Photo by Brad Murano

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Top Dallas restaurant Homewood closes following death of co-owner. One of Dallas' most acclaimed restaurants has closed: Homewood, the restaurant led by creative and award-getting chef Matt McCallister, closed on February 14. The closure followed the death of its co-owner Michael Barnett, who died on February 13, confirmed by the Dallas County Medical Examiner's office.

2. 4 Dallas-Fort Worth hotels praised among Texas' best in coveted U.S. News ranking. Four luxurious Dallas-Fort Worth hotels are among the best in the state this year, according to US News and & World Report. The publication collects its information through hotel ratings, customer reviews, and industry award analysis.

3. Dallas' Vegan Vibrationz brings tantalizing crunchwraps to Plano food hall. A super buzzy vegan concept from Dallas has expanded to Plano: Vegan Vibrationz, famous for its vegan version of the fast-food favorite the crunchwrap, has softly opened a location at Legacy Hall, the food hall at 7800 Windrose Ave., where it's serving an irresistible menu of sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and salads.

4. 3 Dallas neighbors lock in rankings as safest cities in U.S., report says. Real estate may be all about location, location, location, but when movers decide where to settle down within a large metro area in 2023, safety and security are huge factors, too. No wonder so many people are moving to Frisco, then. For the second year in a row, the Dallas suburb has been named the safest city in America by SmartAsset. Neighbors McKinney and Plano also land in top five.

5. Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bombshell cocktails for February. This February edition of Where to Drink, our monthly roundup of fun cocktails and drinks to try, is anything but run-of-the-mill. It's a quintet of unexpected sips you'll find in unexpected locations, none of which are traditional bars. Some of these drinks have alcohol, but some do not.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Elliman

Wild $20M Southlake mansion tops this week's 5 most-read Dallas stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. A peek inside the $20 million Southlake mansion going wild on social media. One of the most expensive homes in Texas is on the market for $20 million in Southlake - and it's drawing more than a little attention on social media. And, no wonder: The opulent 31,000-square-foot mansion, at 1469 Sunshine Ln., features such over-the-top amenities as a full-size basketball court, bowling alley, batting cage, movie theater, and "indoor glass-enclosed" trampoline.

2. Cult fave Bojangles fried chicken chain breaks ground on first Dallas location. To great anticipation, a favorite Southern fried chicken chain is finally coming to Dallas (and Texas!): Bojangles, a chain based in Charlotte, NC will break ground on a location in Frisco, slated to open this spring.

3. These Mardi Gras pastries in Dallas beat regular King Cake by a mile. Mardi Gras in 2023 is February 21, and that means king cake, the flashy seasonal treat that has been a New Orleans tradition since 1870. Dallas has some creative spinoffs that celebrate the spirit of king cake; here are several.

4. Chinese restaurant Fortune House plumps dumplings on Greenville Ave Dallas. An acclaimed Chinese restaurant from Irving has expanded to Dallas: Fortune House, known for its soup dumplings, noodles, and authentic Shanghainese dishes, has opened a second location on Lower Greenville, at 2010 Greenville Ave. #B, next to HG Sply Co.

5. Bagel expert weighs in on the 8 best bagels in Dallas right now. If you're someone who likes bagels, then Dallas is the place to be right now. Thanks to a wave of bagel shops that have opened in the past few years, we get to be fussy about our bagels again. Here, and expert rounds up the top eight bagels in Dallas.


Spring galas glam up this week's 5 most popular Dallas stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Save the date for these 13 must-attend Dallas galas and luncheons of spring 2023. With the busy holiday season behind us, it's time to start looking forward to all the bounties of spring. And in Dallas, that means the glitzy galas and lavish luncheons that benefit beloved nonprofits. Here are the dates and events to circle in your social calendar. (Young professionals, your list of top parties is here.)

2. 'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. There was exciting news for Yellowstone fans this week: Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler," and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, were coming the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo to meet fans and sign autographs.

3. Legendary Longhorn Ballroom reveals first acts to perform at restored North Texas venue. The big acts are coming out for Dallas' famed Longhorn Ballroom, slated for a comeback in spring 2023. The historic venue, currently in the final throes of a renovation, is anticipated to softly reopen at the end of March, and already has shows on the books by epic performers including Emmylou Harris.

4. Event celebrating Dallas' Braniff Airways a must for fashion & flying buffs. Dallas' original hometown airline is having a moment: Braniff International will celebrate its 95th anniversary with an event that promises to be a must for fashion and airline buffs alike. Called The Braniff Style Tour & Fashion Show, it'll take place on March 11 at the Alexander Mansion.

5. Black Sheep Coffee from the U.K. comes to U.S. with debut in Dallas. A coffee shop from the U.K. with celebrity ties is opening its first U.S. location in Dallas. Called Black Sheep Coffee, it's a growing chain based in London with a renegade stance: to champion the robusta coffee bean, one overlooked by most coffee snobs.

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Dallas' Fiction Coffee closes all brick-and-mortar locations

Coffee News

An indie Dallas coffee chain is closing its brick-and-mortar locations: Fiction Coffee, which has been in operation at the corner of Ross and Hall near downtown Dallas for a decade, is closing that location as well as a sibling location in Raleigh, North Carolina.

