Best Place to Sport a Huxtable Sweater 2008 | Brooklyn Jazz Café | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

With its semi-industrial location and red brick exterior, Brooklyn Jazz Café indeed evokes the mighty borough that is its namesake. Inside, too, the rough-hewn brick walls, copper bar top and intimate feel are urban and urbane. It's clear someone put some thought into the detailed décor and, for once in this town, didn't go cheap on executing a vision. Every time we enter the place for a glass of wine and some downright soulful, amazing jazz, we remember: Dr. Cliff Huxtable lived in Brooklyn, and he too liked jazz. Coincidence? We thought so, until we looked around and noticed a number of hip, grandpa-aged men sporting "Huxtable" sweaters—those loose-hewn acrylic numbers, each with its own unique, complicated geometric pattern. It makes the whole thing kind of eerie, like stepping into a time machine and a television set. But no matter—the ambiance at Brooklyn is one of Dallas' semi-known—but still underappreciated—gems, a nice spot for a cocktail and some always varied, always riveting jazz.

Hey, you, the writerly type. We know you're shy. We know you'd rather sit inside with your nose in a book, keeping humanity at bay. But you have to leave the house sometime, so you might as well do some good while you're out there. We recommend volunteering with the Writers in the Schools Program (WITS) and its companion, Writers in Neighborhoods (WIN). Both focus on getting kids to use their imaginations through the use of reading and writing skills. The programs are fun, you get to know some great kids, and you get to see great results. WITS director Sue Glenn says many kids in the program show healthy improvement in their test scores. And that spells success that could change lives.

Getting out of the parking lot at The Palladium or Gilley's following a packed concert is like sitting in a traffic jam on LBJ Freeway, except your ears are ringing and the other drivers are drunk. But if you aren't in a hurry to get home—and that's probably a moot point anyway, considering the traffic—Absinthe Lounge is within stumbling distance of the venue. The club is host to jazz or acoustic live music on most nights, offering a relaxing way to wind down after a loud rock show, and overstuffed couches in a cozy, dark bar are a relief after a standing-room-only show.

Visiting Adventure Landing, it's hard not to picture yourself in some classic teen movie, à la John Hughes, mustering your courage and making your move after slyly teaching your date to putt. A high-tech gaming center this isn't, but it's got all the staples—old-school laser tag, batting cages, an arcade and our personal favorite, go-karts. Throw in the classic '80s soundtrack blaring on the "three uniquely themed 18-hole miniature golf courses" (actually, between the fake concrete caves, the elephant statues and the stinky moats, they're all about the same) and you'll have visions of Cusacks, Ringwalds and Brodericks dancing in your head in no time.


In its 50th season the theater founded in 1959 by renegade director Paul Baker will spend a year saying goodbye to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building on Turtle Creek (now owned by the city of Dallas). In 2009 DTC will move into the 12-story Wyly Theatre (designed by Rem Koolhaas) at the multi-venue downtown Dallas Center for the Performing Arts. Before the relocation, it's time to recognize a shift in attitude and a new dedication to local talent at DTC. Under new artistic director Kevin Moriarty, the theater is returning to Baker's regional theater philosophy of encouraging local talent and debuting new work. The season opener, The Who's Tommy, directed by Moriarty, cast Denton rock band Oso Closo and four Dallas performers—Cedric Neal, Liz Mikel, Josh Doss and Gregory Lush—in lead roles, a big change from past seasons when actors were imported from New York City for starring parts and locals were relegated to spear carrying. Moriarty has also aligned DTC with SMU's theater department and has expanded free theatergoing opportunities for children and teens. There's big buzz about DTC again, and if, like us, you heart the arts, that makes the future of theater in our city pretty exciting.

For GLBT teens, horror can replace happy in what should be a carefree rite of passage. Even today with more tolerant attitudes, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth often face taunts and bullying at school. And what happens on prom night? At the Gayla Prom for GLBT and "questioning" youth, it's all about taunt-free fun. One of the largest events of its kind in the country provides the chance for kids to celebrate prom night with their friends in a safe environment. Now under the loving care of the Resource Center of Dallas, the Gayla Prom held its 11th annual party in May, and plans are already under way for 2009. About 25 percent of attendees are straight and come with gay friends. Many who have taken advantage of this unique evening say they felt they could be themselves for the first time in a social setting and for once didn't feel isolated from their peers. There's something prom-ising about that.

If there's one thing the Choose Your Own Adventure books of our youth taught us, it's that you must look for the obvious clues. So if you're driving down Northwest Highway and come across Goforth Road, you should probably take the detour. Behind Flag Pole Hill you'll find White Rock Stables, a relic from the days when this part of Dallas was still out in the country. Sure, there's a horse or two that will amble up to the fence for a photo opportunity—beware, the beasts will bite—but we go to check out the peacocks strutting regally through the fields, or better yet, the neighborhood behind the stables, where white peacocks with 6-foot tail feathers roam yards and porches.

Every day the vision gets a little clearer of what the new Dallas Center for the Performing Arts will look like. Right now it's still a towering jumble of beams and cranes, but by fall 2009, the $338 million complex of state-of-the-art theaters and concert halls will be complete. The four venues: the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, Annette Strauss Artist Square and City Performance Hall. More than 600 performances a year are expected to draw audiences to the multilevel theaters that will provide new homes for five resident companies. The Dallas Opera and Texas Ballet Theater will perform in the Winspear, while the Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico will perform in the Rem Koolhaas-designed, 12-story Wyly. Nonprofit TITAS will become the resident fine arts presenter at the DCPA, bringing performances of dance and music every season. Chasing that "world-class" moniker for years, Dallas may at last have a superb showcase for the arts.

Technically, we suppose a metal embossed plaque on a near-empty shed in the Farmers Market isn't really a sculpture per se. Much the same way, a boulevard isn't an avenue and an online poll isn't the same, say, as casting a ballot in the city council elections. Nevertheless, we're going to bend the rules a bit—there's a lot of that going around—and give this award to the Chávez plaque, which honors the late labor leader's tireless efforts on behalf of impoverished farm workers everywhere. Dunno why, exactly, but there's just something about reading it that reminds us of home.

With his soothing voice, Paul Slavens sounds like your standard National Public Radio personality. But Slavens is so much more. He's a composer, an improv musical comedy genius (his Monday night residency onstage at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton is becoming legendary) and, best of all, a go-to source for locally produced songs and long-forgotten gems. He comes to his knowledge rightfully as the former frontman for the jazz-rock combo Ten Hand, an act that once graced the stages of Deep Ellum. But now that he's older and, um, balder, he remains entrenched in the local scene thanks to his calming, end-of-the-weekend, listen-and-let-the-world-slow-down-for-a-second radio show.

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