Best Skatepark 2010 | Guapo Skillz Center Skatepark | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

The days are long gone when crowds of kids gathered around a big ramp at Bachman Lake, sporting mullets and neon surf wear, to catch the city's best skateboarding stars in action. That's not entirely a bad thing, but what today's skaters have gained in fashion sense, they've largely lost in tight-knit community vibes that once coursed through Dallas' smaller skate scene. Keeping the old spirit alive, Guapo's a hangout built around old local skate legends, with an eye on "passing along the stoke" to the next generation. It may not look like much from the outside, but this warehouse in the Cedars is home to the best bowl and street-style skating in the city. It's a private club most days, but two or three times a month, open houses let any budding skater roll in and check it out.

Luit and Jamie Huizenga or their employees are always up in the middle of the night making runs to D/FW Airport, because they import flowers directly from the bloemenmarkt, the Amsterdam Flower Market, rather than buying through broker/distributors in the United States. That makes Cebolla the place to go, not only for floral arrangements but for your own fresh robust cut flowers for your own creations. Luit is Dutch and knows the Amsterdam market like the back of his hand. Jamie is a genius designer. Together in an earlier life they created Dr. Delphinium. Their new store on Maple is a sight to behold whether you buy anything or not.

Browsing Penzeys Spices' selection of more than 250 different herbs, spices, seasonings, sprinkles and blends from around the world is enough to make one's head spin. Especially while trying to choose between numerous different peppercorns, chili powders or cinnamon (they stock more than a half-dozen different varieties of each), but, luckily, as you sniff your way around the store, the knowledgeable employees are always ready with suggestions to help you spice up any recipe from tacos, burgers or curries to cakes, cookies or custards. But the best part about Penzeys is that if you don't have time to make a trip to the store, there's always the expedited shipping from the company's online catalog. Penzeys has sold its world-wide array of spices by mail order for more than 20 years now, opening its first storefront in '97. (The Dallas spot opened in 2005.) Our new favorite purchase is the new salt-free Arizona Dreaming, which is an all-purpose blend that lends a "South of the Border" flavor to any dish. Warning though, once you go Penzeys Spices, you never really go back.

Best Way To Stick It To The Man (In Traffic Court)

Gioffredi & Associates

Never pay the fee for a red-light camera ticket. Just ignore it. The city can't prove you were driving the car, and all they'll do is send you warning letters. That's just one bit of free legal advice we—er, someone we know—happened to overhear in the waiting room at the law firm of John Gioffredi. That person we know had a traffic-ticket situation far more complicated than a mere red-light ticket, involving multiple petty offenses with steep fines that had built to a fiscally impossible sum. Yet the very day they walked in, all warrants were lifted and he was able to get his driver's license back after months of nearly pissing his pants every time he saw a cop in the rear-view mirror. To top it off, the cases were all dismissed without having to pay a dime in fines.

We're total music geeks, and in our DVD collection you'll find more than a few rock docs on our favorite bands, from the Stones to Wilco to Arcade Fire. The guys at Good Records are exactly the same, only they've decided to invite all of you over every Monday night to watch their music DVDs, eat popcorn and drink beer while lounging on the store's bean bag chairs. So far, their Music Movie Mondays series has presented documentaries, biopics and concert films featuring the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Daniel Johnston, Rush, James Brown, Brian Jonestown Massacre and more. So get out of the house this Monday and commune with your fellow music lovers. It's completely free, after all...unless you walk out with an arm-load of new records, in which case you're still supporting a good cause.

Dallas boasts many fine man-made bodies of water—but only one of them starts dancing when the beef song comes on. Purists will insist it's "Hoe-down," from Aaron Copland's "Rodeo" suite, just one of the handful of Texas-themed songs that accompany the dancing water by Fair Park's Hall of State. The new fountains in the 700-foot pool, designed by the folks who did the Bellagio's fountains in Las Vegas, were part of a $12 million renovation that also added two giant statues that replicate original pieces lost after the park's opening in 1936. The fountains only run on special occasions, but when they do, it's like reliving the end of Ocean's Eleven in your own back yard.

There comes a time in the life of every relationship, be it a marriage or a couple in need of a jump start, when the two just need to get away without really getting away. Maybe the kids are too young to go too far, or Mom's got caretaker fatigue, or date night has gotten mundane. Sure, there is always the Ritz or The W, but then afterward, how can you afford to feed the kids? Not so with the historic Belmont Hotel, which has the vibe of being cool and reasonable at once. It's a different aesthetic from these other fine hotels, more swank than luxurious, more urban then urbane. Take the Art Moderne architecture, the stunning view of downtown Dallas, a swimming pool that hosts a "Dive-In Movie" series, a great bar and patio, and a barbecue joint (Smoke) that dares call itself upscale. To say that it feels as though you have been transported out of the city doesn't do the place or Dallas justice. It just feels good to be there: a nearby adventure for those in need of renewal. Or raw hotel sex.

Homecoming Queens Filmmaker Israel Luna stirred up controversy with his Ticked Off Trannies with Knives, but just wait for the next two films in his transploitation trilogy. By Elaine Liner PHOTO BY MARK GRAHAM

With his transploitation indie film Ticked Off Trannies with Knives, Dallas writer-director Israel Luna earned the crown as this years king of underground cinema controversy. That was fine with him. The more sparkly dust he stirred up with his little $50,000 revenge fantasy about characters named Emma Grashun and Rachel Slurr, the more film festivals he and his extravagantly coiffed leading ladies were invited to. An awful piece of cinema, wrote one blog critic at the movies festival debut. But Varietys critic dug it, comparing Luna to slash-and-trash filmmakers Roger Corman, Russ Meyer and Quentin Tarantino, and writing that The films physical deformities are hardly out of line with the sense of transgressive edginess perpetrated by Luna, whose subjects are meant to representand who can argue?one of the final frontiers of societal intolerance. Note that the same review ends with this: Production values are deliberately and appropriately horrible.

