The media perpetually feeds the public’s hunger for lists. There are useful lists, such as Oprah’s “Top 10 Superfoods”, Time’s “25 People to Blame for America’s Credit Crisis”, or Esquire’s “Best Bars in America”. Then there are more gratuitous tabulations — Star magazine’s “Best and Worst Beach Bodies”, or The Enquirer’s index of gay and not gay celebrities, for instance.

 

Maybe it’s the order and brevity lists inject into our overwhelming lives, or that they make large quantities of information more digestible. Whatever the reason, the masses enjoy consuming info in the form of neat numbered and bulleted boxes, and the Advocate is here to oblige. In fact, we love lists so much that we’ve compiled a list of lists (sometimes useful, sometimes superfluous) for readers who can’t get enough of them.

 

It’s not that we have anything against Muzak; it’s just that the soft instrumental version of “Riders on the Storm” doesn’t appeal to everyone. These neighborhood haunts have earned favor for putting some real thought into their play list to give us …

Ambiance music we dig
1. Zaguan Bakery & Café. The cool Latin vibe at Zaguan Bakery & Café off Oak Lawn even carries over to the background music. So while you’re dining on Venezuelan cachapas (sweet corn turnovers filled with meat and cheese) and surfing the web, you can also groove to something by the Buena Vista Social Club. Now that’s what we call chill.

2. Neuhaus Café. Lounging at Neuhaus Café, in the Preston Royal Shopping Center, you’re likely to hear everything from indie rock by cool bands you never even knew existed, to throwback R&B jams from the early ’90s you forgot just how much you loved. The absence of “Top 40” tunes here earns this café a tip of the hat.

3. NorthPark’s Metropark. The music playing at NorthPark’s Metropark is more like what you’d expect to hear at Candle Room, and less like what you’d expect to hear while shopping for graphic tees. If you really want to feel hip, stop in on the weekend when the store really ups the trendy ante and brings in a deejay to spin those fresh beats. Metropark takes so much pride in its play list, in fact, that the website has its own online music feed, so you can feel just as cool when you shop their line at home.

Best place to find zen
Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden. Sitting beneath the leafy canopy as the sun sets over the pond at the Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden, something moving — dare we say spiritual — happens to you. The rush of the day melts away, and there, surrounded by just nature and beautiful sculptures, you can unwind. Owner Kevin Vogel graciously opens his private property so neighbors can enjoy its splendor, a tradition started by his parents, the previous owners. Sure, the folks in East Dallas may have the arboretum. But we have this best-kept secret off Alpha and Hillcrest that’s every bit as lovely and never as crowded.

When it comes to public restrooms, cleanliness is key, but we want to recognize those spots that do a little extra to make your visit comfortable, convenient and, dare we say, entertaining. Here are …

The perfect places for a pit stop
1. Northpark. It’s a well-guarded secret among women in the know: The best bathrooms at NorthPark are downstairs next to Cibus. Not only are these bathrooms clean, but they also never have a wait line, making them somewhere near the 99 percentile of mall bathrooms. And if you’re nursing or have kids in tow, there are private family-sized restrooms here, too, with tiny toilets for teeny tushies.

2. La Duni off Oak Lawn. Not only does the bathroom at La Duni off Oak Lawn have extra little frills, like nice hand lotions and mouthwash, it also has a television. The flat screen TV, which is always set to Food Network, is strategically placed at a lower eyelevel, for your viewing pleasure while seated at the toilet. 

3. Rise No.1. The bathrooms at Rise No.1 in Inwood Village pay homage to your elementary school days with communal basin-style sinks. And like the rest of the restaurant, they are decorated with French antiques and vintage art, even in the stalls.

For those of us who actually enjoy spicy food (the “good burn”, as we call it), the hot sauce a restaurant offers can make or break our dining experience. But because these spots skip that sissy tomato-sauce stuff, we give a tip of the hat to these …

Restaurants that offer the-real-deal hot sauces
1. Woodlands Grill. You’d expect Sriracha hot sauce in a good Asian eatery — it’s a standard when you’re having Vietnamese pho, in fact. But surprisingly, it’s also available at Woodlands Grill, though you’d never know it unless you asked. So if you want to take that grilled salmon to the next level, just ask the Preston and Forest restaurant to bring out the good stuff.

2. Potbelly Sandwich Works. Take that turkey sub from so-so to sublime with a few dashes of the Cholula, which they keep  by the register at the Preston and Forest Potbelly Sandwich Works. But take heed, this stuff has a kick to it.

3. Café Express. Café Express at Lovers and Inwood serves up plenty of Sriracha hot sauce, plus free peppers at the condiment bar — oh, and keep an eye out for the free breadsticks there, too. 

Best place to skip the ticket fees
Preston Royal Shopping Center. It’s home to the only box office dedicated solely to the Dallas Summer Musicals — aptly named The Box Office. Sure, you can get your tickets online, but if you do it the old-fashioned way, the helpful folks at this box office will help you pick the best seats, so you get the most bang for your buck. Not to mention that you won’t be charged the online booking fee, which usually costs an extra $8 per seat. Plus, if Box Office employees have seen the musical, they may even offer their two cents on it. Now that’s customer service you can’t get from a computer.

It’s one of the few guarantees in life: you will have to pay taxes. It’s nice though to see that money working for you, especially when it’s happening right here in the neighborhood. So, despite the city’s budget deficit, we thought it’d be nice to shine a little light on the …

Best use of taxpayers’ money
Bachman Lake Library. The Walnut Hill Library we had once upon a time was — well, just another library. But the sparkly new Bachman Lake Library that took its place puts your run-of-the-mill library to shame. This 21,000 square-foot space boasts a 60,000-volume collection of books and media, a Black Box theater for live performances, loaner laptops, and reading rooms with comfy lounging chairs. 

Sitting in waiting rooms ranks up there with filing your taxes and paper cuts — there’s nothing enjoyable about the experience. That is, unless you happen to find yourself in one of these …

Waiting rooms you actually don’t mind waiting in
1. Eco Cleaner. Environmentally-conscious drycleaner Eco Cleaner on Lovers near Douglas has a waiting area with comfy leather loungers and free WiFi. We’re not quite sure why you’d want to sit around and wait on your drycleaning, but if you do, this is your spot. Or, if you don’t want to wait, you can take advantage of the free delivery.

2. Texas Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Group. Sports TV is on in this waiting room all day, every day at Texas Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Group in Snider Plaza, making it the ultimate man cave. Plus, there’s a pretty impressive collection of sports memorabilia on the walls that you can check out while you wait.

3. Waxing the City. OK, so waxing isn’t ever fun, but the stocked mini-fridge at Waxing the City at Preston Center makes the process a little less painful — figuratively, that is.n

 


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