Monday, May 29, 2023 May 29, 2023
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Why We Love the Dallas Suburbs

Looking to plan the perfect day trip? Or are you looking to start a brand-new life? Here’s a list of 11 suburbs in Dallas’ surrounding areas that are worth a visit.
By Zac Crain, Mike Piellucci, Brian Reinhart, Tim Rogers, and Kathy Wise |
Sailing with scott rockwall
In Rockwall, on a sunset cruise aboard the Seawolf catamaran, you might have a religious experience. Courtesy of Sail with Scott
  • 2021 population: 133,251
  • Population growth over the past 10 years: 9%
  • Median home sale price: $410,000
  • School district demographics: 18% Black, 55% Hispanic, 11% White, 11% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: B (88 out of 100)

Carrollton’s biggest growth spurt was in the 1980s, during which the population more than doubled and much of the city’s infrastructure was developed. Things have slowed down a bit in the last few decades, but the city is still rapidly improving itself, adding parks among its rolling hills and building on its reputation as one of Dallas’ most diverse and inclusive suburbs. According to a 2021 U.S. Census estimate, 28 percent of residents here are foreign born, a higher percentage than in Dallas, Richardson, Frisco, Addison, Farmers Branch, and Lewisville, and just a fraction shy of Plano.

The Worship Tour

If you want to understand Carrollton’s diversity and its appeal to residents from around the world, look to its houses of worship. On a single block of Old Denton Road, you’ll pass one of North Texas’ largest mosques, a Vietnamese Christian church, and a Syrian Orthodox church. Around the corner is St. Mary’s Orthodox Church of India. (Yes, India has an Orthodox community that traces its roots back to Christianity’s first century.) Just south of downtown is the Sri Guruvayurappan Hindu Temple.

The city’s new crown jewel, though, is St. Sarkis Armenian Orthodox Church, on the border with Plano. Consecrated in April 2022, the church and adjoining community center were designed by architect David Hotson and project architect Stepan Terzyan, a member of the congregation. The result is a warmly minimalist mixture of Armenian architectural tradition and geometric calm. On the exterior, 1.5 million centimeter wide icons form a dazzling tapestry. Like snowflakes, the icons are unique, as each represents a victim of the 1915-1917 Armenian genocide and provides a silent protest to the persecution that continues in the Caucasus today.

Downtown Revival

The town square was platted more than a century ago, in 1900, but the last few decades have brought restoration and upgrades. DART now operates along the old Dallas-to-Denton rail line. Bike trails connect the station to a variety of neighborhoods. Downtown itself, sitting in the shadow of an enormous new I-35 overpass, crams in traditional antiques malls alongside an ax-throwing joint, a Cane Rosso location, and the acclaimed 3 Nations Brewing Co., which pulls its many taps inside a restored 70-year-old grain shed.

Koreatown Shopping

Thousands of people converge on this suburb every day to shop in the Asian plazas on Old Denton Road. They’re collectively known as Koreatown, although they go well beyond Korean wares. Grab some stationery at Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya, shop for eclectic bargains at Daiso, take home a tub of kimchi from Bap Doduk, and raid the candy aisle at H Mart. Koreatown is a great place to dine, too. Some of our favorite dishes include kimchi dumplings at Arirang Korean Kitchen, tonkatsu pork at Kurobuta, boat noodles from Too Thai Street Eats, and French macarons from Ecclesia Bakery and Cafe.

  • 2021 population: 50,872
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 8%
  • Median home sale price: $525,000
  • School district demographics: 7% Black, 24% Hispanic, 52% White, 10% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: A (93 out of 100)  
Grapevine main station
Grapevine Main Station is a self-contained entertainment district with an old soul. Courtesy of The Grapevine Main

William D. Tate has helped shape the fortunes of Grapevine since 1969, when he was named city attorney. He was elected to the City Council three years later and then became the mayor in 1975, a post he held for a decade—the first time. Tate was reelected in 1988 and has been Grapevine’s mayor ever since. No other city in North Texas can claim such consistent leadership; Dallas, by comparison, has had 13 mayors since Wes Wise left office in 1976. That is no doubt one of the reasons Grapevine has managed to keep a small-town feel without necessarily adopting a small-town mind-set, staying true to its character even as it adds sprawling attractions such as the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center and Great Wolf Lodge water park and modernizes its historic downtown. The century-old buildings in the latter were joined a couple of years ago by the Grapevine Main Station complex, nominally a train depot but more of a self-contained entertainment district in practice. Grapevine Main fits in so well with its neighbors that it feels like it has been there as long as everything else. The massive, old-school clock tower helps. 


