The High Five entanglement provides enough roller-coaster thrills to challenge Six Flags. Test your acrophobia on the connector from LBJ westbound to Central southbound; there's a cheap thrill to looking down as you become airborne. Just keep an eye on the road: The last thing anyone wants, especially the traffic behind you, is to be stuck in a fender-bender in the sky.
Does anybody remember Grinders Coffee on Lower Greenville years ago? (Erykah Badu probably does; she used to work there.) The homey neighborhood feeling it had is echoed in Standards and Pours on the south side of downtown in the South Side Lofts building. But if you're the white-collar financial type, this could be your second office. The coffee is good, but the options are above and beyond: Wi-Fi access, the Wall Street Journal at your fingertips, a reference library for research and even space for your meetings with a PowerPoint presentation. Not a starched shirt? No problem. Anyone not tied to a PDA can enjoy breakfast or lunch, live music, board games and even karaoke. Take that, Starbucks.
This is the kind of park you see in old movies with all the right touches. The lake itself is surrounded by nice green landscaping, picnic tables and a walking trail, and there's even a bridge spanning the water. It's a small jewel nestled near the downtown area, what is normally referred to as Old Mesquite. Walk the less than half-mile trail twice and you and your dog should be satisfied. There are the obligatory tennis and basketball courts and baseball field. Everybody's having a good time, just like in those old movies.
Before heading to Mesquite's version of the Opry, you need one of two things: either a love of country music, or an open mind to it, because the people at Rodeo City Music Hall love them some country and are gonna make darn sure you have a good time. Everything you might expect will probably be there, too. Cowboy hats, sure; big hair, yeah; even the obligatory Elvis lookalike. But for eight bucks, you experience two hours of simple, wholesome fun. The enthusiasm is infectious; just try not to tap your toes. You may even forget the multiplexes and malls that are just a couple miles away. Score on the cheapo concessions, and if you're really lucky, singer Amanda Graves may be on the lineup. Yeehaw!
We've seen and heard just about everything on Sunday nights at Nikita. Randy drunks try to catch the eyes of other randy drunks. They beg for phone numbers when their dates rush off to the unisex bathroom. Inside the john, guys brazenly attempt to lure party girls into stalls. One woman simply walked up to us and slurred, "I'm trying to pick you up." Nikita represents the last gasp, the last chance for a little weekend hanky-panky until, well, four days from now. Up until recently the bit of Sabbath bacchanalia was known as "Naked Sunday" because bar staff ran soft-core porn on two small monitors. Dallas vice cops blacked out the bouncing breasts a few months ago because of a deep concern for the morality of 20- and 30-somethings. Ah, but the revelry continues.
Once in awhile some curmudgeon laments the evolutionary process that reduces once manly cocktails to whimpering, effeminate things with barely a drizzle of liquor. Hemingway and other tough guys slurped piña coladas that were alcoholic beasts, not frozen desserts. Stolid British gents downed dry, puckering gin martinis, not clean, unthreatening glasses of vodka, to fortify themselves for a day abusing colonial natives. Fortunately, the folks at Monica's decided to preserve the fading memory of one classic, the margarita. Frankie's Margarita blends three ingredients: good tequila, orange liqueur and fresh-squeezed lime juice. Served neat, it's tart with a hint of sweetness, followed by a dry, vegetal undercurrent from Mexico's most popular export. Above all, Frankie's Margarita contains alcohol. Cut only by a little lime, it's a time bomb with a quick fuse. Two of these and your female friends ask you to inspect their breasts for firmness and proper alignment. No matter what anyone tells you, this is the best, most potent, most traditional margarita served in Dallas.

Readers' Pick
Mi Cocina Multiple locations
The Grapevine
We're still not sure we heard John the Bartender right; after all, it was our first time in the legendary haunt, the Observer's new next-door neighbor and Best Friend Forever, and we were a bit overwhelmed by the awesomely funky vibe of the place. But we coulda sworn he said something about how all drinks are two bucks on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Maybe not. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. Even if we were wrong, happy hour here delivers two-dollar versions of five-buck beverages, including their famous bellinis and a hurricane that could swamp New Orleans (if that's in bad taste, the drink ain't at all).

Readers' Pick
Absinthe Lounge 1409 S. Lamar St., Suite 008 214-421-5500
We started to credit Leann Berry with best use of pomegranate for her unique "pom pom" cocktail. Then we tried her latest creation, the pantheistic "nectar of the gods." It resembles a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, a perfect way to start the day, until the musky tartness of passion fruit and dry kick of tequila clutches your throat. A strong pour of agave juice. She treats the pulpy fruit first, probably in a vat of alcohol, then blends it with a good reposado tequila, Grand Marnier and other ingredients. We suspect key lime, but can't pick out the remaining flavors. Berry may be the city's most creative mixologist, designing several Ciudad standouts and kicking ass in a Corzo competition. Clearly not so good when it comes to naming things, however. No self-respecting guy is likely to stroll up to a bar, nod to a nearby babe, and blurt "nectar of the gods, please, and another scotch for the lady."
So you caved in to peer pressure, begged some credit and bought one of those overpriced condos popping up all around Oak Lawn and Uptown. Friday and Saturday nights you press the limits of your Visa account ordering overpriced cocktails at Medici. Gotta spend Tuesday nights on Primo's sparse patio, like everybody else, and cram into Nikita on Sunday, which puts you to work several hours late. There goes the raise. When it's time to scale back, there's always Snookie's, with a menu of comforting fried foods that will keep you feeling stuffed all day long and a full bar to beat back any attempt by the rational part of your brain to make the rest of you cognizant of financial distress. Parking around back is a good thing: You can hide the Kia from public view.
Several evenings last summer we popped up to Medici and found a real-life reenactment of those cartoon moments when the main character freezes and everything falls silent. Crickets chirping, that sort of thing. After the usual grand opening frenzy abated, the party people slinked away from Phil Romano's upscale lounge. Yet somehow Romano's hard-working fix-it man, Joe Palladino, managed to revive the place. This summer, hordes of comely youngsters bumped elbows and anything else that protruded. The well-appointed lounge now ranks amongst the hippest spots in Dallas, despite offering some of the most expensive drinks. Palladino guessed that relaxing the dress code, kicking up the music and loosening the door policy would pull the mob back, and it worked.

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