Consider Sambuca the Rafael Palmeiro of local nightclubs, a consistent and sometimes exceptional performer that is constantly overshadowed. Forget about jazz joints: No one else in this city, no one else in Fort Worth or Denton or Plano or wherever even comes close, save for Sambuca's other location in Addison. Here's the deal: The acts are always solid, and the atmosphere is even better. If there's something else that makes for a good jazz club (or a good club, period), then we must not know about it. Or, more likely, it doesn't really matter. There's no spot better than Sambuca, and none more versatile: The music is great whether you're looking for a soundtrack or a solo, whether you want it in the background or right up front. It's an oasis in a city full of empty water coolers. And like Palmeiro, Sambuca is having a Hall of Fame career even though it will probably never be MVP.
The Elbow Room
There are many reasons to admire this Gaston Avenue watering hole. Good cold beer selection, great shuffleboard table, killer juke, tasty pizza next door, etc. But what distinguishes it for us is the fact that it's always loaded with loaded doctor types. OK, maybe not doctors, but inside there are always plenty of young, nubile, employed men and women in scrubs from Baylor hospital next door.

Best Place to Suck Shots Off Men's Abs

BJ's

Also known as Best Gay Bar, BJ's may be a gay club, but doing shots off the toned bellies of 20-year-old boys is not just a gay-man habit--not if our wife has anything to say about it. And she does. Which works out well, because at least a few of the six-packed boys wearing low-slung jeans and not much else--BJ's calls them your waitstaff, but we have another name for them that begins with "meow"--are actually straight guys making loads of money off drunken gay guys. Given that gay women have been teasing money out of straight guys at strip clubs for decades, we think that's a good plan.
Hell, you just met the person. You don't even know his or her name. Why risk embarrassing stammering over breakfast or the cost of a motel when perfectly good backseats and semiprivate parking lots exist? Running east from Duke's Original Roadhouse to the Tollway, a string of parking areas offers everything you need (minus the backseat and the man or woman of your inebriate dreams) for a few moments of risky, soon-to-be-forgotten-or-regretted pleasure. There are large lots near Duke's and narrow, tree-lined spaces a block to the east. The darkest lots, if shyness is an issue, sit between the restaurants of Belt Line Road and the British-style pub The Londoner. Come to think of it, if you pick up someone there, you may need to find the darkest spot possible.

This is now an outdoor event, thanks to the health Nazis down at Dallas City Hall. But a quick date with a Marlboro on the cascading steps outside the Angelika at Mockingbird Station makes you happy you had to step out. If you have to ruin your health, you might as well do it at the most interesting crossroads in the city. Besides the film crowd, which is constantly coming and going, the DART line brings in a diverse enough bunch that there's always someone to watch. The steps themselves have plenty of smokebird perches--various steps and fountains--but you'd better act fast. In the near future, we're fairly certain, it will be illegal to smoke sitting down.

Liquid Lounge
Acoustic Chaos in the Liquid Lounge can get pretty chaotic. When the doors open at 9 p.m. Wednesdays there's always a line of guitar strummers waiting to sign up to grace the lighted stage. Even if you sign up early, be prepared to play late, because every host has way too many friends, and those friends have friends, too. This lounge is good for crooners of all sounds for two main reasons: The bartenders serve hump-day drink specials, and the players have a walk-in crowd to win over. We've caught the tail end of a conversation about what's the best Slo Ro song to cover. We've even experienced the rare pleasure of hearing the singers of South FM and Jibe wailing two powerful voices as one. It gets more packed as the night progresses, and the stage often gets inundated with a variety of tunes from musicians who won't be heard anywhere else in Deep Ellum. It's the hype Wednesday hangout for musicians to meet, mingle and compare chords.

The Sara Ellen and Samuel Weisfeld Center
This glorious old church was long past its prime and in terrible shape just a few years ago. Dallas resident Herschel Weisfeld has carefully restored it to its former glory and named it for his parents. The center's interior is a breathtaking combination of ornate fixtures, arched windows and restored wooden pews. Weisfeld rents the center out for weddings and other events.

Angelika Film Center Dallas
First, we have to give props to the Magnolia Theatre for being active in the local film community, hosting the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, Out Takes, Forbidden Media's former weekly screenings and taking its own "best of" collection to the starving art film masses in Fort Worth with the Magnolia at the Modern series. But for the ordinary $10-burning-a-hole-in-our-pocket, wanna-read-some-subtitles kind of day, we're headed to the Angelika. There's better parking (skip the driving circles or garage and head for the DART lot), better seats (feels like home, not public transportation) and a better bar (you can actually squeeze between the comfy seating and the bar to order). And, oh yeah, the movies are good, too.
Highland Park Village
We were with a buddy recently, walking around Highland Park Village doing some window-shopping, when we realized we weren't looking at the windows. We were staring at the people who were window-shopping. Not to put too fine a point on this, but the Highland Park women who spend their days working out at Larry North Total Fitness, eating Paciugo and shopping for designer apparel need to check themselves before they wreck themselves. How can one concentrate on, say, not falling down when rich women walk by wearing 3-inch pumps and 23 inches of fine fabric? Highland Park Village was declared a National Historical Monument in 2000, and now we think we know why: because the talent there is indeed historic.

Rubber Gloves
Daniel Rodrigue
Spend a week at Rubber Gloves, and there's a good chance you'll never get the same kind of show twice. Spend two weeks there, and the odds change only slightly. DJs one night, a singer-songwriter the next, No Depression country rock after that and so on down the line, guitars giving way to turntables giving way to laptops giving way to kazoos without breaking stride. From space-rock symphonies and garage-rock growls to below-the-radar hip-hop and off-the-charts experimentation, Rubber Gloves is a one-stop shop.

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