Title: “Why I’m Thankful for Arlington”

As someone who was born and raised in Arlington—and who has also lived and worked here during multiple eras of my adult life—I’ve racked up a sizeable list of favorite places and an even larger collection of memories, as you might imagine. The older I get, the more appreciative I am of both, so it seems appropriate during the holiday season to take inventory of a few of the reasons why I’m thankful for my hometown:

Arlington’s neighborhood restaurants

I still remember my favorite childhood restaurants so vividly.  There was the original Arlington Pulido’s, which used to be located near the UTA campus on Cooper Street, along with Cecil’s on the Creek and Boo Boo’s Food Shop, which were also close to UTA off of Park Row Drive (back when Park Row was THE place to shop). All of these spots have either moved or closed, but I still enjoy reminiscing about the hundreds of great meals enjoyed there with family and friends, all of which formed the basis of a lifelong love affair with Arlington’s neighborhood restaurant scene.

The fact is, Arlington is an absolute dining treasure trove for anyone who loves neighborhood eateries and international cuisine, and if you have yet to explore our city in this regard, you’re in for a real treat. We’d be here all day if I listed all of the neighborhood destinations I’m the most thankful for, so I’ll just toss out this partial list of favorites to give you an idea: Damian’s Cajun Soul Café (especially when Damian is serving fried catfish and mashed potatoes with gravy); Los Pastores and Papaya Mexican Grill (two of my go-to spots for salsa and enchiladas); Tandoor (always satisfies my craving for Indian food, plus they have a great lunch buffet); and A Taste of Europe (the owners are so friendly, plus you can browse the gift shop after your meal, which is always fun).

Dive bars that are loaded with character (and characters)

Make no mistake, I definitely dig on fancy drinks and posh cuisine, but I’m equally happy in a dimly lit watering hole with a stout drink and a plate of french fries, surrounded by the sounds of jukeboxes, billiards, and regulars telling tall tales.  I’m probably most thankful for the memories I’ve made over Irish Nachos at J. Gilligan’s over the years (so, so many memories), but I also appreciate all of the evenings spent at Stumpy’s Blues Bar (a great place to catch my favorite local bands), John B’s (budget-friendly drinks and karaoke, also a good place for burgers) and the legendary Caves Lounge.

River Legacy

It’s hard to believe that the beautiful River Legacy is only a few minutes’ drive from the epicenter of big league sports, big-name concerts and world-class roller coasters—but it’s true. Arlington is blessed with many marvelous outdoor spaces, but my favorite by far is Arlington’s “urban oasis”, where you can escape the high-tech world with a stroll down a wooded trail, a bike ride, a picnic, or an hour or two of wildlife watching. 

Theatre Arlington

My first time to go out for a grown-up evening without any grownups happened in the 8th grade when I went with my best friend Jennifer to see “Dames at Sea” at Theatre Arlington (at the theatre’s former location on Division Street) and then out for a late dinner afterwards—dressed in our very best, of course. Jennifer and I are still going to see shows together today, and I’m still a big fan of Theatre Arlington, which brings us well-mounted drama, comedy, musical and youth productions every year, all at an affordable price in a cozy downtown venue where there’s no such thing as a bad seat.

Our fancy new library

I’ll be honest—even though I think our new George Hawkes Downtown Library is pretty impressive, I initially wasn’t going to include it on my thankful list because I was a little sad to see the old library go. As a child, I spent countless happy hours there browsing for books—which is one of my favorite pastimes in life—and working on school projects. But then I decided that childhood memories aside, I’m pretty thankful that Arlington has a wonderful resource like the library, which offers just about everything you could ask for, including a children’s playroom, 3D printer, and a rooftop garden, just to name a few of the available amenities. (You can find out more about all of the library’s features, including many that are  helpful to Arlington visitors, in this ACVB blog article.)

Get reacquainted with the Arlington destinations you’re most thankful for—or find a new one—with some bright ideas for fun things to eat, drink, shop and do in Arlington.