BEST OUTDOOR PATIO/DECK 2013 | The Foundry | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

The Foundry, the bar adjoining the outstanding fried-yardbird restaurant Chicken Scratch, is the first watering hole we think of when we want to do some day drinking on a beautiful weekend or sit under the strings of globe lights in the evening cool. It's expansive, with plenty of seating at picnic tables that can hold large parties. Shipping containers shelter couches and tables that make it feel like you're having a house party in public. The outdoor stage, made of shipping pallets, is gorgeous, curved like a rough-hewn wooden standing wave, and the concert booking is pretty solid, too. But the best part is how inviting it feels. Oak Cliff regulars, visiting suburbanites or out-of-towners, kids and dogs are all equally welcome.

Our 2012 winner for best ice cream, Carnival Barker, is just now tottering back into business after a successful Kickstarter campaign that helped them acquire a pasteurization machine required by state regulators. Denied our fave during the prime ice-cream-eating months by the heavy hand of The Man, we fell back this summer on our old standby and previous Best of Dallas winner, Paciugo. Sure, it's a chain, but let's not hold Paciugo's success against them. They serve up a mighty fine Italian gelato concocted of fresh fruits and all-natural ingredients in array of crème brûlée to violet with every stop in between. It's lightly sweet and refreshing, and it doesn't chew like bubble gum, unlike that of a certain 31-flavored chain we could name but won't. Best yet, gelato has far less fat and 100 percent of the flavor of American-style ice cream, and Paciugo lets you mix and match flavors in one cup. Less fat just means you can make it a really big cup. Or so we tell ourselves.

Catherine Downes

Let us stipulate that those with child and those without will forever diverge on whether kids should be permitted to stray from their coloring-book stations at our finer dining establishments. Let us momentarily table the matter, and instead celebrate a beautiful, sandy, sudsy middle ground called The Lot, known to its East Dallas neighbors as Like Elmo On Demand but With Tito's. A rustic bar and grill near White Rock Lake, The Lot serves up solid renditions of bar-food staples for kids (grilled cheese) and alleged adults (grilled cheese and beer). More important, its massive covered patio is flanked by a just-as-massive sandbox, which is studded with tires and bridges and other things from which your kid can go all WWE on an unwitting stranger-kid, while you, the day's Designated Kid Watcher, sip a bloody mary and think to yourself, Hey, why is that weird kid doing a leg-drop on that poor — uh oh, I gotta go.

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