Best Restaurant Décor 2005 | Nicola's Ristorante | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
When you settle into a groovy space you just feel a bit more suave. At least we think so. There must be some connection between décor and attitude. After all, the University of Iowa football program painted the visiting locker rooms pink--floors, walls, lockers, everything--just to pacify the opposition. They've won 20-some odd home games in a row. Nicola's prefers a neatly designed array of curtains, pillars, wrought-iron rails and chandeliers to pastel colors. Framed by floor to ceiling windows, the room suggests urban cool. The most prominent feature is a collection of eight distinctly different chandeliers hanging above the bar area. In the dining area, a series of booths pinwheel from a center pillar. Along the edge, curtained alcoves suggest privacy. There are curves and straight lines, rich fabrics and wood. Above, a cool mezzanine drapes elegantly over the main dining area. Simply put, it's a beautiful space.
It was always a nice diversion to visit the Yasemin Tea shop in Uptown. Owner Yasemin Mosby took pleasure in educating customers on the health benefits and customs of tea drinking, and she encouraged plenty of sampling before choices were made about what to take home. It's a little sad that she only operates her business through a Web site now, but her focus has remained as much on spreading knowledge as selling tea. The site offers an abundance of information for beginners, and the shop's selection includes five different categories of teas, as well as tools and tips on brewing. Check it out, especially if you are tired of getting the shakes from too much coffee.
If Denton friends are trying to persuade you to brave Interstate 35 for a visit, tell them they can seal the deal with lunch at Southern Fried Pie Company. That place will wrap anything into a pocket pastry, and we mean anything. Just perusing the café's menu of hand-held goodies will add five pounds to your figure. The main course selections include the usual suspects: meat and cheese, chicken pot, shepherd's. Each savory pie is partnered with a green salad (who needs it?). But the stars of the show are the desserts. The banana cream and coconut cream are probably to die for, but we can't get past the chocolate and peanut butter. It's the kind of comfort food that requires a nap afterward, so here's hoping your Denton friends have a nice couch.
Here's one for DART rail riders: Get off at the West End stop and walk into the building that houses Chipotle. Instead of taking a right into the chain restaurant (we've seen you, and you don't need another burrito), take a left into La Fiesta Fruits Café. Order the chicken soup. This ain't no Campbell's canned crap; this is authentic, bones and all. About four or five bites in, you'll want to hug someone. It's only natural, with such a perfect mix of vegetables, rice, meat and an unnamed hot ingredient that sneaks up on you in a good way. The guy who owns the place is no soup Nazi. He's quite friendly. Definitely huggable.
Jerry Jones orders it every time he lunches at this charming Parkie redoubt in the shadow of the Tollway. According to owner Paula Bruton, it's become so popular that it's now a constant lunch entrée as well as a dish they'll make as an off-the-menu dinner appetizer. It sounds so, well, odd. And then you taste it. It begins as a mound of the freshest spinach salad you ever tasted, topped with tart, sweet warm bacon dressing. Then it's smothered under a load of flash-fried chicken livers. The flavors and textures combine in a way that is as uniquely enjoyable as it is difficult to describe other than as one of those things you simply must try.

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