Best Hotel 2014 | The Joule | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

You're walking down a downtown street, when you look up and spy a plexiglass pool elegantly jutting out from a building, several stories above your head. Yeah, you can probably see up some person's swim trunks, but that's not the point. The Joule has only been open for a couple of years, but it's already earned a reputation as one of the best hotels Dallas has to offer. In addition to that fantastic pool design, there are full spa services, funky rooms and a good chance you will see a celebrity or 10. It's located right in the center of downtown and within walking distance of the Arts District. Great for a staycation, honeymoon or other special occasion, as the price is no bargain, but it's certainly not as high as other cities' nicest hotels. It's also available as a wedding venue.

DART buses are incapable of making change. Ticket terminals at DART train stations often greet credit cards with a demoralizing buzzer. That alone makes GoPass worth the memory it will occupy on your mobile device. A couple of clicks and your phone is now a valid DART pass. Doubly helpful is the "Where's My Bus?" feature, which will tell you whether your ride is coming around the corner or if it's already gone.

If you have backyard chicken pets and you want to treat them like a bunch of animals, fine, go ahead, sling some kind of gross gray pellets at them and call yourself a farmer. But if you want your chickens not only to be well-fed but to have a strong self-concept and a sense of being loved, you need to get yourself to Trinity Haymarket in the Design District. Their motto is "whole feeds for the home flock," and they mean it. Everything they sell is organic. They have all the best whole grains in an incredible variety. They sell hay, straw, fodder, essential minerals ... wait, do you even know what fodder is? Of course you don't! That's why you need to get down to Trinity Haymarket, where you will discover a whole new world of galline accoutrements. Ask about their magic anti-ammoniac straw. It smells so good you'll want to use it in the house.

George is not a gecko. George eats geckos. Or he would, if he got a chance. George — who is Prince George, technically — is an extremely red Buff Orpington rooster, official mascot of Gecko Hardware, which is the kind of store you'd get if a regular modern shopping mall True Value married an old-fashioned country store. Well, in fact, that's what happened. Andrea Ridout, co-owner and founder of the store, put together all the local honey and cottage crafts you might find in a smart faux-country store with a regular True Value franchise where you can buy construction-strength trash bags. One of Ridout's specialties, not found in your typical True Value, is baby chickens and chicken-raising gear. George was sort of an unintentional adoptee taken on by store staff out of pity for a little girl who brought him in, explaining sadly she had just found out city ordinances allow hens but not roosters within the Dallas city limits. The store offered to let him stay there while they searched for a farm where he could live out his (five) years in peace. But within weeks George was such a hit that customers were dropping by just to visit him. Now he rules the roost.

Best Store for the Unrequited Fisherman


Maybe it was all those Hemingway stories we read as a kid about big-hearted rivers, but there's something about fly fishing that tugs at our romantic soul. In theory, anyway. Actual fishing experiences – at lakes, bored, sunburned, stinking of bait and bug-bitten – have never been good. Still, a trip to Orvis always sets us dreaming about doing manly things in Montana. Fishing is sort of like eating at Olive Garden that way. Let enough time lapse between experiences and you end up telling yourself it wasn't really that bad. Listen, take our advice, forget the fishing and just go for the clothes at Orvis, whose two-level store offers fly rods and flies alongside suits and sporting wear and coats and rain gear fit for a sail on the Atlantic. (Don't get us started about how miserable boats are.) Their casual summer shirts are our favorite – linen and cotton numbers that'll make you look fashionably outdoorsy and keep you cool at the water's edge, which if you're smart is either on a golf course or a pool, with a gin and tonic, not a rod and reel.

Best Priced Seasonal Color and Landscape Plants

Suburban Plants

Suburban Plants is a kind of inside secret among landscape designers and serious gardeners as a place where you can find good, strong, heart-hardy plants at very reasonable prices. For years it has been tucked up into a hard-to-get-to corner of the Dallas Farmers Market, adding to the insider cachet if you ever did succeed in finding it. But now the city in its we-know-better rush to re-design the whole Farmers Market is kicking them out, so Suburban Plants is venturing out into the big world of easy-to-find major suburban arteries. Their new place, opening before year's end, is at the southwest corner of La Prada Drive (not La Prada Parkway) right where Northwest Highway turns into Northwest Drive. Suburban Plants offers a lot of seasonal color and a full stock of perennials. They have shrubs and some small trees for sale, but, even better, they have good sources for larger trees. They can find anything you want and get it delivered for you at a good price.

Kellie Reynolds

Because you were born and grew up in the South of France and now you're here, because you went to school there, you visited once on vacation, you read about it, whatever reason you may have for missing the Midi, Rise No. 1 is ingeniously fiendishly designed to scratch your itch. It's a full-service restaurant specializing in savory and sweet souffles, brie and cornichon baguettes and other dishes that will take where you wish you were. Rise No. 1 is also a shop, offering a variety of French textiles, antique tableware and other merchandise imported from the South of France, as well as a nice selection of new and antique books and magazines. If you want to go back to the Midi or visit a little bit of it for the first time, this is the way to do it without buying a plane ticket.

Kendahl Airey is a specialist with training in deep tissue/sports massage, lymphatic, pre-natal and hot stone massage and oncology massage, for which she was trained at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She has clients who are NFL players and clients who are desk-bound journalists, all of whom need help with tough issues like scar tissue, torn rotator cuffs, knee or back pain. Her lymphatic massage is directed at reducing swelling of any kind, as, for example, in recovery from cosmetic surgery. Pre-natal massage helps expecting mothers deal with stresses and strains their bodies endure before giving birth, and the oncology massage is designed to boost the immune system and help the body fight the good fight.

Really old clocks are cool inside, all kinds of retro-looking gizmos clicking up and down, spinning and rocking together to keep the time. But old clocks are sort of like old people. They get kind of crazy sometimes, and just looking in there yourself, it's not easy to tell if your problem is your gong or your bezel, your pendulum or your bellows, your weights or your head-dressing, to say nothing of whether you'll need a hand-remover. When your old clock turns cranky on you, best to leave it to the trained professionals at Tic Toc Clock Shop, in business for 45 years. The shop always offers an array of antique wall and floor clocks including lots of wonderful cuckoo clocks well worth going in just to watch as they mark the hour. The only thing is, if you want to check out several of them and really observe them closely, you have to keep coming back every hour on the hour. But you know what? After you watch the first one strike the hour, you might just come back for the rest of them.

Not too many years ago Whole Earth Provision and REI were great places to go because it was otherwise so hard to find a lot of hiking, paddling and general outdoor gear in Dallas. Now they're good to know about because there is so much outdoor gear for sale all over the place, and most of it is crap. The problem is that the outdoor recreation market has grown big enough to make it worthwhile to knock off everything from headband flashlights to dry bags, with the knock-off stuff selling at way cheaper prices. And that stuff is OK — maybe even a good deal and preferable — if you think you're suiting up for a single outing, maybe two, and then it's all going into deep storage anyway. But if you need to buy gear that will stand up to repeated beatings, then you should at least pay a visit to Whole Earth Provision. Sometimes the cost difference is less than you might expect, and the quality difference is almost always huge.

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