According to a post online, the shop's final day will be December 8.

"The saddest part of any beloved story is the last chapter," the post said. "For us here at Ross & Hall and Fiction-Crabtree, that time has come. After many years in business, we’ve made the difficult decision to close our brick and mortar locations. Our final day of slinging’ drinks and escaping reality is Friday December 8."

The post said that the Raleigh location would be replaced by a new operator, but no replacement was announced for Dallas.

The chain, which was acquired by coworking company Common Desk in late 2017, also has locations inside Common Desk coworking locations, and those will remain open.

"Moving forward we’re focusing on building the Fiction experience within our Common Desk cooking spaces," the post said. "You can find all Fiction news over on Common Desk Social channels and website and hope you’ll stop by to see us for a day pass, indulge in your drink of choice, and stay close by to see our story evolve. See you later in a coworking space near you."

The chain had seen some shrinkage in recent months, with shorter hours and actual closures, including their location in Victory Park which closed in October, and a location in Houston that closed in August.

Fiction started out as Method Coffee, which initially opened at Ross and Hall in 2014. Common Desk took over the space in November 2017, kicking off with a holiday pop-up event called Deck The Hall Street which became an annual tradition.

As Common Desk grew and opened new locations, they invariably included an outlet of Fiction Coffee.

The chain also opened at the Continental Gin building where they expanded their menu by offering bagels, salads, house-made wraps, and sandwiches from The Commissary. But after two years that closed as well.

Although their post did not explain the reason for the closures and a spokesperson was unavailable for comment, it's notable that the Ross & Hall location was what has become an "old-school" coffeehouse, where you walk inside the store and possibly even consume your coffee on-site in a ceramic mug.

The unfortunate trend lately in coffee has been the less-civilized drive-thru with planet-despoiling disposable cups.

Common Desk also filed for Chapter 11 voluntary bankruptcy on November 6. They were acquired by WeWork in March 2022.

Ho-ho-hope to see you at Santa Days at The Plaza at Preston Center

Here He Comes

Still need to take your kids to see Santa Claus and hoping to get a cute photo to include with your holiday cards?

After 26 years of outdoor Santa Days at the Plaza at Preston Center, Santa is inside this year, warm and cozy in front of the fireplace at 8416 Preston Rd., right next door to Bachendorf's in The Plaza.

Guests will receive a professional keepsake holiday photo from John Hudson Photography and get to have a personal one-on-one visit with the Big Guy himself. The photo is free with a donation to North Texas Food Bank.

This is one of the very few places in Dallas where you can get a high-quality photo with Santa without an advanced reservation. Four-legged family members are welcome, too!

Come experience the magic of Santa Days at The Plaza with dazzling decorations, luxury shopping, and delicious dining at some of Dallas’ favorite restaurants, all while giving back to a great nonprofit organization.

Santa Days are happening Saturday, December 9 and 16 from 11 am-4 pm.

Texas Hill Country named among the top 25 vacay destinations in the world

to the hills

If you’re writing “travel more” on your list of New Year’s resolutions, you might not have to travel very far to visit one of the most sought-after travel spots across the globe: the Texas Hill Country.

Afar, a U.S.-based travel publication, just released its annual list of 25 recommended vacation spots around the world. It includes some of the obvious spots like Paris, Fiji, and Machu Picchu, as well as some more unexpected spots like Maldonado, Uruguay, and Brno, Czechia (as a Czech Texan, I’m adding this one to my list).

A few spots in the U.S. made the list including Philadelphia, Detroit, San Diego, and Charleston. The Hill Country is the only Texas spot on the list, with Afar deeming it “arguably one of the prettiest places in Texas.” This isn’t exactly a secret: In 2022, the Hill Country saw more than 2.3 million visitors to its state parks. That's not even counting the many charming towns.

The main reason the Hill Country made the list? It’s in the path of totality for April’s solar eclipse. If you haven’t already made your eclipse travel plans, though, you might be out of luck.

Airbnbs in Fredericksburg, smack dab in the heart of the Hill Country, are listing for at least $1,000 a night on and around April 8. Some of the larger rental homes are going for as much as $2,700 a night.

But as Afar writes, there’s plenty of reason to stick around after the eclipse. There's the wine, for one thing; The Hill Country’s viticultural area spans 9 million square miles, the third-largest in the U.S. Then there's beer, with breweries like Jester King and Real Ale attracting visitors from far and wide.

Plus the unique lodging options are endless: yurts, shipping containers, treehouses and, yeah, you can even stay in a resort where giraffes will trot past your window. If the prices above are out of the question, you could always try camping or taking a road trip from an area with greater supply or less demand — both Austin and San Antonio are close enough for an easy day trip.

Afar’s article highlights some of the major locales – Fredericksburg and its peaches, of course – but also points out a few other less-trodden paths in the Hill Country, like Bandera (the Cowboy Capital of Texas) and Kerrville. But that barely scratches the surface.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Hill Country officially spans 25 Texas counties, though many Texans will tell you that the Hill Country is a state of mind (meaning, it’s west-ish of Austin and hilly). So the travel possibilities are endless.