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Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty

There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Eighteen years ago, real estate agent Mary Ann Chapel and her family moved to Preston Place in University Park, drawn by its excellent schools, prime location, architectural variety, and charm.

"It has been a wonderful place to raise my family," she says. "The neighbors really do all know each other. It is easy to meet people and get to know them (and their pets), and the kids have friends to play with after school. It's safe enough for the kids to bike or walk to school, to Germany Park, or even Highland Park Village when they're old enough."

In 2016, Chapel began focusing her real estate career in her own neighborhood.

"I have personal knowledge of the homes and amenities here. I understand the qualities that make this part of town unique," she says. "I live in an older home, so I have an understanding and appreciation for the original homes in Preston Place, as well as the beautiful homes built more recently."

Preston Place's location is a big plus for potential buyers, as it's close to the Tollway for quick travel south to downtown Dallas or to all points north in 30 minutes or less. Dallas Love Field Airport, Inwood Village, and the shopping and restaurants on Lovers Lane are just a short drive away.

"My home is only four blocks from Bradfield Elementary School and six blocks from Highland Park High School, so I love seeing the students and families walk past my home every day," Chapel says. "Highland Park Village is also just four blocks away, so it's easy to walk down to Starbucks for coffee, enjoy a night out at any of the amazing restaurants, or see a movie at the theater. The Fourth of July parade even passes by on Preston Road at the end of our block."

Chapel offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in University Park's Preston Place. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Highland Park Village is full of restaurants and shopping, and you'll usually find Chapel at Lounge 31 or Mi Cocina. During the holiday season, she especially likes to visit Monkey Bar — the "secret" bar atop this location of Mi Cocina known for its views of the trees strung with twinkly lights.

Where to play
Take your pick among the Park Cities’ many green spaces, including Williams Park and Lakeside Park, the latter of which Chapel says is great for a picnic or a longer dog walk.

The Moody Family YMCA offers 3,000 square feet of space, top-of-the-line fitness equipment, over 95 group exercise classes per week, and more.

And, of course, this wouldn't be Texas without Highland Park High School football games on Friday nights.

Where to live
Traditional-style homes are typically found in this area, Chapel says. However, you'll see a wide range of architectural styles mixed in, from cottage and farmhouse to Tudor and French Provincial, as well as Mediterranean and contemporary. You'll also find several different types of Colonial-style homes, including Dutch, Federal, and Georgian.

"Many homes in this area are original, having been built in the 1930s and '40s," Chapel says. "There's a very charming neighborhood vibe here. Each block is well-connected, and I love all the neighborhood parties that happen in this community."

Prominent Dallas architect Charles Dilbeck is also well-represented. Chapel herself lives in a Dilbeck home, and there are many examples of his work within a few blocks.

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Mary Ann Chapel lives, works, and plays in University Park's Preston Place. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email mchapel@briggsfreeman.com, or call 469-371-8418.

Vaquero: Westlake's luxurious, gated, private community and golf club

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in North Texas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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"We have been working in the neighborhood for the past 10 years," says real estate agent JL Forke, "and Vaquero is one of the most unique communities in all of Texas."

A gated neighborhood in Westlake that's close to Southlake Town Square and DFW International Airport, Vaquero is also home to the parents of Forke's real estate partner, Jennifer Shindler.

"We love the relaxed environment — as soon as you enter the gate, you feel like you are on vacation," Shindler says. "Vaquero is where the city ends and living begins."

Forke and Shindler offered up a few of their personal favorites about life in Vaquero. Here's their guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
If you live in Vaquero, you are almost certainly a member of the Vaquero Club. Its clubhouse is perched atop a hill for the best views, and offers dining options that range from formal to casual to outdoors by the fire pit. And if you don't feel like dining out, the club restaurant will deliver food right to your door.

Where to play
"When you become a member of the club, you gain access to a lot of neighborhood amenities including golf, tennis, pickleball, group activities, swimming, the gym, and a stocked fishing pond," says Shindler.

