By Jim Schutze
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Spring Fever is casting her spell and I can already see the telltale signs. We all find excuses to quit a little earlier and our patio-dwelling hours get a little longer. But there is more to the Art of Patio than a nice deck and outdoor seating. Indeed, you can match one for every mood, so this spring, let's patio with purpose, especially since you are about to be barraged with lists detailing the reasons to go to Katy Trail Ice House. Let me tell you, I went there for 15 minutes and saw a co-ed throw up. Hence the 15-minute visit. Frankly, we can all do better.
To see the view or be the view? If you have guests visiting from out-of-town, you need to take them to some beautiful oasis to see the city. Let's get Dallas' most obvious veranda out of the way, BarBelmont.
Belmont Hotel's nifty mid-century design is the quickest escape to a little slice of Texas-bred L.A. cool. Start with the bar terrace, and after you've taken care of your bartender, casually ask for the pool code. It's a view of the Dallas skyline you'll want to remember, and it makes for a magical little make-out spot, too.
If you deign to be the view instead, get to the 10th floor of the Joule Hotel. Joule security generally keeps an eye out for crashers, so take your guests for a drink at Charlie Palmer first. Once you've spent some dough, play nice with the concierge so you can give some love to the Joule's pool deck. It's an extraordinary view of water, steel and lights and beautifully re-imagines the positives of our city's excesses.
Now that your guests are gone, are you planning a group outing or a romantic date? For the former, might I suggest the rarely populated courtyard at Central 214? Fireplaces, comfy orange couches and private bungalows make for a romantic and currently private locale to seduce your intended. For the group setting, hit The Foundry. Oak Cliff's brand-new patio has on-site grub from Tim Byres' Chicken Scratch, and the recently christened outdoor stage is the icing on an already impressive cake.
Feeling like cruising? The Barcadia patio is filled with plenty of conversation starters, and likewise at The Grapevine. Exposition Park mainstay The Amsterdam keeps the vibe casual but flirtatious. Community tables mean it's easy to make new friends and Sheldon's cocktail pours make it interesting when you buy that new friend a drink.
Even the grumpiest among us need an anti-patio to call home. The Goat may have the worst in sight, a true smoking yard located in the alley/sewer behind the bar, which is just as dive-y as the Goat's interior and a stone's throw from the Dumpster. I also quite like Pastime Tavern's mismatch of fast-food chain furniture and found chairs. Neither is glamorous, but both are perfect outdoor expressions of their individual charms.
And what of the loners? I recently spent an afternoon all by my lonesome at Whitehall Exchange and found it a perfect place to entertain no one. Rows of tiny outdoor seating and a walk-up bar located along the exterior windows make it easy to grab a seat for one, and you can linger over a cheeseboard, a book, or turn your gaze to the cute skater boys rolling from The Shop, practicing tricks on 7th Street.
So what are you in the mood for, Dallas? I'll save ya a seat.
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