Cave's Lounge
You're decked out in your chucks, with your low-slung ass-huggers and wife beater, and your eyeliner is absolutely perfect. You really, really need to listen to some Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Johnny Cash and you crave a Hefeweizen, but for Pete's sake, you're in Tarrant-freaking-County. It's a scary feeling. What's a hipster to do? Haul ass down to Division Street, the bail bond/pay-per-hour motel capital of Arlington and cram your car into the gravel pit of a parking lot at Caves Lounge. You'll be greeted by an extensive import beer menu, a jukebox stocked with all your favorite indie rock hits and at least one really hot emo kid drinking a Lone Star alone in the corner, just begging to get his or her heart broken. With nary a frat boy in sight, you'll be able to pretend you're in Brooklyn--just don't drink too much, cause you won't be able to take the L train back home.
Like so many things associated with the Trinity River, Trammell Crow Lake Park, between the levees on Sylvan Avenue, is mostly about potential. The parking lot is littered, the soccer fields neglected. The curvilinear artificial lake is mostly mud (from which protrudes a Dallas Morning News vending machine). But with a little sprucing up, this scene could be positively idyllic. A concrete running path around the lake leads to a shady tree and--what the? Are those cows? Yes, this abandoned attempt at pastoral bliss includes a scattering of life-size marble cows, variously standing and lying in the shade with the Dallas skyline behind them. One has a shattered horn, while others are scrawled with graffiti (cow-tagging, anyone?). Unlike their lean, charging bronze counterparts adjacent to City Hall, these bovines appear well-fed and placid, pondering with dignified melan-cow-ly the park that might have been.
Any PG-13 movie on a Friday night opening at the Webb Chapel Cinemark/IMAX: Watch with horror as hundreds upon hundreds of scantily clad prosti-tots pile out of SUVs and congeal into hormone-charged nodes. Tremble with hatred as they throw popcorn, M&Ms and female sanitary products across the theater during the film. Seethe with anger as your emphatic shushing is answered only with sarcastic echoes and sneers. Quiver with happiness as you remember how much junior high really sucked and enjoy the fact that they must endure it five days a week.
In the past, Nick's has been the recipient of the prestigious "best breakfast" and "best potato salad" awards from the Dallas Observer. But whatever gastronomical satisfaction may be derived from a heaping plate of home cookin' pales in comparison with the sheer enjoyment that is eating in the company of amiable senior Dallasites. Perched on the blue vinyl seats, they regale us with war stories ("And that's when Jimmy got his leg blew clear off! Have another sausage."), sneer at our youthful self-expression ("Time was, if you had more than two holes in your nose you'd try to fix it, not stick an earring in it!") and complain about better days when they walked uphill to school both ways, barefoot in the snow (in Dallas.) Mmm. There's just nothing like a big ol' chicken-fried steak with a hearty portion of respect for your elders on the side.
It's an insomniac's dream. Every third Friday of the month, the DMA stays open till midnight with a crazy schedule of activities: music and dance performances, yoga classes, cooking demonstrations (which means free tastings, yum), screenings of cult movies, karaoke. And, oh yeah, there's all that art to hang out with. Free with paid admission to the museum ($10 max, free for DMA members), the late-night gatherings are sponsored by Starbucks, which provides all the coffee you can drink. Six hours of caffeine? Try some double-shots and then go stare at Jackson Pollock's Cathedral or Matthew Barney's The Cloud Club. Zowie. Next Late-Night bash, October 21.
Convenient to both Uptown and downtown workers, Greenwood Cemetery, founded in 1874, is the kind of place we could imagine spending many a quiet, leisurely lunch hour. It's not morbid, at least not to Romantics like us, who love crouching to decipher the weather-worn poetry on 100-year-old headstones, like the one for a 5-year-old who died in 1902 that reads: "Our only daughter...A bud for earth/Too sweet and fair/Has gone to heaven/To blossom there." Or there's the cryptic inscription on the grave marker for Milla, wife of J.W. Yates, that simply states: "I'll come to see you." If you don't really go for the gothic side of it, Greenwood offers a lot for the historian, too, including Civil War soldiers and veterans (both Confederate and Union), mayors and Dallas pioneers. Look for the green kiosks to direct you to special points of interest.
You're driving east on Main toward Deep Ellum, down around Harwood, and all of a sudden this huge blue orb starts to appear in the distance, sort of floating out there over the street. But you can't quite tell where or what it is. As you approach, it grows, but as you near the I-45 overpass, it falls apart and more or less disappears. It is "The Blue Dot," a sculpture actually built and painted on four separate freeway overpasses, a wonderful optical illusion created by Rory Villanueva, an architect with the Beck Group. The Blue Dot was a joint project of the Downtown Improvement District and the Texas Department of Transportation. Assembled in September 2004, it includes metal wrappings of bridge pillars to make them into ceremonial pylons at the gateway into Deep Ellum. It's all very cool.

Readers' Pick
"Walking to the Sky" Nasher Sculpture Center, 2001 Flora St. 214-242-5100
When Elba Garcia was our pick for best city council member three years ago, the competition was stiff. It was a tough call. Several people on the council were contenders. This year, it's different. In the competition to be the best, Garcia is already ahead of some on the council by virtue of not being the target of an FBI corruption probe. But she still has a solid lead, based on her tendency to do serious analysis of issues before shooting her mouth off. She's a mother and the head of a busy dental practice, so she's proof that the rest of them could find time for some homework, too. As former chairperson of the council's public safety committee, she steered an interesting middle course between general support for the police and a willingness to speak out against abuses. She will be a key player in putting Humpty Dumpty back together again whenever the current civic crisis gets resolved.

Readers' Pick
Mayor Laura Miller

Best Place to Drink the Most Disgusting Drink Ever

Absinthe Lounge

Absinthe Lounge
Like most good college students, we had a raucous four months studying abroad in Europe where we discovered nude beaches, smoking indoors and the "green fairy," absinthe. So when we heard about the Absinthe Lounge over on Lamar Street, we were skeptical. Since the real stuff is illegal in the States, the folks there have to brew up a watered-down version made from a less potent kind of wormwood. The drink itself has few, if any, redeeming qualities. It's expensive, it won't alter your consciousness, and it tastes horrible, unless you're really into extremely bitter black licorice. Why go, then? Because they have plush velveteen chairs, an incredibly attractive (and friendly) waitstaff and the best, most ignorable live lounge music this side of the Trinity.
The Cuckoo's Nest has a lot going for it, including a plethora of pool tables, cheap drinks and sympathetic bartenders. But what really sets this upper Greenville dive apart is the floor décor: rough, rug burn-inducing hotel-grade carpet emblazoned with what may or may not have once been a floral design. Become a part of history yourself by buying a Bud, heading for a back corner and tipping out a little bit of brew.

Best Of Dallas®

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