Medici
Medici is, as every uptown scenester knows, just exclusive enough to be called exclusive, but not exclusive enough that a pretty big rack or a pretty big wallet won't get you in. We know because, well, we've been there, and we are not classy broads, despite what you may have been led to believe. This didn't seem to matter to the sea of middle-aged advertising execs, building contractors and PR guys who practically lined up to buy us very dirty martinis. By the end of the night, we were grinding with Uncle John over in the VIP section, the velvet rope disappearing before our very eyes. Bleary-eyed and hungover, we woke up the next morning with several business cards stuffed in our purse and the number of an Indiana Pacer point guard added to our cell. And we haven't had to pay for dinner since.
Some jazz clubs in Dallas offer live music on the weekends; most of the better ones serve it up every night. But New Amsterdam, a coffee house in Exposition Park, beats the competition even though it hosts live jazz only on Mondays. Still, there's more than a quality-to-quantity ratio involved in this one. To us, jazz isn't about pristine tablecloths, expensive martinis and a bunch of old farts sitting around and ignoring the music. The best jazz is the stuff made in dark, casual clubs like New Amsterdam, where local players as hot as Shelley Carroll and (on occasion) Earl Harvin set up on the floor in front of the bathrooms and improvise some of the best bop-era jazz in town. On occasion, the tunes get rough--after all, the floor is open to all brass-wielders--but cheap martinis, lounge seating and a chill atmosphere make up for the occasional weak sax solo. Readers' Pick
Sambuca Uptown 2120 McKinney Ave. 214-744-0820
Grandpa ran every Saturday at the lake? Grandmother fed the ducks? Now you can recognize loved ones or honor special occasions by donating money for the Celebration Tree Grove at White Rock Lake, recently approved by the city of Dallas and the White Rock Lake Task Force. Donations to an endowment fund established by For the Love of the Lake will go to plant native trees, starting with some large trees that will give the area a special, secluded feeling. Eventually the grove will include walking paths and a courtyard with benches. For a donation of $1,000 or more, a plaque with Granddad's name will be mounted on a commemorative structure built in the style of the lake's Civilian Conservation Corps-style rock buildings and walls. Don't stop at recognizing your human relations. Your black lab loved the lake, too. For $1,000, you get the plaque and someone else's beloved companion gets more trees to sniff.
The Old Monk
We're about to make a disclosure that has nearly cost us a few friendships. When it comes to beer, we love a good bottle of Grolsch. We truly enjoy Stella Artois from the tap. Occasionally, we'll go with some breed of Chimay. We heart Boddingtons. Cheers to Harp and Fat Tire. Dear, sweet Pyramid Apricot. Good ol' Guinness. Give us a Snakebite, and we'll show you strength through the inevitable hangover because, well, it was probably worth it. They are very tasty. Priest's Collars, Black Velvets, even Car Bombs. Point is, we've been told that one person shouldn't enjoy all of these varying types of beer. Arguments have ensued. "You can't love Grolsch and Boddingtons! Who loves Grolsch anyway?" But whatever. We do, and thankfully we have a haven when we walk through the doors of the Old Monk. The Monk's beer list reads like an international who's who with prices from budget to scandalous. Luckily, no matter which personality of ours is drinking on any given evening, the Monk keeps our pint glass full with draught or bottle brews from Belgium, Germany, Holland, Great Britain, the States, Canada, Czech Republic, Jamaica and Mexico. Pair a pint with some frites or Guinness beef stew and the experience is nothing short of world-class.

Readers' Pick
The Ginger Man 2718 Boll St. 214-754-8771
Ever since most of us on staff caved in and bought iPods, we haven't bothered with local radio stations to get our music fix, and in the past year, the corporate-owned frequencies haven't done much to change our minds. But that doesn't mean our antennae go unused. Rather, we keep the radio tuned to The Ticket on 1310 AM. And we're definitely not alone. It seems like everyone around town talks about the sports talk shows that run throughout the day, even women and non-sports fans. The biggest reason for the wide appeal has to be drive-time show The Hardline, where Mike, Greggo, Danny and Snake (yes, just "Snake") spend more time on topics like Six Feet Under, tomboys, local music and "jarring" than sports, even though their sports commentary is second to none. Still, the 7 p.m. rundown of the station's best segments from the previous day is proof that the entire Ticket schedule is getting it right, whether by delivering the most incisive sports talk in town or by playing games of "Gay, Not Gay." Once you become a P1, you won't switch your radio back to music stations, either.
