BEST YAPPY HOUR 2013 | Katy Trail Ice House | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Whether it's a crisp autumn evening or a scorching summer afternoon, the large outdoor patio at Uptown's Katy Trail Ice House is constantly packed with dogs of all sizes, shapes and breeds. This spacious outdoor patio invites Rex to join in on the fun. Whether he just got through running alongside his owner on the trail or got a new hairdo at the pet spa around the corner, he's welcome to hang out while you guzzle a few beers and watch the game or catch up with friends. The patio is so dog-friendly that the pooch-watching can be more entertaining than the people-watching.

The old girl's got a lot of life in her yet. Built in 1959, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the creamy layered wedding cake of a theater building on Turtle Creek has lately been home to some spectacular new productions. Uptown Players now do all their shows there, having learned in recent seasons how to handle the stage's balky revolve and how to complement its curves and acute angles. It is a friendly hug of a theater space, with the best acoustics in town. And no matter where you sit in the 400-seater, the view is fine. The best event there this year was Dallas Theater Center's musical Fly by Night, an intimate, magical piece with a small cast, a tight little band and simple scenery. The warmth of Kalita was perfect for that show, which would have been swallowed by the cold, cavernous Wyly Theatre downtown. Now owned by the city, Kalita Humphreys desperately needs an interior makeover: new carpets, fresh paint, reliable air conditioning (Uptown has struggled through some performances sans air this summer). Can't someone Kickstart a fund for keeping Kalita cool?

Patrick Williams

Listen, It'll Do Club is unstuck in time. A trip through It'll Do will take you through a grab bag of iconic outfits from the last three decades. Somewhere in between running into a cast member from Flashdance and discovering where Waldo has been all this time, you'll find the dance floor. It's one of the best in Dallas with its electric blue panels and chandeliers. There's no sense of time inside, just loud music, big drinks and dim lights to hide those awkward dance moves. It's also the most unassuming club in Dallas, where any sort of adventurous soul can un-Dallas themselves and cut a rug.

We weren't expecting it either. Snug against the wall of Uptown-adjacent barbecue spot sits the most fascinating jukebox in Dallas. It's big, Tron-like front is loaded with typewritery slips of paper that have perfect songs from Elvis, Billy Joel and B.B. King. It's one of the oldest working jukeboxes in Dallas, has about 100 albums in it, and it still plays 45s. Also? It's a quarter per song. Take that, digital jukeboxes.

DFW is home to the largest country radio market in the country. Flip through your FM dial and you'll hear plenty of twang, but it's all been polished to shapeless oblivion in Nashville. Well, almost all of it. There is one strange holdout, a rare independently owned commercial radio station, at 95.3 FM The Range. There, you'll hear country outlaws and Texas legends and bleeding-heart Americana hipsters and whatever the hell else the eclectic DJs feel like playing. After commercial breaks, the voice of Burton Gilliam (Lyle in Blazing Saddles) will tell you what you're listening to, cackling mischievously. Clear Channel would never abide something this ramshackle — no, this is the work of real, actual music fans.

The third album from Denton's The Baptist Generals came 10 years after the second and right on time. Frontman Chris Flemmons relinquished some control of the band's sound to his ridiculously talented bandmates, and the result is a collection of songs that takes his meticulously ramshackle ideas and expands on them beautifully, loudly and strangely. Jackleg Devotional to the Heart is a record full of pointed nonsense and unforgettable melody, and no one released anything quite like it this year, in Dallas or anywhere else.

If you attended nothing but shows booked by Spune, you'd still manage an impressive survey of North Texas music. You'd also be busy — the Dallas-based operation, now in its 16th year, books roughly 10 shows every month. You'd split your time pretty evenly between Fort Worth, Denton and Dallas, and you'd see everything from local weirdos like Warren Jackson Hearne & Le Leek Electrique to arena indie like She & Him. Stick with it long enough and you'd find yourself at dark little clubs and in big open fields (Spune's festival itinerary has expanded impressively in the last couple years). The company is also probably the most restless contributor to music in the area, operating a label, marketing shows and bands and generally finding more and more ways to get people to go to concerts.


Shane Carruth

You gotta hand it to Shane Carruth. The former-Dallasite filmmaker behind Primer and Sundance-buzz-a-thon Upstream Color has stuck to his game: sticking it to Hollywood's movie-making system. Primer was a grainy and raw film about time travel on a $7,000 budget, and his critically acclaimed second film, Upstream Color, has an ending that you may find unsatisfying. He's not afraid to punch. He's not afraid to make a three-hour, rip-roaring sci-fi think piece. He's making smart, thoughtful films with a careful hand. It's a touch that's lacking in Hollywood, and one whose Dallas origins are worth celebrating.

Ohhhhh, how the holidays in Dallas are soooo lovelllllyy. There are Santas on parade, Macy's day sales, tree lightings, ornaments ... and Justin Terveen's shot of Reunion tower looking like the largest phallus in the Milky Way. This past Christmas, Terveen grabbed a shot of two huge Christmas-ornament nards resting gently under the shaft of Reunion Tower. It was shot all over the Internet, and even bothered a few Observer readers. Way to troll, Justin. The shot itself was beautiful, of course.

For a time, Dallas' collective consternation was leveled at a Facebook page with some 60,000 likes called "Oak Cliff Dallas Fights." It showcased fisticuffs predominantly between young Latino men, slugging it out in gas stations, locker rooms and school yards. City Council member Dwaine Caraway said it was bad for Oak Cliff's image, presuming these fights actually took place in Oak Cliff. Eventually, perhaps fearing prosecution, the page's anonymous creator took the site down. But, on a recent search, it appears to have re-emerged. So, if videos of boys who watch too much UFC throwing flailing haymakers are your thing, settle in for an occasionally funny ride. It won't take long. These kids are too bad at fighting to hurt each other much. They're gassed within minutes.

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