Best Dive Bar 2014 | Single Wide | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Doyle Rader
Boilermaker, Grandpa's Glory

It's a question as old as hangovers: What exactly constitutes a dive bar? To some, true dive bars are not social places so much as dark, dank watering holes where customers can get away from the rest of the world. But to hell with that. Our checklist for dive bars includes such quaint features as wood paneling, hubcaps on the wall, curtains on the windows and, what the hell, a velvet painting or two. Most important, it's a place to have fun and meet people. In those regards, Single Wide — the younger sibling to Kim Finch's flagship bar, Double Wide — covers the bases. There isn't a better bar along Lower Greenville to slam your Lone Stars and Jamesons while listening to a DJ spin post-punk or, on Sundays, some real stand-up karaoke performances. The tight quarters and smoking patio only encourage socializing.

Whether it's in a one-day workshop or semester-long series of classes, this Bishop Arts District shop offers something for anyone who wants to learn or improve at an art and/or craft. Past classes have included opportunities to learn the art of horror writing, creating pinhole cameras, printmaking, glass-cutting, calligraphy and much more. Of particular interest to parents of budding young artists who hope to devote their high school years to learning more is the shop's extremely helpful course on putting a portfolio together — crucial to anyone trying to get into Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

One Observer staffer loves to tell the story of when he realized that BTW is the exception to the rule for DISD schools. Early in his daughter's freshman year, she saw a crowd of kids rush over to surround some commotion in the courtyard. She assumed what any other kid fresh from a DISD middle school would and asked an onlooker, "Ooh, who's fighting?" but got a quizzical look in response. The girl made her way forward in the crowd and saw what was the source of the hubbub: a breakdancing competition. Those are the kind of kids who get accepted into the prestigious, national award-winning arts magnet. It's like Glee or High School Musical come to life. Too bad the vast majority of DISD high schoolers' experience is more like Stand and Deliver except without the savior teacher.

Catherine Downes

If someone pitched you the idea for a bookstore, wine bar and coffee shop, would you buy in? What if it was the first to the neighborhood? Better yet, to the city? We could assign The Wild Detectives countless awards this year, but instead we're just going to give this thriving Oak Cliff business the expansive superlative: Best New Thing in Town. Because, if we're being honest, there's nothing greater that's opened in the past 12 months, if not long before that as well. It satisfies both our gastronomy and literary cravings, which is saying quite a lot. Thus far, there have been book readings inside, concerts outside and a great deal of wine and local beer split between the two.

The news anchors you grew up with are gone. The McGarrys and the Rowletts and the Camposes, they've been replaced by children who, while bright-eyed and eager, have smooth, unfurrowed brows incapable of properly conveying the gravity of the day's news. John McCaa's brow, by contrast, is perpetually furrowed, the legacy of three decades delivering news at WFAA Channel 8. No one on local TV outside of Fox 4's Clarice Tinsley is as experienced as McCaa, and even she can't match the avuncular, Murrow-like presence that assures viewers that, no matter how horrific that fatal car crash, everything's going to be all right.

Any show anchored by John McCaa has an almost insurmountable advantage over its competitors. Throw in the two best cop reporters in the city, Tanya Eiserer and Rebecca Lopez, a theatrically hyperventilating weatherman/demigod Pete Delkus, the unexpectedly progressive social commentary of Dale Hansen and big-game hunters Brett Shipp and David Schechter, and it's not even a competition.

Perhaps the most jarring segue in Dallas radio is at 4 a.m. on Sundays, when extreme metal gives way to gospel music. What makes KNON work so well is that it has no use for mainstream or pop music, even if some of the artists that various shows play are household names. Each show has a particular focus, whether it's zydeco, Jewish music, '60s psychedelia, hard country, rockabilly or blues. What that results in is volunteer DJs who are extraordinarily passionate and knowledgeable about their respective genres — the narrower the niche, the better. And then, counter to this notion but equally enjoyable are the station's new weekday Morning Blend shows from 7 to 9. Each day, it's like a different host puts KNON's weekly programming on shuffle. You'll hear folk, blues, country, rock, reggae, metal, cumbia and more, all in the span of a couple hours, like a JACK-FM with better taste.

"KRLD's traffic and weather on the 8s" is the go-to program for Dallasites banging their heads on their steering wheels during rush hour or stuck in a torrential downpour. Which is to say, everyone. When the typical waves of massive storms and a few tornados roll through North Texas in the spring, KRLD's coverage is one of the most exciting things to happen on local news radio. The station goes all out: Angry siren noises, panicking announcers, the works. "Get in a shelter NOW," announcers tell listeners repeatedly, creating chicken-with-its-head-cut-off drivers all over the area. Weather excitement aside, KRLD is a staple to Dallas radio with its reliable and thorough coverage.

David Finfrock is an institution in this town. Every kid growing up in Dallas was glued to the Finfrock's coverage when there was even a hint of a tornado or flood or other sign of impending Armageddon. He's been with NBC forever (or since 1975), and is always incredibly soft-spoken and calm in the face of natural disaster. But more than someone who seems very nice on TV, he's someone you'd want to be your grandfather. He likes gardening and maps (he's the editor of the Texas Map Society newsletter, which is as awesome as it sounds) and nature hikes. He would probably bake you chocolate chip cookies for no reason. Also you could write sonnets about that mustache, and many people probably have.

On Sunday nights when long-time local radio host and musician Paul Slavens takes over KXT's signal for a few hours, the otherwise dull, listener-supported station comes to life. You can hear literally anything from Slavens' show: experimental music from locals, French standards, Italian horror soundtracks, an actual person of color, even. That's because Slavens has built a reputation on great taste and actually listens to what his listeners suggest he plays. Think of it as supported-listeners radio.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of