Ever wanted a gourmet meal but didn’t want to drop a load of money? Check out the Chef’s Gallery at the Art Institute of Dallas. This restaurant is a working classroom for students in the Art Institute’s culinary program, so you get gourmet meals at half the price. The menu’s are seasonal and put together by the program’s instructors (in other words, no “gourmet” hot pockets) and the students spend time working each different part of a restaurant from the kitchen to the front end. They offer lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Wednesday through Friday and a limited menu in between lunch and dinner Wednesday through Friday. They don’t even burn the cous cous.
Find all your outdoor needs at REI
REI now has two locations in the metroplex, one in their original location just off 635 and one now in Plano by Park and Preston. They have everything you need and more for backpacking, traveling in general, hiking, camping, kayaking, and anything else you can think of that’s “outdoorsy.” They also sell Vibrams (those toe-finger running shoes) and it’s a great place to find ski supplies and down jackets for a city that is nowhere near slopes of any kind and usually isn’t below freezing. The staff is also knowledgeable when it comes to what you need and what you don’t need for just about every outdoor activity.
Find solace in an urban sanctuary at Main Street Garden
Main Street Garden is a little park right in the middle of downtown. It has a good stretch of green, a little playground and a cafe (whose operating hours seem to be “whenever the hell we want to be open”). It also has a digital art display and some pretty rad looking green walls. The park is free and open to the public, although sometimes special events are held in the space (like Dallas’ annual Homegrown Music Festival). The best thing about Main Street Garden is that it seems to be right under everyone’s radar; unless there is a special event, it’s never crowded.
Have a homegrown pint at Deep Ellum Brewing Company
Finally, the craft beer explosion has come to Dallas. May we all benefit. One of Dallas’ newest micro breweries is the Deep Ellum Brewing Company that opened in late 2011. Their bread and butter are the hoptastic Deep Ellum IPA, their Double Brown Stout and the Rye Pils. The awesome thing about a new brewery is they are constantly brewing up something new, so they have a healthy selection of seasonals available. While the brewery does n’t have an attached beer garden or restaurant or anything (what can we say, they focus on the beer), the brewery is open for tours Thursdays 5 – 7:30 and Saturdays from 12 – 3.
Dine on tacos at Taco Diner
Taco Diner is pretty much the yuppie version of a traditional Mexican taqueria, brought to us by the folks over at Mi Cocina. While the majority of the menu dons tacos in various forms, they have a few other Mexican classics and a robust seafood selection. The real draw for Taco Diner is the fish tacos, fresh ingredients, stark interiors, impeccable service and, of course, the green sauce. Like most Mexican restaurants, Taco Dine serves chips and salsas before your meal. One of the salsas is a green sauce that’s a not too spicy, oh-so-creamy nectar of Gods. It must be avocado.
Uncork a bottle of vino at Cork
Cork Wine Bar has a nice little concept for tasting, drinking and bottle-buying destination for anyone from a casual sipper to a connaisseur. Here’s how it works: you go in and pay the cashier, who then gives you a money-loaded card. You check out the featured wines “on tap,” swipe your card and choose if you want a tasting (a small amount) or a full glass. They have a spiffy little lounge in the back to sit and sip. Aside from a place to drink, Cork is also a good place to buy bottles at reasonable prices, and they have a good selection of wines that aren’t sold at every grocery store on every corner.
Accessorize and then some at Sam Moon
If you’re ever in dire need of a belt, bag, any jewelry, luggage, faux fancy flip flops or a tiara, go to Sam Moon. Sam Moon is a warehouse of every accessory under the sun and then some. Despite the openness of every store’s floor plan (or rather, lack thereof) and short shelving, it’s still somehow possible to get lost in oozits and whatzits galore. It’s like a no man’s land of cheap but nice-enough looking jewelry and accessories at rock bottom prices. Another nice thing about Sam Moon is their intolerance for ill-behaved children. They have three locations across the metroplex in Dallas, Frisco and Fort Worth.
Get a cold ass beer at Fred’s Texas Cafe
Fred’s is one of those decades-old gems that has now found itself nestled amongst a gaggle of shiny new restaurants and apartments. Despite the West 7th neighborhood growing up (literally) around them in the last few years, they still offer the same old chill atmosphere, “cold ass beer always,” arguably the best burgers in town and a down-home good time. With a quaint but tiny interior, people usually come to Fred’s for the patio. Be warned: it fills up quickly on nice days. Luckily Fred’s is the kind of place where everybody seems like an old friend and nobody thinks twice about sharing tables or letting you squat while they settle the bill.
