Best Ice Rink 2003 | Duncanville StarCenter | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
While to the untrained eye all ice rinks may seem the same, please understand that this is most definitely not the case. Not all rinks are created equal, and the Duncanville StarCenter shows that. It's true that the competition isn't steep, but Duncanville manages to distinguish itself from the meager pack in a few important respects: It has two full-sized sheets of ice, it's relatively convenient and it's clean. If you've been to a lot of rinks in the area, you know that the latter is definitely a factor to consider. And though the Valley Ranch StarCenter may have the best ice--because of its time as the Stars' practice rink--Duncanville has the best facilities, such as large locker rooms, relatively good food and an upstairs bar/viewing spot for all the parents forced to attend extraordinarily early or late game times. The rink also has a pro shop that is well-stocked with the essentials, though prices run higher than at a normal equipment store such as Peranis or Players Bench. So if you think you've got an interest in hitting big guys with sticks, exposing yourself in tights or just want to get out of the heat and into a building that's always freezing, then this is the rink for you.

Best Place to Act Single While Drinking Doubles

The Beagle

The name of this award may be a little misleading, 'cause if you're at The Beagle, we hope you're truly single and not just "acting." Seriously, guys, that is so not cool. But we digress. With plenty of drink specials and tunes by the likes of Tone-Loc, Missy Elliott and David Allan Coe, The Beagle is a pickup point without shame. (Yeah, we know we never even called you by your name, but we promise it's not because we couldn't remember it. It was just loud in the know how it is.) And in case you didn't know, memorizing someone else's phone number works wonders at a place like this. We suggest your local Papa John's or maybe one of the "escorts" from the back pages of this publication. We hear Brandi and Vixen are lookin' for love.

An unauthorized sprawl on the Dallas Museum of Art's manicured grass in the dark, however appealing, will get you at least 20 hours in the city jail, assuming someone agrees to bail you out. See, they've got really priceless art in that building, and plenty of security guards to make sure it stays there. A nighttime prowl between Harwood and St. Paul streets is tempting, though. If you've ever had a hankering to wander the DMA's park-like grounds at night, to look up at the stars between the dark, shadowy outlines of downtown skyscrapers, wait for the summer season of Jazz Under the Stars, and you'll stay out of trouble. Urban campers pack a snack and bring their blankies for a twilight picnic, complete with live jazz and the murmurs of the city streets. Best of all, the music and the ambience are free.

Why do we lease a Mercedes or Beemer? To impress the valet, of course. Most of us, indeed, consider it acceptable for restaurants to park the hottest cars in highly visible areas, as if the sight of a Ferrari will make the couple cruising past in an '87 Corolla slam on the brakes and say, "Let's go mingle with the wealthy folks." The staff at Javier's takes the concept a step further, providing stellar valet service for guests driving expensive vehicles while shunning--in the most subtle manner--the rest of the population. Walk out of the restaurant on a busy evening and ask them to bring your 7 Series around, and they hastily pull it within an inch or two of your kneecaps. Call for your Infiniti--or lesser vehicle--and expect a bit of a stroll.

Beth Rankin
The Dallas Morning News recently mentioned that it visited this downtown establishment and was dismayed by the fact it wasn't jam-packed with patrons. They point out that they showed up at 6 p.m. Now, far be it from us to call the folks at the daily paper idiots, but, ah, do you think you could try going to a bar after the sun goes down? The last time we were in CT, it was hoppin': both levels full of folks enjoying the ambience (dark woods, big tables), the cold beer and the downtown scene. It reminded us of a typical neighborhood bar in Chicago, something you don't see much of in Dallas. Oh, yeah, it also has a little side room upstairs for folks who want to play Golden Tee but don't want to keep bumping into patrons when their $30 putts come up short. Which makes it extra awesome.

Located in the old Margarita Ranch spot, Stolik is everything owner Marie Grove said it would be. It's understated, sleek and stylish, with great food (try the foie gras--trust us) and a wonderful ambience. But we especially loved hanging out at the bar with Glen, the 'tender who introduced us to new brands of sterling vodkas and regaled us with tales from the other highfalutin Dallas places at which he's worked. Margarita Ranch you always visited for the Dallas cheese. Stolik you'll return to because it pulls off the hiptown vibe thing with ease.

Best Place to Hang Out in the Middle of a Workday

Sevy's Grill

Alison McLean
There's an undeniable appeal to the idea: Skip work, head to a bar and watch the day sip away into a pleasant haze while others toil away in cubeland. For this purpose, nothing beats Sevy's Grill. It's a bright, upbeat space with a steady flow of daytime regulars--including fellow slackers. Daytime bartender James Pintello keeps the conversation flowing and stirs up some impressive sipping drinks. Psychologists and HR professionals give lip service to the value of a little downtime, but they're generally referring to time- and money-consuming vacations. Before a trip, harried business professionals spend hours clearing projects off their desks. Upon their return, these same harried professionals catch up on hundreds of e-mails and calls and other issues. It may be that a "doctor's appointment" spent at Sevy's is all the downtime a person really needs.

Don't go there to see it. Just open your eyes and turn your head half a nod next time you pass, usually on your way to or from the City Hall area on Young Street, just across from First Presbyterian Church of Dallas: In freezing cold or baking heat, the downtown derelict population camps out on the 500 block of Dallas' ironically named Park Avenue, a dirty valley of brick and broken glass near a popular soup kitchen. They throw down cots and sleeping bags (or just their own bruised, grimy bodies) on the sidewalk, sleeping it off in an ether of booze and piss. Write your own moral.

Hattie's American Bistro has become a citywide hot spot, drawing people into Oak Cliff who have never been farther south than Armstrong in their lives, along with an adventurous crowd of veteran cosmopolites and metrosexuals. Eventually they all pour out onto Bishop Street for cigars and shrieking, wandering off down the block to explore Ifs Ands & Butts Sodapop and Tobacco Store, or the Oak Cliff Mercantile, a cool antiques and salvage place that stays open late, or whatever. Every night a few discover again that the cleverly named Venetian Blinds is actually an old place that sells Venetian blinds. All in all, it's a quiet, amiable, sophisticated corner of the city.

How does Escapade 2001, a club that's only open Friday and Saturday, regularly ring up the most liquor sales in Dallas County? Because this hangar-sized hangout happens to bring in most of the local Latino population every weekend, turning our East Dallas neighborhood into a ghost town. How does Escapade 2001 manage that? Because they know how to cater to the folks who've moved up from Mexico, playing the ranchera and cumbia music that makes boots scoot south of the border. It's a devastatingly simple formula.

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