Come in out of the cold while in Dallas for the Super Bowl, Part 3

Historic Downtown Plano

Historic Downtown Plano is a shopper's dream.

You’ve been looking forward to this trip to the Super Bowl for ages, but temperatures in Dallas right now are the coldest in about 20 years. In fact, today it’s 20 degrees colder in Dallas than in Juneau, Alaska! If the frigid weather is getting you down, you might want to escape to a shopper’s and foodie’s delight–Plano, Texas.

Plano is within a 30-minute drive of most major attractions and entertainment venues throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It’s also the safest city in North Texas, according to a recent survey by CQ Press, and among the most family-friendly and economical in the whole state. Plano has received numerous honors, including being named by USA Today as the most affluent city in the United States in 2008.

There are plenty of amenities in Plano, including an abundance of local watering holes. One of them, Ringo’s Pub, has a decidedly British flair and a Jack Russell terrier as its mascot. You can tuck into fish and chips, bangers and mash or shepherd’s pie, while hoisting a pint of Guinness or Smithwick’s Irish Ale.

But the biggest attraction for me is Plano’s charming historic downtown area, with its brick streets, unique restaurants and more than 50 specialty shops, including three quaint antique malls, art galleries, a Scandinavian cookware pottery shop, tea rooms, and a wine shop.

Urban Crust Outside Shot

Urban Crust in Historic Downtown Plano

And when I’m finished with the day’s shopping, there’s no question about where I’ll pause for refreshment before heading back to my hotel with my newfound treasures–Urban Crust, 1006 E. 15th St. in historic downtown Plano.

Urban Crust is a real “find”–you’ll find yourself raving about it to your friends after you get back home. I first heard about it from another travel writer, who told me that I shouldn’t miss going there, when she heard that I was going to be in Plano. It’s definitely worth all the hype.

Salvatore Gisellu, a master chef and native of Sardinia, Italy, presides at a custom-built, wood-burning oven in the open kitchen, where the specialty of the house is artisanal pizza. Using the finest imported Italian ingredients, local organic herbs and greens, and in-house, handcrafted mozzarella cheese, Gisellu and his staff create amazing concoctions.

The atmosphere is casual and comfortable–just the place to hunker down and forget about the cold weather.

Start out your meal with the complimentary appetizers: pizza-dough breadsticks (freshly-baked in their oven), served with side dishes of tomato relish and tapenade (olive relish). These breadsticks and their accompaniments are highly addictive. You won’t be able to say “no” when they bring your second helping to the table.

Urban Crust Inside Shot

The atmosphere in Urban Crust is hip, but relaxing.

Move on to the Caprese appetizer: imported buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, basil pesto, and aged balsamic vinegar. Or indulge in the Carpaccio: thin-sliced beef tenderloin, capers, chives, shaved grana, and truffle oil.

Your taste buds will dance with delight when you finish up with a signature pizza. Try the Margherita, with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella flown in from Italy, fresh tomatoes, and basil. (Yes, the Margherita is basically just a larger version of the Caprese appetizer. No, you cannot have too much of a very good thing.) Meat lovers may want to add Jimmy’s Italian Sausage to an Urban Classic Pizza.

For the crispest, most authentic Italian taste, Urban Crust chefs suggest no more than three toppings.

The pizza here is amazing. But you don’t have to just take my word for it. In 2010 Urban Crust won first place as the Best Pizza in the Dallas area in the WFAA-List Contest.

After your meal, climb the stairs to Urban Crust’s 32 Degrees Rooftop Ice Bar, which is very cool in more ways than just temperature. The draft beers are poured at a constant 32-degree temperature, and there’s a strip of ice running the length of the bar where patrons can rest their drinks to keep them cold.

Yes, I said ice. And I know you’ve probably had enough of it this week in Dallas. But resting your signature cocktail on ice is a lot better than slipping and sliding on the ice on Dallas’s frozen streets.

So, come in out of the cold while in the Dallas area this week for the Super Bowl by taking my suggestions in this three-part series. Be sure to check out Come in out of the cold while in Dallas for the Super Bowl, Part 1, and Come in out of the cold while in Dallas for the Super Bowl, Part 2, for more ways to “warm up” before Game Day.

Urban Crust Chandelier

Check out the chandelier made from carriage whips at Western-themed Urban Crust.

Urban Crust Interior

Urban Crust's dining area is warm and inviting.

Urban Crust Ice Bar

The 32 Degrees Rooftop Ice Bar is the epitome of "cool."

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