Taste baked perfection at JD’s Chippery
JD’s Chippery in University Park is a little bakery with a big following. Their following is so big they manage to stay in business despite only selling two things: cookies and muffins. Yes folks, they are that good. They make the kind of cookie that cookie monster only dreams about: dense yet soft, chewy and often still warm. The oatmeal chocolate chip and snicker doodle are fan favorites, but really every flavor melts in your mouth. For larger orders call ahead to make sure they have enough of what you want. Please not JD’s does not accept credit cards: cash or check only.
Hong Kong’s Best at Full Kee
Recognized for its excellence in authentic Chinese cuisine, Full Kee has been the long-time recipient of the “Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA” award.
Full Kee is definitely one of the most authentic Cantonese (Hong Kong style) fare worth trying in Chinatown. Before you walk in, just don’t be frightened by the full-size roasted ducks hanging in the glassed-in front kitchen.
Other than the whole-roasted ducks, fried or steamed fish can be order whole as well. Served with its head intact, diners can nibble on the sweet, delicate fish cheeks.
The menu at Full Kee is extensive and their dim sum selections available on weekends are worth a try too.
Shhh… If dining in groups, don’t forget to ask about the special price family style sets!
Hola at Oyamal Cocina Mexicana
Oyamal Cocina Mexicana has been bringing Mexico’s rich regional diversity with a swirl of modern urban atmosphere of its national capital to the DC Penn Quarter since 2007. With a lively dining room decorated by colorful masks and butterfly mobiles, the restaurant further compliments its originality with a creative menu and cocktail list.
Oyamel is the only place in town that serves insects, as well as, upscale Mexican specialties. Try some grasshopper tacos if you are feeling adventurous. If not, try the antitijitos, traditional snacks or small plates, with guacamole, made fresh tableside.
Shh… Oyamel often collaborates with other partners such as the Wooly Mammoth Theatre or hosts mescal and tequila tastings – check their website for more details!
Marvin – Home Cooked Classics from Belgium to the American South
Marvin is a classic bistro located in Washington, DC’s historical Shaw neighborhood which combined the soul of the neighborhood and the café society of Belgium. Here, you can find an interesting mix of classic Belgian moulles-frites served along side southern-style shrimp and grits. The combination is a tribute to Shaw native, Marvin Gaye, who spent two years in Ostend, Belgium.
Two of the other attractions at Marvin is the rooftop beer garden boasting over 30 Belgian ales and a luxurious lounge with an extensive bar menu.
Adding to this experience is a groovy mix of funk, soul, ska, and jazz created by Thievery Corporation’s very own Eric Hilton. Visit marvindc.com for more information.
Deutschland on H Street at the Biergarten Haus
Biergarten Haus is the only beer garden in the city! Come year round and enjoy a shaded courtyard in the summer and a heated outdoor winter wonderland in the winter! With thirty-five hundred square feet of outdoor seating, there are plenty of space for parties to enjoy plates of bratwurst, weisswurst, and even wiener schnitzel.
As you peruse through the various choices of German delicacies on the menu, don’t forget to gulp them down with pints of authentic German ale in heavy-bottomed glass mugs.
It’s like Oktoberfest year-round at the Biergarten Haus! Visit biergartenhaus.com for more information.
Unleash Your Inner Diva at Diva Boutique
With an obsession with shopping and fashion, Diva Boutique’s owner runs this designer consignment business with a passion for six years straight. Situated in historical Alexandria in a 19th century townhouse, Diva is listed by the Washingtonian Magazine as the consignment store with the “best vibe.”
Carrying high-end designer lines such as DVF, Chanel, Prada and other more affordable luxuries such as Michael Kors, Tory Burch, and so much more… This is definitely a treasure cove for those hunting for bargains.
In order to be a true insider, sign up for Diva’s email list to be alerted of the newest top secrets! Visit divaboutiqueva.com for more information.
House of Washington – Tudor Place Historic House and Garden
Hidden in Georgetown’s Historical District, the Tudor Place was originally built in 1816 by George and Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Martha Custis Peter. This beautiful estate was home to the next six generations of her descendents over the course of 180 years.
Currently, it is open to the public and exhibits more than 8000 pieces of silver, ceramics, jewelry, paintings, manuscripts, photographs, and furniture dated from 1750-1983. The collection brings to life the cultural and social history of over 200 years of the family and the city.
For those interested in a deeper understanding of the Garden’s history, there are free docent led tours Tuesday through Saturday!
Riding Down Memory Lane at the National Mall
Carousel rides have always been a fond childhood memory for many. Who can say no to those colorful, bright horses and fancy round cups?
Just like the good old days, the Smithsonian Castle offers a charming carousel on the national mall for both children and kids-at-heart. The Smithsonian Carousel was built by Allan Herschell in 1947, with brilliantly 60 hand-carved and painted animals.