The nonprofit Writer's Garret has as its stated mission the education and development of readers, writers and audiences. It stages writing workshops, panel discussions, peer critiques, contests and movie screenings. But the organization's two-year-old Writer's Studio Series, hosted by KERA at Theatre Three, takes the top prize. This year, the series brought best-selling literary stars Margaret Drabble, James Ellroy, Umberto Eco and Walter Mosley to Sunday night readings. KERA radio host Glenn Mitchell interviewed each author, who then read from one of his or her books and answered questions from the audience. Each two-hour session was taped and later played on NPR affiliates. The programs are fascinating, unpredictable and sometimes infuriating, as when politically incorrect and always controversial Ellroy told the audience that John F. Kennedy "got what he deserved." Authors scheduled this fall include Bret Easton Ellis (his new one is Lunar Park), Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking) and Scott Turow. With all the lawyers who want to be writers in town, better get your ticket early for Turow, attorney and author of Presumed Innocent and other novels.
Lakewood Landing
The Landing looks like a rec room from the 1970s; think of the basement in That '70s Show or any scene from Freaks and Geeks where people drank, got high or made out. There are a few tables, a handful of booths, one couch, a pool table, Golden Tee, a jukebox and a long bar in a narrow space. On the weekends, it's crowded like a high school party in a John Hughes movie. And that makes the Landing the best place to go after work. On early weekdays, you can hold court at one of the big round tables, feed dollar after dollar into the jukebox (it's one of the best in town with everything from Etta James to the Clash, the Old 97's to Elvis Costello), order a burger or some loaded cheese fries (also some of the best in town) and actually hear people talk while sharing a pitcher of Shiner.
Bath House Cultural Center
White Rock Lake offers more than bike and running paths. For years, the Bath House Cultural Center on the eastern shore of the lake has been a little powerhouse of art, theater, history and music. Built in 1930, the art deco building is tiny but boasts a 120-seat theater, two galleries, a darkroom and other spaces for activities including yoga classes, jazz concerts and dance workshops. It also houses a small but fascinating museum about the creation and history of the lake. (Did you know people could swim in White Rock until 1953? It was closed to bathers due to "drought, polio and racial tensions.") The galleries showcase regional artists, often those who live and work in the lake area.
White Rock Lake Dog Park
On a good day at the dog park, you'll meet dozens of dogs of various breeds and, sometimes, dozens of breeds in one dog. Not a dog owner? White Rock Lake Dog Park is a great place to "window shop" for your next pal; you can see how spectacularly tall (and drooly) a great Dane is or how mind-numbingly adorable a 4-month-old basset hound puppy can be. Good-weather Saturday afternoons seem to be the time to encounter the highest volume of canines, especially since this summer's renovation.
You can't fling a paintbrush/film canister/chisel/flashcard/pencil/found object in this town without hitting an artist. They're sketching at White Rock, shooting Deep Ellum in gritty black and white and wandering downtown, picking up lost Post-It notes and other detritus for assemblages. For most, the biggest opening reception their art will see is when they pop the top on a Bud Light after hanging their latest masterpiece over the couch. But if they're lucky, they'll catch the discerning but unpretentious eyes of Sarah Jane Semrad and Nyddia Hannah of Pigeon-Stone Project, which gives local artists and curators opportunities to show off their work in public by giving local businesses new, innovative local art to display. The duo currently books exhibits--with receptions and everything--in the Continental Lofts, the bar at the Magnolia Theater, Sozo Salon on Knox-Henderson, Zeo Salon on Travis Walk, Two Sisters Catering in Deep Ellum, Counter Culture at Mockingbird Station and the Elbow Room near Baylor Hospital on the edge of Deep Ellum. But look for them to expand to every nook and cranny with enough blank wall space to accommodate a piece or two.

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