A collection of neighborhood gems that are better than the ‘best’

Creating a “best of” list isn’t really our speed. At the end of the day, who’s to say what is truly “best”? Highlighting one neighborhood shop, restaurant or experience as better than another based on votes or our (ahem) expert opinion tends to be subjective, and it doesn’t allow us to fully appreciate the countless gems in Preston Hollow.

Instead of declaring the “best” this month, we’re calling attention to the things we love about Preston Hollow — the kinds of things that wouldn’t make it on a broader “best of” list because those of us who live here are among the few who know they exist and who understand their worth.

This story is only the beginning of our list. We’ll be highlighting the things we love weekly on the Back Talk blog at prestonhollow.advocatemag.com. We want to hear about the things you love, too. Send an email to thingswelove@advocatemag.com, and you might find your description of a neighborhood gem on our website or in the magazine.

1. Marsh Middle School Leadership Cadet Corps
There’s something to be said for junior high kids who simultaneously jump to their feet when a visitor walks into the room. The Marsh Middle School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is one of the best in the region, even earning national titles. Commander David Bates built the program from scratch about a decade ago. Last year, he established the Leadership Cadet Corps Academy at Marsh, where students can receive more military-focused training. It’s quite a feat for something that receives no money from the district. Just ask one of the cadets what they like about the program, and they’ll likely smile from ear to ear, take a deep breath, and perfectly articulate their giddy response in the most polite and professional of ways. As Bates said at a recent event, “We’re gettin’ it done in Dallas public schools.”

2. Scarlet O’Hara cake balls at Crème de la Cookie
6025 Royal
If the name isn’t sinful enough, these famous red velvet cake balls are dangerously addictive. For just $1.50 each, they’re portable and tidy — easy grab-and-go treats for those times when we’re craving something sweet.

3. Making the news
Everyone perks up a little when they hear about their neighborhood on national or even local TV news. With people such as George W. Bush and Roger Staubach as neighbors, we can’t help but feel special when we hear that sound bite, “… at his Preston Hollow home.”

4. The Rachofsky House
8605 Preston
Of all the architectural marvels in Preston Hollow, The Rachofsky House is in a class of its own. Tucked away near the bustling Preston and Northwest Highway intersection, passersby could easily miss it. Built in 1996 by famed architect Richard Meier, some neighbors simply call it “the square house”. The all-white structure uses natural light, blurring the line between exterior and interior. It fully functions as a home with a kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms and living spaces, but each room also is an art gallery, showcasing a permanent collection of post-World War II artwork from international artists. The exhibits continue throughout the outdoor landscape. Look closely — you’ll find some interesting pieces poking out from behind the bushes. The house offers tours for schools and groups of at least 10 people by appointment. That’s the only way to experience the Rachofsky House — stand on the back façade and consider what Meier had in mind when he designed it: “a kind of elegant case study, an exercise that encourages us to reflect upon what our notions of house and home encompass.”

5. Midnight Madness at Inwood Theatre
5458 W. Lovers
Nowhere else in Dallas can you see films such as the Hitchcock-inspired train wreck “Birdemic” or the Spanish thriller “Rec 2”. It’s a brilliant idea, really — B horror so bad that it’s good. At midnight every Friday and Saturday at the Inwood Theatre, patrons can grab a drink from the bar and curl up on the comfy couches for Midnight Madness. It’s almost like hanging at a friend’s house. The weekly program also presents nostalgic and lovable films such as “Ghostbusters” and “Rushmore”. But moviegoers beware: People tend to laugh and talk throughout these movies, so if you’re not cool with that, then you’re out past your bedtime. Admission is $10.

6. Bobcats
Forget about the countless coyote sightings — Preston Hollow is where you see the real wildlife. Our heavily treed creeks and lakes seem to provide a haven for bobcats, an uncommon predator in the city. Sure, they’re scary, and they sometimes eat your pets, but you can’t deny the beauty of seeing a wild animal like that right in your backyard. We received this note from Bruce Wilke, president of the Hillcrest Forest Neighborhood Association: “I got a call from a concerned neighbor, Bette Tannen, who lives on Woodmark Court. There was a family of bobcats, she said — two adults and a younger one — that had ‘staked out’ her house and seemed to be watching her little show dog … I told Bette that she ought to grab a camera instead of a gun.” We have yet to receive any photos of these elusive creatures, so please send pictures to etoman@advocatemag.com.

