Here's the deal. This is your last holiday weekend until the first of September, which means after this Monday, you'll be trapped in your regular, mundane work week for nearly two solid months -- all of this during the hottest weather of the year. You better make the most of these upcoming three days, lest you spend the next weeks in sweaty regret.
Find yourself a party, preferably one with a pool, and while everyone else timidly asks "What should I bring?" slink away with the following shopping list and prepare to be feted as a Fourth of July party superstar.
Emporium Pies (Pictured above) I was just talking to owner Megan Wikes about the perfect summer pie. I offered that it should be peach. She became very angry.
"Do you know how impossible it would be to peel and pit the 2,000 peaches we would need every day?" she scolded. Obviously she's not into canned ingredients, which is probably why her pies taste so good. Luckily cherries are much easier to pit, and they evoke memories of young George Washington, who was very American. Take this pie to your party and pastry lovers will salute.
Post Oak Red Hots When nobody is looking toss that package of grocery store franks near the grill in the garbage and replace them with some Post Oak Red Hots. Brian Luscher thinks these are the best hot dogs you'll ever taste, and he's right. Walk away from the ketchup and grab some of his mustard while you're at it. You can get both at the Green Grocer.
Village Baking Co. Don't buy a locally made hot dog and tuck it into a commodity bun. Village Baking Co. will sell you bread baked hours ago with natural ingredients. Same goes for those burgers for which you'll grind your own meat. You are grinding your own, right?
Empire Baking Company sells some great local loaves, too. Whatever you do, put down the Pepperidge Farms and embrace your favorite local bakery.
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Craft and Growler Of course you're bringing beer, and the most distinctive way to do it is with a growler filled to the brim with local brew. Imagine two people show up to the front door of a party, and one has a 12-pack of canned Tecate and you've got two massive jugs of Velvet Hammer. Who do you think is going to get the first hug?
Steel City Pops As the embers die down on the charcoal grill, cravings will skew towards the cool side of things. Pull a bag of these Steel City Pops out of the freezer and you'll claim the greatest Fourth of July party memory. Pour cups of cheap Champagne and use them as inverted popsicle serving vessels and make yourself into a legend.
Carnival Barker's Near the entrance to the Truck Yard a small, sliding takeout window (and a possible line of greedy ice cream snatchers) is all that stands between you and the last of your Fourth of July finds. Grab 20 or so pints of various flavors and let the party go out with a bang.
Want to become a summer immortal? Fill one of those growlers with Lakewood's Temptress Milk Stout, pour a little into a few red solo cups, and circle back around with some Carnival Barker's for an amazing ice cream float. You will be carried to your car at the end of the evening, either hoisted on shoulders or slumped over them from all the celebratory shots. Either way you'll be an American hero, and you'll be really, really full.