Laid Back On The Lake

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Back when we lived way east on 30 near Zion Road, we nicknamed that giant reservoir out there "Lake Ray Stumpy", for reasons we probably don't have to explain. The weather's been kinder lately, though, and things are looking much fuller. Probably no coincidence that business there has reached high tide, too.

Within the past few years, the banks of Lake Ray Hubbard have welcomed many new attractions, including the Hilton Bella Harbor Hotel, the Bass Pro Shop and a big ol' Cinemark Theater. We headed back to the old 'hood last weekend to check out two familiar recent additions, a new Flying Saucer and an outpost of Uptown mainstay Primo's right next door. Both sit on the water, with 180-degree lakefront views--and both are pretty much a world away from their citified sisters.

"Saucer on the Lake", as it's called, is as bright and shiny as a new restaurant gets. There's no stress fractures yet in the green vinyl booth cushions and just try to find a speck of dust on the hundreds of pieces of flair hanging on the walls.

What really sets it apart from the beloved Addison-North Dallas border branch, however, isn't inside, but out. The Saucer's spacious covered patio is the place to be at happy hour. Tables fill up fast from five o'clock on and waitresses in tiny plaid skirts weave about to accommodate the laid-back, lakeside crowd.

Guess that's the thing that stands out most about this place: you'll see more Velcro tennis shoes and mom jeans than $50 faux-vintage t-shirts. And that's what makes it awesome. More than once we asked ourselves, where could we go in Dallas that would make us feel so young, so hip, so stylish? After a quick bite (a suitable Cotswald-topped cheeseburger and a stellar brat with 'kraut), we headed next door to get a better look at the Primo's throng.

We were able to spy on the adjacent patio from our perch at the Saucer, but that didn't prepare us for the melee inside. Every single table in the giant restaurant was full, and it was standing-room-only on the deck. We grabbed a drink at the unpretentious inside bar (overheard: "What's a swirl again?") and made our way outside. Again, nobody here was too cool for school, and there wasn't an iota of the posing and preening that the McKinney Avenue Primo's is famous for. Settling in a relatively quiet spot, we sipped while watching boats come and go from the slips below, eavesdropping on easygoing conversations. When the live entertainment tuned up around 8, we'd been lulled into a mid-vacation-like trance by rippling water and the coral glow of the setting sun.

We ended up drinking a little too much and might have even sung along to the cover band's version of "Heaven" by Los Lonely Boys. But everyone else did, too. Or at least they didn't hold it against us.

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