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.**

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!

Introducing Beyond.

I do my fair share of traveling.

Every couple months or so, I try to break out of the 214. Dallas is home, but my heart loves to explore. My favorite states (other than Texas, of course) include Utah, Tennessee and Colorado.

All-time favorite cities I’ve been to include London, Florence, Escalante, New York and Interlaken. With each place I visit, I make friends and memories that last a lifetime. When I wander alone, I find out more about myself and who I want to be.

Keep up with my adventures beyond Dallas here.