Blog.

Coffee Shop Showdown: Who’s the Best In Downtown Plano?

Fourteen Eighteen Coffeehouse has been a DTP staple since 2013.

When you enter the doors, it’s like stepping into your grandmother’s living room. Comfy couches, dim lighting, regal armchairs. Soothing music, exposed brick, hanging picture frames.

Each barista greets you with a friendly smile, takes your order, sometimes they even crack a joke. They’re helpful when you ask for recommendations and they are genuine and intentional with their service.

Whenever my gal pals and I meet up, I usually recommend 1418. We squish together on a couch, split a piece of Emporium Pies’ Smooth Operator {yum for days}, and give updates of our busy, busy lives. We wash the pie down with our choice of a latte, cappuccino or the basic drip.

It’s also a great study or reading spot — people keep to themselves, the music isn’t distracting, the coffee scents keep you alert. Drip coffee is super cheap and your first refill is free, so that’s a great deal.

XO_COFFEE_PLANO_MAGAZINE-5

But there’s a new kid on the block: XO Coffee Co.

Believe it or not, David Hasselholff’s nephew opened the new coffee shop this year. David himself came for the grand opening to allure Planoans.

I tried it out for the first time a couple of months ago. It’s a very different vibe and atmosphere than 1418.

XO is trendy and fresh — it’s like your cool uncle’s bachelor pad. Almost everything is wooden, a TV is mounted on the wall, it’s complete with built-in shelves and orb-looking lights. The music is a bit more upbeat, modern pop music.

Honestly, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the iced vanilla latte I got. I could barely taste the vanilla and my overall experience wasn’t that great. My friend did get a delicious, refreshing strawberry lemonade that I think is worth the trip.

So which is the winner?

It’s hard to compare the two, because they’re so vastly different. So I’ll break it down:

Best coffee: 1418, no doubt. High quality, awesome latte designs.

Best study spot: XO might win for this one, simply because the lighting is better. There are also bigger tables to spread out on. The music is a bit more calming and easy to tune out at 1418, but I think the overall study atmosphere at XO is better.

Best service: 1418, XO’s isn’t bad but I find 1418 much more welcoming and personal. They seem more engaged with their coffee addicts.

Best food: I haven’t tried XO’s meals, but 1418 only offers sandwiches. XO’s sounded really filling and delicious, so they probably have the most bang for their buck. But 1418 definitely wins with their dessert: Emporium Pies? You can’t get much better.

Ultimately, it’s your decision.

Why are you going to a coffee shop? To study? To read? To meet with friends? What kind of atmosphere are you looking for? Cozy and comfy? Trendy and fresh?

Now you have an idea of what each coffee shop has to offer, so check them out yourself! You decide which is best and report back — I’m interested to hear your input.

You Need to Know These 3 Travel Apps.

I like to think of myself as a bit of a nomad.

In the past five years, I’ve called five different cities “home.” I’ve wandered the earth from Texas to Europe, meeting new friends, exploring new places, and eventually finding more and more of myself at every new destination.

Travel is good for the soul. It loosens you up. It rattles your schedule. It transforms your life from routine to extraordinary — it makes you uncomfortable and sweaty and uncertain.

But it’s not always cheap or convenient, which is why I’m here to tell you it can be BOTH if you play your cards right. Thanks to my wanderlust and many friends I met on my journeys, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of useful travel apps. Here we go:

1. For the best priced flights, use Hopper– Kerstin, my Denver flight friend, told me about this one. You input where you’re coming from and where you’d like to go, and the dates. Then Hopper pulls up a color-coded calendar that shows the best prices during those times. Then you can browse flights. If it’s not a great time to purchase, you can “watch” the flight and receive notifications when more affordable ones arise.

2. For the best priced car, use Turo– My Baylor gal pal Sarah showed me this one. It’s essentially Uber for renting cars, people can rent out their cars to travelers. You pick dates and location and other settings, like how much, what kind of drive, etc. It’s almost always cheaper than a rental company, and it’s nice for young guns like me who get an up-charge for being an untrustworthy youth.