7. Book selection at Whole Earth Provision Co.
11700 Preston
Of all the outdoor toys and green-living gadgets to play with at Whole Earth Provision Co., it’s perhaps the book section where we end up spending most of our time. Amid our hectic, industrial lives, at least we can dream about simpler living. Besides the predictable travel books and “places to see/things to do before you die”, titles include “Garden Wisdom & Know How: Everything You Need to Know to Live off the Land” and “Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money”. The store also carries what might be the hippest bird watching manual around — “Charles Harper’s Birds and Words”, which includes different types of bird paintings with humorous and playful descriptions, all written with great respect for our environment. And finally, the best book that may ever grace someone’s coffee table: “Lucha Loco”, a giant collection of more than 120 portraits of Mexican wrestlers with witty one-liners, such as Dr. Muerte’s, “I teach Tae Kwan-do, I’m black-belt. And I’m also in sales.”

8. Dollhouses at Through the Keyhole
11700 Preston, Suite 625
Inside this quaint, Preston-Forest shop lies a miniature world representing years of hobbyists’ careful precision to create the perfect little reality. Through the Keyhole has become an institution as Dallas’ oldest miniature store, offering all the supplies to build a dream dollhouse — from Victorian mansions to rustic farmhouses. After more than 30 years in business, the shop has only recently caught the attention of children. Most of its patrons are older folks who have spent their lives tinkering with miniature dolls, appliances and detailed décor — right down to the toothpaste tube that sits on the bathroom counter. Since many of these loyal customers have moved to nursing homes and can’t physically continue their cherished hobby, Through the Keyhole has begun buying their collections and carrying them in the store. So, before you head to a big-box toy store, check this shop for true, vintage dollhouses that will pass down through generations.

More Things We Love

We asked readers about all of the little things they enjoy about the neighborhood.
“The best neighborhood [is the] Disney Streets. When we bought our house 15 years ago, the then-owners refused to come down on the price, citing the neighbors as worth the investment. They were right! It is not uncommon to see people out exercising, kids playing in the yard, and an easy sense of camaraderie not found elsewhere in Dallas. [And] best milkshake — Scotty P’s. My 2-year-old says they are yummy good! Need I say more?” —Karen Goodchild, Disney Streets resident

“My favorite thing in Preston Hollow is Preston Hollow Elementary School. My daughter is in pre-k and has begun reading, improving her writing skills and learning Spanish. I am proud my daughter attends an exemplary school right in our neighborhood.” —Angela Davis, Preston Hollow Elementary mom

Preston Hollow Early Childhood PTA is my favorite thing! We have events about once a week — like book club, educational speakers, Mom’s Night Out, playgroups, parties and children’s activities. This group has really helped me meet a bunch of neighborhood moms I probably would never have had a chance to get to know. In fact, at our last Mom’s Night Out, I sat next to a new member. I’d never met her before. We got to talking, and she lives right down the street! It makes living in Big D feel a bit more quaint.” —Jennifer Bryarly, PHECPTA

“One of my favorite places is the Preston Royal Library, where I can find a current movie, get books on tape for a road trip, or read magazines while my kids pick out their books. They always have someone’s ‘collection of things’ in the display case, which runs the gamut from a child’s collections to an adult who has been collecting for years.” —Amie Moyer, Hillcrest mom

“A native New Yorker turned Preston Hollow resident, our family moved to Dallas seeking a better quality of life, focus on children and slower pace. What epitomizes that for us is The Barnyard at The Lamplighter School. My 4-year old son spends part of his school day handing Cheerios to the roosters, hens, pig, cow and goats. The Lamplighter barnyard harkens back to a simpler time where kids can simply be kids and enjoy the animals. I love that my little boy can stop and feed the chickens, as he has the rest of his life to worry about this pressure-packed world. Ask any Lamplighter alum — they always speak lovingly about their beloved barnyard.” —Charmaine Tang, Preston Hollow mom of two preschoolers

“Medical City Hospital maternity ward. What an awesome place to have babies! Those nursery nurses cannot be beat.” —Valerie Norris, North Dallas Early Childhood PTA

“One of my all-time new favorites in Preston Hollow is the Butterscotch Pot de Crème at Neighborhood Services at Preston Royal. It comes with a shocking surprise, made with butter and scotch, and it is the most decadent dessert that will melt in your mouth. And it doesn’t hurt that the service at Neighborhood Services is impeccable, explaining the little nuances of each dish and dessert, enough to make your mouth water.” —Amy Zicarelli, Sunnybrook Estates, Lamplighter mom

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