Starvoice • 05.27.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Heidi Klum turns 38 on Wednesday. The model turned TV host and producer changed the way we look at the fashion world with her very popular Project Runway. Because of the show, some gay designers have gone to be stars of their own like Austin Scarlett, Santino Rice and season four winner Christian Siriano. A Runway all-stars is apparently in the works.

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THIS WEEK

Mercury squaring Neptune in Pisces while entering Gemini inflates wonderfully imaginative notions. Jupiter entering Taurus could ground them and find profitable applications. Jupiter in Taurus for the next year should_ be good for the economy. It will be good for bankers at least.

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GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Get creative. You have big challenges in the next year. Your intuition is now unusually sharp to see how you can turn those into opportunities. Spiritual guidance can be especially helpful now.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Dreams lure you too easily into never-never-lands of fantasy and escape. Sharing some of those phantasmagorical reveries with friends can help you find some practical outlet for them.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Remember the difference between dreams and goals. Friends encouraging you to chase after your dreams offer helpful inspiration, but don’t let them distract you from practical aims.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Your brain is buzzing with schemes for success. Your partner encourages all your wildest ideas. Not. You need a leveler head with a bit of critical distance to give you pragmatic advice.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Expansive, fortunate Jupiter is starting a year in your house of sex. The deeper you go the greater the rewards. Don’t be shy. Neither is without risks, but Jupiter is good to have on your side.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
You and your sweetie are due for some frolic. That could open up some questions and confusion. Keeping communications clear is a small challenge. The rewards are well worth it.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Job opportunities open up for you. Have faith in yourself. If familial encouragement is unrealistic, don’t worry about letting them down for what’s in the real world. If you’re happy, they are too.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
You’re way too open to distractions and thus, accidents. Mediation, poetry, music or art will get you back in balance. Take classes in any of those . You need new ways of seeing the world.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Struggle between your deepest desires and economic necessity feels brutal. A light, playful conversation with your partner  can help you find a way to afford your dreams, or find reconciliation.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Whatever you have to offer, make it heard and known. Your family will back you up in your endeavors, but you really need to be very clear on who you are and what it is you’ve got.
ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Your recent lucky spree will focus more on financial fortune. Mad dreams and inspirations offer some clues. Talk out your crazy notions with friends and find a way to bring them to the bank.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Recent hard times turn around. Cash in on your good fortune. Turn your friends’ suggestions into practical ideas. Inspirations now point the way to future fulfillment of your dreams.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Great Spaces: There grows the neighborhood

Architect/TV host John Gidding offers tips for multiple-home improvement, or just a single room

By Steven Lindsey

Anyone who owns a home can quickly name the one house on the block that ruins the whole street for everyone. It could be as simple as an unkempt yard or as drastic as broken-down cars perched on cinderblocks on the driveway. Architect and HGTV host John Gidding’s new show, Curb Appeal: The Block, is all about tackling entire groups of homes and building a sense of pride in a community. Fortunately, you don’t have to go on a reality show to benefit from his advice, from ways to improve your own home to getting everyone living around you in on the act.

Taking on the neighborhood

In Curb Appeal: The Block, Gidding is challenged with designing and improving facades on more than one house. Rather than just helping one person make his or her home shine, his job is to upgrade an entire block while staying true to the aesthetics of the homes and rely on historic and contextual cues.

“It makes a big difference when multiple homeowners in a neighborhood feel the benefits of a curb appeal facelift, typically with the side effect that after we leave, those neighbors continue to find ways of beautifying their surroundings and further strengthening those neighborly bonds,” he says.

The biggest culprits for bringing down curb appeal, according to Gidding, are ugly yards, shoddy or unappealing front doors, little regard for quality lighting, lack of color, faltering shutters and gutters and a crooked mailbox.

“A clean yard with well-maintained planting beds and mulched details is all you need in terms of landscaping. Some colorful plants following the path to the front door doesn’t hurt.”

