field. We cover more ground than the comback hero Josh Hamilton in our efforts to provide you a highlight’s reel worth of awesomeness, complete with addresses and phone numbers. Batter up!

image of yutaka sushi bistro
photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

Best Sushi for the Finicky Fish Folk

Yutaka Sushi Bistro
At one end of the sushi spectrum lies the bargain supper known as “dollar sushi nights.” At the other end resides Yutaka Sushi Bistro. Not that its sushi is unusually pricey; just that the priority is on top-quality fish. You’d have a hard time finding a chef more persnickety than Yutaka Yamato, who sources his fish carefully and handles it expertly. Anyone can do novelty maki rolls, but Yutaka is where you go for precisely trimmed, perfectly textured raw fish and flawlessly balanced rice, with its harmonious interplay of vinegary and sweet. 2633 McKinney Ave., No. 140, 214-969-5533,

Best Shop for the Alternative Socialite

Sick of being seen in the same dress as someone else at social events? Head to V.O.D., a boutique owned by three fashion fanatics, including a former DMN fashion editor. Revamp your wardrobe with a well-edited selection of designer duds and accessories by labels such as Alexander Wang,
Vanessa Bruno, Isabel Marant, and Pauric Sweeney. Find vintage pieces from Archive Vintage. Local milliner Cassandra MacGregor makes fedoras exclusively for the boutique. 2418 Victory Park Ln., 214-754-0644,

image of v.o.d.
photography by Billy Surface

Best Place to Unlock Your Child’s Inner Picasso

Art-A-Rama offers classes in drawing, painting, and pottery, as well as summer art camps, birthday parties, and parents’ night out programs. Students work in a relaxed atmosphere. Most projects are progressive, and finished works are masterpieces. As their skills improve, kids are encouraged
to attempt more challenging concepts. Ages 3 to adult. 1610 J Ave., Plano, 972-423-4554,

Best Night’s Rest

The Pillow Bar
Sore necks and counting sheep will be a thing of the past once your head hits its very own customized pillow. Dallas entrepreneur Merrimac Dillon has installed her down-stuffing machine center, named The Pillow Bar, in some of the chicest boutiques in town, including The Linen Boutique, Peacock Alley, and Mary Kate Erwin. Choose from five pillow sizes, then select the amount of 100 percent Hungarian goose-down stuffing you’d like for firmness. Pillows are also available monogrammed and scented (lavender or the PB’s signature scent, “martini dream”). Prices range from $70 to $260. The Linen Boutique, 5600 W. Lovers Ln., Ste. 122, 214-352-5400.

Best Bar to Kick it Old-School

This new joint is stocked with classic video games. Relive 1982 while you jockey for high scores in Skee-Ball, Galaga, Donkey Kong Jr., Joust, Defender, and more, all for just 25 cents a pop. And now that you’re older, you can do it all with a beer in your hand. If you need a break, Barcadia has an enormous patio, better-than-average bar food, and lots of interesting co-eds to gawk at. But don’t forget: that top score on Ms. Pac-Man isn’t going to set itself. 1917 N. Henderson Ave., 214-821-7300.

image of zound sounds
photography by James Bland

Best School of Rock

Zounds Sounds
A nationwide franchise (The Paul Green School of Rock Music) just invaded Zounds Sounds’ turf, but our money is still on the husband-and-wife team of Mary and Marc Solomon, whose own rock school has been cranking it out for almost six years now. They take in kids as young as 3 and, with the help of working musicians from local bands, show them how to play Rock Band for real. The best part? The bands they coach are actually good. 1203 N. Haskell Ave., 214-826-7735,

Best Tacos

Fuel City
Calling Fuel City a “gas station” is like saying The Grapes of Wrath is a story about a car trip. It’s an understatement. Fuel City—owned by Woodrow High grad John Benda—is a 24-hour gas station and truck stop, yes, but also a drive-thru beer store that features live steer, a swimming pool, bikini-clad girls, and tacos made with a recipe that’s been in Benda’s family for three generations. He sells four varieties for a $1.26 apiece. The picadillo—made with spicy ground beef, potato, onions, cilantro, and fresh lime—was named the best taco in the entire state in 2006 by Texas Monthly. 801 S. Industrial Blvd., 214-426-0011.

