A collection of neighborhood gems that are better than the ‘best’
Creating a “best of” list isn’t really our speed. At the end of the day, who’s to say what is truly “best”? Highlighting one neighborhood shop, restaurant or experience as better than another based on votes or our (ahem) expert opinion tends to be subjective, and it doesn’t allow us to fully appreciate the countless gems in Lakewood.
Instead of declaring the “best” this month, we’re calling attention to the things we love about Lakewood — the kinds of things that wouldn’t make it on a broader “best of” list because those of us who live here are among the few who know they exist and who understand their worth.
This story is only the beginning of our list. We’ll be highlighting the things we love weekly on the Back Talk blog. We want to hear about the things you love, too. Send an email to email@example.com, and you might find your description of a neighborhood gem on our website or in the magazine.
1. Recycling literature at Paperbacks Plus
La Vista and Skillman
It’s a rare breed. Paperbacks Plus started in 1974, and it’s still a family-owned used bookstore. Bring used books to the store for credit to buy more books. The shop’s second floor houses the Writer’s Garret, which offers writing workshops.
2. Second-hand boots at Dolly Python
Haskell and Delano
It is surprising how many neighbors don’t know about this shop, which is like an antique mall on acid. It should be the first stop on a quest for vintage cowboy boots — or any vintage boots, really. They also sell Tom Sales’s skull spoons, and last year, the shop tore down a wall and took over the adjacent space to sell vintage furniture.
3. Free shipping to Dallas addresses from Little Bean
Junius and Henderson
All mothers of little ones would prefer to browse Christine Visneau’s darling shop, tucked inside the Junius Heights neighborhood right next to Garden Café. But let’s be honest — mothers of little ones sometimes don’t have time to shower, let alone load the kids in the car and drive to a neighborhood boutique. Hats off to Visneau for recognizing this and allowing us to shop her handmade creations and other whimsical picks online while wearing spit-up-stained pajamas.
4. Flipping through the vinyl at Good Records
Greenville and La Vista
What’s more rare than a family-owned bookstore? Perhaps a locally owned record store. Good Records is like “Empire Records” and the shop where Molly Ringwald’s character, Andie, worked in “Pretty in Pink” — only cooler and not fictional. They always have something going on, including live performances, album signings and movie nights.
1. Morels and ramps from the Spice Man
Bryan and Fitzhugh
Tom Spicer specializes in selling mushrooms and other produce to Dallas chefs. Not everyone knows his storefront, in the same building as Jimmy’s Food Store, is open to the public. Anyone can buy the same mushrooms and morels served in the city’s fanciest restaurants and cook them at home.
2. Caesar salad at Louie’s
N. Henderson and Monarch
Yes, the pizza is all that. The pies at Louie’s arguably are the best in the city. But the Louie’s menu item we wake up in the middle of the night craving is this dive bar’s perfect Caesar salad.
3. Bob Armstrong Dip at Matt’s Rancho Martinez
La Vista and Abrams Parkway
You caught your boyfriend cheating. You caused a car wreck. Your boss is a jerk. A teenager lives in your house. These are emergency situations, which can only be remedied with fatty foods and, possibly, margaritas. Bob Armstrong Dip contains the four magically healing ingredients: chile con queso, taco meat, guacamole and sour cream.
5. Whole Foods Park Lane
Park and Greenville
There’s a wine bar inside.
6. Keeping our coffee bucks local
We have no beef with Starbucks, but it’s nice to have our own flavor in the coffee scene. Pearl Cup, at N. Henderson and McMillan, is known for its signature latte. And White Rock Coffee opened a drive-through kiosk at the northeast corner of Mockingbird and Abrams. Legal Grounds in the Lakewood Shopping Center has been around the longest and is significantly improved under new ownership. It’s a good place to sit and stay awhile.
LIVING IN EAST DALLAS
1. Backyard chickens
Dogs are great — man’s best friend and all — but can they make your breakfast? Several White Rock area residents keep chickens, which produce an average of one egg each per day, as pets.
“But wait,” you might say. “Chickens aren’t pets; they’re dinner.” Try telling that to neighbor Brenda Sanchez, who recently spent cash and time treating one of her cluckers for an eye infection. “Sure, we should have just eaten Fuzzy, but instead I paid $150 at the vet,” Sanchez admits. “We kept Fuzzy in the house and nursed her back to health, giving her antibiotics and eye drops for a week. I even snuck the bird into the elementary school one day because my daughter was the only one in the family who could get those drops in.” Note: once you’ve named a chicken Fuzzy, you most certainly cannot have it for dinner.
Bill and Barbara Katz, frontiers of the urban chicken movement in our neighborhood, aren’t typical farmers either. “A hen will produce eggs for two or three years. Once they stop, usually a farmer would end it, but I just don’t have the heart to,” Bill Katz says. To the Katz family, chicken farming is about more than just eggs.
The “chicken culture” is more than a hobby or fad, Katz says, but a way of life that sets the “chicken people” apart from the crowd. “Most people bring wine to parties; we bring a dozen eggs — you get used to it.”
2. Free ukulele lessons
Buckner and Northcliff
The Ukulele lady of Dallas, Noel Tardy, opened a uke shop inside Keep U N Stitches, and she offers free lessons the second Saturday of the month at 10 a.m.
3. Not competing with cars
Cyclists, runners and walkers can take the paved Santa Fe Trail from near Baylor Hospital all the way to the White Rock Lake Spillway.
4. Saving the hives
Susan and Brandon Pollard of Old East Dallas are on a mission to save the bees through their company, the Texas Honeybee Guild. They rescue hives throughout North Texas, and they provide and care for hives at restaurants, including Park on North Henderson.
5. Food trailers on Lower Greenville
City councilman Angela Hunt’s proposal for a $1.3 million spruce-up on Lower Greenville between Bell and Alta calls for a gourmet food trailer court near Greenville and Prospect.
6. Wagons at the Dallas Arboretum
Schlepping a kid, a stroller, snacks, sunscreen, woobies and everything else to the arboretum is a juggling act. So we were relieved to find they rent wagons for $5. That way, the kid and the woobie are both happy.
1. The boom at Granada Theater
Greenville and Longview
The Granada’s sound system is like no other. Free earplugs are available at the bar.
2. Karaoke at the Goat
Gaston and Garland
We usually prefer the privacy of Korean karaoke, but karaoke at the Goat on Sunday nights is serious entertainment.