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People & Places

  • Best Skyline View

    Bar Belmont

    Where can you find a great patio, tastefully funky art and décor, as well as a killer skyline view? This bar at the Belmont Hotel is the perfect combination of all three. Perched on a hill in Oak Cliff, the place looks out at the city with an attitude of decidedly confident and relaxed cool, a great combination for a… More >>
  • Best Outing With the Kids

    Museum of Nature and Science

    In 2006, the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Science Place and the Dallas Children's Museum merged, forming the Museum of Nature and Science, the sort of place you could get lost in for days. For the kiddos, you can't beat the new Children's Museum. Check out the Little Urban Farm, where kids can play farmer for a day—milking a… More >>
  • Best Place for a Day Trip

    Waxahachie

    In most towns, the nerds who like to dress up in medieval battle gear and wage "war" are relegated to some far corner of the playground. Not so in Waxahachie. In this town just 35 minutes south on Interstate 35E, the Renaissance-loving dorks aren't just celebrated; every April and May they take over the town. That's just one reason to… More >>
  • Best Place to Commune With Nature

    Cedar Ridge Preserve

    Yes, it's sort of far. It's 20 minutes outside of Dallas. But you need it, because you're sick of sucking tailpipes and the never-ending tangle of freeways that is Dallas proper. You need to breathe deeply, to take some dirt in your hands, to see some blue sky. At an elevation of 755 feet, they like to say that the… More >>
  • Best Place for a Cheap Date

    Pocket Sandwich Theater

    Not a first date, unless you're the type who thinks a burlesque re-enactment of a Battlestar Galactica scene is the kind of first impression you want to make. But if you're not in the mood to impress and don't mind slumming it a bit, Pocket Sandwich Theater is, if nothing else, fun. They specialize in what they call "popcorn-throwing" comedies,… More >>
  • Best Library Renovation

    The Library Bar

    Maybe not a great place to read, despite all those shelves of old books. But this bar, recently redone but, thank God, not too much, is an interesting place to read people. For the kind of grown-up date where you want a good drink and some meaningful conversation, the Library Bar has that old New York bar vibe. Some nights… More >>
  • Best Christmas by the Yard

    Liz Simmons' House

    She hits the switch every year on November 1. And for the next two months Liz Simmons' house is ablaze with 100,000 lights, a glowing 6-foot snowman and half a dozen blinking snow-pals, a twirling spider, an 8-foot sleigh and an illuminated tree on the tippy-top of her roof. Last year Simmons' display made it to the top 20 in… More >>
  • Best Scenester Skyline

    The Loft

    Honestly, the Palladium Ballroom is more akin to an airplane hangar than an actual ballroom—even the main room at the House of Blues has more personality. The Loft upstairs, however, is another animal entirely, with great sound, a classy hardwood-and-brick decor and that rare aesthetic touch that escapes most local clubs: windows. It's the balcony outside that may be the… More >>
  • Best Dog Park

    White Rock Dog Park

    Yes, it got flooded for quite some time this spring. Yes, it was muddy. But let's face it: You know it's the best dog park when people ignore the "closed" sign and hop fences in defiance of rain and muck to bond with their pups, mutts and AKC breeds. The small and large yards of the White Rock Dog Park… More >>
  • Best Bar, Period

    The Libertine

    Amazing drinks including a rotating schedule of featured drafts and bottles from the globe over. Incredible food from the favored steak sandwich to brunch. Monthly five-course beer dinners. Validated parking. Comfy high-backed booths. DJ nights. Friendly and fast servers capable of suggesting a drink to pair with food or food to pair with a drink. Reasonable prices often punctuated with… More >>
  • Best Authentic Dive

    The Windmill Lounge

    From the tiled bar to the dark, mellow atmosphere to that ridiculous neon windmill on the roof, there's nothing contrived or even remotely close to pompous in this place. It's a neighborhood bar reminiscent of the little Manhattan dives where regulars know each other and call the bartender by name. And no wonder—the owner, Charlie, hails from the Empire State… More >>
  • Best DJ Shack

