We've seen it dozens of times at this tucked-away branch of the java chain. She comes in first, a little nervous, not sure exactly whom to make eye contact with. Order a frapp or wait to see if he shows up and offers to buy? She sits, checks her lip gloss, tries to look relaxed. Then he arrives: Dockers, Polo shirt, a little too much cologne. "Are you?" he says. "I am!" she says. They take a table by the window and start the "tell me about yourself" routine, filling in the stuff they couldn't say on Match.com. Meanwhile, Amanda, Aileen, Albert, Jeff and the other nice baristas efficiently whip up the mocha-choke-a-lattes and will even bring them to the table, like in a real caf. The date-friendly ambience means the music's never too loud, the whir of coffee machines (stuck way at the back of the shotgun-style room) don't drown out a good joke and the parking lot is close by if escape from a potential date-turned-stalker is needed.
Dallas Costume Shoppe
Halloween is really just around the corner, and it's never too early to begin preparing an outfit. Afraid of humiliating yourself by trotting out another unimaginative store-bought atrocity? Fear not, there is help. For more than 100 years--that's right, a century--Dallas Costume Shoppe has answered the call of Halloween revelers searching for the perfect ensemble. Owner Michael Robinson is on hand to offer snappy sartorial suggestions, and with thousands of in-stock pieces to choose from, you are sure to find a look that screams you and "Boo!" The vast stock spans all styles and eras, from nuns and knights to hookers and hobos, from kings and queens to cowboys and can-can girls, from centurions and soldiers to vampires and vixens. Not just a Halloween staple, Dallas Costume Shoppe also specializes in legitimate costuming for commercials, films, corporate events, photo shoots and theater. Be sure to say hello to Mr. Mata, a veritable Dallas institution who has celebrated the All Hallows' Eve season with Dallas Costume Shoppe for more than 60 years.
This huge store seems to go on forever, and it's crammed full of eclectic furniture and accessories with a Southwestern edge: Hand-tooled leather couches, rugged coffee tables, antique rugs, dining tables and chairs, lamps and art you don't see at generic furniture stores. Even if your house doesn't have a cowboy attitude, you can find pieces that mix and match with other styles, especially ethnic art and accessories. We especially love the generously sized easy chairs. Though there are plenty of different leathers and fabrics in stock, you can also special order. If you shop on the weekends, they might be giving away free margaritas or some other cool beverage to make the hot work of shopping easier.
When you bought your house 30 years ago, you remember thinking, "This olive shag carpet is where it's at." Or maybe you used a word such as "groovy" or "boss." No matter your past floor-covering transgressions, Floor & Dcor will help you atone. We drooled over beautiful tumbled travertine and glossy black marble. We marveled at the reasonable prices on laminate--starting at just 69 cents a square foot. We've had friends come from as far away as Denton and Canton to shop at this warehouse of wondrous flooring options. They also carry structural and decorative items such as sinks, mirrors and moldings. We'll keep mum about the shag, as long as you don't tell anyone about our blue scallop-shell sinks. Hmm, meet ya there?
Anyone can order blooms over an 800 number. If you want to send a unique flower arrangement, call Avant Garden, known for simple but lush flower displays in sleek containers, often with blossoms in one color mounded for impact. Avant has a reputation for touches of whimsy, like a live chrysalis with a due date for the butterfly tucked into a bouquet of roses. Owner Brian Bolke (also co-owner of fashion retailer Forty Five Ten) often is called on by national shelter magazines for party and wedding ideas, so he's always got something new up his sleeve. The tiny three-story shop at Highland Park Village is a fun place to browse for your own ideas. Call Avant's style "luxurious simplicity"--harder to achieve than it sounds.
Lights Fantastic
The brightest bulbs have figured out that Lights Fantastic has the biggest selection of contemporary lighting in the city, with top brands such as George Kovacs, Lightolier and Foscarini. Check out their new Zaneen Gallery, with almost 100 examples of the European line's sleek, architecturally styled flush-mount fixtures, pendants and wall sconces. They've got art glass from Oggetti, WPT and Tech Lighting and the new LED lighting from Traxon. More traditional folks will find Stiffel, Quoizel, Hubbardton Forge and Schonbek chandeliers. Check out their extensive line of specialty bulbs for those hard-to-match odd sockets.
For a kinder, gentler approach to getting a caffeine buzz, Tempest Tea serves dozens of varieties of hot, iced and bubble teas. The menu includes black teas (hearty and strong such as Thunderbolt, full-bodied such as Black Toffee in Bed, and finessed and elegant such as Golden Sunrise), green teas (Jasmine Pearl, Dragon Well), white teas (White Snow and Apricots), Rooibos teas (non-caffeinated Ginger) and Masala Chais (Red Chais at Night). In other words, Starbucks' menu has nothing on Tempest Tea. Choose your tea, then relax on a banquette, pull out your laptop or book and sip away. Pastries and wraps are available for breakfast and lunch. Or share a classic afternoon tea with friends: three courses with scones, finger sandwiches, dessert and a pot of the brew of your choice. You can also purchase tea accessories and gift baskets. Dallasites Brian and Jodi Rudman--he's a doctor, she's a lawyer-turned-actress--started Tempest Tea in 2002 with the motto "drinking to improve life." Tea-riffic.
You're putting in a dream kitchen. Why not dream big? French-Brown has specialty tiles--murals, hand-painted, Italian, mosaics, metallic, glass, marble--that you don't see at most tile retailers or Home Depots. Shopping the good stuff gives you ideas. Expensive, yes, but if you are tiling a backsplash or the wall behind a stove, you won't need much. Find the accents at French-Brown and supplement with less expensive field tiles. Or use a handful of handmade tiles for a killer fireplace surround. French-Brown also offers floors in exotic woods, unique parquets, slate, cork and high-end vinyl for the modernist. Open on nights and weekends by appointment only.
Your Ford Expedition's car key with the fancy transponder inside pooped out? Golden's Keys can make, cut and reprogram it for $60, cheaper than many dealerships, and they'll do it in 20 minutes. Lock yourself out of said vehicle? They'll come to your rescue. Threw out the lover who talked you into buying that overpriced SUV in the first place? They'll change the locks on your house after-hours if necessary. (Right now, Golden's only does Ford transponder keys but hopes to add more manufacturers in the future.) This may be a number to keep on the refrigerator door.
Lush Cosmetics
Fly to London without moisturizer? Land in Paris sans gloss? With the new airline carry-on regulations making the "new normal" a new horror for the dry-complexioned and dusty-lipped, Lush offers what they swear are products that won't end up confiscated at the security gate. They sell moisturizers in solid form called "body butters." They also have solid shampoos, cleansing bars and slices of soap that turn into yummy bubble baths when they hit water. Lush's skin softeners and enhancers are natural and fresh (they're marked with expiration dates) and feel luxurious to the touch. NorthPark's is Lush's only Texas store.

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