3. For the bestpriced crash pad use Airbnb- nearly everyone knows about this, but some people are skeptical of crashing at strangers’ places. I get and respect that. But whoa, Airbnb has some great deals at great locations. Pro tip: look for indoor pics of where you’re staying. My girl Mads and I stayed at a sketchy af house in Memphis for my first Airbnb experience. It was scarring. But not enough to keep us away.

There are obviously many, many more out there. Lyft, Uber and Yelp are also great tools. Scour the App Store/Play Store for travel apps and you’ll certainly find helpful ones for planning your next great escape.

Let me know what apps I should have on my radar. I’m hoping to wander up to Portland soon, and will be in Denver in the fall for a bachelorette party, so let me know where to go!

**But remember, you are your greatest tool. And you’re so much more useful than an app. Don’t only lean on these — get a little lost, have a lot of fun.**

My Grandma’s Closet.

My Nana is a hip, hip lady.

She and my Big Daddy — who I’m convinced are the ULTIMATE relationship goals — moved out of their house a bit over a year ago. Leading up to the big move, they passed down some of their knick knacks to us grandchildren.

I’ve always liked my grandma’s style. My best label for it is retro Anthropologie. If Anthro was a store in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, she would have definitely shopped there. Perhaps the Anthro founders were inspired by their mothers and grandmothers.

I’ve scored some awesome stuff from her.

Since first perusing her closet a couple years back, I’ve inherited this thick and comfy, colorful sweater (from Australia), a couple of vests, a few dresses and a floral skirt. I wear each on a regular basis.

A few weeks back, I wore my great grandma’s dress to work. Honestly, I was a bit nervous because it’s a little out there. But I received a plethora of compliments that day which encouraged me to bring it around more often.

Yesterday was perfect Spring weather, so I threw on an old H&M spaghetti strapped dress and partnered it with Nana’s black floral vest. I think it tied together the outfit really nicely.

Sharing is caring.

The best way to save money and shop is by inheriting clothes or borrowing from friends. I’m thankful that Nana’s clothes are the perfect combo of hip, fun and old school to where I can resurrect them from their glory days.

Have you checked out your grandma’s closet? Maybe you’ll find something you like.

 

I-35: From Waco to Austin.

This was a crazy weekend for me.

On Friday, I visited Baylor friends in Waco. On Saturday, I went to a college roommate’s wedding in Temple. Then Saturday night and Sunday morning, I celebrated a friend’s impending wedding in Austin.

I started on I-35 in Dallas and made my way down slowly but surely each day. And man, it was so incredibly exhausting. But also so incredibly worth it!

Things you must do in Waco:

  1. Magnolia Market- everyone knows about this, thanks to Chip and Jo. It’s really adorable and the backyard is great.
  2. Downtown Waco Farmers Market- every Saturday morning starting at 9 a.m. (I think?) So many vendors sell local goods and foods and wonderful things!
  3. Spice Village- located on Franklin, it’s a shopping addict’s wonderland. Clothes and knick knacks galore.
  4. Lula Jane’s- tucked away on Elm St., their pie and coffee is a lethal combination. And they have the kindest workers.
  5. Cameron Park- surprisingly huge and also great for hikes, who knew Waco had real terrain? There are swings at Lover’s Leap!
  6. Circle of Death- this traffic roundabout is absolutely terrifying bc we are Americans and Texans, and there’s no signage. But it’s actually hilarious and thrilling.

Things I did in Austin:

  1. Rainey St.- Technically I didn’t join in because I was sleeping, but my friends hit up this street for bars and great nightlife. I hear it’s awesome.
  2. Bouldin Creek Cafe- on 1st street. So delicious. The migas are a win, the endless drip coffee is a win. I don’t eat blueberries, but their blueberry cornbread looked sick.
  3. Sweet Ritual- My friends love this place because they serve vegan ice cream. Personally, not my thing. But their peanut butter was pretty good!
  4. Barton Springs- a few years back, I dove into the ice cold waters on a hot summer’s day. Best thing ever.
  5. Graffiti Park- really fun and makes me feel edgy, so yeah.
  6. Zilker Park- puppies galore. Great vb courts and wide open spaces for ultimate, football, or whatever your heart desires.

