There is no spot we know of where the soul (some would say soullessness) of Dallas is on display more than at the West Village on Saturday night. Young, toned bodies fitted into stretch-fabric outfits. Quick and quicker gaits. Grand entrances. Primo automobiles. If your Benz is in the shop and you're stuck for the night with the Aerostar van, you'd better park it three blocks away, maybe by the trash bin behind Texas Land & Cattle Co. Among the chic restaurants, bars and grown-up movie theater, there's a lot in this quarter to attract the attractive. Former Mayor Ron Kirk once famously said that nobody comes to Dallas for the scenery; people come here to get rich. He was dead right, with at least one qualification. People come here to at least look rich, and when that's on the agenda, this is definitely the place.

Dumplings in broth
Taylor Adams
Dumplings in broth
The last time we were there, Cosmo's was buzzing with so much chatter and laughter that it was hard to know where to begin our conversation. We watched another fellow on the other side of the bar checking out the waitress. He told us later that this was his nightspot after leaving work on Greenville Avenue. The waitress caught his eye because he was bedazzled by the "architecture of her ass." In the front of the room by the doors, a birthday party was in full motion. To the delight of that group and much of the bar, the birthday boy was doing his best to improvise new steps to "Billie Jean." Everybody still loves Michael Jackson. But a group of ladies in the back of the room made everyone's night by reminding us, in a jukebox sing-along, "What's Love Got to Do With It?" What better testament is there to the power of a juke?
There are busier happy hours; there are more tricked-up happy hours. But we're partial to this one because it's simply classy and smart--not unlike us. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., all draft beers are half-price. No muss, no fuss. The place is nice enough to bring a date or a client but not so stuffy that you can't walk right up to the bar and order a Bud Light, if you like your beer old-school. If you need to nosh while you sip, the appetizers are great, and the wood-fired pizza is delicious (the "M" gimmick they use on the menu, in which they come up with several clever names using the letter, is a bit much, but we'll let it slide). The waitstaff is attentive and friendly, the drinks cold, the bartenders knowledgeable. All of which makes us happy, happy.
Whether you're looking for a romantic escape or just a respite from the big-city traffic and street repairs, the Baroness Inn is only a 45-minute drive away. Host Evelyn Williams offers visitors a taste of yesteryear's peace and quiet with all the modern conveniences. For prices ranging from $100 to $160 per night, you can sleep in the comfort of billowy linens, soak in your in-room whirlpool, then lounge in the plush robe you'll be provided. Williams serves a gourmet breakfast, complete with fresh baked bread and buttermilk scones, at the civilized hour of 9:30 a.m. --and you're invited to raid the fridge for ice cream or dip into the always-filled cookie jar at any time. If you want to get out and about, bicycles are available. The pace is nice and slow, so plan to veg out.
Whether you've got a kid or just feel like one, the model trains at Children's Medical Center look really cool. More than a half-dozen trains run on an elaborate set of tracks complete with landscaping that includes mountains and a variety of scenery. There is no charge to view the trains, and if you don't spend more than an hour there, you can park for free.

It's not, strictly speaking, a scenic wonderland. But this is North Texas, so you probably already knew that. If you want your nature tamed, try the Dallas Arboretum. L.B. Houston offers a narrow dirt track winding roughly four miles through wooded Trinity River bottomland. What will you see? The backsides of a bunch of trees, the river, brush and the occasional squirrel, turtle or water moccasin. You know, nature. Don't worry about the snakes, though. Just keep your eyes open for the bicyclists, because this trail is popular with what we laughingly call "mountain" bike riders. In North Texas. Snort.
The Old Monk
There are several elements to a good bar. A good bar must have an outdoor sitting area to enjoy the six days of nice weather we have each year. (Check.) Inside, the bar must be dark, for ambience and illicit hookups. (Check.) The waitstaff must be friendly but not fake, knowledgeable but not pushy. (Check.) The beer selection must be ample. (Check.) The clientele must have a median age above 29 but have enough pieces of 21-year-old male and female eye candy to make the view pleasant. (Check.) It must have good food. (Oh, sweet heaven, is that ever a check. The calamari, the fish and chips, the mussels, the cheese board...) And it must have a pub-like, worn-in feel. (Check.) That is the Old Monk. That's why it rules.

Sense
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You have to be on some sort of list to get into the place, which seems like nothing more than an appeal to snobbery in the extreme. Yet the list is not based on the patrons' net worth, on the cars they lease or on more ephemeral measures--such as "cool." Any resourceful person can maneuver his way into the exclusive club by working connections, placing a few calls, befriending the right bartender. By limiting entry to those who really wish to hang out there, Sense ensures a vibe unique to Dallas nightlife. People on the inside mingle and talk and flirt without regard to real-world status. The setting is pleasant, with low-slung leather seating and a pulse that facilitates rather than dominates conversation. As a result, young and old, gold diggers and suburbanites, trend-followers and common folk rub shoulders and even (gasp!) communicate as equals. A good bar makes you feel comfortable, and Sense is just a good bar.

It's a little out of the city, but the 10-year-old wooden playground is as popular as it ever has been, and for good reason. The castle, swings and bridge are probably the biggest attractions for little kids, and the playground has a pavilion, barbecue areas, ball fields, 18 picnic tables, restrooms and a hiking and bike trail. The city will celebrate the park's decade anniversary in October. Because it's one of the city's most popular parks, it's advisable to call to reserve space at the pavilion.
Lakewood Landing
After a nasty deadline, a fight with the guy at the cleaners or a good ol' traffic jam, sometimes we just don't wanna go home. We need time to wind down, catch our breath and have a drink. The Landing is our place. Out of downtown, but close enough should nighttime activities bring us back, it's in a great location, has ample parking and touts a fine menu should imbibing not be the only plan. The staff is fast, friendly and exceptionally welcoming (even late at night and even if business is slow). The jukebox rocks out with Iggy Pop, Hank Williams and everything in between, and that's just the way we like it. The Landing feels like home, but with people-watching options and no telemarketers calling...and pool...and television...and the fine, smile-inducing memory of the greatest bartender to walk the earth, Lucille.

Best Place to Sniff Some Dallas Cheese

Nikita

We love everything about Nikita: the Bond-girl-gone-bad waitresses, the vodka bar-restaurant's chic Eurostyle, the surprisingly good food. But there's nothing we love more about Nikita than les femmes. If you're always hearing about the big, beautiful, rich Dallas girls but never see them, stop by here. Flesh, loud music, pricey liquor--what doesn't this bar have?

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