City of Ate thinks you should get out of your neighborhood rut this summer, even if only for one weekend evening. This is the first in a series of neighborhood guides.
According to some people with access to spreadsheets, computers and maybe even some pocket protectors, Dallas is one of the least walkable cities on the planet. If you've ever stepped into a crosswalk and been honked at by an angry driver wielding a 3,000-pound car like it's a weapon, you're probably inclined to agree. But while that may be true for 99.987 percent of the city, there are some nice neighborhoods dotted with excellent bars and restaurants that at are also a pleasure to walk in.
Oak Cliff may boast one of the best, as its large network of sidewalks connects some of the city's best culinary destinations to some really great bars and coffee shops. Don't cast off the walkability of an entire city just because most of it is so dismal. Park your car on the outskirts of the Bishop Arts District and get ready to relearn why exploring a neighborhood by foot is so preferable.
Warm yourself up with a cup of coffee before what can easily be a long evening of craft beer and cocktails. While much of Oak Cliff can feel a world apart from Dallas, Wild Detectives feels like it's from another planet completely. There's beer on tap (a short list of local brews) and some great Spanish wines if you want to get started immediately, but the best thing about this coffee shop and book store is it's ability to slow things down. Grab a book off the shelf and find a table out back and relax for a second. You have plenty of time to build up your anticipation for what's ahead.
One of the best places to order oysters in the city, let alone in Oak Cliff, Boulevardier is a great place to start off a progressive dinner that plays up the best parts of the Bishop Arts District. Order a nice glass of Sancerre or a cold, crisp beer and order some bivalves of your choosing while sitting at the two-sided bar at the front of the restaurant. If oysters aren't your thing, there's a solid charcuterie board available for grazing -- but watch out, there's plenty of meat to come.
Obviously any guide to the Bishop Arts District is incomplete without mentioning Lucia, but let's be honest: If you've already secured a coveted reservation to Dallas' most elegant Italian restaurant, you're probably too busy jumping up and down in celebration to read this. If you don't have a reservation (tables are booked more than a month in advance), know there are four barstools at the back of the restaurant that are first come, first served. It doesn't hurt to duck you head in the door and check.
After your dreams are shattered, trudge back to Davis and check out Stock and Barrel, the Bishops Arts hot spot right now, opened a little more than a month ago by Jon Stevens, formerly of Nosh on Oak Lawn Avenue. It's also where the burger pictured above was recently spotted. The house-ground brisket patty is just big enough, and tiny lardons of smoky bacon hide beneath a thick blanket of melted cheddar. It's a great tavern-style burger, and the rest of the menu is filled with other wood grilled meats, and small plates for sharing. Hopefully you've brought some friends to help.
If that's not enough meat, or you're looking for something more casual, Lockhart Smokehouse turns out consistently good barbecue with some interesting sides, along with ice-cold beer. The shoulder clod is not to be missed. Wherever you have dinner: Do.Not.Order.Dessert.
If demand is an indicator of quality, you're about to enjoy the best slice of pie in the city. Unfortunately, demand is also why you could end up in a line that rivals rural barbecue restaurants. This isn't your everyday grandmamma pie; Emporium Pies deals in creative takes on classic recipes, using quality ingredients for pie that will knock you on your ass. There is no shame in splitting a slice with someone you trust.
Pie hack: if the line is too long, go back to Wild Detectives for a slice. They always keep two flavors of Emporium's goods in stock.
By now that sun has surely set, and with any luck the temperatures are creeping downward. Find yourself a seat on the patio of Ten Bells Tavern and enjoy a cold beer to cap off your evening. You've earned it with all this walking, and the crowd here is always good for mingling.
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Maybe make that two beers?
Wait, where the hell is the car?