Bent low by generations of scampering feet and hands, the trees at Tietze seem specially designed for piñatas and blindfolds, but get there early. Tietze is a popular spot, and you could find yourself up against a wedding picnic or a wake.

Riceboys, beware. Your suped-up Geo Metro SiR or Toyota Corolla VTEC isn't going to cut it here. You'll find hordes of Honda Preludes, Acura Integras, and supercharged Ford Mustangs speeding up and down these streets looking for a race. Rev your engine, and you're ready. The mufflers are big, the exhausts are loud, and the cars ride low. Go quickly, though. God and the Plano police willing, after this the dragsters will be looking for a new neighborhood to endanger.

Owner Doug Henry has a reputation among some musicians for not always following through with his promises and doing business at the expense of others. While that may be true, Henry's club has a reputation for being the best place in town to see and hear the blues, a place steeped in tradition but not overwhelmed by it. Since moving across Commerce into its present location, Blue Cat Blues has gotten even better, offering more room to dance, better food, and the same quality blues acts Henry has always booked. People might not like the way Henry does business, but you can't criticize the results.

Look, we won't pretend to know much about this category. We grew up with polka music, which is pretty close to the conjunto that makes up the play list at most Tejano clubs, including Tejano West. Still, we're oh-so-very Anglo and somewhat out of our depth here. Meaning: We don't, as a rule, hang out at Tejano clubs, so we had to dust off the boots and the Spanish language tapes. After a bit of inspection, however, we can say that Tejano West is the best Dallas has to offer, a haven for fans and neophytes alike. It has good music, good people, and once the music starts that's all that really matters anyway.

In a city where everything old either becomes new again or gets canonized, Deep Ellum's historical value is shown only in glimpses--the name of Clearview Complex's Blind Lemon bar, the crumbling buildings, and constant street construction. The Boyd Gallery, however, has embraced its accidental history while showcasing the creative works of commercial artists. Once called the Boyd Hotel (and before that, the Talley Hotel), the space has given shelter to both the infamous and the famous who slept in its beds and lingered in Ma's Place, its speakeasy, where legendary blues men entertained guests in the early 20th century. We're awaiting the "Bonnie and Clyde Slept Here" sign.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
Courtesy Dallas Arboretum
Ever have absolutely nothing to do, and your children are bored to no end, and you can't stomach the thought of standing in line to eat cardboard-tasting pizza and look at another flying plastic ball? Pack the family in the car, clean out the moldy picnic basket and pack it full of finger foods and an old blanket and head over to the beautiful gardens of the Dallas Arboretum. All you'll need to do is kick back, relax, and enjoy the sweet sounds of music played by a live outdoor band. The Arboretum invented the Cool Thursday music series for everyone to enjoy at the beginning of June (it ends August 31st). The Arboretum offers various festivals throughout the year but this Cool Thursday jazz fest is the best for a weekday outing with the family. Don't forget to check out the Celebration of Culture in September and all the other harvest and holiday fests quickly approaching. The fresh air--what Dallas has of it--will do you worlds of good.

Ginger Man

Centrally located just north of downtown, this place looks like it stepped right out of "Hansel and Gretel." The Ginger Man has 70 beers on tap and more than 80 in bottles. And these aren't simply St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Golden's finest. Beers are available from every country imaginable, and then some that haven't been discovered yet. With that many brews available, you may even fine one that goes well with gingerbread.

The kids love it. Pick up the train at the main stop downtown or at Park Lane. You get to go through a tunnel if you opt for the latter. You'll be providing your children with a truly urban experience if you choose this route, a feat not easily accomplished in suburbanized Dallas.

The Cavern

Back when Eleven Hundred Springs was kicking off the week from its stage, Adair's was the place to go on Monday nights. Now that honor goes to The Cavern and DJ Karl, the guy with the rock-and-roll mullet and a kick-ass collection of old punk rock and new wave. The drinks are cheap, the music's great, and every once in a while, a band drops by to play downstairs, like The BellRays' sweaty recent gig there. It's hard to beat--unless you're not a fan of looking like hell at work on Tuesday morning.

Best place to drink icy cold beer during the day

Ship's Lounge

Ship's Lounge

When you really don't want anyone to know you're wasting a couple of hours in the middle of the afternoon not doing anything even remotely likely to enhance your career, this is the place to do it--or so we're told. We're always hard at work creating the sort of free journalism you deserve. Dark and frumpy with nary a chatty bar mate, Ship's is the perfect place to nurture your inner college self with an icy cold one no matter what the time.

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