Most honest answer? Only your ears, unless, of course, you wanna break your mother's already fragile heart. What, she's made out of stone all of a sudden? No, no, we kid because we love. If you have to do it, head to Obscurities (conveniently located next door to Trilogy Tattoo), and Pat Tidwell and the rest of the gang will spear you wherever you want.

With the recession and all, the mother of all Texas car trips--the weekend in Austin--is looking better than ever. Cheap fun here comes in the form of swimming at Barton Springs, pub-crawling for bands on Sixth Street and cheap, tasty barbecue. The city has some reasonably priced B&B's, and it doesn't cost a nickel to hang out by the lake at dusk to watch the bats take wing. Over the years we've sampled a few upper-end spots--a few nights at the elegant Driskill Hotel, or dinner at Hudson's on the Bend. But somehow, the best memories are of sipping a cold one at El Arroyo, being 22 years old, out of college and in no hurry to get a job. With the metroplex and the job three hours in the rearview mirror, it's not hard to recapture the spirit, if only for a few days.

Best Place to Drink in the Middle of a Workday

Sevy's Grill

Sevy's Grill
Alison McLean

Our high school principals were smart enough to ask for a note to explain any absence from school. Fortunately, our bosses consider such tactics childish, which opens the door for the occasional "dental appointment." On any day at Sevy's, you'll find well-heeled, conversant folks suffering from fanciful ailments camped along the extensive bar. In fact, the establishment even inscribes the names of chronic attendees on bronze plates. The food is great, the people interesting, and the bartender--James Pintello--one of the best in the business. Admit it, there's something spectacular about a good martini buzz on a Wednesday afternoon, about stumbling out of a bar soused to the gills into piercing daylight, about ditching responsibility. Until you lose those responsibilities for good. But then, your principal warned you about the dangers of truancy.

We don't know his name (Marathon Man is a nickname we concocted not long ago), but that's not really important. We feel like we know him anyway, since--for the past two or three years--we've seen him almost every day. On our way to work. On our way home. At work. At the Minyard on Abrams. At various crosswalks in downtown. Instead of staking out a sweet spot in front of one of the dozens of 7-Elevens in the area (the homeless guy's answer to an ATM), this guy's always on the go, from morning until night, keeping a brisk pace and a not-so-comforting look on his face. Whether he's working on his cardiovascular, his tan or a plan to get the voices out of his head, we're not sure. Whatever he's doing, we salute him.

Best Place to Get Off the Hook and Kick It

Club Shiznit

C-Shiz is basically a Juvenile video shoot, only with no cameras and no Juvenile. Basically, we're talking lots of Fubu and even more rump shaking. The last time we were there, a DJ was spinning music we weren't terribly familiar with, and, as we were standing by the bar, trying unsuccessfully not to look out of place, a fine young lady backed that thang up, unbidden, right into our crotch and then proceeded to shake that thang in such a manner as to make us think that love really is colorblind.

As one local musician put it, "You get the best show in town, and it only costs you five bucks in the collection plate." You won't find any of these players with more profitable gigs (though, one could make the argument, what pays better than being in the Lord's house band?), since they play all day Sunday, and choir practice is every Thursday night. Word of warning: If you're less spiritually inclined, services at many of these churches can run up to four hours. Develop a bulletproof fake cough and park close to the door.

Now almost 20 years old, the Asian gardens sprang up spontaneously in the early '80s on scuzzy vacant lots in East Dallas at a time when the federal government was dumping tens of thousands of bewildered Southeast Asian refugees into Dallas slums. The gardens were a place of refuge and peace for people who had seen too much war and chaos. Now the refugees are no longer bewildered; most have moved north into the suburbs and are very upwardly mobile. But they still come back and maintain the gardens as a kind of informal shrine to their arrival in a tough new world. Visitors are always welcome, and hours are informal, mainly from early morning to late afternoon. A little piece of a far-away world.

Best Place to See a Man in Leather Hot Pants Enjoying a Down-Home Dinner

Good Eats

Good Eats

We're not sure about the other Good Eats locations in the area, but if you want a side of people-watching with your chicken-fried steak, look no further than this Oak Lawn staple, where the clientele is always gaily attired. (Simmer down: We meant cheerfully.) If you want the real deal, opt for the smoking section near the bar. That's where we were when a young gentleman clad in a skin-tight T (helpfully inscribed "Daddy"), black leather short-shorts and matching captain's hat sat at the booth opposite us, effectively distracting us from the entirety of our meal. So maybe you should eat at home first.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
Courtesy Dallas Arboretum

So you've had an argument with your significant other. For example: It's the anniversary of the first time she ever called you her "little sugar pants" or whatever, and she wanted to have a nice candlelight dinner to mark the occasion. You, on the other hand, came home drunker than an American Eagle pilot about three hours after she put the food in the fridge and cried herself to sleep. You're in a fix, my friend. So pack a picnic basket and head to the Arboretum's lushly landscaped setup on White Rock Lake, and don't forget to bring an extra helping of Jesus-Christ-I-can't-believe-I'm-such-a-moron-and-you-probably-never-should've-married-me-but-I'll-try-to-be-better. All will be forgotten. Probably never forgiven, but that's the best we can do.

Medieval Times

You've already got the dodgy ponytail and questionable facial hair required for enlistment in Medieval Times' Renaissance army, and Mars Music isn't hiring. And you need the extra scratch to move out of Mom's basement. Bonus: You get to call the ladies "wenches." Or, you could always work the merch booth for ASKA. Your call.

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