"The clubhouse also has a kids club, which allows parents to have a date night at the club," says Forke. And, speaking of children: Those in the neighborhood have the opportunity to attend Westlake Academy, a nationally ranked K-12 charter school operating under the International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Shindler personally enjoys a round of golf, while Forke likes to explore the neighborhood's many trails and lakes.

Where to live
Vaquero has various custom homes, and the pair says there is a type of home for every architectural taste, including French, Santa Barbara-style, Texas Hill Country, Mediterranean, and contemporary.

The pair has sold many homes in the neighborhood, but their most recent is a gorgeous example of Vaquero's high-quality building.

2211 Vaquero Estates Blvd. is a Santa Barbara-style home that was fully reimagined by David Stocker, AIA and principal of SHM Architects, with interiors by designer Barry Williams.

Before going on the market, it underwent a two-year renovation that included a showstopping kitchen with a butler's pantry and bar, a primary suite with two oversized closets, a Crestron whole-house AV system, Lutron lights, and floor-to-ceiling steel-and-glass back walls that offer views of the resort-style backyard.

A game room, home theater, elevator, and separate golf-cart garage complete the dream dwelling.

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JL Forke and Jennifer Shindler work and play in Vaquero. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email jshindler@briggsfreeman.com, or call 214-215-5181.

Agents Jennifer Shindler and JL Forke

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty
Agents Jennifer Shindler and JL Forke

Midway Hollow: A blend of home styles with a strong sense of community

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Looking for a mix of more established homes and new-builds? You'll find it in Midway Hollow, just north of Dallas Love Field Airport and west of Preston Hollow.

Real estate agent Jennifer Shindler has lived there for five years, enticed by its central location and nearby amenities. However, she and her business partner, JL Forke, have been introducing others to the neighborhood for nearly 15 years.

"We love the sense of community, character, large lot sizes, mature trees, and the different types of architecture throughout the neighborhood," says Shindler.

Forke and Shindler offered up a few of their personal favorites about life in Midway Hollow. Here's their guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"Suze Restaurant," recommends Forke. "It’s the best date night spot, and we love to meet clients there. Great food, cocktails, and wine."

The neighborhood Central Market is also a big asset, as is Fernando's Mexican Cuisine with its crowd-pleasing patio.

Where to play
"Midway Hollow is definitely a nice place to go on neighborhood walks under a canopy of trees," says Shindler. "You'll see plenty of kids out playing and dogs being walked. It’s also fun to cross Midway Road and walk the hills of Old Preston Hollow."

Being so close to Dallas Love Field Airport means easy access to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, and Bachman Lake is also nearby.

Where to live
The pair points out that most of the neighborhood's original homes are 1950s ranch-style, with some midcentury modern homes sprinkled in here and there. There is also a lot of new construction that runs the gamut from traditional to transitional to contemporary.

One such transitional new-build is 4163 Park Ln., a recent sale that was listed by the duo for $1,800,000.

It features wide-plank hardwood floors, 11-foot ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace, and Jeld-Wen wood-clad windows. Two living areas, a study, and the primary suite are downstairs, while a game room and three ensuite bedrooms are upstairs.

The open-concept kitchen features an island, quartz countertops, and GE Monogram appliances (including a built-in refrigerator). The primary suite offers a sitting area, marble floors in the bathroom, a separate tub and shower, and a custom closet that rivals a small boutique.

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JL Forke and Jennifer Shindler live, work, and play in Midway Hollow. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email jshindler@briggsfreeman.com, or call 214-215-5181.

Agents Jennifer Shindler and JL Forke

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty
Agents Jennifer Shindler and JL Forke

The Cedars: Stunning skyline views and good eats just south of downtown Dallas

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Dallas has received numerous accolades for its impressive skyline, and that's what led real estate agent JB Hayes to purchase her loft in the Cedars more than five years ago.