    Lee Harvey's

    It's not easy to find a laidback, just-dingy-enough bar that acts both as a backyard filled with fire pits and picnic tables, and a place to get down to your favorite DJ. And that's why we love it. The yard is sprawling, with a stage for local acts like folk-country band Eleven Hundred Springs. The inside of the little shack… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Fallout Lounge - CLOSED

    Fallout Lounge is small and intimate with just enough room to dance. There's a down-to-earth vibe that's the antithesis of the city's see-and-be-seen, must-be-on-the-list meat markets. Fallout can be mellow, a perfect place to go on a weeknight or after a show to sink into comfy couches while DJs spin lounge sounds. But on the weekends it's a great place… More >>
  • Best Beer Joint

    Flying Saucer

    Sure, it's disappointing that a place with a name so associated with aliens and UFOs isn't decked out as such. In fact, the décor is a little confusing at the Saucer, as the walls and ceilings are covered with glass plates. But the place makes up for it with plenty of couches and a cozy room called the "Pub of… More >>
  • Best New Old Lesbian Club

    Sue Ellen's

    Sure, the old place had its charm: Nothing says "lesbian club" like indoor/outdoor carpet, after all, and Sue Ellen's old locale had that in spades. But the old gal just grew too big for her khakis. The last few times we went there, it was wall-to-wall ladies, and not in a good way. There was no room to play pool,… More >>
  • Best Place to Sport a Huxtable Sweater

    Brooklyn Jazz Café

    With its semi-industrial location and red brick exterior, Brooklyn Jazz Café indeed evokes the mighty borough that is its namesake. Inside, too, the rough-hewn brick walls, copper bar top and intimate feel are urban and urbane. It's clear someone put some thought into the detailed décor and, for once in this town, didn't go cheap on executing a vision. Every… More >>
  • Best Pencils Ready

    Sunday Night Pub Quiz at Trinity Hall

    Trinity Hall is easily one of the most welcoming bars in Dallas, thanks largely to its progressive, non-smoking environment. (Guess what, naysayer, you know where else you can't smoke in pubs? That's right, Ireland.) This pub boasts a handsomely designed interior in a choice piece of Mockingbird Station real estate, not to mention its tasty menu and incredible whiskey selection.… More >>
  • Best Strip Club

    The Lodge

    Several years back, we accompanied Lodge owner Dawn Rizos to Las Vegas. No, for a cover story, jeez. Anyway, the occasion of the sojourn was a piece about Rizos, then vying for the award of Best Overall Club of the year during the annual Gentlemen's Club Owners Expo, where such prestigious honors are handed out. Never forget that trip: booze… More >>
  • Best Biker Bar

    Reno's Chop Shop Saloon

    Reno's has the obligatory large windows that any biker bar needs so patrons between errands and work can keep watch over their babies, show 'em off and shop for new ones. It's also a great place to go—especially if you live or work in Deep Ellum—to kick back and enjoy a cheap drink and a little rock 'n' roll. The… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    Lakewood Landing

    From the outside, the Landing is unassuming at best. Not surprising, considering it proudly calls itself "an upscale dive" on the sign outside. So you walk in, allow your eyes to adjust to just how damn dark it is in there, and you maybe grab some of the surprisingly delicious bar food. And you relax. Subconsciously, you find your head… More >>
  • Best Live Music Venue

    The Granada Theater

    In a local live music landscape filled with small, bar-like venues (yeah, you, The Cavern!); sprawling, massive ones (you listening, Superpages.com Center, Nokia Theater, American Airlines Center and Palladium Ballroom?); and the ever-dreaded McVenues (cough—House of Blues—cough), the Granada offers a phenomenal stage, an ace sound system, a primo location, and a kind staff. And it's completely independent, which allows… More >>
  • Best Rock Bar

    Club Dada

    It's one of the last remaining bastions of the old heydays of Deep Ellum, but since new ownership took the storied club over in late June, Club Dada has been wowing music fans by hosting an impressive schedule of well-known touring acts within the confines of its not-so-huge space. Changes are still in store for the club, and yes, there… More >>
  • Best Honky-Tonk

    Adair's Saloon

    Adair's is cool, if a little small. Hell, if you didn't know where it was, you might walk right past it—well, if your ears were somehow covered. Adair's makes up for its lack of stature by bringing in more than its fair share of bands to play on its right-by-the-front-door stage. And though the stage isn't necessarily exclusive to hosting… More >>
  • Best Latin Club

