Coffee Shops on the To Do List

I think I speak for both Sarah and I when I say that we are pretty picky when it comes to where we go to get our coffee house fix. It takes a lot to impress us. Atmosphere, patio, views, employees, chair comfiness, pastry selections (gluten free, please for Sarah..sufficient sweetness for me) and of course that coffee taste are all equally important.

Ascension Coffee
Ascension Coffee

My favorite coffee shop in Dallas is Ascension in the Design District. It’s my go to. The coffee is so delicious, and for me it was one of the first boutique coffee shops I knew about in D-town (having come from the land of Starbucks corners). Their perfectly sized small coffees are everything I need to turn a bad day into a great one.

But, I have a wandering eye. There are two new(ish) specialty shops in Dallas that if I don’t try in the next month I might die.

Houndstooth
Houndstooth

Houndstooth opened up about a week ago by Knox/Henderson. Originally from Austin, this shop has found its way North and I couldn’t be more thrilled! One thing I love is that they host frequent public coffee cuppings at their Austin N. Lamar location. This gives you the opportunity to try new coffees and learn more about their flavor, something I actually really enjoyed while working at Starbucks. At first you’re just like ‘ummm yeah this one tastes like coffee too…” but when you start trying several coffees and pairing them with foods, you start to notice the different flavors in each cup. So, Houndstooth. I’m hoping to see you tomorrow morning.

Davis St Espresso
Davis St Espresso

The second place I’m hoping to pay a visit to is Davis St Espresso in Oak Cliff. They just recently celebrated their 1 year anniversary, so I’m super late hoping on this train. Davis St. also hosts cuppings – a quality I think defines a dedicated coffee shop…just saying. Unfortunately this one is a little out of the way and difficult to get to and it’s closed on Sundays. But I’m determined! I’ll see them very soon.

A series of unfortunate events

Let’s go back to last Friday. A coworker was just telling me that Klyde Warren, a personal favorite and very cool downtown Dallas park, opened an ice skating rink. As any big city-starved and New York-obsessed girl, visions of sliding through crisp air surrounded by twinkly lights and the beautiful juxtaposition of trees and tall buildings swarmed my head. As not good as the movie Serendipity was (sorry Lydia), I’ve also never been able to lose the mental image of the Central Park ice skating scene and hope that I too might find my own adorable, quick-witted John Cusack to enjoy it with.

So with fiancé and high expectations in tow, I made my way downtown.

All seemed good as we walked up and laced up old fashioned-looking skates. People of all ages were lacing up their own skates, and the twinkly lights were ready for my movie moment. I was even wearing my favorite winter coat (even though I’m pretty sure it was 60 degrees today). And then we stepped on the…not ice.

Not sure how they got away with all the media placements touting the arrival of downtown “ice skating” (gotta love the power of a good publicist), but there was no ice to be found. Instead, our skates came to a screeching halt on plastic, yes, plastic, that required footwork not unlike an elderly penguin post-hip replacement surgery. Definitely no skating, sliding or speed of any kind here. Upon further inspection, our skates actually had just a flat metal strip where the blade would be.

Now, I’m a huge fan of the Klyde Warren. We even threw it out as a potential wedding location due to our support of and excitement for the space from Day 1. So this hurts me to say more than it hurts you, dear park: this “ice skating” is a waste of money, both for participants and the park itself.

After a few attempts at waddling we needed a change of scene, stat. It seemed like a nice night to finally check out Hoffman Hots, a fifties-inspired hot dog restaurant in Trinity Groves. Sadly, this was a severe disappointment both in food quality and atmosphere. And that’s saying something because I LOVE hot dogs. We also figured out we could buy 8 10-packs of hot dogs from a grocery store with what we paid for our 4 “gourmet” hot dogs, which really instilled confidence in our ability to make financially sound decisions for our future.

While this blog might sound like one long complaint, I have to be honest: We actually had a lot of fun tonight lamenting how “Dallas” aka “shiny on the outside/not so hot on the execution” the whole thing was….But if someone asks you to go ice skating in Klyde Warren you might want to tell them you prefer the Galleria.

Good food for a bad day

I did not have a good day.

My initial reaction, however potentially psychiatrically unsound, is usually to hermit in my own emotional cave all night long, but I decided I could poke my head out for a minute to tell you about a few of my favorite things. Just for you. Feel special.

To stock up for my evening watching Netflix in bed, I stopped by two of my favorite Lower Greenville establishments: Sevan G&G Cafe and Company Cafe.

If you live in Dallas, you must go to Sevan. The most precious Armenian couple own it, and even though I’ve never gotten their names (and now we’re far past the socially acceptable number of encounters to ask due to my Mediterranean food addiction), we’ve reached the point where the quiet husband and wife will actually both come out front and chat whenever I pick up my to go order. The Kafta Kabobs are heavenly.

Of course, it’s not a pity party without dessert, so I had to stop by Company Cafe to buy whatever gluten free baked good they had available. I ended up going home with a chocolate chip cookie bigger than my hand, so I’d say the additional minutes in the post-icepocalypse Dallas temps were well worth it. …Is it strange that my phone autocorrected to accurately spell “icepocalypse”?

The down side of coming home so hungry (always) and eating so fast (standard) – I now feel like a balloon someone filled with cooked oatmeal.

But…I have Shiner Cheer, White Collar Season 4 on Netflix, a fiancé who listens sympathetically to my unintelligible, tearful call and a double date with my space heater and bed. So I’d say things are looking up.

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Dallas Restaurant Week commences

Dallas Restaurant Week is upon us. Do you feel the sudden shift in the weight of Dallas citizens? I can promise you that I sunk our city a little deeper after last night’s glutenous meal. I woke up still full this morning from too much tastiness! Anyhoo, last night my roommate and I set out to Hibiscus, fully dressed for the occasion (an excuse to wear her Birchbox red lipstick and me to wear my new heels? Sold!).

