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Photo courtesy of City of Plano

Homebuyers and families searching for their next place to call home should take a look at Plano and Richardson, which were just named among the top 15 Best Cities to Live in America by Niche.

Plano ranked No. 11 and Richardson, No. 12 in the 2023 report.

Niche is an online platform that connects families to schools or colleges; their 2023 report’s data was collected through resident reviews in combination with information from the Census and the FBI. This latest release is their ninth annual report, with rankings determined after a study of 228 American cities and nearly 18,000 towns and neighborhoods.

Plano and Richardson are no strangers to this prestigious list. Last year, Plano came in at No. 9, and Richardson, at No. 12. Richardson also came in at No. 12 in the 2021 list, while Plano was No. 7 that year.

Breaking down the 2023 report:

Plano (No. 11 overall) ranked in the top 10 in two categories in the report. It was named the No. 8 best American city to buy a house, and ranked No. 10 on the list of best cities to raise a family. Niche gave the city an A+ rating for its public school selection, diversity, and family-friendliness, and an A rank for its jobs, nightlife, and health and fitness.

Richardson (No. 12 overall) ranked No. 13 for best cities to raise a family. Richardson earned an A+ for its diversity, and an A grade for its family-friendliness, public schools, nightlife, and health and fitness. In the list of best cities to buy a house, it ranked No. 19.

Only one Texas town beat them out: Houston's northern neighbor The Woodlands, which made it at the top of the list in several categories. It was named theNo. 1 best city to buy a house in America, and No. 2 in the ranking of best cities to raise a family. The city has an A+ ranking for its family-friendliness, public schools, and job market, and an A- rating for its diversity, housing availability, and outdoor activities.

In the overall best American city to live in category, The Woodlands ranked No. 3. Cambridge, Massachusetts (No. 1) and Arlington, Virginia (No. 2) took the top two spots in the ranking.

Niche founder and CEO Luke Skurman says in a press release that the company is proud to be “a trusted resource for families, homebuyers” and many other professionals.

“For almost ten years now, our Best Places to Live rankings have helped people find a new neighborhood to call home based on what matters most to them, whether that’s affordable housing, easy access to amenities or excellent local schools,” says Skurman. “Families wondering about an area’s school district can also use our comprehensive school profiles and rankings to get a feel for their child’s potential school.”

The full report and its methodology can be found on Niche's website.

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New exhibition at Dallas Center for Photography is all about the ladies

Gallery News

A new exhibition at the Dallas Center for Photography spotlights women in photography: Called Hold Up Half the Sky, it features work created by women from diverse backgrounds and geographies, and will debut at DCP's community gallery, at 4756 Algiers St. on June 10.

The exhibit includes works by 42 women from around the globe, with images that tell stories, consider our planet, and the journey of women in today’s world.

The juror for Hold Up Half the Sky is Aline Smithson, a visual artist known for her conceptual portraiture. She sought work by all women regardless of age, experience, education, race, sexual orientation, or location, with the goal of creating an exhibition that reflected a broad array of approaches to creating photographs.

Prizes have been awarded to first, second, and third place.

Smithson says in a statement that she's excited to celebrate and shine a light on women in photography.

"Today, women are commanding significant recognition for their profound storytelling and ways of seeing and understanding the world," Smithson says. "Our stories are important, and our photographs reflect an expanded and exciting time in photography. We’ve created an exhibition that reflects a broad array of approaches."

Hold Up Half the Sky will be open to the public through Saturday, July 1. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Friday from 11 am-5 pm and by appointment at info@dallascenterforphotography.org, or by calling 214-630-4909.

DCP will celebrate the photographers who have been selected for this juried competition and exhibition at an opening reception on Saturday, June 10 from 6-8 pm. This event is free and open to all, but RSVPs are required; RSVP here.

Dallas Center for Photography is a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission is to serve as a focal point for photography through education, mentorship, exhibitions, and community outreach, and to establish North Texas as a national leader in the art of photography.

DCP’s year-long dedication to women in photography is supported in part by the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, Dogwood Commercial Real Estate, MEXZIM Construction Services, and Photo Chick’s Boutique presented by Arlington Camera.

Dallas restaurants have summer on the brain, plus more dining news

News You Can Eat

This roundup of Dallas dining news has an unprecedented number of restaurants offering special seasonal menus for summer, most starting on June 1. We're so seasonal right now.