    Gloria's

    So, Gloria's isn't necessarily a club, per se. But, nonetheless, once a week, every Thursday night, Gloria's might as well be considered a discoteca thanks to the salsa dance party that takes place inside. The music comes courtesy of The Havana NRG Orchestra, a nationally renowned, Dallas-based Latin orchestra; by the time the band is in full swing and the… More >>
  • Best Alternative Club

    AllGood Café

    For years, AllGood Café owner Mike Snider has booked well-respected and much-revered Americana and folk artists to the venues of Deep Ellum. These days, at his restaurant, he continues to do just that. It's a homey place, seemingly fit more for Austin than Dallas with its flair for memorabilia and its general hippie-ish attitude. Does that make the place stand… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    The Balcony Club

    Is it a blues bar or a jazz bar? Does it matter? The music isn't the best thing about The Balcony Club; the musicians are. The bands that play this old Lakewood dive aren't exactly spring chickens. No, they're professional, and they've been doing this for years, thank you very much, so they'll play what they want. Oh, and they're… More >>
  • Best $4 a Gallon Parties

    Lakewood Texaco

    We've sung the praises of the Lakewood Texaco several times in our Best of Dallas issues over the years, and yeah, it's still a great gas station day in and day out. But every year on some random Sunday it becomes something more when the joint hosts one of its famous block parties, inviting neighbors young and old and fostering… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Jose Mejia

    One Sunday afternoon not long ago, we sat at the MBar in Neiman's NorthPark Center location watching with great affection and no small amount of awe the care with which Jose Mejia mixed up his homemade Bloody Mary brew. On the counter sat a small vat of tomato juice; nearby, there was a large glass filled with Worcestershire sauce, into… More >>
  • Best Place to Pick Up a Sorority Girl

    Barley House

    Ah, sorority girls. So cheerful, so put-together, so...likely to have a nice car and a trust fund. They're alluring for so many different superficial reasons. And, because, here in Dallas, you're most likely to find them at and around SMU, your best bet to meet one is at the Barley House, a favorite among SMU greeks. Seriously, they're all over… More >>
  • Best Place to Pull a Rabbit Out of Your Pizza

    Greenville Avenue Pizza Company - Wednesdays, 10 p.m.

    Earlier this summer, the folks who run Greenville Avenue Pizza Company decided that they needed to bring some entertainment into their Lowest Greenville restaurant. Who knows why—the lines for their slices are so long after the neighborhood's bars let out, but maybe they were just sick of missing out on the pre-2 a.m. crowd. Along the way somehow, the owners… More >>
  • Best Way to Extend Your Night Out

    La Casita - CLOSED

    La Casita's kind of a hole in the wall. You'd miss it if you didn't know where it was (a few doors south of The Cavern), and you'll never eat there unless you're nocturnal like the people who run this deliciously authentic Mexican dive are: The restaurant's hours are a little ridiculous, opening at 8 p.m. and closing at 5… More >>
  • Best Place to Piss Off a Cop Without Consequences

    Taco Cabana

    The food at the good ol' TC hardly does a body good, but after a night of going hard at the bars on Lower Greenville, few drunkards seem to really care. And, as a result, the crowds show up in force at this branch of the Taco Cabana franchise once the 2 a.m. cries of "Last call!" make their way… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    300 Dallas

    You say bowling alley; we say sports bar, because that's what it is, damn it. Sure, there are 30 state-of-the-art bowling lanes in the main area, and the score-keeping system is so high-tech and obvious, there is no hiding a bad game, though the black lighting offers some degree of anonymity. But just look at the name of the place:… More >>
  • Best Place to Avoid Getting a DWI

    Café Brazil

    It's 2:30 in the a.m. on a weekend, half-past last call, and you're closing down some bar on Lower Greenville or in Deep Ellum or on the Southside—it doesn't matter. All are within designated driving distance of Café Brazil on North Central Expressway, assuming your designatee knows the way. If the two-hour wait isn't sobering enough, pour yourself a cup… More >>
  • Best Non-Nasher Sculpture Garden