Best Cheaters Marathon
Dallas White Rock Marathon Relay

If you want to experience the excitement of a marathon without technically going the distance, the five-person relay is for you. Round up four friends and assign yourselves legs, ranging in distance from 4 miles to 6.2 miles. If you really want to have fun, decide on a theme and have your team dress up in costume. One year, we spotted five Borats on the course.

Best Group to Wake Up With
Park Cities Morning Running Group

Having accountability while training is a powerful motivator. Enter the Park Cities Morning Running Group. This rotating band of diehards meets at 6 am, Monday through Friday, at different locations around Dallas for runs into the Park Cities and beyond. The routes vary in distance, but count on at least a 5-miler. The group’s tireless leader, Bill Shipley, is always welcoming to new faces, and the only requirement for “membership” is an introduction.

Best Post-Race Party
Michelob Ultra Katy 5K
The lead sponsor—Michelob—kind of says it all. People tend to run this race fast so they can be first in line for beer, vino from Barefoot Wines, and grub from some of the yummiest restaurants in town (Grimaldi’s, Salum, Strong’s, Alo). After downing a recovery brew, indulge in treats such as bruschetta, ribs, buffalo chicken tenders, pulled pork sliders, pasta salad, and frozen custard.

Best Race to Run With a Crowd
Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot

Not only is it fun, it also helps burn calories before you tackle that Thanksgiving dinner. With an abundance of strollers, dogs, and walkers, it’s hard to get anywhere fast, at least not until the 3-milers split from the 8-mile course. Then it’s time to go all out, crossing the Houston Street viaduct south before heading back along the Jefferson Street viaduct to a brutal uphill finish. You might remember that last push later, as you help yourself to seconds.

Best Hills With a View
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
This Plano park has been described as “a beast of a running course.” That statement was tempered with a description of beautiful woodsy scenery and the chance to spot some wildlife. Arbor Hills is composed of swaths of riparian forest, Blackland Prairie, and upland forest. The 4.4-mile recreational trail has water fountains, picnic shelters, and restrooms, as well as off-road bike paths. Add the hill on Windhaven Parkway, west of Midway, to the Arbor Hills route, and you’ll get a 110-foot climb over half a mile. 6701 W. Parker Rd., Plano.

Best Blow Off

Great American Hero
If you’ve lived in Dallas for any time, you’ve eaten at Dominick Oliverie’s Great American Hero sub sandwich shop. It opened in 1974. His mission statement, in part: treat every sandwich like it’s a gift made for a guest. But unless you’ve gone to the bathroom there recently, you don’t know that Oliverie was one of the first in town to install Dyson Airblade hand dryers, amazing machines that blow HEPA-filtered air through an aperture the size of an eyelash at 400 mph. Genius. 4001 Lemmon Ave., 214-521-2070.

Best Way to Put on a Coat

The Painter Chicks
These ladies are the unlikeliest avant-garde interior painters and faux finishers you’ll ever find. They’re a group of suburban moms with extraordinary skill who actually listen to their clients instead of pushing the latest trends. They started about eight years ago and operate strictly word-of-mouth. Be warned: there’s at least a three-month waiting list for their services. 972-839-1679.

Best Suds and Grub

The Libertine Bar’s Beer Dinner
Once a month the Libertine Bar hosts a prix fixe five-course dinner with each dish paired with a different brew. A recent example: fresh mozzarella with heirloom tomato and basil (paired with Bridgeport IPA); Italian wedding soup with Kobe meatballs and Parmesan baguette (Franziskaner Dunkelweiss); mussels gazpacho (Leffe Blonde); Gouda-stuffed chicken scallopini with herbed orzo and peas (St. Arnold Brown Ale); house-made cannoli (Ayinger Celebrator). All for $40 a person. Reservations required. 2101 Greenville Ave., 214-824-7900,

Best Leisure Wear
Putting on pants and a shirt can be such a hassle. You know what you need, friend? A jumpsuit. Take your pick: camouflage, short-sleeve, corduroy. But our favorite is the pincord stripe “shorty” jumpsuit with built-in belt. Like shorts—only way better. Your source for all things jumpsuit is, run by the casual folks at Apparel World, in business locally since 1922. 4949 Beeman Ave., 214-887-8999.