"I love to watch the buildings in the skyline change their colors and messages to support local causes and sports teams," she says. "With the views of downtown, the easy access to all major highways, and its close proximity to downtown, the Dallas Farmers Market, and Deep Ellum, it was a no-brainer! And did I mention the views of the skyline?"

This area of Dallas, which is directly south of downtown and north of the Trinity River, has undergone tremendous growth in recent years — and even more is on tap for the future. "This area will be impacted by multiple projects: the bullet train to Houston, the convention center renovations, the SoGood project, and more," Hayes says.

The artist community is another big plus. During the annual Cedars Open Studios Tour, artists open their doors for all to come browse, shop, and see what this area is about.

Hayes offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in the Cedars. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Hayes enjoys meeting new neighbors while frequenting Four Corners Brewing Company, Lee Harvey's, Full City Rooster, Off the Bone Barbeque, and Zalat Pizza.

Baby Back Shak, Opening Bell Coffee, Sandwich Hag, and Distinctive Vines Wine Lounge also make her must-visit list.

To sip and see the Dallas skyline from the Cedars, check out Gallery Rooftop Lounge at Canvas Hotel Dallas or the Vetted Well patio at the Alamo Drafthouse Cedars.

Where to play
A little-known fact, even to most Dallasites: Old City Park is now free to visitors, but offers memberships for special access to one-of-a-kind events and programs. Hayes says it's a great place to get outdoors with your pups, friends, and family.

Speaking of pups, South Side Bark Park is a large green space for Cedars neighbors (and their furry friends) to use.

The Cedars is home to an Alamo Drafthouse location, as well as the popular Gilley's Dallas, but it's also close to AT&T Discovery District, Pioneer Plaza and the Dallas Farmers Market.

A favorite spot of Hayes' is Grey Gardens Florist: "It's my happy place, as flowers make me smile. I love to bring life to open houses with some of their amazing arrangements." Be sure to check out their Saturday “Stem Specials” as they mark down flowers sold by the stem.

Where to live
Here you'll find Victorian-style homes from the early 1900s, repurposed warehouses like South Side on Lamar (which was the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog merchandise center in a former life), industrial-style lofts like The Beat Lofts and Buzz Lofts, new-construction townhomes, and various apartment options.

"This area is not cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all," says Hayes. "There is a little bit of everything for all ages and interests."

Those familiar with the Cedars know the Eagle Apartments on South Ervay Street, a structure that was built in 1924 and flaunts a big, red entry door. Hayes has had four sales in the building, two off-market, which is remarkable considering there are only eight units in the building.

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JB Hayes lives, works, and plays in the Cedars. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email jhayes@briggsfreeman.com, or call 214-334-3977.

Art and activity await you on the other side of the Dallas skyline.

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty
Art and activity await you on the other side of the Dallas skyline.
Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty

Bluffview: A bucolic hideaway that offers convenience with its beauty

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Named for the rocky bluff overlooking Bachman Creek, Bluffview is known for its heavily treed, hilly topography and mix of architecture styles.

Bluffview is bounded by Northwest Highway to the north, Inwood Road to the east, Lovers Lane to the south, and Midway Road to the west. “There is simply nowhere else like it in Dallas,” say real estate partners LeeLee Gioia and Anne Goyer.

Gioia has lived in Bluffview for more than three decades, drawn to its laidback vibe, multitude of mature trees, winding streets with no sidewalks, and proximity to downtown, schools, restaurants, shopping, and more.

Goyer, a longtime resident until recently, returns often for walks and visits with family and friends. And as a co-founder of one of the neighborhood’s most popular stores, Saint Bernard, she has loved having Bluffview in her "backyard" for many years.

"There are many long-term residents who remember Bluffview as being in the country," Gioia says. "Originally, it was home to a large dairy farm. Now, it’s in the center of town with everything close by. But it's so bucolic and peaceful, you'd never know."

Goyer and Gioia offered up a few of their personal favorites about life in Bluffview. Here's their guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"I have two favorites: Rise has the best souffles you will ever taste and a super wine list, and Lovers Seafood & Market has the freshest fish and the best cocktails," Gioia says. "Both are small and have great outdoor dining areas, and their staffs are wonderful."

