Best Chocolatier 2010 | Dude, Sweet Chocolate | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

There is much to recommend about this Bishop Arts District chocolatier—from the truffles to the "Crack In A Box" bridge mix—but the "Chubby Nuts" are a good place to start: a mix of macadamias, soy nuts, almonds and hazelnuts, all candied, salted and covered in chocolate and powdered sugar. They're so much a staple of mad scientist-confectioner Katherine Clapner's repertoire they've even found their way into inventions like her frozen chocolate-apricot-mole Push-up Pop. Clapner runs to local and seasonal foods, gleefully tossing around tastes like paprika, habanero and curry in homemade marshmallows, kettle corn and truffles. The uncluttered interior leaves much of the confectioner's work out in the open, while folks behind the counter are almost suspiciously patient answering even the most basic questions.

You know the pool scenes in The Sandlot? The ones with the oh-so-hot Wendy Peffercorn teasingly applying suntan lotion to her sun-kissed skin from her perch above the 1960s community pool that the baseball-obsessed neighborhood kids go to only when it's too hot outside to play a game? Well, the pool at Fraternal Order of Eagles Lodge No. 3108, not too far from the Dallas Arboretum and White Rock Lake, is pretty much exactly like that—only, there's no Wendy Peffercorn (or any lifeguards, for that matter), and instead of dozens of kids, it's mostly attractive twenty- and thirty-somethings showing off their bathing suit bodies and freshly applied skin ink. Also: There are two bars (one inside and one outside), and, after paying a $7 cover charge to enter the place (assuming you're not a member), the beers won't even cost you four bucks. Plus, the whole place feels like it's ripped out of the '60s, which, OK, it probably was. FOE's pool is a slice of the past, updated to placate the contemporary.

The Consignment Store may have a generic name, but its selection is second to none. Items found throughout the 15,000-square-foot showroom in North Dallas are from manufacturers from around the world and include various dining tables, sofas, desks, armoires and beds. While most of the inventory is used and antique furniture, knickknacks and clothing are also for sale. In addition to the unique assortment of items, The Consignment Store commits to daily price reductions to make room for new inventory. Lower prices and a steady stream of new goodies—we knew there was a reason they've been in business for 24 years.

White Rock Lake

You just can't rush cheese, and you're a fool if you try. Everything about cheesemonger Rich Rogers' Oak Lawn Avenue shop suggests a slower pace, from the rustic wooden tables and cheese boards to the cool light streaming in from outside. It'd take awhile to work your way through Scardello's cheese case, packed with edible science projects from around the world, cheeses that gush when sliced, cheeses rubbed down with espresso and veined with obscure tastes, cheeses made from the milk of strange animals. With regular cheese classes to peel the mystery off the dairy world's most pungent members, and late-night jazz to challenge even the strongest of constitutions, Scardello has brought a little more culture to one food that, by definition, already had plenty.

While studying to become a Master Gardener, Janet Smith conceived of this lovely little public garden in 2005. It was completed two years later by the Dallas County Master Gardeners and garden designer Carmel Womack, and now blooms with all manner of flowers as a sustainable, year-round garden designed to attract butterflies. The plants are watered with a drip irrigation system and the garden is accessible by a ramp, with benches for a comfy sitdown. In the middle is a specially commissioned sculpture, Whirl, by Austin artist John Christensen. A lovely addition to the Bath House environs.

If you haven't been to Sprouts, picture Whole Foods with better produce and prices. The wide aisles also allow for easy navigation of the fresh fruits and veggies, and the staff is always helpful and friendly. The Arizona-based company's business model was developed more than 30 years ago in San Diego as Henry's Marketplace, and its first store opened locally in Plano five years ago. The only downside is that Sprouts is located in a dry area, meaning beer and wine sales are prohibited. But being a one-stop shop has never been Sprouts' forte. It has always counted on customers making a second stop. After all, it's not like they carry laundry detergent either.

Courtesy Dallas Arboretum
Dallas Arboretum

Located right in the heart of Uptown, which, in case you didn't know, is where every pretty college coed in Texas is required to live upon graduating, the McKinney Avenue location of the Albertson's grocery chain is, without a doubt, the greatest grocery store in the entire metroplex—and not because it has a solid selection of produce and the same exact things you'll find stocking the shelves of every other modern-day supermarket. No, this Albertson's location deserves a nod for another reason entirely: Its patrons. We've shopped all around town looking for the stores with the best deals, and you know what we've found? The prices are all pretty much the same everywhere. But this location—and we've been there enough to say it's not even up for debate—has far and away the best-looking crop of shoppers you'll find at any grocery store in the city, and maybe even America. Mom always told us to try meeting a nice girl, and to maybe look for her in a place that isn't a bar. Well, thanks to the McKinney Albertson's, we're finally looking. Probably too much.

The Texas Discovery Gardens now include a new wonderful butterfly conservatory that is basically a rain forest in a three-story greenhouse brimming with exotic butterflies. Elevated walkways allow guests to follow the butterflies all the way up into the tops of the trees. For $200 you can take 40 kids there for a unique and memorable birthday party. The thoughtful folks at the Discovery Gardens provide decorations and have even come up with gender-specific themes: "For the Love of Butterflies" for girls, and for boys, "For the Love of Bugs." You get two hours, an educational gift for your child and the staff does the clean-up. Kids can roam out into the outdoor gardens if the butterflies aren't enough. Two shifts, Saturdays and Sunday. Make reservations.

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