image of cafe r&d
photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

Best Deviled Egg

Cafe R&D
Deviled eggs have migrated from picnics to upscale restaurants like Fearing’s. But Cafe R&D treats them with the most love. They cook them in small batches, 16 eggs at a time. They remove the yolks, which they fluff ever so daintily with a whisk. They meticulously fold in minced celery, mayonnaise, Tabasco, horseradish, and sweet relish, using a spatula to keep the texture smooth and creamy. And they fill them to order, so there’s no refrigerator crust. 8300 Preston Center Plaza, 214-890-7900.

Best Reason to Visit Downtown Richardson

MJ Shockley opened this surf shop in Richardson on historic Main Street, selling Roxy, Hurley, Paul Frank, Quiksliver, and Billabong apparel. And flip-flops? Pick up your choice of styles by Reef and Sanuk. Kids can design and create custom t-shirts around a surfboard table for a unique party experience, while vintage beach movies and reggae create a good vibe. 112 E. Main St., Richardson, 469-330-7873,

image of duncan quinn
photography by Billy Surface

Best Bespoke

Duncan Quinn
That Armani suit hanging in your walk-in? It’s so off the rack. Every dandy knows that custom-made is the only way, and nobody is better at bespoke than New York import Duncan Quinn. Its Savile Row-style suits may be hand-cut and stitched in New York, but its stylish yet playful sensibilities are very British. Dapper store manager Andrew Jordan will navigate you through myriad fabric choices. (Andes mountain goat belly hair, anyone?) Prices start at $3,500 for
the basic bespoke service (at least two fittings) and can run as high as $30,000. 2420 Victory Park Ln., 214-953-1953,

Best Place to Roll ’Em If You Got ’Em

Havana Social Club
For cigar aficionados, this Victory Park hot spot is the closest you can get to Cuba without the fear of pesky revolutionaries getting in the way of a good time. Puff on the finest of the cigar world (like Arturo Fuente), maintain your stogie collection in Havana’s private humidor lockers, and allow the club’s in-house Cuban master cigar roller to make you a custom fatty. Or if you prefer to be all DIY, take a private lesson in cigar rolling. For only $30, roll one cigar and enjoy two rum drinks per person all in the swanky style of Havana Social Club’s Cuban lounge. Viva la resistance! 3030 Olive St., Ste. 103, 214-303-0544,

image of havanna social club
photography by Billy Surface

Best Royal Salad

Caesar Salad at Parigi
There are at least 6,000 restaurants in Dallas and more than 6,000 recipes for Caesar salad. This city is so Caesar crazy, the local branch of the American Institute of Food & Wine holds a standing-room-only Caesar salad competition each fall. After years of roaming the range for the best tossed romaine, only one still pings off of our palate as perfect. It’s served at Parigi, where the crisp cool lettuce is tossed with the proper amounts Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolk, and black pepper. The secret ingredient? Chef Janice Provost keeps it locked in her head. 3311 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste. 102, 214-521-0295.

Best Place to Battle Altophobia

Swimming Pool at the Joule Hotel
Originally a 1920s Dallas bank, this luxury hotel features not only one of Dallas’ newest hot spots, Charlie Palmer restaurant, but also one of its newest spots to stay cool, the Joule pool. And what a pool it is. The water actually extends 8 feet out of the building over the sidewalk 10 stories below. Talk about floating on air. For those who prefer to tread water away from the traffic of Main Street, there are cabanas and lounge chairs in close proximity to the outdoor bar. 1530 Main St., 214-748-1300.

image of joule hotel pool image of carolina herrera
(left) Joule Hotel pool
photography courtesy of Joule Hotel
(right) Carolina Herrera
photography by Stephen Karlisch

Best Designer Splurge

Carolina Herrera at Highland Park Village
We no longer have to rely on trips to the Big Apple to glimpse the covetable gowns by this sophisticated designer. Not only is Highland Park Village home to one of only three of American Herrera boutiques stocking the entire runway and bridal collections, but the 3,600-square-foot Texas flagship also sells exclusive accessories by Judith Leiber, Nancy Gonzalez, Manolo Blahnik, and Faraone Mennella. Fall’s countryside-chic collection hits stores this month, and many of the gorgeous gowns are calling our name. 31 Highland Park Village, 214-219-6060,

image of rise no. 1
photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Best Meal Full of Hot Air