And how does Luna describe the plot of his film? A group of transgender women get their revenge on the lowlife rednecks that bashed them, he explains. Then he cant help himself. Its the sequel to Howards End. Hes kidding, of course. But it was no joke when, at the esteemed Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan, the film drew the ire of GLAAD, which disapproved of Lunas use of the word trannies, among other things. To pacify the protests, Luna made some tweaks to the final cut, taking out the real names of gay-bashing victims. The backlash had one major positive result, however; it brought attention and support from one of Lunas idols, Pink Flamingos and Hairspray filmmaker John Waters, who praised the movie and talked it up on cable TVs Joy Behar Show.

TOTWK was featured at this summers Q Cinema in Fort Worth, at the Philadelphia QFest and at the horror-only Another Hole in the Head Festival in San Francisco. The film has been picked up by a distributor and will open on Halloween as a midnight feature at the Inwood in Dallas and on other screens around the country. A DVD due out later this year will be a 20-minutes-longer directors cut with extras that include a blooper reel and interviews with the cast.

Luna, 38, is a self-taught moviemaker who never went to film school. Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, he was raised in tiny Wellington, Texas, up in the Panhandle. He started making small, scrappy, gay-centric movies 10 years ago. TOTWK was inspired, he says, by exploitation films of the 1970s and 80s, campy gore-horror like I Spit on Your Grave, as well as by recent real-life hate crimes against people in the LGBT community.

Shooting for a few weeks with a group of actor friends he plans to use in more films, Luna was writer, director, cameraman and editor on Ticked Off Trannies not because Im a control freak, but because I couldnt pay anybody else to do these jobs. I didnt even pay myself. He says he plans to use his Dallas-based stars, Krystal Summers, Kelexis Davenport, Willam Belli, Erica Andrews and Jenna Skyy, in the next two films in a planned transploitation trilogy. Financed primarily by individual donations, including generous checks from a Dallas lesbian in her 80s, Lunas films are made with little support from more mainstream-oriented Dallas-based film professionals. The Dallas film industry has not been supportive of my work at all. Its been me doing it on my own, bringing in friends, hiring cast and crew. Im more appreciated outside of Dallas, says Luna.

Future work on Lunas schedule includes shooting a short high-definition (via iPhone video) documentary called 5ive, featuring five LGBT hate crime victims talking about their experiences. Then its on to the next film in the trannie trilogy. Luna envisions it as the ultimate grindhouse zombie thriller, pitting angry armies of the undead against the only two groups of survivors left on a zombie-dominated earth: members of the LGBT community and Bible-thumpers. Kurt Cameron has had the Christian film market to himself for too many years, Luna says. So what would happen if in a movie Kurt was left behind and had to count on gay people to survive? Now thats a complexity we havent seen before. And I already have a name for one of the main trannie charactersBeth Ann Phettamin.

Working title: Kicking Zombie Ass for Jesus. Something tells us dealing with ticked off trannies was a slice of heaven compared with what will happen when that movie opens.

There is much to recommend about this Bishop Arts District chocolatier—from the truffles to the "Crack In A Box" bridge mix—but the "Chubby Nuts" are a good place to start: a mix of macadamias, soy nuts, almonds and hazelnuts, all candied, salted and covered in chocolate and powdered sugar. They're so much a staple of mad scientist-confectioner Katherine Clapner's repertoire they've even found their way into inventions like her frozen chocolate-apricot-mole Push-up Pop. Clapner runs to local and seasonal foods, gleefully tossing around tastes like paprika, habanero and curry in homemade marshmallows, kettle corn and truffles. The uncluttered interior leaves much of the confectioner's work out in the open, while folks behind the counter are almost suspiciously patient answering even the most basic questions.

You know the pool scenes in The Sandlot? The ones with the oh-so-hot Wendy Peffercorn teasingly applying suntan lotion to her sun-kissed skin from her perch above the 1960s community pool that the baseball-obsessed neighborhood kids go to only when it's too hot outside to play a game? Well, the pool at Fraternal Order of Eagles Lodge No. 3108, not too far from the Dallas Arboretum and White Rock Lake, is pretty much exactly like that—only, there's no Wendy Peffercorn (or any lifeguards, for that matter), and instead of dozens of kids, it's mostly attractive twenty- and thirty-somethings showing off their bathing suit bodies and freshly applied skin ink. Also: There are two bars (one inside and one outside), and, after paying a $7 cover charge to enter the place (assuming you're not a member), the beers won't even cost you four bucks. Plus, the whole place feels like it's ripped out of the '60s, which, OK, it probably was. FOE's pool is a slice of the past, updated to placate the contemporary.

The Consignment Store may have a generic name, but its selection is second to none. Items found throughout the 15,000-square-foot showroom in North Dallas are from manufacturers from around the world and include various dining tables, sofas, desks, armoires and beds. While most of the inventory is used and antique furniture, knickknacks and clothing are also for sale. In addition to the unique assortment of items, The Consignment Store commits to daily price reductions to make room for new inventory. Lower prices and a steady stream of new goodies—we knew there was a reason they've been in business for 24 years.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of