Best Patio 2004 | Ozona Grill & Bar | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Step onto Ozona's patio and it's almost like stepping into your best friend's back yard--except bigger and with a few more strangers. Two fireplaces, which do a lot to add to the coziness factor, are planted in the enclosed patio decorated with plastic deck chairs, old signs and string lights. On cool nights, a seat by one of the fireplaces is a choice dining spot. While you're warming your hands by the hearth, warm your tummy with some chips and queso and a Mexican platter you design yourself. The food's good and plenty, but the atmosphere is the real star here--so good, in fact, it's easy to forget that mean Greenville is just yards away.

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Ozona Grill & Bar

Best Place to Chill With the Beautiful People


After a night at Nick & Sam's--the fave steak house in town of one of our more cultured, picky foodie friends--why don't you and your dressed-up partner stop by Medici for a drink and a dance? Stylish and relatively sedate, it's the perfect after-dinner spot to sate your inner Soprano. Good-looking Italian men in impeccable dark suits, beautiful women (not girls, women) looking for a dance partner, stiff drinks, delicious items for noshing, a sophisticated gleam that makes you feel cooler than you are...what's not to like about this suave addition to Dallas' upper-class nightlife scene

You can't fault a place that inspired the Toadies' biggest hit, even though the song was so casually morbid it developed a cult following among vampire aficionados. (Seriously.) Blood sucking aside, Possum Kingdom Lake is just as potent a combination as the song it prompted, with cool, clear water perfect for swimmers and fishermen alike. (For the latter, the white bass are an especially big draw.) Plus, a handful of nature trails allow you to take in the tranquil charm of the water from a variety of vantage points. But a trip to Possum Kingdom--75 miles west of Fort Worth on Texas Highway 16--is worth it even if you don't make it to the shore. The surrounding countryside has a subtle beauty that is worth more than just a passing glance. How do we know about the scenery? Because we drove around the entire lake looking for a place to watch Game 7 of last year's Dallas Mavericks-Sacramento Kings conference semifinals match-up, eventually arriving at The Lighthouse on the Breakers, a cozy little lakeside bar and grill where the liquor was cheap and the patrons didn't mind our constant screaming. Or jumping. Or fist-pumping. Good people. Bonus: If you want to turn it into an overnight trip, the camping is extremely comfortable, and there are a couple of quality resorts nearby if you don't feel like roughing it.

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The indoor/outdoor bar at Hotel ZaZa is a premier destination for guys pretending to have Dirk Diggler-sized wallets and women hoping to believe them. Doesn't mean the guys pretend to have class. Indeed, one desperate gentleman tried this out on a young woman: "You're so amazing, I'd pay to spend a night with you."

Dallas World Aquarium is a genuine tourist attraction, but not in a tacky way. It justifiably draws visitors for its re-creation of a rain forest environment and its dazzling array of aquariums, including a shark exhibit you can walk through via a glass-walled tunnel. It's more about spectacle than education, though the learning is there if you want it. The aquarium features many things you won't see anywhere else in the area, such as the "Leafy seadragons," a relative of the seahorse from southern Australia that looks like a rippling, fluttering oak leaf. There's also an outdoor penguin exhibit, a sea otter pool and salmon-pink flamingos. Kids will love the narrow, twisting fake-rock passageways that lead from one display to another--you really feel like you're in another world--and the educational function of the aquarium is never obtrusive.

Hank Vaughn

A dive, by definition, is what it is. That's not much to go on, but Louie's fits the description. From the outside, the place is singularly uninviting: a gray blotch among other nondescript buildings. Parking--good luck. Pull up alongside a curb in the iffy neighborhood or block the sidewalk across the street. Louie's permits no outside light into the place, and the lamps barely illuminate anything beyond the table. No big deal: not much to look at but hodgepodge decorations stuck haphazardly on the walls. Pitchers of iced tea sit open on the bar, absorbing all kinds of incidental flavor. The place, however, draws a solid crowd. They churn out great pizza--arguably the best (if not for Fireside Pies) in the city. Even better, the bartenders shake up an outstanding martini, surprising for a dive. The crowd ranges from neighborhood folks to upscale people dressing down for the evening. Besides, no one said a dive had to be a miserable, salmonella-inducing experience. Louie's is just a good place to hang out for a while before contemplating that dangerous walk back to the car.

