Best Of :: People & Places
Fear Factor? No, thanks! We'll take our life-affirming adventures in the safety of a dark movie theater or in a fake, Disneyland-style environment. Even Dallas' risk-averse will get off on the re-created Orinoco River basin rain forest at the Dallas World Aquarium. Just inside the door, a walkway spirals down through the South American jungle facsimile, where you quickly get used to the warm humidity. Enveloped in sights and smells, you'll see and hear birds overhead, spiral down through exotic plants, fish and turtles, and nary a poisonous snake or malaria-carrying mosquito will cross your path. The rain forest ends where the aquarium begins, and we recommend that, too. The DWA isn't a huge facility, but that's appealing; animals are well cared for, and the place is virtually stench-free. On top of all that, you can step outside and drink too much, eat too much and spend too much money at the touristy West End. Perfect Sunday afternoon.
Everything about La Duni is magnificent, from the tasteful décor to the incredible pork-loin-filled "slow-roasted lomo." But the attributes of La Duni are made more apparent after you've had several of their signature drinks, especially our fave, the margarinha. It's a combination margarita-mojito, made with Sauza Silver tequila, hand-crushed limes, sugar, Cointreau and crushed ice. And, yes, it's as refreshing as it sounds. Is your mouth feeling dry yet? Is it? Seriously, is it?
Sound like a dorkfest? Fine, then call us dorks. Pete's is a surprisingly rollicking time: Four top-notch key-strokers attack two baby grands, taking requests and playing favorite tunes by request. Sure, it ain't the Cliburns, but it's a good time and something unique to do on a Friday night in Dallas. Nothing wrong with that.
With more than 60 acres of incredibly landscaped park to choose from, the Dallas Arboretum can provide a great backdrop to a portrait for anything. The Arboretum has fountains and sculptures, and something is always blooming, so you can wander around until you find a good spot. Even in the heat of the summer, the Arboretum seems like a cool and calming place. Maybe they're growing poppies.
Sidle up to the bar and order a Lone Star longneck. Then another. Then one for the pretty young thing next to you. Then a round for the people you just met. Fall off your barstool on your way to the restroom. Get lost coming back. Stand in front of the band while it rides herd over a sweet set of C&W, the kind your daddy told you about. Grab another longneck, which is sweating a little bit less than you are at this point. Ask that pretty young thing to dance. Fall down again and come up laughing. Keep doing this until you're out of money and out the door. Come back and do it again next week. That's what Adair's is like. And thank the Lord.
In most large cities, the downtown area is a grid of one-way streets. Easy to understand, easy to negotiate. In Dallas, while the streets curve more than their counterparts on the East Coast, the same concept holds true. So why is it that in cities like New York and Boston you almost never see someone going the wrong way on a one-way street but here in Big D it happens almost daily? Good question, though we have no answer. We offer only proof. If you work downtown, we suggest spending your lunch hour camped out on any corner with a one-way street. Wait there for a while. It won't be long before you see some confused, oblivious driver pointing his or her Honda Civic the wrong way. Then you can watch, amused, as other motorists honk and point in vain while the fool in the Honda looks wildly for street signs but continues to drive the wrong way anyway. Ugh. In New York, they don't ticket you for those types of stupid indiscretions; they beat you and leave you for dead.
Elderly Cambodians, a few Vietnamese and a handful of Thais are still in Old East Dallas, remnants of the refugee tide that came through in the 1980s and quickly dispersed to the suburbs. These are the least assimilable. The ragtag little vegetable plots they keep on Fitzhugh Avenue are their tiny fragment of home. On Saturday mornings they sell water spinach, Asian herbs, wax and loofah gourds, snake gourd, vine tips and more. Unfailingly polite, sad and jolly at the same time, they offer a serene beginning for the weekend.
You have to pay to be a member of the Y, but the fees are reasonable, and the downtown branch offers swim lessons for all ages plus water aerobics classes at its indoor 25-meter, eight-lane pool. It's an easy walk or short drive from virtually everywhere downtown, so office workers panting to take a dip can fit it into their schedules. Better still, along with your swim you can work out at the Y's extensive aerobics and weight facilities upstairs, though do us a favor and hit the showers before jumping in. We once made the mistake of asking a lifeguard why the water sometimes tastes salty. You don't want to know the answer.
We all need to blow off some steam these days. Between North Korea, the Middle East and various domestic dilemmas, our chances of seeing the new year are slim. So why not enjoy ourselves while we still have the time? Right. That's what we say. Want to have some real fun? There's nothing better than screwing with golfers. If you drive around the Lakewood Country Club, you'll notice that the golf course is surrounded by iron gates--the kind you can easily see through. That's the key here. So this is what you do. Drive slowly. Pick out a foursome (we suggest the elderly or the competitive--they always react with excited indignation). Then, when one of them is on his backswing, honk your horn and scream obscenities out the window. At the least, you'll get to watch them shank the ball. In the best scenario, they'll jump up and down or throw something your way. All very funny. Feeling particularly blue? Just drive by again. Hey, it's free. And besides, we'll all be dead soon from nuclear winter, so it won't matter anyway.
Between suburban Cedar Hill and Grand Prairie, the rolling landscape along this rapidly developing two-lane road is about as close as you're gonna get to the Texas Hill Country. The route leads to the popular and picturesque Lake Joe Pool, where a state park boasts nature trails, campsites and bike routes that are hardly overused as long as you skip Fourth of July weekend and Memorial Day. You'll want to make a quick detour into the tree-hidden campus of Northwood University. In the early evening, it provides a nice vantage point to see red-tailed hawks and big white egrets swooping in for landings.
The spacious ice rink in the center of downtown's Plaza of the Americas is the perfect escape for any middle-management yuppie who could use a cool break from that three-walled hell known as the cubicle. Located on the bottom floor of a building filled with law offices, real estate agencies, financial consolidation groups and Internet mortgage blabitty-blabitty-blahs, the rink generally will be filled with a mix of businesspeople, vacationers staying at the adjacent Westin City Center and local high-schoolers who make their way over via the Pearl Street DART station. Surrounding the ice rink is a plethora of shops and restaurants ready to provide you with a post-skate snack and some trinkets to bring home. Closer than the Galleria and better than hosing down the driveway on one of Texas' only subzero days, Americas Ice Garden Ice Rink is a chilly oasis in the middle of our concrete jungle.
Thought it was going to be some techno club, huh? Well, hang on, because Red River has its share of mainstream and country music. Hear us out on our reasoning. The venue has a house band when it doesn't have a scheduled concert, dance lessons (because there's nothing worse than turning the wrong way, causing your new dance partner to lose an eye) or one incredibly entertaining mechanical bull. The joint has drink and cover specials most nights and the aforementioned lessons two nights a week. It's a bit like an amusement park for drinkers, really. Grab a Bud, slide out onto the hardwood dance floor, spin for a few, go for a ride--and on occasion the ladies can race and claw their way to cash, thanks to a balloon drop. Red River is chaos, it's country and it's fun. Give it a shot...after buying us one, of course.