A new addition to the neighborhood restaurant roster is Odelay, which boasts a beautiful patio and authentic, retro Tex-Mex.

Where to play
"Bluffview Park is the perfect combination of a children's playground, spacious playing fields, and treed picnic areas," she says. "Neighbors convene, parents host birthday parties, and I am there with dogs and/or children and friends multiple times a week."

And it just so happens that the best independent bookstore in the city, Interabang Books, is just a stone's throw away.

What to see
"The Dallas Arts District is at your fingertips — it's less than 15 minutes on the Tollway," says Gioia. "From the Dallas Museum of Art — where Anne and I were docents for more than 25 years — the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Crow Museum of Asian Art to the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Wyly Theatre, and the Winspear Opera House, there is no excuse not to go!"

Where to live
"Bluffview is home to an eclectic mix of architecture styles," Gioia says. "Some houses were designed by well-known architects from past and present, such as Charles Dilbeck, O'Neil Ford, John Astin Perkins, Lake Flato, Bodron/Fruit, Bill Booziotis, Bud Oglesby, and so many more."

"They all seem to reflect Bluffview’s diverse residents — there are so many interesting business leaders, political leaders, and just fascinating Dallas citizens who live here. Sometimes I wish the walls could talk and tell tales of the conversations and events that these homes once hosted."

Goyer points out that a number of the neighborhood's original homes have been remodeled or replaced entirely, many by the architects named above.

"Many of the homes have thrived through multiple generations, developing a unique patina," she says. "They all blend together to create the special melting pot that is Bluffview."

One such home is 4831 Shadywood Ln., a significant sale of Gioia and Goyer’s. Sited on 1.229 rolling, wooded acres with little creeks in front and back, this exquisitely restored 1947 home could be described as "quintessentially Bluffview."

The home has hosted numerous dignitaries over the years, and counts several civic and business leaders among its owners. In fact, the concept for DFW International Airport was developed and discussed among city leaders in the home when it was owned by former Dallas Mayor J. Erik Jonsson.

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LeeLee Gioia lives, works, and plays in Bluffview. Anne Goyer works and plays in Bluffview after many years of living there. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email lgioia@briggsfreeman.com or call 214-616-1791, and email agoyer@briggsfreeman.com or call 214-457-0417.

Agents LeeLee Gioia and Anne Goyer

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty
Agents LeeLee Gioia and Anne Goyer

Northaven Park: Where the Disney Streets cast their magic on residents

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Perhaps the most well-known part of Northaven Park is its southeast section, aptly known as the Disney Streets. There, midcentury modern and traditional-style homes line streets with names like Snow White Drive, Cinderella Lane, Pinocchio Drive, and Wonderland Trail.

The neighborhood certainly worked its magic on real estate agent Libby Hamer, who moved there in 2020 from nearby Midway Hollow.

"My husband and I have had our eye on Northaven Park since our daughter, Brooke, was born. Once our second child, Caleb, was born, we couldn't wait to move to the neighborhood. We fell in love with the green space: the parks, the playgrounds, the trail, and the creek."

Hamer also praises the area's convenient location, which offers easy access to private schools, I-635, and the Tollway. "You can get to almost anywhere in Dallas, and even Frisco and Plano, within 25 minutes," she says.

The voluntary neighborhood association, Northaven Park Neighborhood Association, hosts a wide variety of events throughout the year that bring people of all interests and backgrounds together.

"Yes, many neighborhoods have happy, smiling neighbors walking about, but the people here are so engaging," Hamer says. "A quick hello can turn into neighbors standing on the greenbelt by the creek chatting for an hour. It's a neighborhood that people keep coming back to. I've met so many people who grew up in the neighborhood, went to Harry C. Withers Elementary School (the public elementary located in the center of the neighborhood), and came back here either to raise their own families or as empty nesters."

