Bar of Soap is the only place we know of where you can buy a box of Tide along with a bourbon and soda and get change for both the dryers and the pinball machine. Besides being a bar, a laundry and an arcade, it also serves as a live music venue on weekends and has a patio for lounging and televisions over the bar. And, as if that's not enough to keep one occupied during the spin cycle, check out the Fair Park and Dallas-themed mural painted above the shelves of liquor. There's nothing like seeing a guy with a basket full of tighty-whities squeezing through a packed crowd, watching a band on his way to the laundry room in the back. Some people find it so cozy, we've even seen pizza delivered there.

Dallas does not suffer from a lack of good, traditional neighborhoods stocked with sturdy homes planted atop shaded lots, but what we like about Uptown is its departure from the city's past. The housing, primarily condos and apartments, may not be everyone's idea of an ideal nesting ground, but the neighborhood is the best indication that our city is, at last, growing up. A prime example of "New Urban" development, an architectural revolt against suburbia, Uptown is more like New York than Dallas. It offers pedestrian-friendly streets packed with an eclectic collection of fine restaurants and retail shops. Of course, the best thing about any neighborhood is its people, and that's Uptown's real charm: You can strike up a conversation in French, for example, as easy as you can order a cappuccino.

Yeah, yeah. We know. Aren't there any other outdoor havens besides White Rock, you ask? Unless you play golf, the answer is no. After all, Dallas is not a city known for its fabulous green spaces. White Rock Lake, which was built to provide the city's residents with drinking water, may be an accidental green space, but it is nonetheless the only place in Dallas (besides NorthPark) where one can spy turtles sunning on rocks or mama ducks teaching their babies the finer points of survival. The place is also home to wild parakeets, snakes and owls, among other furred and feathered ones. We have only one request: When you go to the lake, would you please stop throwing your trash, beer cans especially, all over the place? Thank you. Now keep to the right.

Pete's Dueling Piano Bar

Four hot piano players at two baby grands play a mix of Beatles, Stones, Aretha, KC, Culture Club, Billy Joel, Elton John, Dave Matthews and more in a high-energy blast that runs straight through from 8 p.m. until the joint closes at 2 a.m. Cloned from the original in Austin, the Addison Pete's holds 350 people, offers a fare of hot dogs, sandwiches and appetizers and is a big bunch of raucous fun. Call for show times.

Hard to find, but worth the hunt if you have a sudden hunger for hot dogs, pompoms and the blood and grit of small-town football in the shadow of the big city. Seagoville High is part of the Dallas school system and plays some tough big-city football schools such as Lincoln, but the spirit on Friday nights is strictly East Texas. Call the school for the fall schedule. To get to the stadium go south on 175 and exit Hall Street. Turn left under the bridge to continue on Hall Street. Take a left on Shady Lane, and the stadium is a few blocks ahead behind Central Elementary.

Premiere Video

If you have a sudden urgent need to talk to every egghead film-buff Boho in Dallas, what you do is bring a folding chair and park in front of Premiere Video on a Friday night. In the course of a few hours, they'll all come through. In fact, there are entire multigenerational families of film-buff Bohos who gather here on Friday nights--little skaties with their beatnik grandparents. And why? Try 20,000 foreign and domestic titles, a knowledgeable staff and...the scene. Some people believe they need to be seen here on Fridays whether they rent a movie or not. Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday noon to 10 p.m.

The steps outside the Angelika Film Center, not the ones that go down to the DART rail line. (Not many folks down there.) If you want confirmation that Dallas has its hip, cool side--as opposed to a place where the predominant fashion trend is the golf shirt--hang out for a while and see who comes cascading down the steps at Mockingbird Station. Last winter, the black-leather-jacket set was so thick, we thought someone was giving them away at the theater. This summer, it dawned on us that we were living in a real city when we saw a bare-chested kid make his way down the steep incline on a beat-up skateboard.

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.

Best Of Dallas®

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