Best Of :: People & Places
Poor smokers. Banned from most airline flights. Shunted off to tiny corners of restaurants, left hacking and wheezing on the streets outside office buildings. Soon, they'll qualify for oppressed-minority status. If you're among the downtrodden, you will want to congregate with your own at this favorite Dallas watering hole and perhaps plan a revolution to take back your rightful, wheezing place in society. Nothing has changed too much since Lakewood Landing won our last "Best of Dallas" honors, but our most recent visit sent our clothes to the dry cleaners to get the smoke out. If nicotine is your thing, then this is where you want to swing.
At this time last year, Hard Rock Caf was little more than a calcified rock-and-roll museum with a stage that was just for show (or actually, not for shows). Now, thanks to a new general manager and an alliance with The Merge (93.3-FM), Hard Rock is offering shows several nights a week. Good show--finally.
A secret, a jewel, a hidden paradise: Around Lakeland and Ferguson Road in East Dallas, downhill from the grand manses of Forest Hills, Little Forest Hills is a quirky, delightful architectural mlange that looks as if it were spun of Berkeley, Seaside, Charlevoix, and an all-cousin East Texas trailer park. Built long ago as summer cottages for city dwellers, the idiosyncratic little hand-built houses were all throwaways 15 years ago. Now hip people are coming in and giving many of them a very cool flair to be found nowhere else in the city. Two shady creeks and even a little-known summer camp hidden in the bottom of a hollow make this a refuge where you can forget you even know about the rest of the city.
There are few distractions at this small, cozy coffee shop in Arlington. With more than 30 coffee flavors to choose from, this is the place to relax and read about the world's myriad tragedies. The coffee stand also includes sandwiches, salads, and cakes. And there's a computer nearby for Web surfing. Coffee is ground and brewed there and then.
You don't have to be You Know Who to walk on water in Fair Park. Two large, plant-inspired sculptures arch, curve, and twist over the still lagoon, creating stairs and walkways for getting a closer look at turtles, water bugs, and the occasional fast food container lurking below the surface. A low tide, shoes with good traction, and a healthy equilibrium is suggested to keep you from getting baptized in the murky waters.
Get real. Unless you're 12-going-on-13, the only place that promises around-the-clock cool is a seat that faces the window unit. But for those who insist on getting out into the summer sun without baking, Arlington's newest water park is hard to beat. Think a day at the beach with a little Disneyland thrown in--or as one comedian put it, you can think of it as a ride on the enema express.
No other jazz joint touches Sambuca in terms of atmosphere (which is pretty much what a jazz club is all about) and talent (which is everything else). It's dark, moody, and subtly lit, as if a fire were flickering somewhere underneath the floor; stepping into Sambuca is like walking into an underground jazz club in Paris in the 1940s, we imagine. While the "jazz" in some places is from the school of Kenny G, the lineup at Sambuca is the closest Dallas can get to Harlem in the '50s. OK, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But in comparison with everywhere else, Sambuca deserves the highest praise possible.
We've given The Rock grief for years, but like it or not, it's as rock-and-roll as a bar can get without slipping into a pair of leather pants and a conch belt. (Find any video by The Cult, and you'll see what we're talking about.) The joint, dubbed by its owners "the rock 'n' roll palace of downtown Dallas," actually had to include "rock" in its name. Can you beat that? Actually, yes, but one look at the wait staff, tricked out in acid-washed jeans and feathered hair, and you'll have a few second thoughts. The bands that play there (ASKA, for one) are across-the-board bad, but maybe we're just jealous because they rock so hard. Nah, couldn't be. In all seriousness, if you want the rock, well, you want The Rock.
Chain-drive twin cams and fitments, fin area and piston cooling jets, crankcases, straight crank pins, bearing areas, reshaped combustion chambers, reworked exhaust, and intake ports and valves that optimize emissions efficiency and power output, single-fire ignition systems, glossy paint, and fast as hell. Pretty maids, all in a row. If these are a few of your favorite things, take a trip to Lower Greenville on any given Sunday. It's like bedlam when the bikers gun their hogs, so this is no place for the weak.
Sitting on Thai Soon's patio, it's hard to believe that the traffic on Greenville is just a few feet away. It's really quiet. Well, it's more quiet than you'd expect when you're close enough to read the odometers on slow-moving cars. A lattice covered in vines and plants surrounds the patio, shading it from the sun. Flowers and other stretching plants are nestled into the walls with birds occasionally dropping by to snatch up rice and egg-roll crumbs. The stone benches and tables stay cool in the afternoon, but the curry, rice, and noodle dishes are served hot and fresh.
When we arrived in town two decades ago, way back when Reunion had rowdies and there were more Von Erichs alive than dead, a lifelong resident told us that the only naturally beautiful thing in Dallas was White Rock Lake. We had two reactions to this statement: 1. Does this mean that Bambi Woods--who played the lead cheerleader in Debbie Does Dallas--really doesn't live here? and 2. You've gotta be kidding. Now we realize he was correct. There are topographically beautiful areas of town (Oak Cliff), impressive sights to see (uh, give us a minute...) and all that, but if you want to have a true at-one-with-nature experience, you must circle White Rock Lake. Preferably in jogging shorts, not in a car. Go at sunrise--sunset is a cluster-run of joggers and bikers--and talk to your inner child amid the dew, the view, and the hotties running next to you.
Big hats, big belt buckles, big hair, and boots galore. A whole lot of dancing goes on at this multilevel home of progressive country music (hint: nonalcoholic beer is available, and none of it is flavored with Merle or Loretta's tears). Although the bar stays busy, the main order of business is to boot and scoot, then dance some more, right up until 45 minutes before closing time, when the music switches to C&W's oldies but goodies. Headline-name bands take the stage regularly. Wednesday is Ladies Night, and there are dance lessons on Sundays. This place is Yuppie cowboy and cowgirl heaven.