Hamer offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Northaven Park. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
In addition to popular Dallas chains Village Burger Bar and Meso Maya, Hamer recommends Republic Texas Tavern, Howdy Homemade Ice Cream, Ziziki's, Ku Sushi & Japanese Cuisine, Franki's Pizza & Pasta, Ginger Thai Cuisine, and Cindi's NY Deli & Restaurant.

Where to play
The neighborhood's namesake, Northaven Park, obviously makes the list for outdoorsy fun. "Northaven Park is always bustling with activity," Hamer says. "It offers two tennis courts, a basketball court, two softball fields, sports fields (used for lacrosse and soccer practices), and a huge, shady area by Joe's Creek on the west side of the park that has a playground and picnic tables. Residents love to feed the turtles and fish in the creek."

Other recreation options include the Semones Family YMCA, the Northaven Trail, and We Rock the Spectrum indoor playground.

Galleria Dallas is nearby for more shopping and dining, as are the shops and restaurants at Preston Road and Forest Lane and Preston Road and Royal Lane.

Where to live
Northaven Park is known for large, beautiful lots — the average lot size in the neighborhood is just over a third of an acre. These generous lots offer plenty of privacy and spacious backyards that are perfect for children, dogs, pools, and entertaining.

"You'll find many ranch-style homes that were built in the 1960s and early '70s that average 2,500 to 3,000 square feet with three to four bedrooms," Hamer says. "However, we're also seeing a lot of new-builds and extensive renovations around the neighborhood."

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Libby Hamer lives, works, and plays in Northaven Park. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email lhamer@briggsfreeman.com, or call 817-875-6506.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Texas hot spot hooks No. 1 ranking as best college city in America

Studies Show, Study Here

It might be a bit reductive to call Austin a college town, but that's what makes it so good. It certainly benefits from the creativity and industry of college living, but there's a lot more to do than go to gentrified lunches and cool, underground shows.

Recognizing this special balance, financial website WalletHub has declared Austin the No. 1 college city in the United States for 2023, beating out some obvious contenders like Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to being the best city overall, Austin also tops the large cities list, and is one of only two Texas locales represented in the top 10 of any category; the other is College Station, No. 6 on the small list.

The most represented state, perhaps not surprisingly, is Florida, with four cities in the overall top 10. The top 10 college cities for 2023, according to WalletHub, are:

1. Austin
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Gainesville, Florida
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Rexburg, Idaho
7. Provo, Utah
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
9. Miami
10. Raleigh, North Carolina

And how did Austin make the grade? WalletHub looked at key metrics across three categories to determine the rankings.

Austin scored best, No. 12, in the “social environment” category, determined by metrics like students per capita; breweries, cafés, and food trucks per capita; and safety issues like vaccination and crime statistics.

Its ranking at No. 21 in the “academic & economic opportunities" category puts it in the 95th percentile, even above Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, famous for their Ivy League prevalence.

And perhaps unsurprising to those who currently reside in Austin, the Capital City ranked worst in "wallet friendliness,” at No. 204 out of 415.

Elsewhere in Texas, El Paso did well on the overall list at No. 36, followed by Houston (No. 64), Dallas (99), Fort Worth (153), and San Antonio (169).

Dallas landed well down the list in every category: wallet friendliness (226), academic & economic opportunities (168), and social environment (147).

Fort Worth fell even farther down the list in the same categories: wallet friendliness (242), academic & economic opportunities (201), and social environment (149).

Notably, cities that tend to fall lower in similar studies ranked relatively well among college towns.

These are the 9 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

Christmas spirit is in full swing, with all but one of this week’s events being holiday-themed. Check off pics with Santa for both the family and fur babies; take a Christmas cocktail-making class; sample holiday spirits from around the world; and stroll acres of candlelit walkways while indulging in holiday hors d’oeuvres and drinks – just to name a few. ‘Tis the season.