    The Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden

    Head east on Spring Valley Road between Preston and Hillcrest, but not too fast. Drive quickly and you'll miss one of the most amazing outdoor art displays in Dallas. There on the right, turn into Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden, park your car and walk along a pebble path that allows you to look and linger on the lush… More >>
  • Best Place to Wait Out Post-Concert Traffic

    Absinthe Lounge

    Getting out of the parking lot at The Palladium or Gilley's following a packed concert is like sitting in a traffic jam on LBJ Freeway, except your ears are ringing and the other drivers are drunk. But if you aren't in a hurry to get home—and that's probably a moot point anyway, considering the traffic—Absinthe Lounge is within stumbling distance… More >>
  • Best Coming Out

    The Barack Obama Rally at Reunion Arena - CLOSED

    Based on the election results of 2004, the city of Dallas is actually the 32nd most liberal city in the country. But you wouldn't know it, thanks to all the suburban interlopers running around. So it still came as somewhat of a shock when a crowd of thousands turned out on a bright morning—February 20—to attend Senator Barack Obama's pre-primary… More >>
  • Best Place to See Garbage Bags as Outerwear

    Kiest Park

    Located in Oak Cliff, Kiest Park's 2.8-mile path is perfect for anyone looking to get fit without paying a gym membership. It winds through dense woods that provide shade during the hottest summer days and features several stations for modified push-ups, sit-ups and climbing exercises. Best of all, your eyes will not get bored. There's the pretty scenery, sure. But… More >>
  • Best Place to Avoid Growing Up

    Barcadia

    Why so serious, Dallas nightlife? We already work all day, pay bills, eat salads and do all that other grown-up stuff; our "fun" shouldn't be limited to trendy bars with long lines, dress codes and drinks we can't pronounce (or afford). Inner child, meet Barcadia. With '50s pinup girls on the walls, The Cure playing in the background and an… More >>
  • Best Friday Night

    Late Nights at the DMA

    Enough with overpriced happy hours and the sad effects of forgoing dinner for the movie theater: popcorn tummy. Ew. Instead, head to the Dallas Museum of Art's perfect date, the Late Night. On the third Friday of each month, our beloved purveyor of fine art stays open till Cinderella's curfew. For 10 bucks or less (DMA members and tykes under… More >>
  • Best Place to Go Back in Time

    Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park

    By looking to the past every so often we can avoid taking the present, and certainly the future, for granted. Try a stroll through the "living history" at Dallas Heritage Village. Costumed interpreters invite visitors to help with farm chores (you gotta love a good sheep shear), hear stories of North Texas during the mid-19th century and early 20th, and… More >>
  • Best Playground

    Adventure Landing

    Visiting Adventure Landing, it's hard not to picture yourself in some classic teen movie, à la John Hughes, mustering your courage and making your move after slyly teaching your date to putt. A high-tech gaming center this isn't, but it's got all the staples—old-school laser tag, batting cages, an arcade and our personal favorite, go-karts. Throw in the classic '80s… More >>
  • Best Kids' Party

    Kreative Kidz Partyz

    If spelling is an issue for your kid in school, you might want to plan his or her party with someone other than Kreative Kidz Partyz. But if you are looking for a place that puts the K in creative and takes the stress out of your party planning, then parents, look no further. This Plano party spot packages themes… More >>
  • Best Idea Ever

    Extending the Smoking Ban

    Rumblings down at City Hall point to Mayor Tom Leppert and the city council pushing for an extension of our current smoking ordinances to include bars and nightclubs by year's end—to which we say, what took you so long? Sure, there are some Observer staffers who might disagree, but there are also several of us who long for the night… More >>
  • Best Unintentional Wrecking Ball

    People Overly Nostalgic For Deep Ellum, Circa 1991

    People of Deep Ellum, we want to believe in your cause. We all love live music, walkable neighborhoods, Blind Lemon Jefferson and independent businesses. We're always right there with you when you argue against West Village-style development and extol the merits of real culture. But then you start to go on and on about Edie Brickell and New Bohemians or… More >>
  • Best Reason to Go to Deep Ellum