Rise No. 1
Before the arrival of Rise No. 1, you could find soufflés at only a handful of places as a special-occasion dessert. Rise makes them star of the show, in so many flavors you can sample a different one every day. Choose from savory versions—ham and cheese, creamed spinach, smoked salmon, truffle and wild mushroom, blue cheese, and lobster Thermidor. Or sweet: chocolate, Grand Marnier, raspberry, apricot, and bread pudding. Served in fine pottery, they stand tall and brave, quivering slightly, waiting to cave in to your pleasure demands. 5360 W. Lovers Ln., Ste. 220, 214-366-9900,

Best Sounding Board
Stuart Sikes

Stuart Sikes has a Grammy, a gold record, and, best of all, a local address. An engineer and producer with a résumé suitable for framing (White Stripes, Loretta Lynn, Modest Mouse, Cat Power), Sikes works out of an Oak Cliff studio, Elmwood Recording. The result: area musicians have access to someone who can lend them an ear that is as good as anything they could find in New York or L.A. 214-946-9282,

Best Watchdog
We Shot JR

Stonedranger and the rest of the anonymity-craving gang behind the profound and profane music website We Shot JR can be brutal. If they don’t like something—be it a song, an album, a genre, or an entire group of people—not a single punch will be pulled. And the group of commenters (many of them anonymous, too) that flock to their blog posts are even worse. But in a world where local music criticism is often little more than thinly veiled cheerleading, theirs is a necessary voice. (And they’re not above leading the cheers on occasion, too.)

Best Musical Comeback
Bobby Patterson

The best soul singer Dallas has ever produced has been brought back to life with the help of his “white boys,” Shibboleth. It’s the second comeback in the last decade for Patterson, the creator of such songs as “T.C.B. or T.Y.A.” and “Don’t Be So Mean.” He had another brief brush with the spotlight when Jeff Tweedy covered his “She Don’t Have to See You” on Golden Smog’s 1996 album Down By the Old Mainstream. But this one looks like it will stick: Patterson and Shibboleth have recorded a set of demos with Stuart Sikes (see first item), and if the planned full-length is even half as good, Patterson won’t be ours for long.

Best Solo Act
Sarah Jaffe

Sarah Jaffe is 22 years old, though after listening to her just for a moment you’d swear she was older. (That you couldn’t listen to her just for a moment is beside the point.) Her voice doesn’t sound like it could possibly belong to someone so young. It’s the instrument of a woman who’s seen more than she’ll admit, lost more than she can explain. It’s a dive-bar waitress singing to herself as she clears away the empties at the end of the night.

Best Old Made New

Again & Again
Leslie Pritchard can reinvent just about any old piece of furniture with a little TLC and reupholstery. She and her team will give your old couch or chair a face-lift (chair-lift?) using new fabric and paint, with an emphasis on funky colors and patterns. Again & Again also sells ready-to-go vintage pieces that the crew has updated with bright paints and cheerful fabrics. 5207 Bonita Ave., 214-826-6666,

Best Pizza by the Book

Cavalli Pizza
It seems a new “authentic” pizza restaurant opens every week in Dallas. But Cavalli, a mom-and-pop pizzeria in Irving, is the only one with bona fides: a certification by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association (VPN), guaranteeing that the pizza adheres to the standard set in Naples, Italy. That means: San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, buffalo mozzarella, wood-fired oven, and a pizza that bakes in less than 90 seconds. Cavalli is the only pizzeria in Texas with the VPN cred. 3601 Regent Blvd., Irving, 972-915-0001,

image of tom spicer
photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Best Fiddlehead Fern Finder

Tom Spicer
In the age of fast food, it’s hard to find people who forage for seasonal wild mushrooms, fresh hearts of palm, Lolita greens, or Red Russian kale. Tom “Spiceman” Spicer does just that. Besides supplying many of our top restaurants with delicate micro greens, Spicer now operates a retail store, Spiceman’s F-M 1410, in East Dallas. When the Spiceman is in, you can buy a fistful of exotic Tokyo longs to dazzle the pants off your in-laws (or maybe just your spouse). 1410-B N. Fitzhugh Ave., 214-828-0322.