Tuesday, December 6

Caymus Wine Dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Decadent four-course meal features pairings with wines from award-winning Caymus. Courses include Stuffed Mushrooms with Shrimp, Rigatoni Al Forno with Chicken, Filet & Scallop Spiedino with Mashed Potatoes, and Crème Brulée, paired with Caymus wines including Cabernet Sauvignon and Conundrum Red Blend. The dinner is $75 starts at 6:30 pm. For the Dallas location, reserve here, and for Plano, reserve here.

Fontodi Wine Dinner at La Stella Cucina Verace
The Dallas Arts District Italian restaurant will host a five-course dinner paired with wines from Fontodi, a producer located in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Courses will include beef carpaccio, butternut squash cappellacci with brown butter and sage, porchetta di Pienza with marble potatoes, Wagyu New York strip tagliata with porcini mushroom and butternut squash, and apple crostata. Dinner begins at 7 pm and is $175 plus tax and gratuity.

Thursday, December 8

Santa Paws at Texican Court Hotel
The Irving hotel invites furry friends and their humans to pop by for photos with Santa and complimentary hot apple cider and s’mores by the fire. Santa will be available for pet photos from 5-7 pm. Also enter to win a “Pups Night Away” overnight stay. Don’t miss the hotel’s pocket tequila bar, Salt, for new holiday cocktails in jolly keepsake glassware.

Reindeer Games Bar Crawl
Here’s a holiday bar crawl that spans beyond just drink specials. Participants get their money’s worth with a night of mini golf, axe throwing, unlimited video games, a chartered “sleigh bus,” and a pizza buffet. Start at Another Round and make stops at Flashback Retro Pub, LoneStar Axe Dallas, and Sylvan Avenue Tavern. Participants will also get a beer or seltzer at each stop. Tickets are $150 per duo, and the crawl will run from 6:15-10:30 pm.

Holiday Spirits Around the World at Hotel Vin
Sample an array of global spirits during this tasting experience at Grapevine’s Hotel Vin. Spirits to be served include Montenegro Italian liqueur, The Dalmore Scottish whiskey, Komo tequila, and Horse Soldier bourbon. Each spirit will be paired with globally-inspired bites. The tasting is $50 and will begin at 7 pm.

Friday, December 9

Cocktails by Candlelight at Old City Park
Candlelight will feature more than 13 acres of holiday cheer with decorated buildings, carolers, craft vendors, and candlelit walkways in Old City Park. Its 50th edition is set to begin on December 10, but adults only can get a sneak peek the night before during Cocktails by Candlelight, which comes with heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Tickets are $100 per person or $175 per couple, and the event begins at 6 pm.

Saturday, December 10

Shaken, Not Stirred, Holiday Cocktail Class at Elm & Good
The modern American restaurant inside the Kimpton Pittman Hotel will host a holiday cocktail class great for groups looking to make spirits bright. Elm & Good’s lead mixologist Indy Acevedo-Fowler will guide guests through creating three cocktails: a cranberry margarita, peppermint espresso martini, and sangria rosa. Guests will also receive a branded take-away gift. The class is $35 and will begin at 2 pm.

Sunday, December 11

Brunch with Santa at the AC Hotel Dallas by the Galleria
Meet the big guy himself while indulging in brunch dishes during this family-friendly Sunday Funday. Tickets are $25 for adults (includes one mimosa) and $15 for kids 3-12. Children will get to meet Santa and take family photos. Brunch will run from 11:30 am-1:30 pm.

Monday, December 12

12 Days of Thompson
The Thompson Hotel Dallas will spread Christmas cheer with 12 days of daily holiday activations. The festivities start Monday with Home Alone, S’mores & Sips, a movie night with cocktails themed after the Christmas classic, a s’mores bar, and movie screening amid downtown views. The price is a $15 charitable donation. Doors opens at 5 pm with the movie to start at 6 pm. Other 12 Days of Thompson events range from a pie-baking class and cookie decorating to brunch with Santa and Holiday High Tea. See the complete calendar of events here.