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Wine Country

Given its name, it should be no surprise that Grapevine has seven wineries with tasting rooms: Bingham Family Vineyards, Bull Lion Ranch Winery, Cross Timbers Winery, Grape Vine Springs Winery, Landon Winery, Messina Hof Winery, and Sloan & Williams Winery. To soak up the alcohol, try a sandwich from Weinberger’s Deli or a classic bowl of red at Tolbert’s Restaurant and Chili Parlor (run by Kathleen, the daughter of chili historian Frank X. Tolbert). Or you can go for dinner and drinks at Bacchus Kitchen + Bar in Hotel Vin, the boutique hotel attached to Grapevine Main.

The Great Outdoors

There are nine parks surrounding the 8,000-acre Lake Grapevine (you can find swimming areas at Meadowmere and Lakeview), just as many boat ramps, and opportunities to engage in every activity you might expect around a body of water that size. Plus there is the 9-mile North Shore Trail for hiking and biking. If you and your family prefer your water fun indoors, the crowds at Great Wolf Lodge would suggest you are not alone.

Main Street Shopping

It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon shopping along Main Street, as new boutiques and shops now fill the old buildings. You can find women’s fashions (ooh la la!, Cadillac Cowgirl), U.K. imports (British Emporium), specialty sodas (Rocket Fizz), kitchen accoutrements (Grapevine Olive Oil Company), and more. The latest to hang out its shingle here is Tout Goods, whose stated goal is “to be a place where men here in North Texas can find quality essentials and accessories, making style approachable and accessible for the modern man.”

  • 2021 population: 254,198
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 16%
  • Median home sale price: $350,000
  • School district demographics: 13% Black, 71% Hispanic, 9% White, 3% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: B (84 out of 100)
Toyota Music Factory
Toyota Music Factory Courtesy of Stephen of Goodgame Photography

In the early 1970s, cattle-ranching tycoon Ben Carpenter began developing his family’s Irving property into what he called El Ranchito de Las Colinas, one of the first master-planned communities. Before he died in 2006, Carpenter saw what came to be known as Las Colinas turn into a model for other places striving to strike the ideal blend of residential and commercial. Carpenter, however, never planned for what has emerged in Las Colinas over the last decade or so: the city within the city now has a city within its city. It started when the Irving Convention Center opened in 2011, near the intersection of State Highway 114 and Northwest Highway. The eye-catching building—it has been compared to one of the Jawas’ Sandcrawlers from Star Wars—planted a flag for what was to come a few years later when the Toyota Music Factory opened next door. While two huge concert venues (one indoor, one open-air) form the nucleus, you don’t need to be a music fan to find something to do there. But, of course, Irving is not just Las Colinas. An ongoing project to redevelop Irving Boulevard around its downtown train station should be complete soon and give both residents and visitors more options.

On Background

A Trulia study in 2012 determined that the 75038 ZIP code, in northwest Irving, was the most diverse ZIP code in all of the United States, with almost equal representation of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian residents. 


You would need the better part of a month to eat and drink your way through the varied offerings at Toyota Music Factory. The popular Deep Ellum honky-tonk Mama Tried has a massive second location at the complex, and you can get Mexican (Pacheco Taco Bar), Brazilian (Blaze Brazilian Steakhouse), Italian (Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria), and just about anything else. But we suggest venturing north of 635 for dinner at Fortune House Chinese Cuisine. Specifically, the soup dumplings, which might be the best in all of North Texas.

Concert Central

Since it opened at the end of 2017, Toyota Music Factory has risen to the top of area concert destinations. Upcoming shows include Yeah Yeah Yeahs (May 9), Charlie Puth (May 24), and Weezer and Modest Mouse (June 6). 

  • 2021 population: 42,221
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 7%
  • Median home sale price: $540,000
  • School district demographics: 4% Black, 13% Hispanic, 25% White, 54% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: A (97 out of 100)

Coppell sees the best version of itself. The city and its chamber of commerce last year launched a “Discover Coppell” campaign. A website of the same name has as its centerpiece a kayaker splashing water with his paddle and says: “It’s a place where farm-fresh goods come from local folks. Where you can explore the beautiful side of the majestic Trinity River.” 