Best Yearbook Picture You’ll Ever Have

Facial Inc.
Facial Inc. is a tiny salon in West Plano owned by Bina Sidiqqui and sidekick Ryan Wyatt. Their business is knowing what’s hot in hair, makeup, skin care, and style. Got zits? Not if Sidiqqui has anything to do with it. She designs custom regimens for her ’tween and teen devotees at the “skin bar.” Hairstylist Wyatt provides cuts, color, and coaching so his young clients can duplicate salon results at home. Kids’ cuts are just $25, and adults’ are $40. 3901 W. Parker Rd., No. 810B, Plano, 972-578-6067,

image of brut
photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Best Bubbly

It may be hot outside, but inside this popular Champagne/sparkling wine lounge and boutique, everything is cool and crisp. Featuring the largest selection of sparklers in Dallas (more than 200 bottles), Brut is a fizzy respite from the summer heat. Buy a bottle to take home, or have a glass with your friends as you sway to hypnotic ambient music amid the urbane trappings of this popular Zen den. 5330 E. Mockingbird Ln., Ste. 150, 214-827-2788,

Best SPEEDY Alterations

Unique Tailor
Say you just bought a new pair of True Religions. They’re just a tad too long, but you must wear them tonight. Enter Unique Tailor. In one hour, they’ll hem your jeans to that perfect stiletto length. With more than 10 tailors working, Unique promises same-day service for many alterations, and at just $4.99 for jean hems, you won’t have to feel guilty about splurging on a new top to complete the outfit. 5638 E. Mockingbird Ln., 214-824-5678.


image of heights park
photography by Joshua Martin

Best Blast Off

Heights Park
Heights Park is an aspiring astronaut’s dream. Located at Heights Recreation Center, this Richardson mainstay for more than 40 years is chock-full of kid-friendly equipment and walking trails. The park’s pride and joy, however, is the giant rocket-shaped slide. Generations of kids have climbed up its four-story platform and glided down its gleaming descent. Until we colonize the moon, it’s the next best thing to blasting off. 711 W. Arapaho Rd., Richardson, 972-744-7850,

Best Place to Find a Late-night Hookup
The Loon Bar and Grill

Maybe you love The Loon. Maybe you hate it. But everyone agrees: its strong drinks, plus attractive guys and girls, plus walking distance to many apartment complexes equals plenty of people “making a connection” around last call. Don’t hate the player. 3531 McKinney Ave., 214-559-3059.
Best Place to Pick Up Up North
RA Sushi and Gordon Biersch

These two new suburban spots are packing in the singles. Locals hit RA during happy hour to fuel up on $1 hot sake, $3 California rolls, and sexual innuendos. At Gordon Biersch, the beer selection provides a perfect opener: “What are you drinking? Can I buy you one?” RA: 7501 Lone Star Dr., Ste. B130, Plano, 469-467-7400. Gordon: 7401 Lone Star Dr., Ste. B120, Plano, 469-467-0464.

Best Place to Meet Your New Stepkids
The Dallas Arboretum

This place is crawling with “newly single” moms and dads with their children in tow—especially on Cool Thursdays, when they come for the live music. With the blooming gardens and White Rock Lake as your idyllic backdrop, sidle up to a clan and start a conversation. Just make sure to check for rings first. 8525 Garland Rd., 214-515-6500.

Best Place to Meet an Artist
The Public Trust

So you’re done with “financial types.” For a different crowd, head to an exhibit at the Public Trust in Deep Ellum. Owner Brian Gibb shows works from artists you probably haven’t heard of (a good thing), and he invites his cool friends to the art openings, held nine times a year. You might have to put up with a bit of artistic “expression,” but at least you won’t risk a ride home in a Hummer blaring 50 Cent. 2919 Commerce St., Ste. C, 214-760-7170.

