Take a look at that grid of little boxes. Just like East Dallas, really--with newer homes and fewer trees. And no backyard chicken farming.
Just this afternoon we received a note from Brian Rudolph, urging us to visit his Holy Grail Pub (an Old Monk spin-off), located somewhere in the 'burbs. "I know that it is a long hike from inside the loop," he wrote apologetically. Clearly he expected some sort of negative grunt in response.
Oh, well--urban provincialism exists in just about every city. We're not really certain why. Something in human nature causes us to deem one territory (usually, though not always, our own) as cool and others as white bread, homogeneous, soulless pockets of fast food loving dullard slime.
Dallas defines itself in narrow bands, such as Uptown, The Village and more broadly, Inside The Loop. Those who live in such places scoff at anything a few miles north, calling it "Oklahoma." Thus we've often been told there's nothing worthwhile in Plano. No reason to drive to Irving. Nothing at all in Carrollton--although that used to be true.
But the rest of it? Well, here are ten reasons to reconsider...
10. A willingness to travel
Well, perhaps willingness isn't the right word. Folks who live in the 'burbs travel by necessity to jobs, soccer practice, restaurants, or whatever. Hell, most probably drive a few miles just to have a nice walk in the park. But this very mobility gives residents of the city's nether regions a better sense of what's available in and around Dallas than those trapped inside the loop.
This unpretentious Carrollton cafe is the best place to sample home style Peruvian cuisine. They serve a very rustic cabrito, classic papa rellena and (of course) a few ceviche dishes. The menu stretches into pan-South American territory, as well. Wait staff speak English as a second language--not so unusual, we know, but their first isn't Mexican Spanish. The place even hosts live music sessions.
Yes, Dallas has Fireside Pies, Louie's, Eno's and Grimaldi's. But where do you find the faintest approximation of a Chicago-style pizza? Where do you go for pies recognized by those stuffy Italian authenticators? There's some pretty good pizza scattered around the 'burbs: Campania in Southlake, Cavallin in Irving, Paparazzi in Carrollton. And more.
The suburbs are so boring, so homogeneous. That's one of the most common complaints those bound within 635 lodge against the outer reaches. But as we'll see, the northern tier of cities are instead a haven of ethnic diversity. H-Mart, the large Korean grocery in Carrollton is just one piece of evidence for that. It is 78,000 square feet of fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and, of course, kimchi.
6. Lakeside Patios
Give Rockwall a couple decades and they eventually wise up and entice restaurateurs to build along the shores of Ray Hubbard reservoir. Recently, Dallas drawing cards such as Flying Saucer and Primo's set up brand new outdoor decks overlooking the vast (for Texas) blue expanse of faux lake. The view--water, sailboats and such--is far more serene than that along McKinney Ave.
5. Richard Chamberlain
One of the area's better steakhouses (known for prime rib, really) and one of the better seafood restaurants belong to this highly regarded chef. And guess what? He planted both in oft-maligned Addison. Chamberlain's Steak & Chop House and Chamberlain's Fish Market Grill are sophisticated destinations. And the steakhouse is one of the last places where one can enjoy a cigar after dinner.
People live in Plano's Legacy development and office towers sprout around it. Really, though, it's an entertainment district and--for our purposes--a dining destination. Yes, some establisments are merely regurgitations from Dallas (Cafe Istanbul, Mi Cocina, Cru). But there are some independents scattered around. And with beer joints, a sports bar, wine, seafood, burgers, and fine dining all within walking distance, it ranks up there with West Village, Mockingbird Station and other developments.
You want a taste of China? Drive to Richardson. Kirin Court in that not-too-pleasant-to-look-at 'burb is one of the most popular spots for dimsum, as well as items from the menu. They don't skimp on tradition, even serving chicken feet glazed in a tangy sauce. There are dozens of Chinese restaurants in Richardson alone, as well as a decent dimsum place--J.S. Chen's--in Plano.
2. Hole in the wall Vietnamese
Yeah, Dallas has Mai's. That's one. But when you want real, ungussied versions of pho, the hearty Vietnamese soup, you head toward Garland. Just about every dirty strip center, it seems, has a small joint serving straightforward southeast Asian fare. Some are more trustworthy than others, of course--but exploring is fun.
Yep--those ugly expanses of asphalt striped with white lines spell convenience...and savings. Oh, you can choose to be all Dallas and valet--at some restaurants, anyway. But the suburbs often provide space for guests to park and open doors on their own, without an exchange of cash. What a great idea.
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