No part of the Trinity River is majestic. But it’s true: the Coppell Farmers Market, in its Old Town district, is a great place to spend a Saturday morning shopping for produce and locally made goods. 


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Dan Koller chuckles about the boosterism. His day job is in communications for the Allied Pilots Association, but on the side he runs a Substack newsletter called the Coppell Chronicle. “It really is a bedroom community,” he says, sitting on a sunny patio at George Coffee + Provisions. “That’s the joke about Discover Coppell: discover what?”

But he knows what the town offers its residents. Across the street from George, new two-story houses with stacked porches go for $600,000 and up, according to Zillow. On the other side of the square, the Coppell Arts Center, opened in 2021, will host several events this month, including a performance by the Korean Traditional Dance Association. Within walking distance, patrons can hit Hard Eight BBQ, Twisted Root Burger Co., and a new Taqueria La Ventana. There’s shopping, too, at Jacaranda Gift Shop and Tattered Style.

Then there are the great schools, which brought Koller and his wife to Coppell a decade ago. This month residents will vote on a $321 million bond program for Coppell ISD (one of three ISDs that serve the city). Just like the Coppell Cowgirls, who this year made it to the UIL Class 6A Girls State Final Four, the city is working hard to continue its success.

Cypress Waters

“I always tell people that Cypress Waters is to Dallas what Alaska is to the rest of the United States,” Koller says. “It’s part of Dallas, but it’s not connected to it.” The huge Billingsley Company development on North Lake might technically be in Dallas, but it’s also in the Coppell school district. In addition to office space and apartments, you’ll find The Sound, a retail-and-dining complex with lakeside patios. Just a taste of the restaurants: Landon Winery, Flying SaucerRodeo Goat, Ascension Coffee, and Eno’s Pizza Tavern

John Madden’s Favorite Sandwich

When the Dallas Cowboys were headquartered in Valley Ranch, they made the Coppell Deli locally famous. Rookies were forced to stop in on Saturdays to buy breakfast sandwiches for veterans to eat before the team’s walk-through. But it was John Madden who brought the joint national acclaim when the broadcaster extolled the greatness of the Stubbs Special: bacon, sausage, egg, and cheese on Texas toast. The original location, like Madden, is now gone, but the new outpost still serves all the greasy goodness that fueled the glory-days Cowboys. “You go in there and look around at all the pictures,” says Koller, “and like, in that building, it’s still 1993. It’s all about that era.” 

  • 2021 population: 210,719
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 71%
  • Median home sale price: $630,000
  • School district demographics: 11% Black, 13% Hispanic, 34% White,  37% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: A (95 out of 100)
Rare Books
You'll need the password to get inside Rare Books Bar. Vanessa Gavalya

That explosive growth that has made Frisco a national phenomenon? It’s not going anywhere. Not when the PGA of America headquarters is only in the teething stage of a gargantuan mixed-use development that the city estimates will generate $2.5 billion in economic impact. Not when, across the Dallas North Tollway, Universal Studios is slated to come to town in 2026. And not when Frisco Station will soon join The Star as anchor destination in the southern part of town. No surprise, then, that Frisco recently opened its 12th high school near the PGA development, or neighborhoods like Hollyhock are booming. Expect the aggressive courting of skilled labor—especially in tech—to continue unabated. The endgame? This is North Texas’ Orange County, the region that is blowing past being an extension of Dallas, becoming the entertainment and corporate hub for smaller cities such as Celina, Melissa, Prosper, and Wylie. The next time we do this issue, Frisco might be too big to qualify.  


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Dollars to Doughnuts

The Heritage Table’s farmhouse charm is somehow exceeded by its fine-dining prowess, while Hutchins BBQ can go toe to toe with any of the best pits in town. Frisco Ranch has blossomed into one of the most vibrant Asian retail centers in North Texas, and Detour Doughnuts produces some of the most creative sweets in town. Want a cool spot for a cocktail? Check out Rare Books Bar. (You’ll need the password to get inside.)

Arts & Culture

Hall Group founder Craig Hall and his wife, Kathryn, a former U.S. ambassador to Austria, have spent decades collecting art from around the world. Then they displayed more than 200 pieces of it in and around their offices just off the Dallas North Tollway, as well as in their Texas Sculpture Garden, billed as “the largest private collection of contemporary Texas sculpture ever assembled.” The range and diversity of the exhibit is well worth the trip. Plus, admission is free. 