If touring the National Mall with kids, taking a spin is a refreshing break for the restless kids tired of site-seeing and touring museums. At times, the line may be a bit long, but you can still enjoy the spectacular views of the monuments.
Cool off at Paciugo
This family owned now-national chain started right here at home after the Ginatta family missed the rich espresso and gelatos of Italy after a relocation to Dallas. They opened up Paciugo to share these flavors of Italy with Dallas and have now expanded to 15 states across the country. At Paciugo’s you’ll find a healthy variety of traditional Italian gelato flavors (like Italian wedding cake, Tiramisu and Limoncella) as well as some more modern and locally inspired flavors, like Tres Leches, green tea and turtle cheesecake. There’s nothing like a spoonful of Paciugo’s melting on your tongue to cool off on a hot day or even soak in holiday spirit with seasonal flavors like egg nog and pumpkin pie.
Bob’s Steak & Chop has been pleasing Dallasites over twenty years
Calling Bob’s Steak & Chop House a traditional steak house is cheating just a little bit because they’ve been around so long they’ve practically created the traditions and set the standards. Between the dim, leathery ambiance that seems to have leaped from a different decade and a menu donning steaks no smaller 9 oz, this is definitely a manly, meat eaters paradise. The menu offers your regular steakhouse staples, including some nice “surf” selections, but where they really get props is offering roast duck instead of some boring rosemary chicken like all the rest of the steakhouses. For twenty years, Bob’s has proven that you don’t need posh interiors to sell steak, all you need is damn good steak.
Chillax with a drink or belt it out at karaoke at The Corner Bar in Uptown
The Corner Bar is a comfortable little Uptown establishment inside an old building from the 1930’s on McKinney and Monticello. The pressed tin ceiling (painted, of course) and exposed brick really brings out the old-time, vintage feel of the place and really hones in on that “neighborhood pub” ambiance. While they have a full kitchen with pizza and other bar food offerings, most patrons frequent The Corner Bar for cheap drinks and Wednesday night Karaoke (which won a “Best of” in 2010). They also have a few pool tables, with free pool on Sundays, and a good number of large TV’s considering the small size of the place.
See yourself in Sammons Park
Sammons Park is basically the large courtyard area in the Arts District that’s between the Winspear Opera House and the Wylie Theater. Nestled amongst the arts district and downtown, the park provides a serene atmosphere to view the city, relax, or have a picnic. One of the nicest features of this urban space is the large reflecting pool that’s basically a large black slab with a thin layer of water over it that creates a pristine reflection. The park hosts a variety of concerts, events and even yoga and draws everyone from families to students of nearby Booker T. Washington High School.
Make it a double at the DoubleWide
The DoubleWide, located kind of on the way to Deep Ellum from Exposition Park, is perfection in all things hipster and dive bars. The place is literally a double wide trailer that’s hard to miss because of the silver tornado that sits on top of it. The DoubleWide has cheap cocktails, cheap and col beer (including PBR, it is a hipster joint, after all), and live music most weekends and sometimes during the week. They also generally have either a DJ playing or karaoke on Mondays. The patio area is adorned with old lawn furniture and tables for when the cozy interior gets a little too cozy.
Seek a few thrills at Six Flags
Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington has a grand total of 45 rides for kids, wimps and thrill seekers alike. Dangle over 200 feet in the air on Mr. Freeze or loop upside down on Batman the Ride. Have a smoother ride on the redone Texas Giant, the classic wooden roller coaster now with new steel tracks. The Texas Giant has the steepest drop of any wooden roller coaster in the world. There are also a slew of more family-friendly rides, so you can fill up on cotton candy and spin ’til your sick on the teacup-like La Fiesta de las Tazas or go for a splash in the roaring rapids.
Bust out the Hawaiian shirt, Trader Joe’s is finally here!
Oh, Two Buck Chuck. How I pine for thee. Well pine no more; Trader Joe’s has finally made it to Texas! Get organic goods at rock bottom prices at the ever popular Trader Joe’s. The Fort Worth location opened in early summer of 2012, with the Plano location set to open September 7 2012 and two Dallas locations scheduled for 2013, one on Greenville Avenue and another at a yet-to-be-officially-released location. Leave the magnifying glass at home and shop without having to read labels, as Trader Joe’s products are never genetically modified and contain no preservatives, msg, added trans fats or artificial colors or flavors.
Buy local at White Rock Market
White Rock Market is a great little non profit farmer’s market where local farmers, ranchers and artisans come together twice a month selling locally raised, farmed or crafted goods March through December. The second Saturday of every month involves everything from food items to arts and crafts. The market is also open the fourth Saturday of every month just for farmers, producers and food artisans. The market is held at The Green Spot Market on Buckner. Shopping at the market is also a great way to just figure out what’s in season, as “they” say shopping seasonally is the way to go. It’s always seasonal, local and delicious at the White Rock Market.