Man, it was good to get away.

I’ll be in St. Louis next weekend, so stay tuned for more #dimebeyonddallas!

Martin Creek Lake State Park.

A couple of weekends ago, I went on a girls trip.

It wasn’t anything glamorous, like hitting up Downtown Austin in glittery dresses, or making a weekend escape to NYC to strut around Times Square.

Nope. Madison, Sarah and I hit up a state park about 2.5 hours away. Because I guess that’s just who I am–a wilderness girl stifled in the DFW, seeking some fresh air and longing to actually see stars, and not just imagine them.

Our stay was very simple.

We arrived midday on Saturday, unloaded and set up our tent. Once we were settled, I turned off my phone. It was my number one goal for the weekend.

We spent the afternoon on a mini-hike, dipping our toes in the water and talking about boys, talking about our future goals and dreams. We took a nap on a blanket as the sun peaked through the trees.

We made tacos for dinner and Sarah built us a fire. We talked about how God is moving in our lives and a bit more about where we would like to be in the future. We fell asleep uncomfortably, but I also slept through the night–so that was a bonus.

The sun welcomed us in the morning.

It greeted us through the screens of our tent. We rolled out of our sleeping bags, it was an early morning. But so, so peaceful.

We made breakfast tacos (obviously I’m not the only taco addict among my group of friends). Then packed up and hit the road.

It was a quick 24-hour turn-around, but it was exactly what I needed that weekend. I needed to get away. I needed to put the real world on pause. I needed some time with some of the best women I know.

I’d give Martin Creek Lake a 7.5 out of 10.

It wasn’t nearly as crowded as Tyler State Park and the campsites were super cheap. We got a spot along the water at $16 for one night.

I would have liked more hiking options, but if you’re looking for a lowkey getaway, this place is your spot. It’s not too far from the DFW but it is far enough away to feel free.

I plan to camp some more this summer, and I’m about to leave town for a few weddings, so keep up with my wanderings here. And go ahead and take a break from the DFW yourself! Everyone deserves a getaway now and then.

Del’s: Lowkey, High Qual Burgers.

This morning was a physical beating.

A couple of friends and I served at Creekside Baptist Church, taking their old, drab look and transforming it into a beautiful landscape.

Our friend Mike really put us to work. He had us planting shrubs, watering, transplanting grass, moving dirt. It got hot outside really quick–thank you, Texas springtime.

After hours of grunt work, we decided we deserved a hearty lunch. My friend Jonathan recommended Del’s, a little place in Downtown Richardson.

Del’s is the definition of lowkey.

It’s tucked away in a corner on a street off of Main Street. It’s this tiny, almost shack-looking place. But once you enter, it’s actually bigger than it looks. And you can instantly smell the juicy burgers on the grill.

But man on man, these are high quality burgers.

They start at $5, which is an absolute steal. And you can pack on whatever condiments your heart desires. Their fries are tasty–that’s what I had. But I kept eyeing other customers’ curly fries, so you bet I’m trying those next time I pop in.

So if you ever find yourself near Downtown Richardson and you’re craving a burger, you know exactly where to go.

Taco Tuesday: Tacos & Tunes.

This week’s #TacoTuesday post is a bit different.

You see, Tacos & Tunes are not offered on Tuesdays. But these events obviously revolve around tacos, so I just had to share about it with you.

Tacos and Tunes is a monthly event that breaks the barriers between local Dallas musicians and their fans, all while feeding both parties tacos. It rolls around toward the end of the month and only costs $10 for entry and two tacos.

Every artist featured is a Dallas local, every taco is locally made and every venue is a local hot spot.

I went to my first T&T on Friday night.

As a wannabe on-and-off singer-songwriter, I was absolutely delighted. I love hearing humble musicians sing their stories of heartbreak and hope and healing. It takes so much boldness to share one’s past, present and future in front of strangers.

