Best Record Store That Doesn't Sell Records 2001 | Virgin Megastore | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
A friend dragged us to the new Virgin Megastore, which opened in September. In the parking lot, we boldly declared to everyone within earshot that we'd never buy a CD in that unholy place. No, sir. We were far too cool to shop for our Sleater-Kinney in a theme park. Down with The Man. And so on. Then we stepped through the glass doors and beheld the promised land. The Virgin store consists of 25,000 square feet of aisle upon aisle overflowing with reasonably priced digital milk and honey. CDs and DVDs and video games as far as the eye can see (not really, but we're on a roll). On a busy weekend, perhaps 20 Virgin helpers are at your disposal. Yes, they wear too-baggy pants. But they will find what you're looking for and do it with good cheer. And you can try it before you buy it. There are so many listening stations at Virgin that when asked, employees underestimated the number by half. While an exact figure was difficult to determine even after a phone call to a manager, we can safely say there are more than 100 listening stations, some of them called Megaplay Stations, which allow you to grab most any CD or DVD off the shelf, scan its bar code and listen to or view it. Does our purple prose make us uncool? No matter. We will gladly forfeit our coolness for such hyperstupendous megaselection.

If there is any truth in advertising, it certainly would apply to Darrell's Sensational Pies!, a wholesale pie company that distributes 32 flavors of these single-serving treats through 18 Dallas locations including Two Sisters Catering, Snappy's Catfish and Burger House. From the traditional apple and cherry to the more exotic pumpkin pecan and chunky peanut butter chocolate, these tidy four-and-a-half-inch minis cater to the gluttonous among us who believe that fat can be fun when delivered in small portions. Yet Darrell, a third-generation baker, tips his crust to the health-conscious, damning all use of additives or preservatives. For the small-waisted or the calorie-unconscious, a 9-incher can be ordered on demand through these retail outlets. Call Darrell direct to find the pie nearest you. Or wait six weeks until he opens his own retail store in North Dallas. Then try the blueberry and chocolate chip brownie. They're sensational!

Smaller specialty stores have better and more thorough wine selections, and froufrou grocery stores have more eclectic stocks of microbrews, but two things count in a good liquor store: convenience and sauce. That's why you can't go wrong with this Sigel's location across from Old Town. An empty bottle's throw from Central Expressway, this ample store thankfully arranges its stock according to alcohol's two primary colors--clear and amber--making it easy to find what you're looking for. Should you require, there's plenty of mixers to be had, and for those big, bad, cherry-popping voodoo daddies who like to party like it's 1995, you can stock up on cigars as well. And perhaps best of all, it's only a short stroll from the Lovers Lane DART station, for those out there who need a designated driver during the day.

Best Place to Buy Kitchen Gadgets as Seen on TV

Sur La Table

There's more than one way to juice a lemon. And watching the plethora of culinary programs on KERA and Food Network, you can glimpse them all: the old-fashioned glass citrus juicer, Martha Stewart's wooden reamer, Stephan Pyles' aluminum Mexican lemon juicer. All are available at Sur La Table, as are tons of other gadgets used daily by the celebrity chefs on the tube (and, maybe, monthly in noncommercial kitchens). The large brick store on Travis Street just off Knox houses tiny ginger graters, olive forks, steel cocktail whisks, sheets of bamboo for rolling sushi, butter warmers, pie dough weights, zesters, ice crushers, cookie presses, mandolins, mortars and pestles, dozens of sizes of pastry brushes, sake sets and even wine glass charms so drinkers can find their own glass even if they've already indulged a little. Sur La Table also has a huge selection of cookbooks and a popular culinary arts program, so you can learn to use these little gadgets you'll no longer be able to live without.

Want a stove with enough oomph to melt your pots and pans? One with a door so stout you can stand on it? Industrial-weight kitchen stuff is, er, hot, and great for reheating leftover takeout food. These guys have it in spades--refrigerators that look like they've been yanked out of catering services, dishwashers so quiet you have to put your ear up to them to make sure they're running, vent hoods that will muss your hair and suck up that two-alarm fire in your omelette pan. In short, manly machines.

Dinner parties are stressful enough without worrying whether some bozo is going to break one of the Depression glass goblets you inherited from Great-Aunt Nona. Save the worry for the menu and restock your pantry with discontinued and overstocked glassware from Crate & Barrel. The prices are minuscule compared to the chain's regular merchandise (we recently picked up some classic martini glasses for a buck apiece). We're not promising you won't be upset if one ends up broken and ground into the dining room rug, but at least you won't have to explain to Mom about the now incomplete set of family heirlooms. That is, unless the rug was part of your inheritance. In that case, Crate & Barrel carries cheap, yet chic rugs as well.

Hidden among the lox and bagels and knishes and white fish salad and potato pancakes and a dozen other dishes that are done New York-right here is a sandwich that only repeat customers at Gilbert's are menu-savvy enough to order. It's the meatloaf sandwich, and it must be ordered on rye bread with brown gravy on the side. It's tender, it's juicy, it's flavorful--it's all you could ask from a piece of meat that is not exactly steak. Add fries and try not to feel guilty. You'll be in true cholesterol heaven. The Gilbert family has been serving authentic deli delights since 1987 at its Preston Forest location. Come early next year the three Gs will be headed north to their new Addison digs on Belt Line Road. No problem for us--as long as they bring the meatloaf.

Almost every inch of the sidewalks around the tiny space inside Marioly's shop is filled with fresh cut flowers available by single stem or in bushlike bouquets. It's like a flower market scene from My Fair Lady only without Audrey Hepburn singing "Wouldn't It Be Loverly." And though carnations, roses and the like are available in florist quality at about grocery-store prices, our favorites are the slightly exotic bunches featuring tiger lilies, snap dragons, spider mums and gerber daisies. At about half the price a florist would charge, you'll have enough spare change to buy a vase or basket you'd like to actually use again.

Er'Go's outlet just off Stemmons and Motor Street proves there's never enough of a good thing. Only open on Saturdays, the candle retail company's outlet offers a variety of sizes and scents at about 50 percent off store prices. Though not all scents are available on a given day in every size, it's still the easiest way to find a favorite flavor, be it a travel version in a tin cup, a free-standing pillar or ball or a poured candle in a cut glass jar. The outlet recently moved across the circle from its old location to a larger space, which means more room for browsing and, hopefully, even more candles. It still won't be enough.
The downtown farmer's market has more to offer than picking up fresh fruit, browsing potted plants and gawking at expensive wooden furniture. Several of the shed vendors also sell potted herbs ready for planting in the garden or in a terra-cotta strawberry jar. From lemon mint to Italian cilantro, single pots to gallons, the herbs are healthier and less expensive than the chain nurseries. The selection's better, too. And you don't need to be Martha Stewart (or have her support staff) to grow herbs for cooking, making potpourri or just to prove you can actually nurture a plant. No hydroponics needed.

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