Best Neighborhood 2011 | North Oak Cliff | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
North Oak Cliff combines all of the best parts of Austin with none of Highland Park's pretense or the West Village's douchebaggery. Instead of cookie-cutter tract housing, the oak-lined streets are populated with Tudors and craftsman bungalows like a sprawling mosaic. Depending on your location, your neighbor is rehabbing a Spanish Eclectic or chilling in his front yard, bare-chested, drinking beer, listening to conjunto and waving at you. Take a walk or a short drive and you'll find three-dollar Maker's shots and the best smoked brisket in town at Lockhart Smokehouse, a delicious licuado de fresa at El Jordan Cafe, or legendary mac 'n' cheese at Oddfellows. Used to be, people worked on one side of the river and lived on the other. Then everyone moved to Plano. Now North Oak Cliff is on the rise. Of all the neighborhoods in Dallas, it feels most like home.

Best Hipster Compound To Wait Out the Apocalypse

The Belmont Hotel

If you've gotta watch Dallas' magnificent skyline burn on Judgment Day, there is no better spot than the collection of white stucco buildings perched above Sylvan. It is a hipster ecosystem unto itself. The boutique hotel's rooms are spartan — some might call that retro — but honestly, you need to get used to a little austerity now that society as we know it has reached its nadir. Because that's an awful realization to come to, you'll probably need alcohol. The Belmont barkeeps make a great gin martini. While you're at it, take a stroll around the hotel grounds. The sidewalks are stone inlaid with pastel ceramic shards, and the landscaping is desert chic — the cacti and desert flora will outlast us all. By now, you're probably worked up an appetite, so check out Smoke before its food stores are raided. If you're feeling brunch, they have a spicy Bloody Mary that will slap you awake. Rapture or not, this could be the closest some of us will get to heaven.
Deep Ellum has pretty much always been a neighborhood covered in graffiti — beautiful street art, let's be clear, and pieces that are often commissioned by local business owners at that. Interesting, then, that the most uplifting of all the tags found these days in the neighborhood are its newest, blatantly unsanctioned efforts. In the wake of the death of 24-year-old Frankie Campagna on New Year's Day, spray-painted homages started popping up all around the neighborhood, honoring the young Deep Ellum native, bartender and frontman of the adored area greaser punk outfit Spector 45. Most simply read "45," referencing Campagna's "Frankie 45" nickname. Few, if any, have been taken down. Fitting: Campagna's father, Frank Sr., owns the Deep Ellum gallery Kettle Art and is himself responsible for a number of the other murals found on Elm, Main and Commerce streets. As much as his father, the younger Campagna was as an iconic figure in the small, close-knit neighborhood. Thanks to the "45" scribbles that still line the neighborhood walls, he remains one. More important is the message behind these marks: Deep Ellum has always been and forever will be a place that takes care of its own.
Did man and dinosaurs coexist? Is the Earth merely thousands, not billions, of years old? Did Jesus ride a dinosaur and was that dinosaur named Skippy? No, of course not, dummy. Are you running for president in the GOP or something? Wake up and smell the paleontology, for Chri ... no, wait. The world's end may be near, so maybe now is a good time to start hedging some of those bets. Listen, you don't have to give up science and rationality to accept that the planet is young and velociraptors and men walked together. (In the latter's case, briefly ran screaming is more likely.) Just tool your way south to Glen Rose and check out Dr. Carl Baugh's collection of fossils of human hand and footprints from sedimentary rock. They prove conclusively that man and dinos were neighbors — or, in the alternative, that some people will believe anything. If you feel ashamed afterward, you can always stop by Dinosaur Valley State Park just down the road from the museum and suck in a little science sightseeing. You never know how this whole "apocalypse" thing might work out, so it's wise to cover your bases.
Look, we can only give this award to District 14's Angela Hunt so many years before we start looking a touch biased. We considered Dwaine Caraway, but isn't that whole Arthur-and-Archie, at-least-he's-entertaining joke played out by now? District 3's Scott Griggs is smart, neighborhood-oriented and a proponent of walkable, bikeable neighborhoods, but we have some doubts about the Oak Cliff streetcar thing he supports, so we're going to wait to see how that flies before joining his fan club. Why pick the mayor, the man anointed by the Citizens Council, the pol who employed a political consultant being investigated by the FBI? Because five months into his term he hasn't done anything to really piss us off, which has to be a new record for a mayor in these parts. He hasn't called for any big public works boondoggles. He's come out strongly in favor of ethics reform and limiting the sway of lobbyists, and as the city's former homeless "czar" he worked diligently to bolster Dallas' care for the indigent. Oh, we know the time is coming when we'll call him all sorts of bad names, but in the meantime let's give the man a pat on the back. There's plenty of time to stick the knife in there later.
Granted, the wildfires earlier this year may have charred some of Possum Kingdom's charm, but with its soaring, chalky cliffs, roughly 20,000 acres of clear water and its setting in the canyon country of the Palo Pinto Mountains, we'll still take this lake over any of the other reservoirs within an easy drive of Dallas. Possum Kingdom State Park, west of Mineral Wells in Palo Pinto County, offers 1,500 acres for camping, hiking and boating. Rugged, hilly views from trails among the junipers and cactus sweep away city stress and lead the mind to think of happier places with more natural beauty than you're likely to see this far east of New Mexico. More important, Possum Kingdom has something that no other North Texas getaway offers us — an in-law with a lakeside cabin and a spare set of keys. Don't have one of those? Well, it's a good place to pitch a tent too.
Dallas-based organic-gardening, lawn-maintenance and tree-health expert Howard Garrett has been Dallas' own premiere organic guru forever and ever, but now, thanks to a continental radio hook-up, he belongs to the entire nation. If you're traveling and can't miss a show, go to his website for a national list of radio stations that carry him. There are some people who listen to Garrett who don't even care about gardening: They just tune in to hear him rip Texas A&M and the big chemical companies. If you took Rush Limbaugh, made him a nice guy, gave him a brain, put him on a strict diet ... oh, forget it. There's nobody else like Garrett.
DART has problems, sure. Our car habit is deeply ingrained and, let's face it, "DART" is kind of a misnomer because getting around on it is more of a slog at times. But plan your excursion around DART's limitations (i.e. choose a destination at a rail station, like the zoo, Mockingbird Station, the West Village) and enjoy a uniquely urban experience that jumbles together all manner of Dallasites: nurses, teachers, construction workers, businesspeople with their noses buried in e-readers, college students, rowdy high school kids, families with children all jacked up on the novelty of getting out of the back seat of an SUV. And the view out the window is a new perspective of your city. It's oddly intimate, sometimes into people's backyards, without a brake light in sight.
The AT&T Performing Arts Center's Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House and Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre are both lovely venues to enjoy a wide range of highbrow entertainment ranging from ballet to touring musicals to stand-up comedy to opera. While ticket prices can reach the triple digits, one of our favorite ATTPAC features — especially when the temperatures are also in the triple digits — is free. The reflecting pool outside the Winspear, a slab of black granite with perhaps a half-inch of water shimmering over it, just begs for photo opportunities. Walk carefully across it and you can keep the water from soaking into your shoes. Better yet, do like your kids (or your inner child) and go barefoot. It's not quite the same as soaking in a pool or hot tub, but splashing around for a few minutes before or after a show somehow makes the Arts District experience that much more refreshing.

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