Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things to do in Dallas when you're stuck in Dallas

I must apologize for procrastinating on this post. Last week in comments, DW mentioned he'd be in Dallas over the weekend and did I have any suggestions. Well, actually, yes, and not all of them are ghastly expensive.

First and foremost, if you're an outdoor hunting/shooting type, you really really must visit Ray's Sporting Goods at the corner of Sylvan and Singleton due west of downtown. Ray's is non-pareil among sports shops and is run by the daughter of the couple who opened the store more than 60 years ago. I lurveses it, Precious, and I know you will too.
My favorite shooting range in Dallas is private, the Dallas Pistol Club, but if you have the right kind of friends in Dallas, one of them may be a member. Most of my visits there, I went alone and was often the only one in the facility. Open 365 days a year from sunup to sundown, it's a great place to shoot. Also, if you're there on a match weekend, you don't have to be a member to participate. Just show up at the appointed hour and pay your entry fee. Good folks run this place, some I'm honored to call friends. DPC is one of the few things I think wistfully of when I think of Dallas.
If you're short on time, near downtown at lunch time and need some down-home cooking, Mama's Daughters' Diner is just past where Industrial Blvd turns into Irving Blvd to the west. If you like liver, get the chicken fried chicken livers with the white gravy. You'll thank me. And tell Barbara I said Hi and I miss her.
My favorite Tex-Mex in Dallas is Matt's Rancho Martinez next to the beautiful art deco Lakewood theatre. Their chile relleno is toe-curling, truly. Don't bother with the Cedar Hill location -- their compact fluourescent lighting sets the most sickly, unappetizing mood I've ever seen in a restaurant. The Lakewood location has loads more atomosphere, anyhoo.
If you have kids on your shopping list, go to Froggie's Five and Dime on Knox Avenue. They have great stuff, a huge selection of Pez dispensers, and lots of retro toys that will thrill your sprogs. Or your inner sprog. Bonus points for their tiny tots section of clothing and toys, and major bonus points for being the go-to place in Dallas for spark-throwing ray guns in clear blue plastic. There used to be a glorious toy/gizmo store in Northpark called Modern Toys with lots of groovy stuff from Japan, but they closed, alas. Then there was Right Brain/Left Brain, and they, too, went the way of the Dodo bird. Froggie's is the last good toy store I know of. Good stuff. More bonus points for being the go-to place for Elvis glasses.
For grown-up lady shopping, skip the malls and go to Nordstrom Rack at the southwest corner of Preston and Park in Plano. From the Dallas North Tollway, exit Park and go right on Preston, and it'll be behind Starbucks on the right. Fabulous, high-end retail garments at mark-down (often better than WalMart) prices. Srsly.
For bath stuff, go to Lush at Northpark. Park near the northeast entrance, go in the long galleria and it's on the ground floor to the right. There's also a decent movie theatre in this mall, but they don't call them mauls for nothing. Go to Lush, get in and get out. That's my advice.
For a quiet, cozy and rather fancy dinner, go to The Grape. Not cheap, but also not frighteningly expensive. Good food.
For a feast of more Bacchanalian proportions, go to my favorite churrascaria, Texas de Brazil.
For good Indian food buffet (during the day) go to Pasand at the Southeast corner of Coit and Campbell in Plano.
When House of Blues has a band you want to see, go there. It's a great venue with fabulous seats and good acoustics. Their food's not bad, either.
New Amsterdam Coffee Haus is a great place to have good imported beers and ales. at the corner of Parry and Exposition by Fair Park, it's a very cool hangout, actually. Love the huge collection of wrought-iron and colored glass Spanish colonial light fixtures, too.
Lee Harveys' is another great neighborhood dive bar, and it used to be my local hangout place. Before LH, it was Moose's Baby. I'd walk in with a friend, and we'd quadruple the number of teeth amongst all the patrons. The dental count's gone way up these days, but it's still the trashy kitsch scene you'd know and love if you had the sense to hang out with roller derby chicks.
Drinks on the balcony at Belmont Hotel's bar is a marvelous experience. Their Belmont Diner is marvelous, too. Their macaroni & cheese is an entire entree its own self for very good reason. You can also stay in a room there with a big fabulous bathtub, but they ain't cheap...
Dallas Museum of Art is quite nice, but you can walk around the sculpture garden around the base of the Trammel Crow building and view scads of TC's impressive sculpture collection for free.
Gosh, this list is longer than I expected it would be. To be continued, perhaps...


Roscoe said...

Fry's Electronics is a "must see" for any geek who has never been. The newer stores are more fun than the legacy Incredible Universe location (Arlington).

Don't go expecting great customer service, however, and, no matter how great the temptation, don't take pictures. I witnessed staff confiscating a camera card in the Irving store at the exit.

HollyB said...

I saw a billboard on 35E the other night advertising a Mama's Daughters' Dine on Royal.

Anonymous said...

I've never been to the Dallas Pistol Club, but I'd like to sometime. Most of my shooty time is at the DFW Gun Club, only because its cheap and always open. The hopeful future wife mate loves Northpark. I've never been impressed, but in being a male, I don't shop, I go to buy something and then leave, which annoys her to no end...

Rabbit said...

Oh, you're so right about Ray's (did I tell you about that initially?) It's like making the Hajj. You must make that pilgrimage at least once. L. really wants to go back and look at Benelli and Beretta shotguns again.

Yep, Fry's is one place that has to be experienced to believe. Snotty hired help, decent prices, unbelievable inventory. I'm fortunate to live near one and work near another.

The Fillmore Pub in Plano is a great place to go have a terrific Guinness cheddar burger or fish-n-chips, a terrific beer, and watch people, particularly the waitstaff. I like the New Amsterdam, but it's kind of a haul from where i live just for drinks. Don Pepe's Rancho at Coit and Arapaho is one of our favorite Tex-Mex places. It's just tacky enough to be quaint.

L. doesn't know it yet, but I'm plotting a retreat to the Belmont some weekend in the fall.


Liz said...

They opened a Nordstrom Rack across from Northpark. Just sayin'...

Kim said...

Maybe I missed it in your post, but the Beretta Store in the cutesy little Highland Park Mall (Mockingbird/Preston) is worth a drool, errrr visit.

Also, for non-Texans: Eatzi's and Central Market (either on Coit/George Bush Tollway or at Mockingbird/U.S. 75), for foodie heaven.

Kim said...

Oh, and for the best food in Dallas, period: Canary Cafe in Addison.

Chef Gorji is a miracle-worker.