Sports City USA

Take a spin through The Star, pop by the PGA of America, or take in a ballgame at Riders Field or an FC Dallas match at Toyota Stadium. Off the field, the National Videogame Museum is a nostalgia blast of the highest order, especially when ’80s music pulses through the arcade outside the gift shop. 

  • 2021 population: 288,253
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 8%
  • Median home sale price: $500,000    
  • School district demographics: 14% Black, 28% Hispanic, 31% White, 23% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: B (89 out of 100)  
Plano ballon festival
The Plano Balloon Festival Courtesy of the Plano Balloon Festival

The “it” suburb of the ’80s and ’90s is easing into middle age, and with that comes a new mandate: reinvestment. With the percentage of vacant land down in the low single digits, Plano has shifted its sights toward ramping up retention efforts for corporate hubs and freshening up infrastructure such as roads and parks. Mixed-use developments are a priority, highlighted by facelifts and expansions for Collin Creek Mall and Plano Market Square Mall (which will be renamed Assembly Park). And the Great Update Rebate program incentivizes homeowners to refurbish older houses. All of it works in service to amplify Plano’s greatest advantage, which is being a place that, as director of economic development Doug McDonald puts it, has “everything under one roof,” from schools to healthcare to business to dining and entertainment. The boom period may have come and gone, but so, too, have the growing pains. Plano is settling in for the long haul and seizing the opportunity to make the most of what it already has.

Eat & Drink

Dough Pizzeria Napoletana’s Pork Love is one of the best pies in town. Travel a bit farther up Parker Road and stop at Coit to take on one of suburban Dallas’ best intersections for Asian food. Both Bull Daddy Noodle Bistro and Hunan Bistro are well worth your time. Want to class it up? Knife’s northern outpost can be found in The Shops at Willow Bend. Just make sure to save room for dessert so you can head over to Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream, a Plano institution since relocating from Philadelphia in 1992.

Up, Up, and Away

Plano prides itself on its parks, and the crown jewel is Arbor Hills, a 200-acre space with a trail system, playground, and picnic pavilion. The special attraction, though, is the Plano Balloon Festival, which will celebrate its 42nd anniversary in September at Oak Point Park. Swing by for tethered balloon rides, skydiving, live music, and vendors galore. 

Shopping Legacy 

Any conversation about shopping in Plano must begin on Legacy Drive with the Shops at Legacy and Legacy West. The former became one of the first prominent mixed-use developments north of 635; the latter took luxury to another stratosphere. But you’d be remiss not to complement that with historic Downtown Plano, where small shops intermingle with art galleries, Holman Pottery, the Courtyard Theater, and the Cox Playhouse.  

  • 2021 population: 202,690
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 47%
  • Median home sale price: $470,000         
  • School district demographics: 15% Black, 29% Hispanic, 45% White, 5% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: B (89 out of 100)
McKinney Hat Company
Plan a full day just to shop around the square, starting with the McKinney Hat Company. Vanessa Gavalya

“When you have what everybody wants, they’re gonna come,” says McKinney mayor George Fuller. “So how do you manage that growth in a way that preserves the small-town feel that everyone loves about it?” Well, you create a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) that surrounds the 175-year-old downtown, reinvest some of the money in the rehabilitation of old buildings, mandate that developers include plenty of parks and open spaces, and institute a tree ordinance that is tougher than most. The result? A downtown that’s even more quaint than it was when the movie Benji was filmed here 50 years ago. 

But just because it’s cute doesn’t mean this town is stuck in the past. SiFi Networks is investing $100 million to bring an open-access fiber network to every neighborhood, and plans are afoot at the McKinney National Airport to start offering commercial passenger service to such destinations as New York, California, Colorado, and Florida, optimistically starting in 2026 (pending passage of a $200 million bond package this month). 

Too modern for you? Adriatica Village is a 45-acre development modeled after a timeworn Croatian fishing village. Nestled between three golf courses, it includes custom homes, apartments, and a complex for the 55-and-over crowd. Mayor Fuller happens to be the managing construction partner for the project.


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Hit the Square

Start with coffee at Filtered and an orange cardamom morning bun at Bresnan Bread & Pastry. Barrons Estate Jewelers has squash blossom necklaces and vintage engagement rings, and Soho McKinney, hidden just down the stairs, has Egyptian cotton shirtdresses and French linen pants. Lunch is brisket on a biscuit at Patina Green Home and Market, followed by a little shopping for cast-iron kitchenware at Ettiene Market

Go With the Grain

After outgrowing its old space, Tupps Brewery has been renovating the historic McKinney Grain site, where they will have a new taproom, restaurant, outdoor stage, beer garden—even pop-up shops inside converted grain bins. 