And, he says, if you don’t have a dedicated path to the front door and have people walking up your driveway, you’ve broken Gidding’s No.1 rule: Always have a path to the front door.

“After that it’s about bringing color to the front door to attract attention to the entrance, and then decorating the entrance with a place to sit, a sconce or lighting fixture that matches the metal finishes of the door hardware, and then complementing the entrance colors with accents on the facade like repainting shutters or installing window boxes. It’s really not rocket science, but it can require some color coordination and taste.”

Without a TV crew in tow, people may find it difficult to get their neighbors to feel the need to improve their homes’ curb appeal.

“The most effective grease for this particular wheel is from the elbow. In other words, if you are willing to put in a little work yourself, you’ll be amazed how receptive neighbors can be to chipping in. The worst thing you can do is tell neighbors how to improve their lot or side of the street. You end up fracturing the very fabric that needs to be built up,” he says.

“On the other hand, if you propose a weekend where whoever wants to can join in doing a few projects around the neighborhood, you’ll find more and more people willing to help out. Once that kind of relationship is built up, the sky is the limit for how much improvement a block can affect as a team.”

Increasing your home’s value

“Kitchens and bathrooms are the tried and tested focal points for a successful home renovation,” Gidding says. “Granted, they can be expensive to redo, but invariably the investment comes back in property values. For kitchens, cabinet resurfacing, countertop upgrades, and new appliances are the big-ticket crowd pleasers.”

“For bathrooms, it’s retiling and new fixtures. Both these rooms are slaves to trends, so it’s good to be well versed in what’s new and hot in the market.

One year it’s all about the convection ovens and induction cooktops, and another year it can be about natural cabinet fronts and stone backsplashes. To avoid picking trends that will become dated, always look for low-detail (no multicolored inlays within the backsplash), high-quality (granite and stainless) upgrades.”

When adding value to a home that isn’t for sale, the only difference is the ability to infuse more personality in the renovations. This is a good time to hire a designer and really work on changes that will enhance your lifestyle. Built-ins are a great example, as are custom pieces of furniture that fit within specific nooks in your home. Try to maximize the spaces within your home that aren’t being used optimally. Spaces under the stairs can be reclaimed, breakfast nooks created, offices built into bedroom corners, you get the idea. These are all upgrades that will improve your day-to-day, while still being generally appreciated down the road if you do decide to sell,” he advises.

Prepping your home for sale

Gidding’s first HGTV show was Designed to Sell, a show that helped people transform their homes to sell faster and get a higher price. There are a few projects that anyone can do to make a house more appealing to prospective buyers, including some that don’t cost a thing.

“The single least expensive and most effective strategy isn’t even a design tip. It’s a clutter tip. Get rid of it!” Gidding says. “I’ve found that the homes that stay the shortest amount of time on the market are the ones that have removed about 50 percent of all clothes, belongings, knick knacks and assorted items from their shelves and closets. Some choose to rent a storage unit, some are already in their new homes and smartly move everything but the staging items to it, and others simply call Mom and use an extra bedroom as temporary holding space.”

“I always tell people to make their closets look like they live a charmed life of white shirts, beige pants, and sandals. It’s the lifestyle you’re selling as much as the house, and a cluttered home is possibly the single biggest detractor when selling.”

As far as actual design strategies, the rules are simple.

“Make sure every room is staged to have an identity,” he says. In other words, no guest rooms that are “storage rooms” and no this-dining-room-could-also-be-an-office” spaces. He also advises to use neutral, low-saturation colors on all walls that complement any furniture. Add fresh flowers to the foyer and other appropriate spaces, plant annuals and perennials in the front yard for curb appeal, and make sure the house numbers are appealing and visible.

His most important tip, which goes hand-in-hand with clutter removal is to clean, clean, clean.

