As much as I love downtown Dallas with its arts district, North Park with its shopping centers, and Lower Greenville with its hip-ness, I love Irving. I have to, it's my 'hood'! If I don't like where I live, how am I going to live at all? ;) Those who think that you always have to go to 'popular' neighborhoods to have fun are definitely wrong, not effective with their time, and probably spending too much money on gas and parking tickets (ugh, thanks downtown Dallas haha).
Some days, I could just wake up early, take a shower, pack our lunch, and drive to gorgeous and cool places with J. But some other days, I just want to go to a place within my zip code without taking a shower. You know what I'm talking about, mothers. Sometimes you're in such a rush that you don't even have time to make breakfast and all that!
Now I love to go out with J, but I'm also on a budget here. I can't just go out everyday and eat out. So I'd like to keep the expenses of our activities next to nothing or even FREE and our meals at a total of less than $30. And in Irving, it's not that hard to do so!
Don't believe me? Just watch! *Bruno Mars voice
08.00 a.m. - BREAKFAST
Why do I love this place? Mainly because it's connected to the Irving Valley Ranch Library. It's a perfect place for me to get some breakfast or coffee/tea before taking J to a FREE storytime at the library.
They serve organic coffee and offer dairy alternatives like almond milk (yeay!). They also serve gluten-free brownies & cupcakes, mini macarons, and oatmeal.
My favorite is their breakfast specials, starting at $3.75 to $5.75 (bagels, sausage, croissant, etc)
Spacious with indoor and outdoor area. Simply cozy.
This is our favorite corner because they provide board games, magazines, and novels that you can use or read for FREE!
Hey, a mom's gotta eat.
You can get in through the main entrance or....
through an entrance at the library foyer.
*COST : bagels with cream cheese + caramel macchiato (small, no whip) + gf brownie = $11.52
10.00 a.m. - ACTIVITY
"1,2 ,Me & You" Storytime (1-2 yrs)
The storytimes at Valley Ranch Library are held on Mondays (for infants), Wednesdays, and Fridays (for 1-2 yrs). The one we go to is the Friday one.
The storytime starts at 10 .30 a.m but you gotta be here early to get a ticket (one for each person, and they run out pretty quickly!). We usually get there before 10. The library is nice and quiet in the morning. Photos of the storytime could be found in my previous post here. They do a lot of singing, a lot of bubble-blowing, and a good amount of reading. It lasts for 30 minutes.
*COST : FREE
11.30 a.m. - LUNCH
They serve classic American comfort food with a Korean twist (or as they put it, "with Seoul" haha). Burgers with bulgogi instead of beef patties, asian-style tacos, and my favorite, K-Fries.
A friend of ours introduced this place to us, and he told us about the secret menu : Koreano!
No, no you won't find it on the Menu board, but trust me, they have it. Just ask for it.
*COST : koreano + k-fries + water = $13.00
* TOTAL SPENDING : $24.52
Now by the time we finish our burgers, J would want to go home and take a nap, so I usually end my 'adventure' here. Plus, Mr. Man usually goes home at 5 and he'd expect dinner to be ready by then.
But! If your kiddo still has some energy left, take him to these following places!
2 p.m. - AFTERNOON ACTIVITY
Because the summer heat is getting crazier, an indoor playground called The Tube at Irving Bible Church might be the best place to take your kiddo. It is FREE!
Or, when it gets cooler, you can definitely go to...
It's got a playground with slides and swings (pretty standard, but hey it's free, and it's bigger than Mustang Park) plus a lot of trees and a pond. I love it here, but not during summer.
*COST : FREE
If you want to get some afternoon snacks, we've got our favorite empanaderia to recommend to you!
3 p.m. - AFTERNOON SNACK
Though with a modest interior and decor, Empa Mundo has remained "The Best of Irving" on Yelp for 4 years straight with its high quality empanadas. Serving menus like Criolla (beef, olive, raisins, and eggs), Cheesesteak, Brisket, and my favorite, GUAVA AND CHEESE, this family-owned business keeps people coming back for more even with its recent No-AC situation.
With her broken English, the owner Mrs. Miming is always eager to make you feel welcomed. She would say "Welcome, my friend! Have you been here before?" every time a person walks in. And most of the time, she would recognize the customer. She'd be like "Hey! welcome back!" :)
To our surprise though, she is actually an Indonesian too! How did she get so good at making empanadas? Well her husband is an Argentinian so she might have learned it from some family recipe.
*COST : guava & cheese + criolla = $5.4
* TOTAL SPENDING : $24.52 + $5.4 = $29.92
Still got more energy? Oh, please go home. Bathe your kiddo and make dinner. You got plenty of time to explore Irving tomorrow. If you want more info on what's happening in Irving, click here!