In the six years since it opened, Hypnotic Donuts has become a Dallas institution.
Tucked into a strip mall a quarter mile from the Dallas Arboretum, the brainchild of James and Amy St. Peter is one of the best restaurants — forget merely doughnut shops — in all of North Texas. It is totally normal to drive by Hypnotic on a weekend morning and see lines out the door and down the sidewalk.
Whether you’re sinking your teeth into a Canadian Healthcare (a long john drizzled with maple frosting, syrup and topped with a piece of bacon) or a Homer (a strawberry-frosted donut with enough sprinkles to choke a small horse), Hypnotic devotees will return again and again and again. (Full disclosure: I am one of those people.)
So when news broke last year that the Hypnotic Donuts team, which had already expanded to Denton, was opening up a new frontier of deliciousness — an old-timey soda fountain and candy store — the excitement was palpable.
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This week, Hypnotic Emporium opened its doors for business (a soft opening had been underway for a week, but the official grand opening was March 2).
Situated directly next door to Hypnotic Donuts, Hypnotic Emporium touts its offerings as “homemade ice cream, soda fountain and candy served with a 1920’s feel.”
The reason behind opening the new store? Very simple, according to the owners: “There was not a place to get ice cream or classic candy anywhere in the area [and] there needed to be a place where people could come with family and friends to create memories,” reads the Emporium website. “Our philosophy can be summed up in two words: serving memories.”
The vibe: Perhaps it will adjust over time, but the 1920’s feel isn’t immediately apparent stepping inside the lengthy, but somewhat narrow Hypnotic Emporium. Polished cement floors and an eye-popping turquoise accent wall give way to a mammoth, marble-topped bar, which features a soda fountain, plenty of stools and lots of mirrors. The place was full of families on our visit, making it pleasantly loud and bustling, and a good sign that the Hypnotic team’s instincts were spot-on.
The overall ambiance is very friendly, a touch more refined that Hypnotic Donuts’ appealingly thrift store-ish/dorm room-ish atmosphere next door. The candy selection, which greets customers as they enter, is laid out on sharp-looking shelves, and the staff, clad in uniforms capturing the Roaring ‘20s intent, welcomes everyone with a smile and helpful explanations of the expansive menu.
The food: Hypnotic Emporium’s secret weapon? Beth Marie’s ice cream, from Denton. The two culinary forces collide in the “Dream” ($6), a doughnut ice cream sandwich, which is on its way to becoming the signature must-have selection here. (Tragically, the night we visited, Hypnotic Emporium had already sold out of the Dream for the day, so arrive early if you want to sample that treat.)
The menu lists all of its various frozen treats by first name — “Pete” is a malt ($6); “Linda” is a shake ($6); “Carl” is a banana split ($7) and so on — and the 20 different varieties of ice cream (listed as the “spring collection” on our menus) can be served up in a cake cone, a waffle cone or a pretzel cone.
Myself and my dining companions stuck to ice cream on this first trip — the soda fountain was not quite fully operational on this trip, leaving us unable to try the phosphate, ice cream soda, float or egg creams, which range in price from $2-$4 — and were uniformly pleased with our choices. (One interesting quirk: Hypnotic Emporium charges by the ounce — 75 cents — for its ice cream, rather than employing a flat rate.)
My chocolate shake was creamy and smooth, easily sipped through a straw moments after its creation, while the cake and waffle cones held firm all the way to the last bite.
The verdict: While it was disappointing we weren’t able to try everything on Hypnotic Emporium’s menu, we were pleased by what we did get to sample (and hey, that means we just have to come back sooner!). For those enamored with Beth Marie’s ice cream who don’t necessarily want to drive to Denton, this will be a godsend, and for families living in the Lakewood/Old Lake Highlands/White Rock Lake corner of Dallas, Hypnotic Emporium will be a favorite destination once the summer heat sets in.