“That means within drawers, every bathroom and kitchen surface, under beds, and every nook you think a buyer will not look, but trust me they will. Oh, final tip. If any bathroom has carpeting, be prepared to keep that house on the market for a nice, long time.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

2011 Readers Voice Awards: Dine

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EVEN STEPHAN | Texas’ most acclaimed chef has two restaurants downtown and a legacy of inventive cuisine. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

ULTIMATE CHEF
Stephan Pyles

Stephan Pyles
1807 Ross Ave., Suite 200
Open for lunch Monday–Friday,
open for dinner Monday–Saturday
214-580-7000
StephanPyles.com

Samar by Stephan Pyles
2100 Ross Ave.
Open for lunch and dinner,
Monday–Saturday
214-922-9922
SamarRestaurant.com

It’s not like we discovered Stephan Pyles, but we sure are proud to claim him. Wait, strike that: We did discover Pyles, acknowledged nationally as one of the finest chefs the Southwest — America — has every produced. But he didn’t start out that way. The West Texas native worked in his parents’ truck stop before moving to Dallas, where he immediately settled in the gayborhood as a line cook at The Bronx. He worked his way up the ladder, continually impressing casual diners and genuine foodies (before there was such a term). It’s been almost 30 years since he reinvented Southwestern cooking by opening Routh Street Cafe (then Baby Routh, Star Canyon, AquaKnox and his two current eateries, Samar and his eponymous Stephan Pyles). He’s a celebrichef of the first order, a TV host for an Emmy-winning cooking show, a successful cookbook author and James Beard winner, but he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. Maybe that’s why his food is so damn good.

— Arnold Wayne Jones


HUNKA HUNKA | Hunky’s, now in a new location on the Strip, has been serving gay Dallas’ favorite burgers for nearly 30 years. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BEST PLACE TO EAT FAST AND CHEAP

BEST BURGER

BEST CHEAP DATE
Hunky’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers

3930 Cedar Springs Road
214-522-1212
321 N. Bishop St.
214-941-3322
Open for lunch and dinner daily
Hunkys.com

What can you say about Hunky’s that hasn’t already been said? The longstanding burger joint in the gayborhood is legendary for its generously-portioned burgers and crisp fries as well as its retro look and campy name (not really campy when you see some of the staff, either). And with the recent upgrade moving to new digs, everything seems fresh and new. We liked the burgers in the old spot, but could swear they taste better now. Hunky’s has a renewed energy about it but didn’t lose any of the charm from its former location across Throckmorton. Whether you’re hitting it up for a workday lunch to slake your hunger, or just want to take your boyfriend out for an inexpensive but endearing impression, Hunky’s is winning — and, likely, you are, too.

— Rich Lopez

 

BEST BARBECUE
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

2525 Wycliff Ave. (and additional locations)
Open for lunch and dinner Monday–Saturday
214-780-0999
Dickeys.com

If you’re in need of just a really great meat fest, Dickey’s is your place — especially now that they’ve added the sublimely spicy cheddar sausage to their menu. The new addition has only upped the ante on their already delicious and quality selection of beef, pork, chicken and ribs, whether sliced, pulled or roasted. And what’s up with those coupons and frequent dinner loyalty cards? Keep an eye out for those because you can easily walk out of there with a full stomach for way cheap. Just stay away from our stockpile of ‘em. They’re sticky from all the barbecue sauce anyway. Sweet.

— Rich Lopez

 

HOT AND COLD | The gooey cheese on an Eno’s ‘central’ pie is nearly as creamy as an ‘original’ frogurt from Red Mango. M&Ms only go well on the latter, though.

BEST ITALIAN / PIZZA
Eno’s Pizza Tavern

407 N. Bishop St.
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-943-9200
EnosPizza.com

Voters in this category had a range of Italian cuisine to concentrate on, whether the rich red sauces of the toe of the boot or the fresh cream sauces of northern Italy. But in picking Eno’s they sent a clear message: We. Like. Pizza. Pizza is an idiosyncratic cuisine, like the comfort food you grew up with. Maybe you prefer Chicago deep dish. Maybe New York’s thin, floppy slices. But Eno’s stakes its own claim with a crisp cracker of a crust, like on the “central pie” (our server’s favorite and ours, too:  a strong scent of rosemary wafting over the cheesy center). The serving plate looked like it had been ravaged by wolves within five minutes. It had. Wolves who love pizza and are willing to put in the gym time to enjoy it.

