Take In a Show This Holiday Season in DFW

November 25th, 2014

 

You might have heard rumors to the effect that Christmas and the holiday season are around the corer again. Well, in between fighting the mall traffic, frantic plan-making, and ‘Yeah, I’ll just have one more cookie,” you might want to catch one of DFW’s great holiday shows. Here’s some of the lineup you can catch before 2015 sets in.

1. The Nutcracker, Nov. 22-23, McFarlin Auditorium, or Nov. 28, Winspear Opera House

Kick off the holidays with the legendary Nutcracker ballet. Probably the most famous Russian export ever written, a rendition is performed by the actual Moscow Ballet on Nov. 22 and 23. If you’d rather see the Texas Ballet’s performance (or both, we don’t judge), catch it on Nov. 28. For Details, click here

2. A Christmas Story, Dec. 2-14, Music Hall At Fair Park

Is Christmas Day really Christmas Day without at least one viewing of Bob Clark’s immortal film? You know all the lines, you relate (painfully) to so much. And you love every minute of it. Well, A Christmas Story is a major musical too, and if you dig theater, it’s just as good as the movie. For Details, click here

3. Brian Setzer Orchestra: Christmas Rocks, Dec. 13, Winspear Opera House

The blondest pompadour in rock belongs to Brian Setzer, who’s turned his post-Stray Cats life into a rollicking blend of rock, opera, classical, and swing. Setzer, pompadour and band with him, brings his lauded holiday music show to Dallas for one night only, on December 13. Suitable for all ages, this is a show to see ‒‒ if you like rollicking, humorous, amazing music, that is. For Details, click here

4. Mannheim Steamroller, Dec. 28, Music Hall At Fair Park

Round out 2014 with the only classical rock band synonymous with Christmas, the mighty Mannheim Steamroller. In town for just one night, December 28, Mannheim Steamroller may be the perfect after-Christmas tonic to help you ready for the new year.  For Details, click here

The 5 Coolest Movies Shot in DFW

November 23rd, 2014

Ever get the vague sense that something in a movie looks familiar? Well, you’ve likely walked right through some of cinema’s more mainstream sets and never knew it. Or maybe you did know it. In either case, here’s a list of some of the coolest movies ever to set up camp in DFW.

 

1. RoboCop (The Good One)

Back in 1987, the vision of Detroit 10 years hence was in need of a location in transition. Dallas turned out to be just right. The filmmakers used Big D as the setting for futuristic Detroit to legendary effect. While not a film for all tastes, RoboCop is certainly an iconic passage in movie history.

 

2. JFK

Just about every movie about the Kennedy assassination has sent its crew to Dealey Plaza. But no film about the fallen president is bigger (or better) than Oliver Stone’s 1991 take on the paranoia and chaos that surrounds the still-hotly debated death of our 35th president.

 

3. Armageddon

Okay, so most of this one wasn’t shot here, but a handful of scenes filmed in Denton qualify Michael Bay’s 1998 space/disaster opus as a DFW project. Which is fitting, considering the asteroid dooming earth in this film was the size of Texas.

 

4. Logan’s Run

This vintage sci-fi epic about a future dystopia turned 1970s Dallas into a classic set piece for a society that does anything but revere its elders. Dallas has changed a lot since the filming, but the idea of  an overpopulated metropolis is still relevant for anyone stuck in traffic downtown.

 

5. Office Space

Call it cult or call it justifiably beloved by everyone who’s ever hated a job, Mike Judge’s 1999 small-budget classic made wonderful use of Dallas’, well, office space. Not to mention excellent use of an abandoned field where an uncooperative computer meets a most satisfying fate.

Five Best Live Music Venues in DFW

November 14th, 2014

 

There’s no night out quite like going to see some live music. Whether it’s a band you love, a quiet chamber group, or a symphony orchestra, check out these sound environments for the best audio pleasure DFW can bring you.

Bass Performance Hall, Fort WorthBass Performance Hall, Fort Worth


The acoustics of this downtown palace are so perfectly attuned to the space that there is truly not a bad seat in the house. Wherever you sit, you hear the music as it should be heard. And the music in this space is just as likely to be the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra as it is to be rock&roll. Whoever’s playing, it’s going to sound phenomenal.

