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Suburban surprise

Perched high atop the Dallas metropolis, McKinney beckons in the night like a fire fly among flashlights. The final stop on the suburban line, there is little to distinguish it from the other exurbs engulfing the prairie sky.

A few years ago, city leaders lobbied to change the US 75 control signs from Sherman to McKinney. Now, Oklahoma bound gamblers can mark the 60 mile point on their journey to casino dreams. Prominent road signs notwithstanding, it would be reasonable to assume that there’s no reason to stop in McKinney. However, a stroll through the heart of town reveals that life still exists in the faceless sprawl.

Hutchins Barbeque resides just outside the city center. Recently restored from a damaging fire, the rustic place seems almost lost amongst its contemporary neighbors. Perhaps it belongs in the Hill Country, but not McKinney.

However, an ever growing stream of nightly customers, as well as a series of high profile reviews prove that the secret is out. The masses come in search of expertly smoked sausage, addicting ribs, and a staff as cheery as they come. The only thing missing is a respectable beer selection. Alas, Hutchins is BYOB.

Those in search of adult refreshment need look no further than the town square. McKinney boasts a legitimate downtown square, replete with art galleries, bars, quirky shops, and people actually walking on foot. Two miles away, suckers jostle between Walmart and Chill’s.

Here, secluded just enough to seem far way, Churchill’s pub stands high over Tennessee street. The place used to be a chain, but broke free a few years ago. The current owners grew to like the area, and decided to spruce up the night life. From the look of things, they are doing a bang up job. People of varying shapes and ages stop by to unwind, and soak in the carefree vibe. Music and booze flows freely, or at least not terribly priced. Life here is good.

Spanish tapas and an occasional live band are trademarks of Café Malaga, which is only a few blocks away. Sculpted out of an old house, this gem is the ideal spot to enjoy an appetizer or a multi-course meal. Malaga’s eclectic menu offers everything from salads and sautéed spinach to lamb chops and steak. They even have bacon wrapped dates, which some patrons characterize as disturbingly addictive. The tree covered patio is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or two…possibly more.

Make no mistake-McKinney will never compete with Addison or Uptown for nightlife supremacy. However, that is not a bad thing. The city has managed to carve out an identity that is unique from its neighbors. Other towns should take note.

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