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Yogilicious Rides a Dairy Wave From the Coasts

Patrick Michels
So it's yogurt. And it tastes pretty good. What you want to call this?
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We've been here before.

The bright lights and pastel walls, the plastic furniture and frozen yogurt. Dim the lights, pad the chairs and crank up a smooth-jazz Stones cover over the roar of the espresso machine, and it'll all look pretty familiar

The new wave yogurt invasion is in full swing here in Dallas, and like the coffee house culture bomb 20 years ago, it's built on a vaguely foreign food ritual and a carefully crafted social space.

In this case, the food is tart frozen yogurt, Korean by way of L.A. and New York, where Pinkberry made it cool to be seen with a cup of soft-serve, even when not waiting for a connecting flight.

One of the more notable entries in the Dallas fro-yo scene is Yogilicious on McKinney Avenue, the frozen yogurt "lounge" (their word) that opened in late September.

While yogurt bars like this took off in Korea as a health craze, with active bacteria cultures and fresh fruit toppings, Yogilicious is a good example of a concession made to the delicate American palate: self-serve machines and enormous cups. Treat your body to the herbal benefits of the green tea yogurt, three pounds of it, buried in caramel sauce and Fruity Pebbles.

The Uptown yogurt lounge has 24 flavors -- 12 at any one time -- including the seasonal pumpkin number that, on two recent visits, was one of their best, well-seasoned with pie spice flavors and the least runny consistency. Their owner mentioned pumpkin had been so popular, they'll be keeping it around for a few months.

The mango flavor wasn't so cooperative; trying to pull a taste into their thimble-sized sample cups (a Korean venti), I got a handful of the semi-frozen goo when it came rushing out.

I wouldn't have cared about looking like such a rube in the wood-paneled comfort of TCBY, but at Yogilicious, surrounded by ethereal music, fashion mags and the West Village scarf-and-peacoat crew, my faux pas stung.

I'll risk embarrassment to go back again, though, for the tropical taro flavor and the tart plain yogurt, two other highlights. On the toppings side, try the chewy mochi chunks or the fresh berries or pineapple.

Whether you go for a small cup of plain or a gut-bustin' tub of chocolate sunk in fudge, you'll pay 45 cents an ounce before you retire to your translucent plastic lounge chair. Soak up the Yogilicious scene late on a Friday night, and you'll almost believe it's a niche food hangout with real staying power. The coffee house. The wine bar. The yogurt lounge.--Patrick Michels

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