 

Gexa Energy Pavilion, Fair ParkGexa Energy Pavilion, Fair Park


What, you thought there was no reason to go to Fair Park when Big Tex wasn’t around? Pah! This outdoor venue has an indescribable charm that actually makes the occasionally odd acoustics and sometimes-passable views of the stage work. Maybe it’s because you can take a picnic there and sit under a shady tree. Whatever, it’s a must if you want a memorable show. The venue is usually host to mainstream acts, particularly country-western.

Granada Theater, Greenville AvenueGranada Theater, Greenville Avenue


Where do up-and-coming indie acts always play when they’re just a year or two from making it? The same place legendary acts like The Pixies play when they come to Dallas. The Granada, on Greenville Avenue, is maybe the best place to see a concert in town. With multiple shows every week in an intimate setting, you’ll remember every show you see here, and with good reason. Take your friends and go.

 

Southside Ballroom, South DallasSouthside Ballroom, South Dallas


Okay, so South Dallas isn’t usually where people think to hang out, but hear us out. The Southside Ballroom (formerly the Palladium Ballroom)  throws big-time shows. And by big-time, we mean names like Lauryn Hill. And okay, maybe the place is a little cramped when 3,000 others are in there with you, but the intimacy only enhances the feeling of being right there with the band.

Verizon Theatre, Grand PrairieVerizon Theatre, Grand Prairie


It may sound mainstream (and it can be), but Verizon Theatre is the chameleon of music venues in DFW. The crew here can do an astonishing job with panels and dividers that turn the theater’s wide-open arms into a cozy hug, or vice-versa. From several hundred to a max-6,300, there’s a space for you to catch great live concerts and shows. And it’s amphitheater-style seating, which means there’s not a bad seat in the house.

5 of the Best Pizza Places in DFW

November 11th, 2014

DFW might not be world-famous for pizza, but there are indeed some world-class choices here. Next time you get a hankerin’ for pizza that’s above and beyond the norm, check out these fine examples of Italian bliss.

Campisi’s

In Dallas, if there’s one definitively Texas institution for pizza, it’s Campisi’s. It’s been around since the 40s and trust us, you’ve never seen so many oblong (yet somehow not misshapen) pizzas in one place in your life. Now with nine Dallas-area locations, Campisi’s is a good bet for a great slice (or 4).

 

 

 

Cavalli Pizzeria Napoletana

If you’ve ever heard anyone refer to New York-style pizza, they mean the one with the thin, foldable Napolitano crust. Surprisingly, no one in DFW could get one until 2008, when Cavalli rolled into Irving and brought Napolitano pizza with it. They also have a shop in McKinney, and it’s just as Italian.

 

 

 

Zoli’s NY Pizza Tavern 

Speaking of Napolitano pizza, Zoli’s in Oak Cliff brings the delicious combo of rich, red tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella cheese to one of Dallas’ up-and-coming trendy neighborhoods. If your tastes run a little more southern (southern Italian, that is), try one of Zoli’s awesome Sicilian pies.

 

Fireside Pies

A decadent twist on the New York-style pizza is to make the crust puffier and the cheese and tomato sauce hedonistically divine. Dare we say the crust at Fireside Pies, the Henderson Avenue mainstay for pizza lovers, is actually voluptuous? Yeah. We dare say.

 

 

Grimaldi’s, Various locations in DFW

Chain restaurants seldom get the notice they deserve when they’re good. But Grimaldi’s corners the market on what real New York pizza tastes like. Not what New York-style pizza tastes like, what actual New York pizza tastes like. The company filters local water so that its chemical composition matches that of the water in New York (which actually is considered the among cleanest and best-tasting in the country), so that the crust comes out exactly right. If you’re from the East Coast, taste this little slice of home, it doesn’t get any more authentic (or delicious) than this.

DFW Top 10 Best Hotels for a Staycation

November 10th, 2014

When you live in an area like DFW, there’s a lot more reason to stay put when it’s time to take a few days off. DFW offers a ton of great things to do on  a staycation, and plenty of great spots to stay. Before you book your next trip out of town, consider booking a staycation at one of these top-notch hotels.

 

The Joule

The Joule in Downtown Dallas is a fab boutique hotel that draws pretty much every celebrity who passes through DFW. Indulge in the gym, the yoga classes, the world-class coffee, and the top-tier service. You’re in the right hotel if you see the giant eyeball sculpture across the street.

