Does a Bear Shop in the Woods?

Don't get malled. This year, do your business al fresco.

PRESTON CENTER (intersection of Preston Road and Northwest Highway). This outdoor shopping area is actually a conglomeration of the Plaza at Preston Center and something called Berkshire Court, and it includes the still-under-construction Preston Center Pavilion, but folks from the Park Cities just call it Preston Center. On the gift-getting front, you will find the upscale and well-known: Translations (214-373-8391), which offers "remarkable giftings," i.e., jewelry, handbags, china, and home accessories; the jewelry store Castle Gap (214-361-1677); and Rolex watches and Bacharat crystal from Bachendorf's (214-692-8400). You will also find the offbeat and unique: The Tiecoon (214-369-8437), with gifts for kids of all ages; Apples to Zinnias (214-361-2200), may be the best place in town to get an outlandish flower arrangement; E.G. Geller (214-373-8066), purveyors of the world's finest comfort shoes; and Purple Glaze (214-350-9297), where you can make your own bisqueware plates and cups right in the store. To give you strength, Preston Center offers an equally diverse range of places to eat. Everyone knows about the Brinker-owned Corner Bakery (214-368-7101) and La Madeleine (214-346-9733), but I suggest you try the fried catfish at the funky Metro Diner (214-368-9255), the pork tacos with achiote-citrus marinade at Taco Diner (214-696-4944), and/or grab a counter seat and sink your teeth into a pastrami on rye at the always-busy Stern's Delicatessen (214-360-0001).

SNIDER PLAZA (off Lovers Lane and Hillcrest Avenue). Highland Park Village gets the credit for being America's first planned shopping center, but Snider Plaza opened four years earlier, in 1927. Start at Cotton Island (214-373-1085), one of my favorite boutiques in town. The clothes are affordable and always au courant but not so out there that they don't hold up for several seasons. Cotton Island also carries a delicious selection of beaded bracelets that make perfect gifts for any woman on your list. Discover sensuous soaps and handmade chandeliers at Rue No. 1 (214-265-0900). For more French finery, look for handmade quilts from Provence at Mary Boyle (214-373-9717). You'll find one of the best antiques stores in town at the appropriately named Snider Plaza Antiques (214-373-0822). For something smaller, check out the eclectic gifts and jewelry at Earth Bones (214-369-0693) and the cards at The Muse (214-739-6011). When it comes to food, Snider Plaza might be the best outdoor shopping area in town. You can't go wrong at Peggy Sue's BBQ (214-987-9188) -- or at its offshoot, The Corner Club, where you can grab a cocktail daily after 4:30. For the best sausage in town, served by women with thick German accents, go to Kuby's (214-363-2231). Try the chicken tacos at the friendly Cisco Grill (214-363-9506). For burgers, Snider Plaza offers two of Dallas' best joints: the fabled Burger House (214-361-0370) and the comfortable Balls Hamburgers (214-373-1717), which is also a good place to grab a beer.

THE LOVERS LANE CORRIDOR (the nearly mile-long stretch of Lovers Lane from Douglas Avenue to Inwood Road). This area includes the Pavilion on Lovers Lane, the Inwood Village, and more. It's not as cohesive or aesthetically pleasing as any of the above outdoor shopping areas, but it has much to offer. East of the Dallas North Tollway, you'll find home furnishing and accessories at Anteks (214-528-5567) and a hot selection of what you'd expect at Barbecues Galore (214-696-0030). Elements (214-987-0837) is a fabulous women's boutique where you can find an extensive and modern collection of eclectic designers, including Jill Stuart, Trina Turk, and Sharagano. For something to eat, stop in at the inventive Kathleen's Art Café (214-691-2355), or, for something more pedestrian, have a burger at Chip's (214-691-2447). West of the Tollroad, on the north side of Lovers, you'll find a great new place for something sweet and Italian, Paciugo Gelato (214-956-7979). Across the street, in the Pavilion on Lovers, start at J. Tiras (214-956-8181), where you'll find very stylish and affordable women's accessories, including a sumptuous selection of handbags, from funky to elegant. In the Inwood Village, find the perfect Mont Blanc pen for your tony executive at Pen Wright (214-350-7814), the widest selection of Brikenstocks in town at Heart & Sole (214-366-0300), and a dress for that special gravid gal at the maternity store A Pea in the Pod (214-352-6665). To quiet the rumblings, try a sandwich to go from the Empire Baking Co. (214-350-0007), or have a margarita with your enchiladas at Casa Rosa (214-350-5227).


For more holiday ideas, visit our Holiday Guide.

KNOX-HENDERSON / TRAVIS WALK (east and west of Central Expressway, along Knox and Henderson streets). Those of us who've lived in Dallas long enough to remember the old Knox St. Pub have a hard time believing what this once-humble area has become. With Crate & Barrel (214-219-1500), Pottery Barn (214-528-2302), Restoration Hardware (214-520-7255), and Weir's (214-528-0321) to the west of Central and with the myriad antiques stores to the east, it has become the yupscale Furniture Row. What would the erstwhile owners of the Pub think of all this? Stop in and ask them. Mere blocks from their old bar, Dan Dean and Mickey Miller now run Iota (214-522-2999), a wonderful little gift store with a piece of jewelry or an object d'art for anyone. For a gift that will brighten someone's life, visit the new Lamps Plus (214-520-2995), where the upscale designer showroom offers a kiosk that allows you to access thousands of items you likely won't find anywhere else. Up the street, you'll find a toy store for the young and young at heart in Froggie's 5 & 10 (214-522-5867). On the Henderson side, visit The Nest (214-827-5300) for whimsical jewelry and gift ideas. For food, the Knox-Henderson area offers several upscale eateries: in Travis Walk, find 23 wines by the glass and Cal-Ital cuisine at il Solé (214-559-3888), paella and a pitcher of mojitos at the Samba Room (214-522-4137), and an all-you-can-eat Mediterranean lunch buffet on Sundays at Ziziki's (214-521-2233). And no trip to this part of town would be complete without a trip to the lunch counter at the Highland Park Pharmacy (214-521-2126). But maybe the most compelling feature of a trip to the Knox-Henderson area is an apres-shopping horse-drawn carriage ride through Highland Park. You'll need to reserve a time. Try my personal favorite service, the Belle Starre (214-855-0410).

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