First impressions of Dallas

I really haven’t been here long enough to write a post, but I just wanted to get something down so I can compare it to something I will most probably write later, should I stay here, as of now I don’t think I will be here too long- my company called me while I was driving to tell me that they were closing the Dallas office and that I can go anywhere I want – in which case I will be going to Boulder, Colorado (my dream town with Jews) unless Missoula, Montana gets a chabad anytime soon.

So with that in mind I bring to you my thoughts concerning Dallas, Texas. I entered Texas yesterday after a day of driving the back roads of Arkansas and Oklahoma. I haven’t been in Arkansas since 2001 so that was a treat – although I shouldn’t have gone because I liked it much when I had first visited then yesterday. The temperature did rise until I had all my windows open in Oklahoma driving through some beautiful flatlands with the sun setting slowly into the distant horizon.

I stopped for a Mincha on Texas state highway 37 and could not believe the warmth and the sweet smells, I had just driven through a snowstorm in Michigan the day before. The back roads in Texas have a 70 mph speed limit so I was just cruising along listening to the dead and marveling at the fact that I was finally going on a one way road trip.

My mood was spoiled as I entered Paris, Texas on US highway 82, though Missouri and Ohio take the cake for huge billboards and gas stations blocking your view, Texas takes the cake for variety and endless shopping centers. I drove south along US highway 75 and could not believe how many strip plazas and stores there were.

I was still 60 miles from Dallas when it began, the billboards, the signs, the lights and the strip plazas choking out all possible life. Imagine Route 4 or 17 in New Jersey with all the stores on the sides, now take those roads and put an 8 lane super highway in the middle of it- its quite insane.

At least the drivers are cordial, no one would think of using their horn, no such thing as tailgaters and no one does any sort of road rage. I drove and drove past malls and big box chain stores until I hit the Campbell ave exit which forced me out onto another highway – known locally as a service road – these aren’t normal service roads- they are full fledged highways.

Prior to meeting up with my new landlord/housemate, I went to Cafe Fino’s which is one of the milchig restaurants in Dallas, Dallas has 6 kosher places and several other food outlets which I will get to in a bit. Cafe Fino’s is open till 9pm which rocks because I am used to showing up at out of town establishments and finding them closed way too early.

I already went to Cafe Fino’s twice, being that it is the easiest place to get to from where I am living. You can tell right away based on the service that you are not in NY, it is impeccably friendly, the kind of friendly that makes you smile to yourself.

I think it was the first time I have been treated nicely by someone with a bluetooth in their ear, I ordered the eggplant parm hoagie which came with fries, the sandwich was amazing, but tonight I had something even better- I bought a 12 inch pizza – (this is not a paid advertisement, I doubt they knew I wrote about this stuff) but their pizza was simply some of the best I have ever had.

I used to like Jerusalem Pizza in Detroit, but that was mainly for their cheese sticks which have dropped some serious quality since the last time I ate their, but Cafe Fino’s pizza was amazing, the crust was homemade and tasted so much fresher and non-generic then NY pizza which pretty much all tastes the same (I am sure you can argue it out- but NYC pizza has a general taste to it) and it had loads of cheese.

So I’m full stomached and tired from a full days worth of wandering and I pull up in front of my new house on a beautiful side street full of beautiful houses and green lawns with strange looking trees. The house is enormous compared to what I just moved out of. It is awfully cozy with this plush soft carpet all around and it has a nice backyard and lawn. 2400 sq feet and the rpice of these things is less then $175,000 – now if you like New Jersey and driving everywhere I don’t understand why more people don’t move here.

Seriously, I am told Dallas has 1000 frum families, its dirt cheap to live here and it has all the amenities of home. Oh and gas is $1.75 a gallon. So I get set up in my new house and wait for a bright day to wander the city and try and figure out how long I am going to be here.

I could never live in a place like this – is all I am thinking as I merge from one super highway to the next, the highways in Texas are a marvel in themselves, have you ever seen a 5 level interchange? Oh my Lord the interchanges between highways are enormous, I guess thats what happens when land is so cheap and vast.

I drove 25 miles to my office and if I wouldn’t have gotten lost it would have taken 20 minutes. Its true, everything is bigger in Texas. I cannot stop thinking about the highways, they are super smooth and huge, but at the same time I was thinking – I feel like I am in New Jersey – but at least New Jersey has accessible mountains – the mountains in Texas are all in the west- might as well live in New Mexico or Colorado if your already out there.

So instead of work today I hit up the largest public skatepark in Texas located in Allen – it was insane and empty and I had a ball, I also figured out that I may be developing excersize induced asthma which sucks because I need to get one of those inhalers and I don’t have insurance. Maybe Obama will come through and give me some.

I got lunch at Tom Thumbs, now Tom Thumbs reminds me of Wegmans- or any other large chain grocery store in an upscale neighborhood. You walk in and are greeted with fresh baked goods and all sorts of gourmet stands besides for the regular grocery. But at Tom Thumbs its all kosher – I couldn’t believe it.

I bought some sushi which was some of the best sushi I have ever had, and I have eaten loads of sushi in my day. Then I went to the bakery and picked up some danishes. Then I turned the corner and found sticky homemade  cinnamon buns and I almost flipped my lid. The women asked if I wanted a sample- I obliged and she proceeded to cut one in half and give it to me- wow!!!

I then wandered around Uptown Dallas which is a very impressive neighborhood, the buildings were beautiful and looked nothing like upscale neighborhoods I am used to. The colors are lighter due to the southwest environment and the tall buildings had this ornate and imposing feel to them. The architecture in uptown Dallas and the highland park areas is very interesting and definitely worth a look if that is your kind of thing.

This post really has nothing to do with the Jewish community which I have nothing to do with as of yet. I did go to Chabad for mimcha and maariv tonight I am walking distance to the Yeshiva, chabad and Chofetz Chaim shul. But as a an active person who likes the woods, Dallas is definitely not the place for me- and my new roommate said the same thing.

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