The One Boutique Hotel at Spa Castle

Need to relax? Stay at The One, where the in-house Spa Castle offers detox rooms, swim-up bars, full-body massages, and a host of other indulgences. Because what’s vacation without some indulgence, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Great Wolf Lodge

Need to bring the kids? Great Wolf Lodge has you covered. While the kids (and you, let’s be honest) get to play in the best waterpark in town, you get to quaff some of the tastiest cocktails around. There’s lots to do and lots to not do at Great Wolf.

The Sanford House

If you’re looking for quiet and small amid the action, check out the  Sanford House, a tiny bed and breakfast right in the middle of Arlington’s legendary tourist attractions. Get your indulgence on at Sanford House’s full-service spa before hurtling through the air at nearby Six Flags.

Warwick Melrose 

If you’re in the mood for a great hotel with a four-star restaurant, you must visit the Warwick in Oak Lawn. This posh stay will give you little reason to go outside, between the Landmark restaurant and the in-house Library Bar (which is sensational for several reasons This hotel is also quite pet friendly ‒‒ they even have biscuits for your four-legged companions.

Belmont Hotel

Belmont Hotel 

Want a staycation in North Oak Cliff? Ty the Belmont, which probably is the best-kept secret in the Metroplex. With a lot full of Texas plates, this wonderful boutique hotel is tailor made for those who want to get away without going away.

 

 

 

 

Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa

Also in Fort Worth is the Stoneleigh, the recently (and sumptuously) renovated throwback to the opulent 1920s style of Atr Deco. Simple and elegant, the Stonleigh houses the top-notch Bolla restaurant and a great location among Fort Worth’s many cultural treasures.

 

 

 

 

Hotel Palomar 

The exterior of the Palomar may fool you from the street. But walk inside this exquisite Dallas hotel, across from Moickingbird Station, and be prepared for a great surprise. Close to the DART and all things fun downtown, The Palomar also offers wonderful indulgences including gourmet food and in-house spa services.

 

 

 

 

Aloft 

The Aloft, near the Dallas Convention Center, is the epitome of trendy renovation downtown. Cool, chic, retro, and innovative all at once, you can relax amid the first-floor amenities like the pool, fitness room, and bar while you forget your worries. It’s also great for kids because its on Young street, close to venues like the Dallas Zoo and Pioneer place.

 

 

 

 

Hotel ZaZa

Want the apex of luxury staycations in DFW? Dallas’ Hotel ZaZa is simply the crown jewel. From service to amenities to an intoxicatingly energetic vibe close to Downtown and Uptown, there is simply no better place to indulge your staycation than this upscale gem.

Top 5 Fort Worth Area Patios for Cool Fall Dining

November 4th, 2014

 

Now that the summer heat has (mercifully) cooled into tolerable fall weather, dining outdoors is the thing to do. And Fort Worth has no shortage of cool outdoor patios suited for a good nosh, a nice brew, or a great sandwich.

Bird Café

Downtown, on East 4th Street, the Bird Café is a split-level restaurant with more 2,300 square feet of patio space that looks out over  the recently renovated Sundance Square Plaza. It’s the perfect spot for  cool views and delicious, sharable plates that include everything from Prince Edward Island mussels to potpies. And most of the menu is built from foods from local farmers and growers.

 

Chimy’sChimy’s

In Fort Worth’s West 7th neighborhood is Chimy’s, which, we know, kinda seems like a fast food joint. It’s not. It’s fast, yes, and it’s inexpensive. But the chance to sit on the spacious patio and enjoy some ace Tex-Mex with a cold beer or what may be the best margaritas in town will quickly make you forget you’re in a diner. Make sure to try the “Chimy” Changa while you’re there.

 

Ellerbe Fine FoodsEllerbe Fine Foods

Ellerbe, on West Magnolia Avenue, is big into local and seasonal ingredients for its innovative farm-to-fork cuisine. Inside, the place is somehow cozy and airy t the same time. It’s also equal parts elegance and  minimalist. The patio, of course, is all sorts of elegant that offers an ideal seat for everything from a business lunch to fine dining with fine wines and gourmet food.

