Think of Lee Heights’ signature stretch — between North Woodrow Street and Lorcom Lane in Arlington — as a block with a mullet. It’s all business in the front: tidy window displays, jellybean-hued awnings and kids skipping along the cobblestones. But on the back, its relative party side reveals.


Colorful cakes at Pastries by Randolph. Photo by Curt Seiss

Pastries by Randolph
4500 Lee Hwy.

Fresh from a snazzy makeoverin January, the bake shop may look as if it's ready to serve wheat shots and protein bars. Fear not, dessert die-hards. Co-owner Deborah Randolph says there's no excuse to miss the mousse cake. Husband Marc Randolph started perfecting it as Watergate's pastry chef and made it a menu must when opening the bakery in 1988.


Perry Soulos at Arrowine & Cheese, with his award for best cheesemonger at the Cheesemonger Invitational. Photo by Curt Seiss

Arrowine & Cheese
4508 Lee Hwy.

When regular Uzi Awart wants to impress his friend, a cheese connoisseur in Israel, he sends him pictures of Arrowine's cheese counter. "The owner really knows his cheeses and his wine," Awart said. In fact, the shop has at least 400 wines from around the world. And Awart may want to call his foodie friend with an update. Arrowine's Perry Soulos, pictured above, was just named the nation's best cheesemonger at the Cheesemonger Invitational.


Barston's Child's Play. Photo by Curt Seiss

Barstons Child's Play
4510 Lee Hwy.

On her second trip in five days, Lisa Hart was thanking her lucky Legos that Child's Play was in the neighborhood, as the birthday-party circuit hit full tilt. "We're here a lot and rarely leave empty-handed," Hart said. Manager Liz Tromba calls it "this amazing little local pocket" of big-box-free Arlington, filled with "rad, very normal folk" and "super-smart, inquisitive kids."


Cassatt's cafe. Photo by Curt Seiss

4536 Lee Hwy.

This tiny but mighty cafe elicits a blend of impassioned fervor and protectionist fear. Locals can't believe you haven't heard of the only place serving New Zealand fare in these parts, yet they don't want the word to spread so far that they have to fight for one of the few tables in the cozy bistro.


Owner Gary holds up a fish at his shop, America Seafood. Photo by Curt Seiss

America Seafood
4550 Lee Hwy.

What's a Cuban-food-craving, Cowboys-loving Key West transplant doing in a parking lot here? Serving up fresh seafood, raving over wife Martha's homemade Key lime pie, talking up his zesty seafood salads, and wishing for more space for his stuffed-to-the-gills patio. For 26 years, owners Martha and Gary Royce have been constants behind the counter and making good on a "nothing frozen" promise. Homemade crab cakes, made-from-scratch soup and fish your way (blackened, grilled or fried) lure regulars from the ranches and ramblers nearby.


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