    The Public Trust

    It hasn't been easy for artist Brian Gibb to move his Art Prostitute gallery—now called The Public Trust—from comfy confines down to the nitty-gritty of Deep Ellum. But Gibb is as committed to saving the neighborhood as the next guy; that's part of the reason he's there. And thanks to his efforts, Deep Ellum is becoming a new Williamsburg (Brooklyn),… More >>
  • Best Way to Have a Gay Day

    Gay List Daily

    How do the gays always seem to be the first to know...everything? Like how to keep abreast of local festivities. And where to get new breasts. For those savvy souls who insist on keeping up with all the timely tea, Gay List Daily is pouring the brew. Delivered directly to your e-mail inbox, Gay List Daily, created by Dallas PR… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood (to Get Shot In)

    Little Forest Hills

    OK, so maybe we made up the part about the shooting. You can't blame a financially challenged Observer staff for trying to knock down property values in the city's coolest residential neighborhood. For those of you with money, Little Forest Hills still represents one of our area's best steals—a quirky, artist-friendly utopia plopped down minutes from downtown and mere blocks… More >>
  • Best Prom

    Gayla Prom

    For GLBT teens, horror can replace happy in what should be a carefree rite of passage. Even today with more tolerant attitudes, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth often face taunts and bullying at school. And what happens on prom night? At the Gayla Prom for GLBT and "questioning" youth, it's all about taunt-free fun. One of the largest events… More >>
  • Best Gay Game

    Gaybingo

    Don't know who'll be there when the roll is called up yonder...but here's where lots of folks will be when their number is called down here. Gaybingo is the silliest fun you can have on the third Saturday of the month. This long-running hit is one of Dallas' hottest GLBT events. Hosted by drag divas Jenna Skyy and former Miss… More >>
  • Best Gray Gays

    DFW Prime Timers

    Gay guys get old too. And this social organization relishes and reveres the more mature man. DFW Prime Timers offer social, educational and self-improvement activities for mature gay and bisexual men and their admirers. General meetings (guests welcome) are held on the third Sunday afternoon of each month at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in the Oak Lawn area.… More >>
  • Best Psychedelic Fowl

    The Peacocks at White Rock Stables

    If there's one thing the Choose Your Own Adventure books of our youth taught us, it's that you must look for the obvious clues. So if you're driving down Northwest Highway and come across Goforth Road, you should probably take the detour. Behind Flag Pole Hill you'll find White Rock Stables, a relic from the days when this part of… More >>
  • Best Place to Ponder

    The Fountains at Addison Circle

    When you're landlocked and the closest river is low and sluggish most of the year, you have to take your running water where you can get it. The fountains at Addison Circle are a great place to eat lunch on your work break, take the kids to play when it's hot, or stargaze at night. Plus there are nearby performance… More >>
  • Hotel ZaZa

    SCENES: In the Cards

    Hotel ZaZa

    Enter the hotel that is ZaZa—a feast of oversized furniture, oversized rooms and oversized egos—walk halfway down a candle-lit, eclectically designed hallway, and there beside a towering plant sits Valentina Burton, also known as The Fortune-Teller of Dallas. For the last four years each Wednesday through Saturday night, Burton has been the in-house soothsayer for the hotel, reading the tarot… More >>
  • Best Scenery While Doing a Faceplant

    Oak Cliff Nature Preserve

    Hidden away behind a retirement home and the Hampton Illinois Branch library are 119 acres of barely tamed wilderness, home to a surprisingly diverse sampling of wildflowers, butterflies, birds and trees. Winding, looping and switching back through the preserve is a multiuse path for hikers and bikers alike. Maintained by volunteers, the park has exciting features including water crossings, ramps… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Buddies II - CLOSED

    Ya know how women are from Venus? And how that means that, unlike men, we need more than visual stimulation when it comes to the bedroom? How we get off less on naughty images than our imaginations, and how we need more than just sex. We need foreplay and romance and flowers ...snnnnzzzzzzz. Sorry, fell asleep there for a minute!… More >>
  • Best Jazz Club

    Gezellig - CLOSED

    Based solely on aesthetics, Gezellig should be one of the best jazz bars in the state, let alone Dallas. Its undeniable cool interior with its dark wood floors and soft, colored lights makes for a perfect jazz setting. But is the venue hampered by its location among the booty bars of Lowest Greenville's meat market? Absolutely. Still, the club does… More >>

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