 

 Flying SaucerFlying Saucer

With more than 100 beers on tap, you’d be hard-pressed to not find one that goes just perfectly with the sandwich you’ll get here ‒‒ because, trust us, you’ll want a sandwich. There’s, of course, more to Flying Saucer than beer and sandwiches. This hip downtown pub has excellent sharables and live music and a patio space that makes it a happening spot in the heart of Fort Worth.

Joe T. Garcia’sJoe T. Garcia’s

No visit to the Stockyards neighborhood should end without dropping by Joe T. Garcia’s. Justifiably famous for their margaritas and awesome Tex-Mex, this staple of the Stockyards combines old-school recipes with one of the most scenic outdoor garden eating areas in DFW. If you want Tex-Mex in a hacienda-style setting, don’t miss this place.

Top 5 Dallas Area Patios for Cool Fall Dining

October 28th, 2014

 

Halleluiah, the summer heat is over in Dallas and it’s high time to step back out into the fresh air. But don’t think you have to step back indoors to enjoy a fine meal. Check out some of these excellent patio dining spots in the Dallas area.

 Katy Trail Ice House 

On the Katy Trail, haven to runners, walkers, and cyclists from Downtown to North Dallas, is the Ice House, an Uptown hotspot whose back deck offers beautiful year-round views of the trail and its tree-lined splendor. With a massive selection of beers on tap (they have more than 50 taps) and a huge outdoor seating area, the Ice House is tailor-made for good times, groups, and a relaxed party vibe. It’s also dog-friendly and, by the way, has dynamite food.

 

 Belly & Trumpet

On McKinney Avenue, one block from West Village, this wraparound patio restaurant is always a good time. Less a party space than the Ice House, B&T is finely suited to a great glass of wine to go with delicious, sharable small plates that always seem just right.

 

Boxwood Tap + Grill

The Boxwood, on Thomas Avenue, took over the old TABC space and kept the latter’s famous and beloved patio. And that’s a yay if ever there was. The tree is still in the middle of the patio, the selection of craft beers on tap is still great (if limited to 10) and the food is still excellent.

 

Cane Rosso White Rock

Dallas may not be the world’s first choice for Pizza shops, but where it’s good it’s really good, and at Cane Rosso’s second location, in White Rock, it’s really good with a great outdoor vibe. Family-friendly, comfortable, and spacious, the patio features an awesome fire-and-water display amid the arbors of White Rock. It’s also a great spot for unique and tasty wine cocktails.

 

Le BilboquetLe Bilboquet

Extra points if you can pronounce the name, this little French sidewalk spot has the rare (for Dallas) street-patio eatery feel of Western Europe. Located in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood, Le Bilboquet reprises the roast chicken and other dishes from the original Le Bilboquet in New York, with real French owners making sure the food and wine are as authentic as you can get.

Will the Dallas Stars be Ready in 2014-15?

October 22nd, 2014

Welcome cooler weather, and welcome back hockey season. And with the dawn of the 2014-15 NHL season at hand, the Dallas Stars are no longer expecting to just play a rebuilding seaon. This year, they plan to do some damage. Are they ready?

Well, yes, actually, they are. The Stars, in fact, should be a playoff contender and there’s no reason to think they couldn’t go far. Last season was a lot better than anyone expected, and the young team ‒‒ captained by 25-year-old Jamie Benn ‒‒ is more confident and experienced. Their play t the end of last season was better than their play at the beginning, and the Stars’ playoff run did a lot more damage to the Anaheim Ducks than anyone thought.

This year, the Stars are taking their experience in the season and the playoffs and wrapping it up in a series of players who are entering their prime years. This could be a devastating combo come April, when the hunt for the Stanley Cup kicks into overdrive.

What the Stars have this year is a powerful power play squad and an all-around, blue-collar team unafraid to get dirty and play hard. There’s also newcomers like Anders Lindback, who will be the backup to ace goalie Kari Lehtonen, and the much-anticipated Cody Eakin and Brenden Dillon, who recently signed onto the Dallas bench and are likely to add some needed speed and muscle.

Also hopeful this year, is the return of forward Rich Peverley, whose on-bench collapse last year sidelined him while doctors tried to mend his irregular heartbeat. Though not cleared for play yet, Peverley is working out with the team and could see some action some time this year.

Either way, the Stars are loaded for bear and ready for the ice this season. And there’s no doubt that this year’s club actually could give Big D a reason to cheer on a championship contender.