About Those Indoor Courts

Junior Wimbledon champ Liv Hovde hails from McKinney, where she once trained at the Courts of McKinney Tennis Center with coach Matt Hanlin. Back in Hovde’s day, the public facility already had an ample pro shop, 23 tennis courts, six pickleball courts, and year-round leagues and lessons. But they’ll soon be adding an $11 million six-court indoor facility to rival Life Time Plano’s. 

  • 2021 population: 49,669
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 27%
  • Median home sale price: $415,000
  • School district demographics: 11% Black, 24% Hispanic, 57% White, 3% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: A (94 out of 100)
harry myers park rockwall
Harry Myers Park has walking trails, disc golf, and three playgrounds. Shutterstock

Rockwall knows what it has to offer: the city on the eastern shore of Lake Ray Hubbard features a sailboat in many of its official logos. Being situated next to a body of water does not guarantee success, but Rockwall has leveraged its location to great effect. The best example of that, obviously, is The Harbor, which has enough restaurant, retail, and recreation options to keep most residents—and their neighbors in next-door Heath—from even considering a trip to the other side of the lake. Spend the afternoon lounging around the pool at the Hilton, with its killer view of the water, and then take a sunset cruise on the late Scott Self’s hand-built catamaran, Seawolf. Finish it off with dinner at the new Sear Steakhouse & Lounge. That’s just one option; there are many others to explore at the development now operated by PegasusAblon. And it is all close enough (about half an hour away) to also attract plenty of Dallasites looking for a taste of lake life. 

Eat & Drink

When the weather is nice, everyone heads to Standard Service (actually in Heath, but close enough to count). In addition to its modern American menu, it has a massive, active outdoor space, with pickleball, cornhole, and shuffleboard courts, as well as a stage. At The Harbor, in addition to Sear, there are lakeside outposts of Rodeo Goat and Gloria’s. In downtown, there are wood-fired pizzas at Zanata and fresh farm-to-table fare at Book Club Cafe.

The Lake (and Beyond)

There is no shortage of activities to occupy yourself with at the lake, including boat and Jet Ski rentals. Once you tire of the water, there is Harry Myers Park, which has walking trails, disc golf, and three playgrounds (the upgraded KidZone was opened in September) among its other amenities. 

Rockwall Rocks?

The visitor’s bureau bills Rockwall as the “Free Live Music Capital of North Texas,” which is such an oddly specific claim that we can’t imagine they are making it up. You can hear for yourself when the San Jacinto Plaza Music Series kicks off in downtown on May 5. The free live music happens from 7 pm to 9:30 pm every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through October. And Rockwall Summer Musicals this year is mounting productions of Grease (June 23–July 2) and Oklahoma! (July 28–August 6).

  • 2021 population: 23,811
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 258%
  • Median home sale price: $660,000 
  • School district demographics: 5% Black, 25% Hispanic, 62% White, 3% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: A (93 out of 100)
Celina texas
Celina cheerleaders Shutterstock

When you pull up to the historic town square in Celina, the streets are a bit muddy from all the heavy construction vehicles, and from hidden speakers, the SiriusXM station Prime Country wafts over the plaza. It is charming as can be. And a bit scary. Because this little place is growing faster than any other in North Texas.  

At Tender Smokehouse, an excellent barbecue joint co-owned by former MLBer Torii Hunter (you’ll sometimes find him and his family there, busing tables), Melissa Gresham orders a healthy lunch, skipping the fattier cuts of meat. She’s a former Army Kiowa helicopter pilot, mom of two, and a runner. Oh, and she holds a Ph.D. in behavioral science. She has lived in Celina for a decade and organized the town’s first 5K run, which was held earlier this year. Her goal was 200 participants; she had to cap it at 500. 


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“There’s definitely more traffic on Preston, but that’s everywhere,” she says, reflecting on the growth she has seen in a decade of living here. “We still have a good mix of these small-town restaurants and boutiques. But we’ve got an H-E-B and a Costco coming.”