Dedicated volunteers extract Spaghetti Warehouse trolley from Dallas' West End

Trolley News

Thanks to a dedicated team of conservation-minded folks, the vintage trolley from the Spaghetti Warehouse in Dallas' West End has been moved to a temporary new home: in a warehouse at Orr-Reed Architectural Co., the salvage store just south of downtown Dallas, which will provide a safe space for the vehicle while it undergoes a restoration.

A permanent home is still TBD, but Orr-Reed will be housing the trolley for at least the next 12 months.

The trolley was one of the original streetcars that ran through East Dallas nearly a century ago. It surged to fame in 2019 when Spaghetti Warehouse closed after 47 years, and the company held a giant auction of its extensive collection of memorabilia.

The streetcar got a bid from an anonymous buyer, but that buyer bailed once they encountered the difficulties of removing the trolley from the location.

The trolley was donated to the Junius Heights Historic District, a neighborhood association in Old East Dallas who wanted to save the trolley because of its role in the original streetcar program that was key to the establishment of Junius Heights.

Orr-Reed is providing the space and backup manpower for free.

"The first time it went on the auction block, I wanted to buy it because I'm obsessed with keeping the city’s history," says Orr-Reed owner Hannah Hargrove. "Dallas is known for tearing things down and replacing it with bigger and better things, but 'bigger and better' only lasts 50 years. Since we have the space, we wanted to be helpful in providing the trolley's next chapter of life."


spaghetti warehouse trolley A team unloads the Spaghetti Warehouse trolley into a warehouse at Orr-Reed.Johann Huebschmann

The move
JD Middleton, who builds out restaurants and bars for his "day job," oversaw a team of volunteers who broke the trolley down into pieces and transported it to the new location.

"My buddy JJ Velez and I saw it in the news, we both had a personal connection," Middleton says. "My grandfather drove the trolley, it's possible he drove that one, while JJ had seen it when he was a little kid, after the Christmas parade in downtown Dallas."

With another friend, Randy Lasiter, assisting, they volunteered to do it on a 100 percent volunteer basis. For the past six months, they've been going there in the early morning, before heading to their regular job sites.

"We do a lot of crazy things for customer requests, and this was right up our alley," Middleton says.

This entailed cutting the exterior into parts: removing the front and back "nose pieces," breaking down the body of the trolley into panels, then splitting up the chassis foundation — like a vertebrae that they cut up, to be reassembled by a welder.

Middleton says that Uncle Dan’s Pawn Shop donated saw blades and trailers and other equipment, as did Frida's Social Club on McKinney Avenue, who provided a big trailer and truck to haul it over to Orr-Reed.

Middleton assembled a group of friends who spent four hours on December 3, loading the trolley piece-by-piece onto trailers, then unloading it at Orr-Reed. He's also volunteered to help restore it.

"There's some rusting on the inside, it's like an old Ford Model-T that's been sitting in a garage," he says. "We'll get it sand-blasted and primed and painted, then put it back together again."

Their work is saving the Junius Heights Historic District hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It's like an art project for us, and we're getting the opportunity to help take care of history," Middleton says. "JJ ate there when he was a little kid, and he'd like to take his kid to see it when it's finished. That’s why we're doing it."


Spaghetti Warehouse trolley Spaghetti Warehouse trolley, in pieces.Johann Huebschmann

The new home
The Junius Heights group does not yet have a permanent home for the trolley, nor a plan for how it will be managed or maintained. Details details.

For now, it resides in Orr-Reed's "dry house" — a warehouse they've used for overflow and for items that need to be kept out of the elements such as big furniture items, casement windows, and things that cannot get wet.

Hargrove and her staff built shelving and redesigned the warehouse to make it work.

"It'll definitely affect our day-to-day routine — there's a giant cumbersome trolley that's taking up space — but it’s worth it," Hargrove says. "If we hadn't done it, they would have had to spend a lot of money on storing it rather than restoring it. I'm a keeper of history, it’s my duty, although I've never done anything on this scale."

"We're not doing it for the money, we're doing it because someone has to," she says. "I feel like I'm doing the right thing."