— Arnold Wayne Jones


 

BEST YOGURT
Red Mango

4123 Cedar Springs Road (and other locations)
Open daily at 11 a.m.
214-522-6886
RedMangoUSA.com

A few months ago, America, and especially North Texas it seemed, experienced an invasion of epic, summer-action-movie proportions. Fortunately, instead of flesh-eating aliens with their crosshairs set on Big Tex or the downtown Dallas skyline, our fair city was overtaken by something much friendlier, but equally motivated to dominate: Frozen yogurt shops. A new storefront popped up on nearly every corner, each more gimmicky than the last. But in the end, all people really want is frozen yogurt that tastes great — and tastes like yogurt —with high-quality toppings and friendly service. Red Mango quickly became a favorite rising above the competition — not just in the gayborhood at its ilume location, but in Uptown, NorthPark Center and several other Metroplex outposts. Whether it’s all-natural Madagascar vanilla, the wonderfully addictive tartness of the pomegranate or one of many other great flavors, they’re equally good all alone in a cup, accentuated with fresh fruit and crunchy toppings, or blended into a smoothie for a more portable, fast-lane-friendly way to enjoy Red Mango. Here’s hoping they continue to open new stores because this is clearly a case where world domination wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

— Steven Lindsey

 

ULTIMATE BREAKFAST
Original Market Diner

4434 Harry Hines Blvd.
Open for breakfast and lunch daily;
open for dinner Thursday—Saturday
214-521-0992
OriginalMarketDiner.com

 

ULTIMATE BRUNCH
Mattito’s

3011 Routh St.
Open for lunch and dinner Monday–Saturday,
Sunday brunch from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
214-559-0720
Mattitos.com


DIVA DINER
Original Market Diner

4434 Harry Hines Blvd.
Open for breakfast and lunch daily;
open for dinner Thursday—Saturday
214-521-0992
OriginalMarketDiner.com


BEST VEGGIE RESTAURANT
Cosmic Cup Cafe

2912 Oak Lawn Ave.
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-521-9195
CosmicCafeDallas.com


BEST ASIAN / SUSHI • TIE
Oishii Sushi & Pan-Asian Cuisine

9525 Wycliff Ave, Suite 110
Open for lunch and dinner Monday–Saturday
214-599-9468
DallasOishii.com

Thai-Riffic

3068 Forest Lane, Suite 212
Open for lunch and dinner Monday–Saturday
972-241-2412
ThaiDallas.com

Zen Sushi

380 W. Seventh St.
Open for dinner daily
214-946-9699
ZenSushiDallas.com

 

BEST SEAFOOD
Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen

3520 Oak Lawn Ave. (and additional locations)
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-521-4700
Pappadeaux.com


BEST MEDITERRANEAN • TIE
Fadi’s

3001 Knox St., Suite 110
(and other locations)
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-528-1807
FadisCuisine.com

Ali Baba Mediterranean Grill

1901 Abrams Road
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-823-8235
AliBabaCafe.com

 

BEST STEAKHOUSE
Bob’s Steak & Chop House

4300 Lemmon Ave.
Open for dinner Monday–Saturday
214-528-9446
Bobs-SteakandChop.com

 

BEST MEXICAN / LATIN
Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen

3211 Oak Lawn Ave. (and other locations)
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-420-0030
CycloneAnaya.com

 

BEST DESSERT
La Duni

4264 Oak Lawn Ave. (and other locations)
Open daily for lunch and dinner (no dinner
Sunday); open for morning coffee Monday
214-520-6888
LaDuni.com

 

ULTIMATE DINING EXPERIENCE
The French Room

Inside the Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce St.
Open for dinner Tuesday–Saturday
214-742-8200
HotelAdolphus.com/Dining

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright