To those of you in the Dallas area, Garland is just another suburb. Sure, it has its series of stripmalls and stoplights, but do a little digging (or just read this blog...) and you'll find some gems. Garland happens to hold several superlatives and oddities: Texas's biggest municipal golf course, a nickel arcade, the only tract of land in the world where eight types of oak trees grow together in the same ecosystem, a New York pizzeria, and (!) a Mennonite restaurant.
Our first stop was Firewheel, Texas's largest public golf course. Because it's the off-season, you can golf for next-to-nothing, especially on weekdays after 3 p.m. But, it was freezing outside, so we opted to hit a bucket of balls at the driving range ($7), which shot the husband's happiness level through the roof. From there, we drove 2.5 miles to Spring Creek Park Preserve, an old-growth forest with a well-maintained walking path that skirts a limestone-lined creek.
What better place to go after a brief stint of nature-inspired solitude than a nickel arcade? Upon entry, Nickelrama appeared to be just like any other arcade—teeming with giddy children, flashing lights and screeching sound effects emanating from rows of video games and Skee-Ball consoles, several Disney cartoon-themed birthday parties simultaneously underway. The difference is that here you pay to play in nickels, and the most expensive attraction—a roller coaster ride simulator—costs 6 nickels, or thirty cents.
In need of sustenance after the hour of intense gaming, we went next door to Sali's Pizza and Pasta, which we had read about on Yelp before we took off. First of all, the cheese slice I ordered was the closest thing I've had to New York pizza since I moved to Dallas. I'm talking about the kind of New York pizza that's cheap, greasy, piping hot, and available 24 hours a day at pizzerias in the city. (for the record, I've had good pizza in Dallas, but it's good in a different over-topped or brick oven-baked kind of way) Back to my cheese slice: it cost $1.45. Reason No. 2 why I liked it so much. In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, Dan and I weren't in the mood to drink, but the smoky wood bar in the back was serving drafts for $2.25 and pouring wine for $2.95 a glass. Pitchers were $6.95. Reason No. 3.
While we were leaving the shopping center a previously unheard of establishment caught my eye: Marlo's House, An Authentic Mennonite Restaurant. Unfortunately we were full of pizza, and the place was closed, but holy smokes, what a find! Marlo's bills itself as "the finest Mennonite restaurant in all of North Texas," also admitting that "actually, we are the only Mennonite restaurant in North Texas that we are aware of." The menu is decidedly meat-and-potatoes-ish, but with a few surprises, including the indulgent Canadian delicacy poutine, a plate of french fries smothered with gravy. All I know is next time I'm jonesin' for a bowl of Wareniki or a platter of Perogies, I'm heading to Garland...