Speaking of Preston Road, last year it welcomed the city’s first Starbucks store. One owner of a small business in Celina tells a story about chatting up his customers, telling them how excited he was about the new coffee shop. The response from those longtime residents? “Screw that! We’re looking at houses in Gunter.”

That’s the next patch of open prairie to the north. For those curious, the “t” is silent.

The Refreshment Zone

When Rollertown Beerworks opened, in March 2020, just as the pandemic officially got underway, it found itself with a lot of beer but a shuttered taproom. The town was inspired to create its Refreshment Zone, an area around the square in which it is legal to carry an open container. The enlightened ordinance makes it easier to organize the annual Wine Crawl, in March, the center of which has to be Valley Vines Tasting Room, an endearing space in a former historic hotel. Owners Tammi Honrine and Melody Samuelson just celebrated their second year in business and focus on small labels from California and Washington State. The town hosts 25 annual events in its square. This month brings two: the Celina Cajun Fest and Music on the Square.

Hip to Be on the Square

Sure, H-E-B is coming. But the heart of Celina still beats with its local shops and restaurants around the historic square. Lucy’s on the Square does comfort food and homemade pies. The Little Wooden Penguin has to be the only place in North Texas where you can buy a vintage chapati board, play 18 holes on a putting course, and then take a pizza-making class. Toasted Walnut goes a bit more upscale with locally raised, grass-fed proteins. Annie Jack and Willow House are two boutiques where you might find that perfect spring dress. Terramania is a recently opened home decor shop. And keep your head on a swivel for Granny’s Sweeties Cakes & Confections, as soon as all the construction wraps up.

  • 2021 population: 74,368
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 27%
  • Median home sale price: $520,000 
  • School district demographics: 32% Black, 27% Hispanic, 28% White, 8% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: B (88 out of 100)
The Mansfield Innovation Community’s 18-acre master-planned development will combine office, retail, and residential spaces. Courtesy of Ginsler

“I was part of the Great U-Haul Brigade,” Amanda Rogers Kowalski says, laughing about her move to Mansfield in 2000. “In 1990, there were about 15,000 people living out here. In 2000 there were 28,000. And then by 2010 there were about 60,000 people. We tripled in size in the first decade of the 21st century.” The editor of the Mansfield Record—the city’s online (and now only) newspaper—Rogers Kowalski says she came from Arlington for the schools and stayed for the welcoming people and small-town feel that have persisted despite the town’s extreme growth. 

Traffic may have picked up, but Michael Evans, Mansfield’s first Black mayor and the proud pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, says there’s a clear “innovation vision” for the future. The plan is to position Mansfield as a hub for the technology, science, and entertainment industries. The cornerstone will be The Mansfield Innovation Community, aka The MIC, which breaks ground next spring. Even bigger will be Super Studios Mansfield, a 72-acre “city in a city” that is hoping to lure the likes of Netflix, HBO, and Paramount Plus. 


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Locals don’t see it as the next tourist trap, but they do hope it will bring them another step closer to being a self-sufficient community they never have to leave. “My daughter-in-law’s family has been here since the 1800s,” Rogers Kowalski says. “My first grandchild is going to be born in June, and he will also go to Mansfield schools. So what I think is cool is, this is a place where you put down roots, and then you watch them grow. This isn’t just a place to sleep; it’s a place where you live.” 

A Really Big Dill

After interviewing Gary Dalton, the grandson of Best Maid Pickles founder and Mansfield native Mildred Dalton, Rogers Kowalski went to Steven’s Garden & Grill to hear her favorite Mansfield duo, Scott & Steve. After one too many margaritas (aka two), she turned to her friend and said, “I want to start a pickle parade with a Pickle Queen, and I want it to be on St. Patrick’s Day, and I want it to go right through the middle of downtown.” The first year, in 2012, the Mansfield Pickle Parade had 5,000 attendees; last year, they were up to 50,000. There are beer keg races, a cornhole tournament, a fun run, a pie-eating contest, flamethrowers, and, of course, a Pickle Queen.

From Paper to Podcast

Steve Cosio and his wife moved to Mansfield from San Diego 18 years ago; she came for a job with UT Arlington, and he had an advertising agency focused on radio. When the medium cratered, he opened the Podcast Mansfield Recording Studio, which produces nearly a dozen programs. The week after the Mansfield News-Mirror went out of business, in 2019, he started his own podcast, About Mansfield, to ensure there would be no gap in local news.

