Best Jeopardy! Cameo 2015 | Old 97's | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

"I'll take 'Rhett Miller's White Jeans' for $100, Alex.'" OK, that wasn't the category that got everybody's favorite cow punk — uh, alt-country — band from Dallas onto Jeopardy!, but we can dream, can't we? The real $64,000 question (or, in this case, $800 question) asked, "The Old 97's are a part of the musical genre known as this-country." It was a fun 15 minutes of fame (well, 10 seconds) for Miller and the boys, who found out about it thanks to "book-smart fans." No word on whether Trebek rocks out to Old 97's, but Jeopardy! is Jeopardy! — even your grandparents can tell you that's a big deal.

Barak Epstein

To some, the Texas Theatre is best remembered as the place where Lee Harvey Oswald tried to hide out after assassinating President Kennedy. But since its revitalization a few years ago, and thanks to creative and thoughtful programming, the landmark with a dark history is enjoying a second life as a key player in Oak Cliff's cultural renaissance. Occasionally it shows a big hit, but more often it's the place to catch a documentary or cult classic that's not showing on the big screen anywhere else. The theater frequently pairs its movie screenings with burlesque shows, stand-up comedy and performances from Dallas' coolest local bands behind the screen. The retro vibe of the building and its orange velvet couches add to the air of swank. It's the only movie theater bar that people visit even when there's nothing playing. There's also a gallery space upstairs, The Safe Room, where emerging artists show work.

Texas country is somewhat different from red dirt country, quite different from alt-country and a whole hell of a lot different from bro-country. Texas country is real; it's not full of glitz and glitter, and it's not about trucks or bass fishing or taking shots or dancing. It's about living in this nation's greatest state and all that entails. That's why Love and War in Texas is Dallas' best country bar. It ignores everything else and just gives you the best in Texas country on as many nights of the week as possible.

Write a book about experiences you don't remember. It's a riddle of a premise, but Dallas native Sarah Hepola wasn't afraid of a challenge. Her relationship with alcohol, which continued despite crippling blackouts, is the subject of her memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. It's a tale of recovery that will move anyone who's struggled with substances or knows someone who has, but it's relatable on other levels. It's a beautifully and often humorously written exploration of memory and the pain of reconciling big dreams with bigger doubts. Hepola dedicates the book to "anyone who needs it." If you ask us, that's everyone.

Because secondhand embarrassment is real, we sometimes get nervous before seeing stand-up comics. Good jokes take risks, which means any comedian with hope of being good is just as likely to get crickets as big laughs. When Clint Werth takes the stage, however, you forget to be nervous for him. Werth is not just funny "for a little-known stand-up" or "better than you expected of a local comic." His stage presence and dark, self-deprecating perspective — on topics such as his neighbors, who treat him like he's a pedophile or a shut-in, never suspecting that he might actually just be stealing their cigarettes — may remind you of other depressive yet outrageous comics like Louis CK, but Werth's material doesn't feel derivative. He's his own hilarious animal.

This is the best bar to watch soccer in Dallas. This is also the best bar to watch the Cowboys play, which you might find hard to believe because it's not located in some posh neighborhood or in an old rundown building. The clientele is 99 percent Latino, but gringos, don't be shy. When a local team is playing, Ojos Locos is always packed out and it's an amazingly good time. Really, there's no better place to watch any game in Dallas.

This cowboy-themed bar is a Cedar Springs legend, and for good reason. In addition to the frequently cheap drink specials, cute boys (and girls) dressed in western wear and RuPaul's Drag Race watch-parties, Round-Up is the place every celebrity in the world heads to when he or she visits Dallas. Lady Gaga is known to frequent the spot, and you can see plenty of Drag Race faves just enjoying cocktails and dancing to country tunes. Their karaoke night is also widely considered one of the best in the city, so don't be afraid to bust out your best rendition of "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?" after a few Long Island iced teas. Maybe Gaga will discover you and you can ride her coattails all the way to stardom.

At some of the nation's top shopping malls, the "Santa experience" is being retooled. A Santa show produced by DreamWorks, for example, promises a "fully immersive story hosted by characters," including "a thrilling four-minute flight on Santa's sleigh." The shows Dallas puppet maestro John Hardman has produced with his Le Theatre de Marionette for 40 years are a flight in the opposite direction, back to a pre-pixel Punch and Judy time. His free Scrooge Puppet Theatre at NorthPark Center every holiday season — witty ad-libbed insults from Dickens' old miser — is borne of an ancient art form that entrances even today's over-entertained children and adults.

John Hardman Productions, 214-824-6435

If you're really trying to shake your groove thing, Station 4 is the only place to go in Dallas. This massive club on Cedar Springs is always playing pulsing techno, and the dense crowd means you won't have to be self-conscious about your moves. In addition to the five-plus dance floors, you can also get tips on dancing from the drag queens performing in The Rose Room. If you're the type who has to be really, really drunk to dance, you can a) accomplish that, or b) just stand in the corner and observe as people of all walks of life dance the night away. Don't be surprised to see a few in full-on furry costumes grinding on the stage or a Lady Gaga impersonator getting it on with a guy who looks like an Abercrombie model. Anything can happen at Station 4.

No matter what you've heard about the Dallas school board over the last year, picking the best member isn't easy. Miguel Solis, for example, did a yeoman's job as board president, stitching together consensus in a body ripped by controversy. But Mike Morath is the one who has suffered the worst slings and arrows, usually for his devotion to research and logical thinking. Through it all he has displayed a remarkable ability to grin and bear it. Asked recently if he thought the end could be near for public education, he said, "If we give up on public schools, we give up on America."

District 2, Dallas Independent School District, 214-925-3700,

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