This month’s venue was originally at the Wall Gallery, but moved last minute to American Beauty Mill, these gorgeous and isolated apartments south of downtown near Gilley’s. 50 fans got all cozy in an open loft and listened in. One of the musicians, Chris Taylor, also painted during the others’ performances. It was a treat for the eyes and ears.

And mouth, because the tacos were great.

I strongly recommend keeping up with Tacos and Tunes on Facebook and Instagram, so you know when the next show comes around.

Karaoke Fun @ Shuck N Jive.

Last night, I was ready to eat pie & chill.

After consuming an apple pie (paired with classic vanilla ice cream) in honor of National Pi Day, our friends decided to go out.

I was very unprepared for a night on the town. I was wearing my baggy, Kim Possible-like pants with Tevas (aka the world’s ugliest sandals). I looked like a true granola climber.

Nevertheless, I was up for the adventure. After much Google-ing and Yelp-consulting, we discovered the close-by Shuck N Jive had karaoke on Tuesday nights. Why? I’m not sure. But Yelp assured that there would be a crowd ranging in ages from 20 to 60 years old, and that it would be a “good time.”

So we went for it.

Shuck N Jive is a very unique experience. It’s a small, Cajun restaurant and bar. We didn’t eat the food, but their drinks were great.

The review was right, we represented the 20-year-old demographic, and the ages reached up until at least the mid 40’s. There were also children probably around the 8 to 10-year-old range, so that was a…strange surprise.

My friend Sarah and I warmed up the night by belting Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’ “Home.” It’s one of my all-time favorites, and I know every word. It also makes me feel nostalgic of the many times I was far away and anticipated a good homecoming.

Sometimes, you just gotta jump out of your comfort zone.

You have to try new things. You have to succumb to your friends’ wishes to sing karaoke on a Tuesday night. You have to take a shot of Patron and sing your heart out to the Black Eyed Peas’ “Where is the Love?,” because this world is in need of more love these days.

Even if you hate it, you’ve got a new memory and experience to cherish. And if you love it, you know where to return on a Tuesday night. I can’t say I’ll become a regular, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up at Shuck N Jive for another round of my five minutes of fame.

Attention, World: It’s National Pi Day!

Today is one of the more important days of the year.

It’s National Pi Day!

Yes. 3.14 is everybody’s favorite mathematical number. While math was never my favorite subject, I can always get on board with a celebratory day that focuses on PIE, the dessert.

Pie is the underdog of desserts.

People will die for cookies or cake or ice cream. But only a select few (including grandmas and hipsters) will put their life on the line for a good piece of pie.

My love for pie started with Lula Jane’s bakery in Waco off of Elm St. This sweet little bakery introduced me to the wonderful world of pie. Then I continued my love for pie at Coffeeshop Cafe in McGregor, just a hop up the highway from Waco.

God bless Dallas, where Emporium Pies reigns.

The pie shop has three locations in Downtown McKinney, Bishop Arts and the most recent, Deep Ellum. These reasonably priced pies are baked with love and topped with creamy goodness. They’re thick and rich and tasty and sweet–and at times, savory.

Today and today only, Emporium Pies will give a FREE PIE to anyone who can recite Pi to the 31st decimal point. It’s quiet a feat, but I’m sure it’s worth it. You better get to memorizing right away!

Taco Tuesday: Frankies.

Frankies is a quaint Mexican cuisine restaurant located just a hop, skip and a jump away from my home.

Started by a family in the neighborhood, Frankie’s brings fresh and tasty food to your table with the friendliness of a local hot spot.

Their food is always fresh and fast, never wrong or regrettable. Today, my friends and I received our meals just 5 minutes after ordering. Halfway into my taco, I realized I hadn’t take a picture yet–I was obviously too eager when it first came to our table.

If you’re ever in North Richardson or near University of Texas at Dallas, swing by Frankies for #tacothesday or grab a margarita during Happy Hour. You won’t regret it!