Best City Council Member 2018 | Omar Narvaez | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Brian Maschino
Omar Narvaez

During his first term as a member of the Dallas City Council, West Dallas' Omar Narvaez has distinguished himself as more than just a member of the council's progressive caucus. While he reliably partners with Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston to advance smart policies, Narvaez stands out from the pack when it comes to advocating for the city's poor and addressing historical inequities. In May, he called out Dallas' problem with income inequality as being the result of systemic racism. It wasn't a new idea, but it was jolting to hear it coming from behind the council horseshoe.

Barak Epstein

To the rest of the country, the Texas Theatre will always be associated with Lee Harvey Oswald, but for most folks in Dallas, the theater, located in the heart of Oak Cliff, surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants and bars, is considered a staple for nights of good drinks, music and film. Following its grand re-opening in 2010, the theater offers the best bang-for-your-buck programming in town. Regularly pairing rare film screenings with local and touring acts, the Texas Theatre has created legendary evenings such as the 1977 horror film "Suspiria" with Italian progressive rock band Goblin or '80s horror flick "The Beyond" with film-score composer Fabio Frizzi performing a composer's cut, with local band Pinkish Black serving as the opening act. The 87-year-old theater plays not just obscure foreign films but modern blockbusters like "Star Wars." With unique programming, a full bar and special guests in film and music, Texas Theatre is where you go when cookie-cutter movie theaters won't cut it.

Big names, workshops, magic shows. Whether you're looking to laugh (understandable) or up your game at making others laugh (same), Addison Improv can enrich your life. Also, if you need to take care of that arrest warrant with a defensive driving course, look no further: You can take it here, and you'll laugh in the process.

Any fan of stand-up comedy is missing out by not attending the weekly open mic at Hyena's Dallas in Mockingbird Station. Touring professionals, local legends and the newest generation of young stand-ups meet to grab a drink and work on their latest jokes at one of the longest-running open mics in Dallas. Throughout the night audiences can see never-before-heard material from recipients of Netflix specials and then stand shoulder to shoulder with the same comedian at the bar. The entire show is a house party on Wednesday night, with a group of great talents swapping war stories about comedy, and you can be a fly on the wall witnessing history each week.

Courtesy of Dallas Comedy Club

Dallas Comedy House is not only a staple of Deep Ellum, it's a staple of Dallas comedy, maintaining a consistently high bar for their shows. There's such a variety of talented troupes and charismatic performers that it's a guarantee you will never see the same show twice at DCH. The freedom for all the improvisers to design their own shows creates a theater that is always pushing boundaries and introducing audiences to new forms of comedy they wouldn't otherwise see in Dallas. With multiple shows happening six nights a week, there's something for every type of comedic taste at Dallas Comedy House.

courtesy Four Day Weekend

Four Day Weekend is the gold standard for style and presentation in improvisational comedy, invoking a classic Hollywood approach to their shows. For improvisers it's considered a high achievement to join the ranks of the longest-running improv troupe in DFW. This year the troupe expanded operations from their location in Fort Worth to a second spot on Greenville Avenue, giving those who refuse to visit Fort Worth a chance to see the show. The troupe has played for two presidents, and they can play for you too if you buy tickets to one of their Saturday-night Dallas shows.

Daniel Rodrigue

Taylor Higginbotham, Brad McKenzie and Robbie Scheer, the three Denton men behind The Brave Boys podcast, are making big waves with their weekly comedy show. Funny, irreverent and addictive, The Brave Boys' chemistry creates the feeling for the listener that they're the silent fourth member of a group of friends that they always look forward to hanging out with. The Brave Boys' unpredictable interviews with local comedians they invite as guests not only showcase their skills as hosts, it makes you mad at yourself for not already being a fan of the comedian you're hearing for the first time.

It may not be as cheery as Disneyland, but Dealey Plaza remains a magnet for tourists from everywhere. Whether it's to take photos, honor a fallen president or learn about the latest conspiracy theories, the site of John F. Kennedy's assassination is the first stop for out-of-towners looking to experience Dallas. Within walking distance tourists can visit the Sixth Floor Museum, get fitted for boots in the West End and grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants providing shelter from the heat. Dealey Plaza has so much to offer, visitors don't mind dodging traffic to stand on the infamous X.

The key to the future is tucked away in an unassuming part of southwest Dallas, off a gravel road and behind a canopy of trees. There, the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas have transformed a 1920s-era campground on more than 90 acres into a living laboratory and girl-power mecca. Scouts and their families can enjoy year-round programming that sees girls of all ages assembling robotics, coding apps, gazing at the stars, running geology experiments and engaging in confidence-building athletic activities like rock climbing, ropes courses and archery. The goal is to expose more girls to the opportunities that STEM careers offer and to close the workforce gap between men and women; right now, 74 percent of STEM workers are male. But it's also an important incubator for lifelong female friendships and support: Visitors to the camp will see girls swapping friendship bracelets over their circuitry and sharing their dreams at the top of the observation tower.

courtesy DWA

The internet is inundated with videos of animals doing cute things, but screen time does little for our need to fully absorb this cuteness compared to seeing clumsy penguins, sleepy sloths and giant manatees in real life. Since 1992, The Dallas World Aquarium has offered adults and kids hours of fun and once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities as a sanctuary for all types of creatures. Its conservation efforts span several parts of Mexico and South America, including the Jaguar Conservation Program in El Pantanal, the Costa Rican Sloth Conservation and the Amazon Manatee Conservation Project, among others. The best part about the DWA is its dedication to the wellness and protection of its animals. Enjoy a glass of wine or a snack as you walk through the many halls and pebbled paths to experience the wonder of some of the world's most exotic animals. Ticket prices vary, and guided tours are available for large groups.

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