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.

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

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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