Here's what's happening in Dallas restaurant news:

Saaya Lounge, a Mediterranean oasis at 2511 Swiss Ave. from Milkshake Concepts (Vidorra, The Finch, Harper’s) will open on Friday, June 2. The menu will be in mezze form - small Mediterranean-style shared plates – such as Spicy Feta Dip, marinated Shawarma and Kebabs, and Lebanese-style pizzas, also known as Manakeesh. Plus Greek and Lebanese Caesar. Cocktails include the Ombra of Anubis with Sombra Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, and Ramazatti; and Not Your Habibi, with Ketel One vodka, St. Germain, and Dill Yogurt.

Leela's Pizza & Wine has introduced weekend brunch at its new Uptown location at McKinney & Olive, Saturday-Sunday from 11 am-3 pm. The menu features frittatas, breakfast pizzas, $2 mimosas, and cold pressed juices. Entrees include bacon & cheddar frittata with egg, bacon, white cheddar, tomato, arugula, & avocado crema; vegetable frittata with egg whites, manchego, spinach, red pepper, mushrooms, romesco; bacon & sausage breakfast pizza with an over easy egg; vegetable breakfast pizza with spinach, mushrooms, red onions, tomato, over easy egg; and an acai smoothie bowl with acai, strawberry, banana, blackberry, oats, and honey. Drinks include $2 mimosas and $5 cold-pressed juice mimosa.

Sister on Greenville Avenue has an unusual new item: Called the One Night Stand, it features a bottle of prosecco and a room key to one of the three boutique apartments above its sibling Cafe Duro next door. Guests have special access to the neighboring Duro concepts including private dining experiences and priority access to reservations at Sister and their other sibling, The Charles. The sparkling and overnight stay are $299.

Chef's Palette, the restaurant at the Canvas Hotel, has a summer new menu from Executive Chef Emerio Viramontes, featuring pepita-crusted salmon on poblano cream rice with a green bean and pepper medley and blood orange-mezcal glaze; NY strip with goat cheese polenta, broccolini, and blackberry demi; red snapper with black rice and charred baby bok choy; and pork chop with roasted parsnips, carrots, and whipped potatoes. Viramontes is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin who joined the Canvas last year. The new menu debuts on June 1.

Mendocino Farms has a new summer menu featuring: Strawberry Fields Salad with chicken, strawberries, watermelon radish, fennel, mint, red onions, goat gouda, and pistachios; Hot Honey Peach & Prosciutto Sandwich with mozzarella, honey-roasted almonds, Calabrian chili aioli, hot peach honey, and arugula on a toasted sesame roll; Turkey Avo Salsa Verde Sandwich; Italian Roast Beef Sandwich; and new sides: Watermelon Street Cart Salad, Southern Macaroni Salad, and Oaxacan Potato Salad.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria has a new Summer Selections menu with Smoked Brisket Pizza and Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce; Spinach Salad with feta cheese, red onion, almonds, and strawberries; Cheesecake topped with blueberries or strawberries; a charcuterie board with prosciutto, salami, mozzarella, Spanish olives, and antipasto peppers; and the Bourbon & Blues cocktail with Tincup American whiskey, lemon juice, muddled blueberries, and thyme. It runs June 6 through September 11.

Salad and Go has a new summer menu with four new dishes: Antipasto Salad with romaine, salami, feta cheese, cucumbers, banana peppers, kalamata olives, red onions, and croutons in red wine vinaigrette (can also be ordered as a wrap); Mediterranean breakfast burrito with spinach, eggs, feta cheese, and avocado with green tomatillo salsa (can also be ordered as a bowl); Minestrone Soup, a vegetarian soup with kale, cannellini beans, and pasta in a tomato-based broth, which will become a permanent menu item; and the return of Blueberry Basil Lemonade. The dishes will debut on June 1.

Modern Market has brought back its cult classic Street Corn Pizza, with corn, jalapeño, chile powder, cilantro, lime, smoked crema, cotija, mozzarella, and cheddar cream sauce. Their pizzas are really a deal. A whole Street Corn Pizza is $12.45, but they also thoughtfully offer their pizzas in a half-size for $7.45. They have locations at Preston Hollow/Dallas, Plano, Southlake, Las Colinas, and Richardson, and their website is one of the easiest and most sophisticated in the restaurant industry.

Smoothie King smoothie chain has brought back its X-Treme Watermelon smoothie and a new Watermelon Lemonade smoothie for the summer.

Chili’s has new Chicken Crisper Combos with Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Fries, and two dipping sauces: new Buffalo Ranch and Sweet Chili Zing. Their OldTimer burger can now be ordered with double patties because more meat is appealing to some people? New premium margaritas feature high-end tequila like Casamigos and Teremana Tequila.

Yardbird, the Miami Beach concept with locations in Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Singapore, Chicago, and Denver (opening summer 2023), is doing two pride items during June: Key Lime Pie with toasted meringue, raspberry sauce, and fruit and a Berry Prideful cocktail with Silver Tequila, Cointreau, Lime, Strawberry, and Agave.

