Best Wall Decor 2004 | Vermilion Cajun Seafood & Grill | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Before a restaurant or bar opens, experts descend on the place offering all manner of opinion regarding décor, furnishings and so on. To hear them tell it, this stuff means something. The wall of Billy Bass plaques at Flying Fish reinforces the harmony between all beings, for instance. The faded frescoes at Tramontana echo Donald Rumsfeld's remarks about the demise of old Europe. OK, we're guessing. It's just too easy to overstate the influence of design on behavior--although, honestly, no one wants the layout of an establishment to upset their delicate chi. Vermilion Cajun Seafood & Grill, a new spot at Knox and Central Expressway, provides a welcome respite from feng shui and other ridiculous design trends. Almost nothing adorns the walls--besides a spot of color--except behind the counter. There whoever created the interior look arranged rows of discarded circular mirrors. No higher purpose to this design, no restoration of balance, no alignment of yin and yang. Just mirrors. In rows. And we like it.

A few months ago we ran a story outlining the hypocrisy and puritan reasoning behind sex toys being illegal in Texas (you can sell them as cake toppers but not as sexual accessories). From the same department of idiocy comes the law behind purchasing nitrous gas. When you inhale nitrous (commonly found in whipped cream canisters or in balloons at concerts), you get very, very high. Or so we've heard. You can buy containers of 24 nitrous canisters for about $20. It's legal to sell them; it's legal to buy them. You can also buy extra-thick balloons (needed to transfer the extremely cold gas from the canister to your lungs without first freezing your lips) for about $1 a pop. It's legal to sell those, too; also legal to buy them. But here's where the craziness comes in: If you ask for a box of nitrous canisters and a few balloons, then the store can't sell you either because now you've demonstrated "intent to inhale." Right. As if the 24 whippet canisters were meant for a whole lot of cakes. Anyway, you've been warned, laughing boy.

We fondly remember "members only" as the makers of a whup-ass jacket we sported circa 1983. Now it's a designation for hot spots about town, such as Tristan Simon's swank club around the corner from its slightly more grown-up sibling, Sense. On our two visits to Candle Room this year, the BPDF (Beautiful People Density Factor) was 4.3 and 5.1--well above the 3.2 BPDF needed to be designated as a "furricane" by the National Pleasure Center. As such, the swirling wind generated by the sea of rump-shakers takes out most everything in its path. Post-midnight attempts to wade into the subsequent cleavage storms are dangerous and often end disastrously. Consider yourselves warned.

When the missus said she was taking the kid to a beach in Fort Worth, well, let's say we wondered if she was in any state to drive around the block, much less to Tarrant County. But damned if she wasn't right: In the middle of nowhere, and about 50 years back in time, sits a 30-acre park known as Burger's Lake, where two sandy beaches lay alongside a one-acre spring-fed lake. Dangling over it is a 25-foot trapeze. Say wha? Add to that six diving boards and a 20-foot water slide, and it sounds like a little bit of paradise. And kids love it, no matter the age. The water's clean, the air cool even in the dead of summer (so much shade) and the vibe peaceful and safe (all the lifeguards are certified). And there are more than 300 picnic tables, as well as countless charcoal grills, which means you can arrive early and stay late and still wonder where the time's gone. To 1954, we reckon. Timeless. Only downside: It's open Mother's Day through Labor Day, and no booze allowed.

Readers' Pick

Six Flags Over Texas

2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington


Most Italian liqueurs are mean-spirited, bitter things. If they don't kill you outright, they'll most certainly crinkle your skin. At the very least, Campari, Fernet Branca and the like will make hair sprout from a man's ears and cause women to grow mustaches. That's why mirto, available at Arcodoro & Pomodoro, is such a surprise. A viscous, deep red product of the myrtle berry, it buries all but a hint of bitter zing behind a unique flavor best described as fruity, but not sweet--almost like Crunchberries without the sugar coating (and without the Cap'n Crunch). The restaurant serves it chilled, which further mutes any unpleasant bitterness. Remember, flavors open up when you allow a drink to warm. Certain things, such as vodka or Bud Light or the aforementioned liqueurs, develop some rather nasty characteristics as they open. Mirto, on the other hand, remains wonderfully subdued.

You've finished the screenplay for your romantic comedy, sure to snag Julia Roberts' interest and a big fat check. But is it ready to send to your agent? Will the meet-cute scene in the bar really play? At free monthly readings on the first Tuesday of every month, sponsored by the DSA, professional actors wrangled by local performer Phil Harrington will give voice to your characters' pithy musings, and if it stinks, hey, better to find out now. Bring 10 pages of your script at 6 p.m. --with enough copies for each character and a narrator--to hear your own brilliant words out loud. (Make sure each role is highlighted for easy reading.) Or if you're not ready to have the world hear your efforts, show up at 7 p.m. to listen to other scribes' scripts. Check out for more info.

Daniel Rodrigue

The biggest traffic jam in Denton County used to be the bar at Rubber Gloves. There was a 2-foot lane between the booths and the tables, and another 2-foot lane between the tables and bar. And that was the sole path from the door and bathrooms to the showroom and arcade, which meant that, if you were seated on the outside edge of the booth, you frequently took a black messenger bag to the head or a Conversed toe to the ankle. But Santa Claus brought RGRS a new bar. Basically, the wall behind the old bar was ripped out, opening up another room, which now houses the bar along with a big square of standing/ordering/mingling space. There's plenty of room to sidle up to the bar or head straight to the music. Now if only we could get Rubber Gloves to clear up that High Five mess.

Yes, it's hard to do. Maybe that's why we see so many couples call it quits in the park. It's a public place, so not too much drama (the slapping, the screaming) can go down. It's more relaxing with the grass and trees. And it's hard to get too upset watching kids swing alongside a pickup game of basketball. In the past year, we've known or witnessed at least 10 couples break up at Tietze. We're not trying to give it a bad name or anything; in fact, it's a testament to the peaceful surroundings that folks entrust such pivotal moments to the place. In all fairness, we've seen a proposal there, too, but 10 beats one.

This humongous dance club, tucked away on a blah stretch of industrial buildings off Northwest Highway, is the Latin dance scene's least-kept secret. Escapade 2009 keeps the weekends thumping with its reliable mix of Top 40 music and rock en Espaol, along with live bands on some Thursdays. Giant video screens and fog machines give the sprawling dance floor some crazy techno cred. Good times don't come cheap, however--cover can run as high as 20 bucks. Fortunately for the male patrons, ladies seem to have a different interpretation of "no cover"--the skirts and shirts are barely there.

Readers' Pick

Babalu Club

2910 McKinney Ave.


Best Place to Hide From the Boss in the Middle of a Workday

Sevy's Grill

Alison McLean

A few assumptions to start: You're out of precious vacation days; you need a break; you enjoy a good midafternoon buzz; and your boss isn't already sitting at the bar. Good, then yelp in pain, announce an urgent need to visit the dentist and call it a day. Sevy's attracts brokers and bankers and fully gruntled postal workers and housewives--just about anyone. The dress code ranges from casual on up. The kitchen serves a special afternoon bar menu. Bartender James Pintello spins out stories as well as medicinal doses of alcohol (remember the toothache?). It's a bright, quiet and friendly space, with a clear view of the doorway, just in case the boss gets the same idea. Plenty of time to duck into a corner or dash out to the patio, jump the fence and make your escape. Oh, yeah--almost forgot the underground parking garage. Good thing if you wish to avoid detection.

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