Best Place to Bump Carts
Albertsons on McKinney

It’s known to locals as the “Hot Albertsons.” In the frozen foods section, you’ll find scores of good-looking guys and girls with two things on their minds: checking off their grocery list and checking out the other shoppers. Monday and Tuesday nights are usually the best. 3524 McKinney Ave., 214-528-0356.

Best Place for a “Working Lunch”
Cafe Express on McKinney

This one’s for the girls. Schedule a “business lunch” with your friends. Dress cute. Go to said restaurant and ogle the hot guys. Here are some suggested openers: “Could you pass me a breadstick?” Or: “Wow, I love sun-dried tomatoes/gherkins/chickpeas, too!” 3230 McKinney Ave., 214-999-9444.

image of local’s tempura green beans
photography by Kevin
Hunter Marple

Best Reason to Eat Your Veggies

Tracy Miller, chef at Local, was one of the first in town to show that tempura doesn’t have to be Asian with her tempura green beans (with versions subsequently offered by Hibiscus, SushiSamba, Twisted Root, and more). This is the way to eat your green beans: sheathed in a crust to help you forget they are “healthy.” Miller fries them just enough to soften their snap and adds a house-made dipping sauce. 2936 Elm St., 214-752-7500.

Best Dutch Treat
Cafe Rembrandt

If you can’t afford to fly to Amsterdam for a touch of Dutch, then head to Cafe Rembrandt for a Gouda time. Besides Indonesian-inspired dishes such as beef saté with peanut sauce, this cozy spot also serves traditional Harderwijker seafood chowder and bitter balls, and tiny croquettes of beef in a dining room dominated by a large reproduction of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. It’s the Dallas version of dining at the Rijksmuseum. 703 McKinney Ave., 214-468-0073.

image of manuel and melanie ramon at melanie gayle
photography by Billy Surface

Best Shop for Party Frocks

Melanie Gayle
This is our go-to shop for last-minute party dresses. Store owner Melanie Ramon is a former assistant buyer for Neiman Marcus and has an eye for quality, yet manages to keep the boutique stocked with frocks well below designer costs ($150 is average; most pieces ring up at less than $400). New merchandise arrives daily, meaning we can always find something unique. Browse dresses by Ali Ro, Soshanna, Nu Collective, Nikka, Sheri Bodell, Tricia Fix, Yoanna Baraschi, Jenny Han, and more. Look for a new location opening this fall at the Shops at Legacy in Plano. 6818 Snider Plaza, 214-369-1700,


image of vladimir grigorenko at st. seraphim’s
photography by Joshua

Best Iconography

Interior of St. Seraphim’s Orthodox Cathedral
It has taken twice as long as the Sistine Chapel project, but it’s just as breathtaking in its own measure. A quick job of painting a wooden screen at the church revealed how plain the St. Seraphim cathedral was, so Ukraine-born Vladimir Grigorenko spent the next eight years painting the life of Jesus, the saints, and other Christian scenes on the ceilings and walls of the orthodox church. A pleasure for the eyes if not also the soul. 4208 Wycliff Ave., 214-528-3741,

Best Illumination
Lights Fantastic

Discover life after incandescent. You’ll find a huge array of compact fluorescent lamps, LED, dimmable fluorescent, and more. Volts: what? Watts: how many? If you’re like us, you’ll need help figuring all that out, and Jon Sayah is the one to ask. 4645 Greenville Ave., 214-369-1101,

Best Reason to Stay Outdoors
Ann and David Sutherland

Think you can’t be both stylish and comfortable while lounging outside? The Sutherlands are here to prove you wrong. The very best names in international design have come together to create collections for David’s Sutherland Teak: Philippe Starck, John Hutton, and Robert Kuo. Ann’s fabric line, Perennials, has reinvented the concept of outdoor fabrics. (Read: no more scratchy stripes.) Think subtle colors in beautiful patterns and weaves that you’ll want everywhere in your home, not just the patio. 168 Regal Row, 214-638-4161,,

Best One-Stop Remodel
Charles Pollan

Charles Pollan formed Pollan Construction Services this year after 35 years at Quality Fence Co. He’s a contractor, subcontractor, and go-to guy who oversees all aspects of your remodel, including your pool and landscaping. Translation: you deal with one person for your biggest headaches. The pickiest people in Dallas depend on him to handle their jobs, knowing that when it’s done, it’s perfect. 3419 Westminster, No. 273, 214-384-3690,

Best Reason to Exit the Toll Road
Dallas Design District

The new Oak Lawn exit opens up an area that had been all but closed off to the masses: the Design District. Along with the trendy art galleries on Dragon Street, which have always been open to the public, selected shops, antiques stores, and secret (until now) custom shops are welcoming clients that are not “in the trade.”

