Best Hound Sounds 2005 | WRR's Roll Over Beethoven CD for Pets | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Isaac Mizrahi has a line of clothing for dogs, and you've bought most of it. Your kitty has different collars for different moods. Your pets eat the highest-quality food. But what of their cultural growth? Lucy needs her horizons broadened with a little Mozart, a little Saint-Saens. This is apparently what 101.1 WRR was thinking when they compiled the Roll Over Beethoven "collection of classical music for pets and the people who love them." Now before you go scoffing at what could seem like a rather zany idea with a $12.99 price tag, notice that the proceeds benefit the SPCA of Texas and Operation Kindness.
A night out in Uptown might convince an alien visitor that human cloning is a thriving industry in Dallas. Deviation from the unrelentingly fratty aesthetic is rare, and opportunities for real conversation are virtually nonexistent. The Ginger Man, however, offers an alternative even as it remains an Uptown mainstay, thanks to its spacious back patio. While the valiant young software designers try to win the hands of the giddy PR consultants by showing their mastery of the impressive array of beers or their prowess at darts inside, folks of different ages or hues preferring to chat under the trees can plop down at the picnic table benches on the patio and jaw away. Of course, the communal seating is also a good way to "accidentally" meet an interesting stranger, but you'd better have something to say for yourself.

Readers' Pick
Ozona Bar & Grill 4615 Greenville Ave. 214-265-9105
For years, the diehard fans of the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) struggled to create some kind of atmosphere in the cavernous Cotton Bowl. Not surprisingly, the professional soccer team's two booster groups, La Raza Latina and The Inferno, became experts in all aspects of soccer pageantry: singing, waving flags, wearing funny hats. But above all, they drum--on snares, bongos, bass, even those harnessed "quad toms" from band camp. Sometimes together, sometimes taking turns soloing, the two groups filled the giant stadium with thunder. Now, in their new, cozy Frisco home, their job will be a lot easier, but one thing will stay the same. After every victory, the groups will gather behind the stands and pound away until the lights go out, a la brasilena, joined by dozens of revelers moved by the irresistible rhythms or perhaps the giant plastic cups of beer. Either way, this beats a hippie drum circle.

Best Place to Sit on a Patio and Not Be Seen

Daniele Osteria

Why do people crowd onto streetside patios in Dallas? Do we love the acrid smell of exhaust, the damp spray of misters turning well-gelled hair into sticky slime or the possibility that someone whipping by at 40 mph will recognize us and droop in envy? None of that's possible at Daniele Osteria, the comfortable Italian spot tucked underneath the Bank One building on Oak Lawn Avenue. It's below street level, so your friends can't spy you unless they stroll along the sidewalk and glance down into the concrete dugout that makes up the patio. The place draws very little wind and reflects heat, so forget about summertime, but when temps cool, however, it's a spacious outdoor room with trees, a few garden benches and plenty of distance between tables. In the fall they project old movies on the whitewashed walls bordering the cavity. No sound, just something to distract you from your date's pointless babbling about family or American Idol.
Ever just sit back and watch Adam Salazar work? We have, largely because we were propped up against the bar. This guy serves a good drink, no matter the cocktail. He knows alcohol and all the intricacies of running a bar. Remembers names and faces, too. No other bartender can claim his following, which includes people of various age groups and geographic locations. He can handle high-volume jobs but speaks with some authority on the important barroom topics, as well--sports, babes, etc. What's really interesting when you're clinging to the bar watching him work is the understated, easy and almost graceful way he arrays empty glasses, flicks bottles from the well and pours multiple drinks, all while scanning the room and laughing with customers. It bespeaks a man of experience, a professional.
A few years back, entrepreneur Todd Wagner was looking for philanthropic ways to spend his billions. He and Mark Cuban had just sold to Yahoo and now Wagner had the Foundation for Community Empowerment on the phone, asking for a local nonprofit that was really making a difference in the area. Head to Oak Cliff, the foundation said. Find Greg Hatley. Out of his garage, Hatley taught kids how to box. But he didn't just teach boxing; he taught boys to be men. And he didn't just teach any kids. He found the worst: the truants running the streets, lucky if they had one parent to raise them, luckier still if that parent had a job. Hatley somehow could turn that kid's life around. Impressed with Hatley, Wagner built him a barn of a gym in Lancaster. Today, Li'l Chris, Brutus, any fighter at the Oak Cliff Boxing Club--they all say the same thing: Coach saved my life.
Inspired by The Food Network's Iron Chef, Iron Bartender presents its drink slingers with quite a challenge: They draw two liquors out of a hat and then have five minutes to turn those ingredients into a kick-ass cocktail. The performance is then rated by a panel of judges, who are a group of highly trained and highly discerning individuals--and we're not just saying that because we were one of them. Patrons get to sample all of the concoctions, and it seems like everyone has a great time. At least we think so. The last time we were there, we woke up the next morning wearing a tiara and someone else's clothes. Iron Bartender takes place occasionally and at the whim of the guys who run Down Bar and Lounge. So pay attention.
You may have noticed that other than our own Jim Schutze, there is a distinct lack of angry, ax-wielding columnists here in the metroplex. In fact, the weapon of choice would be more like a Nerf tomahawk. Jacquielynn Floyd isn't going to dismember anybody with her sensible, sanitary opinions either, but what she does have is an uncanny knack for addressing the exact story that caught your eye the day before. In her self-effacing, semi-folksy style, she lays out well-reasoned, moderate essays on just about every issue of import to Dallasites. The Wilmer-Hutchins mess. The Wright Amendment. The strong mayor initiative. Like any columnist, she strays on occasion, like her recent eulogy for the guy who invented TV dinners (turns out he really didn't, but that's another story). Even her digressions are always intelligent. And Nerfy though they may be, Floyd's tomahawk swings are generally right on the mark.

Readers' Pick
Steve Blow The Dallas Morning News
Way back when people considering themselves ahead of the hipness curve crowded into Samba Room, Matthew Giese worked behind the bar. Already he had developed a keen understanding of popular habits and the Dallas scene. That's when we first labeled him the "poet laureate of Dallas nightlife," a title he has yet to relinquish. He worked several top clubs following the demise of Samba (yes, we know it's still there, but...) then turned his unique understanding into a personal franchise. The poet laureate brings crowds to a location. Bars bring him in to resurrect a dead night or kick-start a new spot. Martini Ranch on Mondays, Obar on Thursdays, Lush, Medici, Spike--you name it. His MO? Know the party people, gain their trust, steer them in the right direction, repeat.
The guy has presence, and presence is what you need as a TV anchor. Sure, Tracy Rowlett has more than that. For one, he has responsibility: He's the managing editor, the big man of the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts. He's ringmaster of the newsroom circus at KTVT. But behind the desk, with the camera on him, you see a guy who's forthright yet relaxed, even-handed yet authoritative. He's able to distance himself from the news. You'll never catch Rowlett putting on the grave face to report--oh, no!--another middle-class white woman missing. He treats every story with a detachment that respects not only the story's subjects but the people watching it. Finally, Rowlett just exudes Dallas. The way his suits hang, the way he parts his hair, that stentorian voice--it's as if it's Tracy Rowlett's destiny to anchor a newscast in Dallas. By comparison, his competitors look like shaky transplants from Yankeeland.

Readers' Pick
Gloria Campos WFAA-Channel 8

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