Central Waco

A secret haven of high fashion, fine dining, and White House VIPs.

1. Think you can’t find high fashion in Waco? Bella A., a funky boutique outside downtown, is packed with Louise Hedley, Betsey Johnson, and other hip labels popular among the Us Weekly celebutantes. (The welcome mat is out, says owner Alison Kothman, for Jessica Simpson and the Bush twins whenever they’re in town visiting family.) Traveling with kids? No sweat. There’s a gated area where children can play while Mom shops. 608 N. Eighteenth, 254-235-4885

2. Finding 1424 can be a little tricky. Located in an old storefront church, this eclectic American bistro doesn’t have a prominent sign, so look for a giant gorilla statue sitting directly across the street. The hunt is worth it: The small but creative menu by chefs Bob O’ Farrell and Nancy Mitchell features not only steaks but also spicy curries. The portobello mushroom appetizer is well loved locally, but it’s the orange roughy with cream sauce you won’t want to miss. 1424 Washington, 254-752-7385

3. If it exists, you’ll probably find it at Sironia, an emporium of shops under one roof selling everything from toys and furniture to clothing and candles. Christi Proctor, a Waco designer often featured on Trading Spaces, sells custom-made jewelry at her store, Gypsy Hearth. Wind up your trip with a stop at Amelia’s on the Avenue, the in-house tearoom and restaurant that has long been popular with ladies who lunch. 1509 Austin, 254-754-7467

4. If President Bush is in town, chances are you’ll find the White House press corps packing the tiny tables at El Siete Mares. The ceviche here is legendary and a favorite of George W.’s, who often taps the family-run restaurant to feed the Western White House. With a menu of more than a dozen Veracruz-inspired seafood dishes, you can’t go wrong, but be prepared for some serious heat. Many entrées here are not for the faint of tongue. It’s also BYOB. 1915 Dutton, 254-714-1297

5. No trip is complete without a visit to the Dr Pepper Museum, which chronicles everything you might want to know about the official drink of  Waco. Check out the exhibit featuring Dr Pepper imitators—Dr. Smooth, anyone?—and stop by the old-fashioned soda fountain shop downstairs. You can sip a glass of the soft drink’s original formula, which was made with

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