Best Place to Go for a Romantic Rendezvous

Hotel ZaZa

Before we go any further, you should be aware that a stay at Hotel ZaZa is not cheap. Rooms range from $245 to $295. Suites start at $350 and end at a price where your credit card company gives you a courtesy call just to make sure someone hasn't stolen your Visa. But money's no object when romance is involved, right? OK, don't answer that. Just know that should you check your sense of fiscal responsibility at the door when you check in, you and yours will be treated to a glamorous weekend on L.A.'s Sunset Boulevard. Sure, sure, you'll still technically be in Dallas (snugly nestled in Uptown, to be exact), but as soon as you hand your keys to the valet, you'll never know the difference. The cuisine is top-notch, thanks to chef Stephan Pyles' Mediterranean-inflected Dragonfly. The rooms are luxurious yet lived-in, like you're house-sitting for a well-to-do friend. The staff become your own personal assistants during your stay, ready and willing to do whatever, whenever. The Urban Oasis (aka the pool) even makes Dallas summers bearable. For an added touch of El Lay, there's a better than good chance that you'll see a star or two. (Ozzy Osbourne, Christina Aguilera and Jamie Foxx have all stayed there, and that's just off the top of our head.) It's a great way to get away without getting away, if you know what we mean. The perfect place for romance. And exorbitant credit card charges.

Readers' Pick

White Rock Lake

You've done the warm-up. You've done the workout. Now it's time for the cool-down. And Down, once again, is your best bet. After a night of drinking/dining/dodging bullets in Dallas, you've grown weary. You've watched various Barbies hook up with various Kens. You've spilled various drinks on various designer jeans. And you've rubbed elbows till they're damn near raw. So now make your way over to Down, where you can sit, relax and actually enjoy your drink--instead of cradling it in your hands in fear of sloshing out what you paid too much for in the first place. The nightlife can be brutal, but Down can pick you up.

We work hard here at the Dallas Observer. We're constantly working. It's work, work, work. Yup, that's us. That's the service we provide to you, dear reader. The problem is--at least for the singles among our number--that doesn't leave us much time to get out there and meet people. Which, in turn, means that our chances of procreating are decidedly less than the rest of the population. Some might say that's because the majority of the people who work here are losers who seldom shower, but that would be unfair. (The losers part, anyway.) Ah, but there's hope for us yet. No matter how pathetic we are, even we can still get a date through It's Just Lunch. Tell them what kind of time you have and what kind of person you're looking to meet, and they'll hook you up. But some advice: Shower first. It helps, believe it or not.

Maybe that sounds like a give-up to you, the ultimate no-shit statement. (Or perhaps you would have preferred our initial answer: anywhere that leads out of Dallas.) So let us explain. We have a 1-year-old kid who didn't sleep the first, oh, 11 months of his existence, and when he did sleep it was only in his car seat, which meant plenty of days and nights spent rolling through this town looking for something to entertain our eyeballs to keep them open. No matter where we were, we always ended up circling the lake. Always. Didn't matter what time of day or night. And it wasn't just round and round and round till he woke up; that would have gotten old. No, we cruised up the side streets and down the roads to nowhere, through the Lakewood neighborhoods dotted with historic homes and fields that led to horse stables and every other nook and cranny we could find. Spend enough time over there and Dallas starts to look a whole lot prettier, because it looks like another city--one with a view. Even now, when the kiddo's wide awake, the family cruiser will find its way over to Forest Hills or Casa Linda Estates or Lake Highlands just to see what's happening in a neighborhood so much prettier than ours and yours, unless you're lucky enough to live in a Dallas with scenery.

Readers' Pick

White Rock Lake

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