Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Down, Town

Downtown Dallas, ugh.

Since I first visited my family here in 1972, I have been hearing about the great downtown Dallas revival. 34 years later I am still hearing about it. Don't get me wrong, there's alot of thrash going on; American Airlines Center, Victory, new Opera House and more new 5-star hotels with crowning million dollar condos than you can possibly imagine.

But, live there, why? There are two good restaurants (Dakota and Fuse) that aren't $100 person, no interesting night clubs, the roads are constantly under repair, no parking, no services open past an 8-year old's bedtime, it's real estate values are some of the most unstable in the area. And, to be quite honest, I really don't like being hit up for money on every corner by some crackhead who smells like stale cheese and Thunderbird.

I have one lone friend living in downtown. I tried to talk him out of buying the loft, the $400K loft. Bad idea - lofts don't work in Texas, air conditioning 16 foot ceilings is crazy, particularly now that Texas Utilities has doubled our rates. Living dowtown means you will drive to Oak Lawn or Uptown everytime you need something, want to do something interesting or see someone, because noone is coming to see you.

My friend still pushes downtown as the next big thing. This past round of propoganda slathering he held up this place and the seed of all change.

Jim, downtown has a grocery store now and its even got a first rate cafe attached to it! I never need to leave the area now!

Naturally I investigated.

Urban Market
1500 Jackson St (near Ervay)
Dallas, TX 75201

Urban Market is half grocery, half cafe.

The grocery half is small but it has most food items. The disappointing but expected part is that the variety and quantities are limited. If you're a vegetarian, don't bother, their produce was mediocre and seafood selections were minimal. They do great party food and, to my raging delight, their wine selection kicks ass; solid wineries and competitively priced. I will drive downtown to this place to wine buy in the future.

The cafe half is casual counter service; sandwiches, soups and salads. Whoa, get back, the cafe is great! I tried, in a cheating vegetarian mood, Spicy Chicken Sandwich; fluffy egg bun with sesame seeds, toasted, lime-marinated grilled chicken breasts sliced unbelievably thin, tomato, lettuce and just a wisp of jalapeƱo mayo. Yum! The twice-fried, batter-dipped spicy fries had permission to clog up my arteries, completely! $6 of great lunch-time pigging.

Although I liked Urban as a cafe, if I lived downtown I would still exit it to go to Central Market and Krogers to do my weekly shopping, they just don't have enough variety and they carry no non-grocery supplies.

The real irony here is that my friend continues to advertise downtown yet he has his loft on the market. Its been on the market for 8 months, asking price lower than what he paid.

Revival, indeed.


Blogger NeiLDC said...

at least they have now this cafe area.and grocery. indeed evrything changes... where are the cowboys of texas, Jim?

11:40 AM

Blogger purpletwinkie said...

It seems that there is an ongoing "revival" in many cities around the country.

Here in Las Vegas there isn't so much of a "revival" as there is "lets tear that down and start over". As the metro population nears 2M people, the constant change is even more evident than before. Of course The Strip is changing continuously, but I'm not talking about that. I talk of the city (yes, there is a big city here beyond that 4 mile 'strip' of land) itself. So many homes, so many highrises, many in areas that one would question, "why would you pay THAT to live THERE?", but the construction continues. I dislike it more and the traffic... oh, I won't even go there.

I'm hoping I'm out before the bubble bursts!

1:53 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Yeah, we won't be holding our breaths on the old "revival" scam will we? *LOL The last time I went to visit a friend living in a downtown loft I was nearly mugged for the bottle of cabernet that I was bringing to accompany dinner. Thank goodness my hosts were quick on the buzzer to let me in the lobby door!
And i've been to that little "grocery store" and you're right, the wine selection and the cafe are worth noting. But that's about it. :)

2:42 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Ah Neil, the cowboys are everywhere in Texas, except Dallas. Mostly you will find them in small towns and, of course, Ft. Worth.

4:18 PM

Blogger Jim said...

True Scott, there really are some examples of true revivals; Houston is a fine example of a city that has completely and successfully urbanized.

I noticed the last time I was in LV that the high-rise condos were priced slightly higher than Manhattan real estate. A little beyond proud I would say ... LOL. In LV, much like Dallas, the people buying the condos don't live there, some don't even live in the country. I'd hate to be them when the bottom falls out.

4:22 PM

Blogger Jim said...

LOL, no Jim, I never bought into the downtown revival thing. It's gonna take way more than a few shiny bridges over the Trinity to make that dog hunt :)

(Glad you escaped the wine mugging!, sheesh)

4:24 PM

Blogger Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

I'd rather have a farm in Costa Rica, but the commute is hell.
Downtown Tucson is too much for me. That's why I moved into the countryside. I guess I'd rather be a country mouse.

4:39 PM

Blogger Sangroncito said...

My best friend Mark gets sent to various cities with Federal Reserve Bank branches, including Dallas. He says Dallas is the one city he doesn't like, because downtown is absolutely vacant after dark. I had heard about the rebirth of downtown Dallas, so I was surprised.

6:07 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Ooo, Costa Rica, nice choice, I think I could retire there Daniel!

7:06 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Its kind of ridiculous Michael, Dallas should take a small lesson from Ft. Worth about how to build an inhabitable downtown.

If the gay community picked up IN MASS and relocated to downtown that would get really things rolling. You know we hold the secret to transforming crap into outstanding! :)

7:16 PM

Blogger JC said...

I would think that Dallas would be an unhealthy place to live because of the ozone buildup from all the hair spray for all the Big Hair There...

I think it is sad the Cotton Bowl is getting torn down, but the surrounding neighbor got so seedy we quit going there for games... not that I every really cared who won the Red River Shootout - GIG'EM AGGIES! - living here in Austin can get a little unbearable for us non-teasips - funny how a little success brings out the rabid fans who couldn't even find the campus if they were given a map...but that is 'off-topic'

I always dreaded driving through Dallas and Houston - was in Plano February for a LaCrosse Tournament - driving an RV the weekend that big northern blew threw. That's always fun, driving 'Shammu' in bumper to bumper traffic that goes from 60 to 0 in a blink of an eye and rocking and rolling trying to stay in your lane with the cross winds. Never so glad to see some place in my rear-view mirror - sorry to trash talk Dallas, not like Austin is the mecca of impeciable urban planning either...

10:31 PM

Blogger Jim said...

JC, I think its Houston that suffers from the Big Hair ozone hole, you know, hair spray is the only thing that counter acts the 100% humidity :)

In Dallas its all the single girls that drive SUVs. Apparently you need an SUV to carry a purse the size of a Chiclet.

The horrible thing about the Cotton Bowl neighborhood is that it is the only part of town holding any history and they continue to tear it down. You know what will go there in its place: more $500K McCondos, Starbucks, GAPs, Chipotles and of course a CVS. Pathetic.

8:05 AM


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