Pentagon Memorial – A Day to Remember
The Pentagon Memorial honors lives lost during the 9/11 terrorist attack on Washington, D.C. in 2011.
Adjacent to The Pentagon in Arlington, this outdoor memorial is a beautiful tribute to the 184 men and women who died in the tragedy. With its sleek and simple designs, this memorial helps visitors remember and reflect on the appalling incident.
Every year during the event’s anniversary, an American flag is hung on the section of the Pentagon hit by Flight 77. If interesting in participating to commemorate the event, check online for related events.
Store B Vintage
Store B Vintage in Wicker Park contains some of the most sought after and luxurious vintage attire and accessories found anywhere in the city of Chicago. Since 2002, this trendy, upscale boutique has been satisfying customers with its eclectic mix of wearable fine quality vintage women’s and men’s clothing from the 1930s thru the 1970s.
Located at 1472 North Milwaukee Avenue, owner David Ginople, successful entrepreneur and owner of Findables, also in Wicker Park, originally brought together more than 2,000 articles of clothing and accessories from the estate of a prominent socialite when the store first opened. Since then, he has expanded the vintage clothing in this one-of-a-kind boutique to also feature vintage handbags, millinery, shoes, costume jewelry and decorative home accessories.
Life is Always Sweet at Macaron Bee
This new pint-size confectioner in Georgetown is the buzziest spot in town! The adorable, homey storefront is welcoming and the colorful display case beautifully displays a wide array of the different types of macarons.
Each macaron is handmade and proudly sports a different personality. The blood orange and raspberry ones are filled with sweet, smooth jelly center fillings and the vanilla bean, rose, coconut flavors are packed with a light aromatic cream.
The one characteristic that these 12 vibrant personalities share is that each macaron is made with the finest, freshest jam fillings and pure butter.
One bite of these feisty little bees leaves the victim in a euphoric state with intense cravings for just a few more bites.
Ripple’s Debut of the Grilled Cheese Bar
Ripple, located in Cleveland Park, is a restaurant that focuses on dishes made with organic and locally acquired produce. Not only does it guarantee the customers with an enjoyable time, but also many pleasant surprises as the menu are updated daily.
Now, the restaurant expands to include a grilled cheese bar where guests in the bar area can choose creative sandwiches with Ripple’s list of 15 amazing cheeses.
Silly sandwich names include Krusty Krab, an homage to Spongebob SquarePants’s place of employ that features jumbo lump crab imperial and béchamel; and the “Swiss bank account,” with hand-sliced prosciutto, Challerhocker, and truffles.
Give it a try, the grilled cheese bar will be available Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 6:30 pm and again from 10:30 to midnight.
Reenact Hunger Games at TagParty RECON
An outdoor laser tag game or two would definitely satisfy your fantasies of reenacting scenes from your favorite video game or movie.
Gather your friends, take a ride twenty miles north of Washington, DC and divide into two opposing sides! After a quick introduction and explanation of the equipments, you can jump into 50 minutes of intense plays.
Don’t forget to devise tactical strikes and stratagems. It’s time to hammer out those old grudges.
Shhhh… its only $25 per player and discounts are offered for groups of 8 or more! Don’t forget to reserve and book online!
A Trip to the Past at George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill
History and booze go so well together at the George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill! A short three miles away from George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon is the recently reopened distillery and gristmill that will guarantee your trip with a happy ending.
For only $4 entrance fee, the costumed distillers will show demonstrations and walk visitors through the historic process of whiskey-making in this reconstruction of the largest 18th-century distillery in America. Furthermore, the distillery is adjacent to the reconstructed Gristmill, a water-powered mill where Colonial millers grind corn into meal and wheat into flour just as it was done more than 200 years ago.
Before you leave, don’t forget to grab a pint of the scarcely made whisky of the original recipe. Even if it costs $84 per pint, it’s worth every single penny.
Rasika – Flavors of India
The name “Rasika” is derived from ancient Sanskrit to mean “flavors.” This appropriately named modern Indian Restaurant is owned by Ashok Bajaj, the recent winner of Washingtonian’s Restaurateur of the Year.
This dynamic restaurant is bejewel with contemporary décor, striking Indian art, and an elegant ceiling made with a combination of dark and light woods.
The award-winning Rasika not only looks modern and hip, but also showcases an authentic Indian fare. Options range from food prepared on the tawa (griddle) to dishes from the sigri (open barbeque).
You can also book one of the private booths styled like a palanquin and lined with cerulean pillow to feel like a king.
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