Best Trip Without Dropping Acid
Scott + Cooner

This place is part museum, part avant-garde showroom. Interested in a lamp with feathers growing on light bulbs? What about a chandelier made of Campari bottles? Or a red campaign chair dressed up with fabric lilies to look like a cancan dancer on four legs? Score. 1617 Hi Line Dr., Ste. 100, 214-748-9838,

image of nathan burke’s superfly pies
photography by Kevin
Hunter Marple

Best Pizza Party

Superfly Pies
Those looking to plan an outdoor party with something other than tired ol’ burgers should hire caterer Nathan Burke’s Superfly Pies. For the past year, he’s been setting up his mobile wood-burning oven in local backyards and turning out fabulous pizzas (he even rolls out the dough on the spot). Burke offers options such as blue cheese with pesto and caramelized onions, and ricotta with truffle oil, garlic, and applewood-smoked bacon. For those craving something more than pizza, his team also brings sausage “lollipops,” an Italian torta, house salad, and dessert flatbread (peaches and caramel for the summer). 214-289-6842.

Best Cuppa Texas Tea

Patti’s Place Tea Room & Bakery
To steal a line from Arthur Dent, this isn’t what you expect from tea. Built in the historic Wells farmhouse that dates to the late 1800s, Patti’s Place has all the refined trappings and offerings of a more traditional tearoom but in a rustic and relaxed setting. Teas from around the world accompany a tasty lunch menu, homemade ice cream, and fresh bakery treats. 3921 Coit Rd., Plano, 972-612-4828,

Best Place to Get Trigger Happy

Elm Fork Shooting Sports
Right off the Northwest Highway loop there’s a 467-acre outdoor shooting range regarded as one of the best in Texas. It’s a family-friendly operation offering archery, skeet, trap, rifle, and pistol ranges. Classes are available for every skill level, and there are women-only lessons for ladies who want a break from the machismo that infects some ranges. 10751 Luna Rd., 972-556-0103,

Best French Fix
Studio Sebastian
Starting this month, the Snider Plaza shop will stock the largest selection of French label Lanvin in Dallas, including 250 shoes and 70 bags from the fall collection. Studio Sebastian has ordered the entire line of bags in every color possible. It’s the next best thing to being on Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, home of Lanvin’s Paris boutique. 6730 Snider Plaza, 214-360-9001.

Best First Date

Admit it. You’ve made enough potential mates suffer through the dinner-and-a-movie deal. It’s time to get imaginative. Interactive. And a little sake wouldn’t hurt. At SushiSamba’s Sushi & Sake 101, you’ll learn how to choose sushi-grade fish, get roll-making tips from a SushiSamba chef, and, best of all, you’ll make and eat your own sushi rolls all while sipping a variety of cold and hot sakes. 13270 Dallas Pkwy., Ste. 1165, 214-866-0214,

Best Fried Green Thing

Flip’s Patio Grill
We bet you can’t eat just one of the fried pickle chips here. Heck, we’ll double that bet. Because when it comes to these little slivers of dill, battered and flash-fried and served with Thousand Island dressing, we can’t help but polish off a whole basket before our second round of beers. 415 Hwy. 114, Grapevine, 817-251-9800.