For those that don’t know, Dallas Restaurant Week is a time where us normal folk get to dine at Dallas’ finest restaurants. For just $30 or $45, you get to enjoy a full meal at your choice of dining bliss. At Hibiscus, for example, we paid $30 for a shared appetizer, shared side, individual entrees and a shared dessert. It would’ve been wise of me to actually calculate the real cost of the meal versus the Dallas Restaurant Week cost…but alas, I…didn’t. Dallas Restaurant Week also begs the question, just how does one articulate a happy squeal in simple words? A YAY! or a HELL YES! simply isn’t sufficing. So let’s just say I’m SUPER stoked.

Our choice, Hibiscus, is located in the Knox-Henderson area, across from Velvet Taco.  It’s the kind of place that doesn’t list their prices online and the hostesses are so dressed up that you start to wonder what their salary is and if you should change career paths. The atmosphere was amazing. It’s narrow and split up into three rooms, with just a curved passage away as the entrance. This made what is actually a huge restaurant, feel small and cozy. Well, almost cozy.

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So, in the hope of making your mouth water, here’s what we had…

To start, we had the Baked Dungeness Crab Dip with wood fired crackers.

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For my main course, I had the Spit-Roasted Fran’s Fryer Chicken with local kale, spring veggies and lemon-capers. As our side we had the Deep Dish Mac & Cheese (omg).

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And then to top of our calorie count for the day, we had the Classic Chocolate Cake (devils food fake with truffle ganache, cocoa frosting and morello cherry).

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Needless to say, I had to be rolled out of there and into my car. I used my full (and happy) tummy to steer me home so that the rest of me could enter a deep food coma. Only kidding (kinda). I’ll be day dreaming of that meal every time I eat my boring protein shake dinners or my hard boiled eggs at lunch. *Sigh*

Not to fret though, my other planned Dallas Restaurant date is right around the corner. The beau and I are headed to The Grape next week to pig out a little more. Om nom nom. Wish me and my almost-there-abs some luck!

Ps. The photos of all the delicious food are courtesy of my roommate, Brittany. Her pics made me strongly reconsider my dedication to my trust iPhone in favor of a Droid *gasp*

Making the Most of a Rainy Day

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Can we all just agree that today was the shortest Saturday ever? I can’t believe the day’s nearly over. It’s been grey and misty in Dallas today, the kind of day where you just have no choice but to pull up the covers and and sleep in. Of course, one of the side affects of turning into an adult is now “sleeping in” only gets to me to about 9:30 a.m. tops.

I fought off a near-debilitating combination of laziness and boredom to find some comfy clothes and brave the Texas ‘cold’ for a working brunch. Now cozied back up in my apartment, I may be making a trip downstairs soon for some prosecco to keep me company for a night in with Project Re:Brief, a documentary pictured above about how a couple advertising professionals revisited their most iconic ads from the sixties to create engaging digital campaigns for today’s world. I might even go really crazy and throw in some Netflix. Look out, Dallas…

Today also solidified my previous suspicions that Company Cafe is my favorite brunch restaurant in Dallas. At some point I’ll have to branch out and try out the rest of the menu, but so far their pancakes, brisket tacos, breakfast tacos, gravy and as of today, french toast sticks are all amazing. And it’s all natural and gluten-free! Not just gluten-free, but great tasting and gluten-free, which is easier said than done. My post allergy-diagnosed diet is having me live wheat-less for a little while, so this is particularly good news for my carb-starved soul. Don’t worry, I’m no food critic and I know it, so you don’t have to fear some elaborate, overly descriptive story a la Yelp-style is going to ensue. Just know it’s amazing, and you should go. Plus, you’re supporting local farms and food suppliers, many dedicated to great social causes like Impact Foods, a gluten-free granola company that donates food packs to children for every bad of granola sold. Food that tastes good, makes you feel good and does good…how can you say no to that? (Plus, all their servers at both locations have always been nice, helpful and down to earth. Okay, okay…I’ll try to stop raving now.)

P.S. Lucia was amazing. I’ve fully bought into the hard-to-grab reservation process and high price tag after last night’s meal. Go there, too.

Inspiration: Media high + Finding freedom

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I have had the kind of work week that makes me incredulous that my job is actually considered a job. I got to go to digital media conference in Dallas for two days, which basically means I got to learn (yes!), hear different perspectives on the industry I love and meet new people. For an introvert, it’s amazing how exhilarating it is to walk up alone to a circle of people I’ve never seen before and not only make unawkward conversation (always a win), but also some new friends.

It’s given me a much needed refresher on work life this week and reminded me that I’m lucky to be where I am right now, even though I don’t always remember that. Maybe I’m an optimist (okay, I know I’m an optimist) but when I think back on the different phases of my life so far, no matter how much I struggled or thrived during them, my rose-colored glasses are definitely on. I don’t usually think, “wow this sucked” or “I regret doing this or doing it this way;” for the most part I think, “I’m so grateful for that time because ___.” It helps shift my perspective to tell myself how I’m going to look back on this time of my life and really appreciate it…so I better be appreciating it now!

Feeling ‘free’ has been a bit of a theme for me this week, as you might pick up on from my pinning spree below. These photographs and quotes have been reminding me to take a deep breath, rest a little then get out there and embrace life. I’ve been in a resting phase for a little while now, trying to avoid too many social plans, etc. Now I’m just ready for all that the very busy month of February has planned for me, starting with this weekend: Valentine’s/couples dinner at the very hard to reserve Lucia in Bishop Arts (!), freelance work and celebrating life with friends at a big post-church brunch. Can it just be Friday afternoon already?

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