Every daily paper should employ a set of unyielding skeptics churning out columns that force readers to react--and to anticipate the next round. Too bad The Dallas Morning News runs so many tepid columns and soggy editorials. Only Mr. Dallas possesses the weaponry of a great columnist, and he's allowed only the occasional piece about nightlife. Few writers can lambast a bar or new fad in so few subtle, sharp and tightly crafted words as the bespectacled curmudgeon. Advising middle-aged men on the art of hooking up, he warns that "silence can be golden, but shoes never shut up." A few years ago he divided nightlife denizens into "scissor girls," "investment bikers," "torso boys," "Prada people" and so on. Mr. Dallas never becomes enamored with bars and babes and booze and all the stuff that most people find exciting about the night.
You like to be in the theater before the lights dim for the previews. Your companion doesn't mind missing the first few minutes of the movie. That leaves you waiting--hoping--for 10, 15, 20 minutes. Don't stand in the Angelika's lobby, tapping your foot and checking your watch every 30 seconds. Go next door to Trinity Hall; it's OK, you can see the theater from there. Have a beer, or maybe a whiskey is more suitable for calming your anxiety, and perhaps there's time for chips and curry or another Irish pub specialty. You'll like Trinity Hall so much you might not mind missing the movie's opening credits either.
We've always seen exercise as something done in hopes that eventually--one day far, far in the future--we might actually get hit on again. But, for some people, the payoff is much more immediate. It happens while they're exercising. That's right: Some people get hit on even when they're sweaty, pony-tailed, makeupless and Spandexed. On Saturday mornings at White Rock Lake, whether you're walking, running, pedaling, rolling or just walking the dog, you're a moving target in the city's biggest singles scene.
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

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