Hello, old friend

New year, new face mask from The Sleepy Cottage, the local store I randomly found online around this time and ignited my quest to “rediscover” Arlington.

And in the spirit of “rediscovering,” I revisited an old haunt.

During my holiday season, my social dance card kept taking me back to an area I haven’t given a proper chance in years – Arlington Highlands.

Like most Arlingtonians, when the Highlands were erected in 2006, I was there almost every weekend. I loved Borders – remember that store? – and actually got the last Harry Potter book there at a midnight event.

I met with my friends at Kincaid’s Hamburgers. Worked a … challenging job at Portrait Innovations. Loitered in World Market. Petted cats at Petsmart. Saw movies at Studio Movie Grill.

It was a stomping ground for a good five years.

But then, I grew bored of the area. And the traffic didn’t help, either. As much as I liked walking around the pretty landscaped area, going down there wasn’t as appealing anymore.

I only went down there if I was running errands nearby and wanted a sandwich from Which Wich.

So I found myself growing unfamiliar with the Highlands until the past few months. I had multiple social outings – from vastly different social circles – that led me to the shopping area.

And each time I trekked down there – I live in North Arlington – I saw more and more how the Highlands adapts and thrives. It didn’t feel like a relic, but like a living entity. It’s pretty cool to have a vast area like that keep fighting for people’s attention, even with all the new things being built nearby.

Recently, a group of colleagues wanted to go to Dave & Buster’s, a place I haven’t been in quite awhile. As I drove down to that big-kid arcade, I realized that it felt like a new experiment, as if I hadn’t been there years before.

Even the inside of Dave & Buster’s had changed. I had a different picture of the place locked in my head, but was pleasantly surprised when I walked in. It was somewhere I had that nostalgic fun but with some really cool new amenities. And a decent bar.

Before that, I had another group outing at Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, a New Orleans restaurant that sits in the old Houlihan’s building. Houlihan’s, a restaurant favored for a quiet meal, is sadly gone, but this new establishment, though different, is still a great place to have a group of people mingle and drink.

And most recently, a group of friends wanted to give Pluckers a chance. Most of us had never been but heard good things. We weren’t disappointed. Their wings were massive. The sauces were tasty, the beer was right amount of cold, and they had TVs everywhere. I can see why that place is packed during every Dallas Cowboys game.

Each outing, I had a blast and liked that I could pop over to a nearby store real quick while I wait for a friend to arrive.

It was interesting that the Arlington Highlands, which has more than 800,000 square footage of tenants, doesn’t feel dense and heavy. Sure, traffic isn’t great, but I do find myself wanting to give the lifestyle center more attention in 2020.

 

Sara Pintilie is a distinguished writer, editor and photographer who calls Arlington home. In her column, she offers a millennial’s take on matters of local importance.