The Five Best (and Sometimes Oddest) Sandwiches in DFW

October 17th, 2014

 

Everybody loves a good sandwich. But for the adventurous out there, take heart ‒‒ DFW has no shortage of oddball gems that go great between two slices of bread (or some other form of exquisite pastry). But just don’t take our word for it. Consider what the folks at the Dallas Observer consider among the best sandwiches in town.

1. Challah French Toast Sandwich at the Coffee House Cafe

It might have a redundant name, but the Coffee House Café’ offers an epic breakfast sandwich that makes up for the traffic you must endure to get to this fine Frankford Road eatery. The challah French toast sandwich is a breakfast all its own ‒‒cheddar cheese, bacon, and one egg, over-easy that comes with a side of fried potatoes.

 

2. The Doc Brown at the  Pecan Lodge

Main Street, where Downtown meets Deep Ellum, offers the best sandwich you can’t always get. Served in limited edition and only occasionally, the Doc brown is a brisket sandwich on a sesame seed bun served up by the folks at Pecan Lodge. Smokey and mesquite-infused, this Wagyu brisket delight is a match for any appetite and may be the best $11 you get to spend when it makes an appearance.

 

 

3. The Rueben at Coppell Deli

Step just outside Dallas and find this disarmingly delicious version of the classic Rueben sandwich ‒‒corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on lightly toasted rye. The Coppell Deli is somewhat easy to spot, as it’s a small, unassuming, classical-looking deli joint amid Coppell’s high-end homes. But don’t let the humble digs fool you. This is a Rueben you can’t get in many places outside New York. And it’s a lot less of a hassle to get it here.

 

 

4. The Prosciutto Panini at CavalliThe Prosciutto Panini at Cavalli

Irving may not be where you first think of for great Italian food, but drop into Cavalli and indulge in a sandwich so Italian, you’ll almost wish you were on a gondola. This concoction of prosciutto, basil, tomatoes, “fresh” mozzarella, and olive oil is served on pizza dough and is as good as it sounds.

 

 

Pulled Pork5. The Whole Hog at Smoke

This sandwich of pulled pork, mustard vinegar sauce, blue cheese , and cole slaw may be the best handheld lunch in Oak Cliff. Made Carolina-style and intoxicatingly smoky (what else would you expect from a place called Smoke?), you’ll gun this down faster than you want to. Try it with a side of hominy for a serious down-home treat, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Got a better sandwich? Tell us where to find it. We’d love to know.

New Homebuilding: Dallas Is Revitalizing

October 14th, 2014

It’s no overstatement to say that Dallas has blossomed in the past few years. New business, new residents, new commercial buildings, and new roadway projects have turned Dallas into a major growth hub.

The snag, however, lies in housing growth, particularly in the area surrounding the Trinity River. This is where the Trinity River Corridor Project is making this mighty greenway into a major recreation area. But it’s also where, especially south of the river, middle-income families aren’t staying around because there’s not enough good housing there.

Recently, the Dallas Morning news reported on this idea, saying that as more families leave the area, more tax dollars go with them. And as neighborhoods south of the Trinity get more vacant, there seems to be less motivation to build up new neighborhoods that can attract a stable base of residents.

The fact is, in order for Dallas to reach its potential, it needs some new housing in areas like that south of the Trinity. In other areas, such as West Dallas and North Oak Cliff, single-family development is setting the stage for revitalization. As the Morning News reported, an Austin-based developer plans to build 60 homes on a five-acre site near the Belmont Hotel, making it the first new home development proposed in West Dallas in years. The News calls the development “a potential game-changer for an area in which developers already have begun to build hundreds of rental apartment units.”

Nearby, the old 25-acre industrial tract on Singleton Boulevard near Sylvan Avenue is gearing up for hundreds of new apartments and some retail and single-family homes. Likewise, plans to build homes on the 22-acre site in North Oak Cliff at Colorado Boulevard and Fort Worth Avenue (where the Colorado Place apartments once stood) are turning North Oak Cliff and West Dallas into some of the hottest redevelopment property in Dallas.  And the effects can be huge ‒‒ new homes means new businesses, new amenities, and new neighborhoods that bustle with vibrancy.

Keep an eye on this end of town, big things are happening there.