Get on the Green

Mansfield is home to three golf courses: Walnut Creek Country Club has two of them, and Mansfield National Golf Club has a public 18-hole course. But locals swear by Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park, which takes up 80 wooded acres with notable geologic formations along Walnut Creek. 

Old & New

Mansfield is actually a misnomer; it is meant to have an extra “n,” and also the “e” before the “i” because it was named for Ralph Sandiford Mann and Julian Feild, who built a gristmill here in 1856. The Main Street still remains, with an old-fashioned candy store that sells Dublin Grape Soda (AndiMac Candy Shack), a ladies’ boutique (Dazzarkle), a steakhouse (Meehan’s Chophouse), and a brewpub (Dirty Job Brewing). In what locals refer to as New Mansfield, you’ll find some great Italian (La Gondola) and a Yemini coffee shop (Qamaria). 

  • 2021 population: 116,382
  • Population growth over past 10 years: 14%
  • Median home sale price: $455,000
  • School district demographics: 22% Black, 37% Hispanic, 30% White, 7% Asian
  • T.E.A. school grade: B (84 out of 100)

Right out of college, Richardson mayor Paul Voelker moved to town for his first job with Hewlett-Packard. “I’m from Iowa, like a lot of people in Richardson, actually,” he says. That’s because in 1951, Collins Radio moved its headquarters here from Cedar Rapids, providing the genesis of what would quickly become the Telecom Corridor and then the Silicon Prairie, as the space-age electronics company was joined by the likes of Ericsson, Alcatel, Nortel, Texas Instruments, Samsung, and more. Along with the HQs came employees from Sweden and Canada, Japan and Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and they in turn brought their cultures and their foods. 

Now home to more than 5,000 companies, Richardson has identified and nurtured six distinct, themed communities for its varied workforce. Live Work Study, on the north side of UTD, is geared toward faculty and students. Live Work Perform, near the Galatyn Park DART station, includes the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts and the new high-tech CBRE offices. Live Work Design, centered around Spring Valley and U.S. Highway 75, contains a number of architectural and engineering firms. Live Work Play is based on the CityLine development, at U.S. Highway 75 and the President George Bush Turnpike, with its shops, restaurants, and parks. Live Work Gather is the Core District, which has recently stitched together a revitalized downtown; Chinatown; the Bishop Arts-esque Lockwood District with its independent restaurants and distillery; and the midcentury modern Heights neighborhood. (“I always joke with people that today’s workforce doesn’t want to live in Mom and Dad’s house; they want to live in Grandma and Grandpa’s house,” Voelker says. “So they buy these midcentury modern homes that are smaller on tree-lined streets with parks they can walk to.”) 


Why We Love the Dallas Suburbs

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Perhaps closest to Voelker’s heart is Live Work Invent, aka Richardson IQ, the Innovation Quarter between Campbell and Apollo roads where Voelker worked when he first moved to town. He’s actually been officing there once again since Richardson City Hall suffered a fire last August. On the ballot in May will be a bond to rebuild it, as well as an election for a new mayor. After 10 years in office, Voelker has decided to step down instead of serving a final lame duck term.  

Best Land Grab 

The outgoing mayor’s proudest accomplishment was the acquisition of the final acreage for the 100-acre Spring Creek Nature Area. The land, which was owned by the Margaret Hunt Hill family and includes virgin hardwood forest and grasslands, was scheduled to be turned into an apartment development. Instead, the city bought it so it could be preserved for residents. 

Dine Around the World 

“We are an extremely diverse and inclusive city, and nothing says that more than our food,” Voelker says. “I love the fact that you can have multiple cultures and people sit at tables with others that are from a very different religious or ethnic background, and they break bread together in these restaurants. That’s where these lines of communication get built. And it’s one of the reasons we’re one of the most inclusive cities in North Texas, quite honestly.” For a start, try food from Taiwan (Jeng Chi), Iraq (Gilgamesh), Mexico (Sueño), Israel (Milk & Honey Kosher Market), Korea (Joy Kitchen), and Yemen (Arwa Yemeni Coffee). 

Rec League

On Sunday afternoons, top Asian and Russian table tennis aficionados battle it out at the Heights Recreation Center. For a mere $60 annual fee ($135 for the family), residents can also take advantage of the fitness facilities and dry sauna, or take classes in everything from tai chi to cha-cha to chess. 

This story originally appeared in the May issue of D Magazine with the headline, “The Sweetest Burbs. Write to [email protected].

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