Naturli’ is a Danish brand launching its award-winning plant based butters in the U.S. The products will initially launch in H-E-B stores across Texas. Naturli’s vegan butters are among the best on the European market thanks to their exceptional taste and healthy ingredients. Made with cocoa butter, almond butter, coconut oil and canola oil, they are dairy-free and palm-oil free. The Butter Spread is for spreading on bread; Plant Butter Block is for baking. Both are made to taste and perform like traditional butter; Plant Butter Block is approved by professional bakers.

Orange Leaf, the Dallas-based self-serve, choose-your-own-toppings frozen yogurt chain with a location at 6076 Azle Ave. in Lake Worth, has brought back fan-favorite froyo flavor Watermelon.

Gong Cha the drink chain with 7 stores in the Greater Dallas area has a special Pride drink running June 1-30. It's a sweet and tart Lemon Ai Love Yu bubble tea with white pearls and edible glitter.

H-E-B is opening a new eCommerce Fulfillment Center in Plano later this summer to service its new stores in North Texas.

Texas Dairy Queen Operators’ Council is launching a contest to find The Biggest Fan in Texas. You have to write an essay, plus tell what your favorite DQ item is, your favorite location, and a photo with a DQ memory. The winner gets free Treats & Eats for a year, plus swag from Josh Abbott Band, DQ, and Dr Pepper. The contest is open only to legal residents of Texas, 13 or older. Entries must be received by August 6 at 8 am. The rules can be found on the dqtexas.com/biggestdqfan website. The winner will be announced on August 14.

José Andrés Group has partnered with Loliware, the world’s first seaweed-resin company, to launch Loliware straws at all restaurants. Loliware’s innovative seaweed-resin straws and utensils look and act like plastic but can compost completely within 50 days. They've already debuted at Chicago restaraunts Bar Mar, Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, and Jaleo, and will expand to José Andrés Group restaurants across the country.

Nueva Pescanova, a Spanish seafood company, is trying to open an industrial-scale octopus farm, and scientists and activists are calling for it to be quashed. Octopuses are intelligent and curious sentient beings, able to solve complex puzzles. They're also territorial and solitary animals who may resort to cannibalism if kept in tanks together, as Nueva Pescanova intends. The company also plans to subject breeding females to 24-hour periods of light, which would cause extreme discomfort, and their proposed method of slaughter — death by ice slurry —causes significant pain as animals can take hours to die. If you don't care about the cruelty aspect, consider the health threat: Octopuses are known to carry over 20 different pathologies, including vibrio cholerae which causes cholera in humans; octopus farming would increase the risk of spreading more zoonotic diseases like COVID among humans. IDA USA has a form you can fill out to log your protest.

The Alamo previews awe-inspiring new exhibit ahead of 2024 debut

REFIGURE THE ALAMO

Ask first-time visitors about their experience at the Alamo, and you're likely to hear a frequent refrain: the grounds are so small. But that's slowly changing with ambitious plans to bring the site's original footprint back to life.

Starting May 25, visitors have been getting a sneak peek at the complex's newest structure, the Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit, before it officially opens in 2024. Funded in part by a $3 million donation from the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation, the exhibition gives guests a broader understanding of the Alamo's scale.

The historical re-creation was crafted by lauded San Antonio artist Carlos Cortés. A third-generation concrete faux bois artisan, his work is featured throughout the city, most notably on the River Walk, where his fantastical The Grotto greets thousands of Museum Reach visitors each year.

The life-size sculpture stands in for the original main gate of the fort at the southern boundary of the complex. Cannons and placards scattered throughout give crucial context to the structure. Though early renderings show the beams and spiked fence with more verisimilitude, the forms currently stand in ghostly concrete — inviting quiet contemplation.

When the exhibit is finished next year, guests will be more fully immersed in the hallowed grounds, which extend far beyond the walls of the iconic Church and Long Barrack. Coupled with the upcoming Alamo Visitor Center and Museum and the recently debuted Ralston Family Collections Center, it will turn the grounds into one of Texas' most awe-inspiring historic sites.

"We are deeply grateful to the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation for their support of the Alamo and our ongoing efforts to preserve this important piece of Texas history," says Kate Rogers, Executive Director of the Alamo Trust, Inc., in a release. "Their generosity will allow us to continue to educate and inspire visitors from around the world, ensuring that the legacy of the Alamo lives on for generations to come."

Alamo Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit

Photo courtesy of the Alamo.

The Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit gives visitors an understanding of the original grounds' scale.