Best Place to Align Your Chakras

This holistic spa and yoga center is unlike any in the area. Owners Renuka Srinivasan and Sonali Rathi-Pramanik, both raised in India, offer workshops, meditation classes, diet plans, and ayurvedic therapies to help integrate the body, mind, and spirit. Therapists are trained ayurvedic doctors from India. 4017 Preston Rd., Ste. 532, 972-608-0402,

Best Pennies to Heaven

St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store
“Thrift store” might be an off-putting term for some, but, trust us, this is not a repository for stained and more-than-gently used goods. The store, which opened last year, has a considerable selection of clothing, which volunteers painstakingly arrange by color, and carries some fairly posh items (we scored a like-new pair of Marc Jacobs capris for $25). Proceeds benefit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which provides assistance to the needy. A sign on the dressing room wall provides a reminder of the org’s charitable mission: “If you steal from St. Vincent de Paul, you’re stealing from the Lord.” Nuff said. 3052 W. Northwest Hwy., 214-373-7837,

image of ben and skin
photography by Elizabeth

Best Columnists
Ben & Skin’s Hot Potato Salad

Ben Rogers (on the right) has a day job in ad sales. Jeff “Skin” Wade has a night job making music. Together, they host a Saturday show on 1310 The Ticket, in addition to handling Mavericks post-game duties. Beyond all that, they also write a hilarious weekly column for Quick, “Ben & Skin’s Hot Potato Salad.” Think of it as a transcript of an IM chat between two randy dadaists. Their columns are wrong in all the right ways, which is why we love them. To demonstrate, they wrote a special column for D. We can’t stress enough that they chose the topics.

A Tribute to NorthPark by Ben & Skin Unanticipated Crime Wave
: Why does it seem like there’s so much crime at crime-free NorthPark all of a sudden? I keep getting Town East, Vikon Village, and NorthPark confused. Can I get a tattoo, a fake ID, and a velvet painting of Tupac there now?
Skin: Ahhh, yes, I do miss working at The Gas Pipe. But the crime problem at NP is a direct result of all the new youth-oriented stores. It has created an influx of loitering teens too young to buy liquor. So they offset their boredom by sparkin’ some cheeba and knockin’ off a ring spot or two.
Ben: I fear the teen herd. Armed, naïve, and opinionated is not exactly a recipe for good decision-making. Especially when they congregate and Lord of the Flies-up the movie plaza. BTW, I heard the jewelry store that was robbed is having a broken glass sale. I’m hoping to buy my wife a nice, overpriced designer shard for our anniversary.
Skin: You could make it extra special by swinging through the food court and getting Samneric to authenticate it. I got them to spit on the anniversary conch I gave my wife.

Hip Shoppers + Cougars = People-Watching Gold
Ben: Even if I weren’t worried about getting prison shanked at the Orange Julius, I’m nowhere near cool enough to shop at NorthPark. I recently went into the super-trendy Adidas store, and all three of the forcibly glum, über-hipster 18-year-old employees ignored me because they thought I was a cop.
Skin: You sashayed in and announced that you had “arrived in order to procure some dashing new Stanley Smiths.” What’d you expect? If you’re going to shop there, you strut in, drop a loud N-bomb and tell ’em you’re only “f*&#kin’ with them four-bill, exclusive Internet joints that nobody has ever seen.” Then you’ll get top-notch service.
Ben: The latter is how I typically roll into church. I love to people-watch at NorthPark. So much sexy. So much money. So much plastic surgery. It’s like watching Desperate Housewives sans the terrible script.
Skin: That sounds like my church I never attend. I’m just happy they banned old people walking the mall at lunchtime in order to get exercise. That should only be legal at cemeteries anyway.
Expensive Baby Threads
Skin: There’s a new wing that only has stupid expensive baby boutiques. They have the same exact “Mommy’s Little Alligator” onesie you can get at Costco for three bones except these spots deliver it with an 18,000-percent markup. The same exact gator. For the
Park Cities MILF Mafia, price gouging equals quality.
Ben: My 2-year-old just loves their $50 Polo diapers. BTW, if you’re eye-hunting for some smoking hot, triple-rich, soccer mom-style eye candy, those boutiques basically serve as duck blinds.
Skin: I’ve sat in those duck blinds many times myself wearing nothing but a $50 Polo diaper. You’d think you could lure those soccer moms a little closer by using an anniversary shard on a string, but it hasn’t been as effective for me as I thought it would. I blame gas prices and stuff.
Ben: They are oblivious to surging gas prices, Holmes. They drive diesel-guzzling luxury sport tanks with decorative gas fountains. Besides, eye contact with mall patrons can often lead to gunplay. Try getting their attention by using a more overpriced shard.