Best New City Council Member 2019 | Adam Bazaldua | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Kathy Tran

While Adam Bazaldua hasn't had enough time to make his policy mark on the Dallas City Council, he's already shown that he's got the political chops to lead a district that's needed strong leadership for a long time. In order to win his seat, the high school teacher knocked off District 7's last two incumbents by showing a willingness to collaborate and learn what often seemed elusive for Kevin Felder and Tiffinni Young. Fair Park has a progressive voice on the council who doesn't seem to owe anyone anything. That's an unqualified good thing.

Located on the sixth floor of the building that once housed the Texas School Book Depository, the museum overlooks Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was shot to death on Nov. 22, 1963. Visitors can see historic films and artifacts from the assassination, as well as the window from which assassin Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot. Exhibits walk visitors through the social and political climate in the early 1960s, Kennedy's two-day visit to Texas, the assassination and the aftermath. Those looking to avoid lines can buy tickets online.

For the last two years, Oak Cliff-based De Colores Collective has blessed us with a steady stream of podcasting and programming highlighting people of color and their creations, trials and triumphs. Their weekly podcasts alternate between hilarious and heartrending and offer a fiery mix of hot takes, hot topics, blistering commentary and interviews with local artists. Sisters Eva and Pat Arreguin and their co-host Rafael Tamayo discuss everything from memes to abolishing ICE, to an ongoing feud over the best rapper of all time (Eva is Team Kendrick; Rafael is Team Jay-Z). Acclaimed writer Shea Serrano is a fan, having traveled to Dallas for a live show at the Texas Theatre. Move De Colores Radio to the top of your "Must Listen" podcast pile.

Mike Brooks
Will Evans of Deep Vellum

An offshoot of the nonprofit publishing company of the same name, Deep Vellum Books is a tiny shop in the heart of Deep Ellum. Although it's a small space, the shop makes good use of it by closely curating its offerings. The store shines a light on works by authors who don't always get the attention they deserve, including writers of color and LGBTQ writers. A few times a month, the bookstore brings in authors for readings, book signings and other evening events. For readers on a budget, the store's White Rock Zine Machine dispenses local handmade magazines for a quarter apiece.

Have you noticed yourself feeling joy lately? Is your mood starting to pick up? If so, it's likely you need a good blow to your sunshine, and the Dallas Underground exists to serve you. This late 20th century tunnel system provides a functional link between some of Dallas' largest office buildings, and contains central areas housing unexpectedly diverse food courts and newsstands. Access it via the unsettlingly concealed stairways labeled "to concourse" on the first floor of buildings such as the Bank of America Plaza or Hotel Indigo. You'll quickly realize it's not a place you want to enjoy for too long. Its fluorescent-lit concrete corridors, reminiscent of a Soviet-era bomb shelter, are always a-bustle with powerwalking office workers and midday snack hunters. It's well worth a visit as a sort of cultural relic, even if it comes at the expense of your happiness.

Local performer and yoga teacher Stefanie Tovar — who could be her own Best of Dallas item — founded Hanuman Homies in 2017 with the goal of sharing yoga with those who don't have access to it. After traveling the world as a performer, Tovar found yoga and decided to dive into training. She has since accumulated hundreds of training hours in various practices and has combined her yoga and performing background into the curricula she creates and shares through Hanuman Homies. Yoga possesses a number of beneficial properties that have, in recent years, been secluded in studios not everyone can afford. Hanuman Homies seeks to equip women and children who are battling mental illness and trauma with healthy, yogic-based coping mechanisms they can carry into life. In giving young people a base of yogic breathing techniques, mindful movement and meditation methods, Hanuman Homies hopes to allow for a space in which they can heal and grow within their own bodies.

Forget the Met Gala — the campiest event of the year was the AT&T Performance Center's production of Cruel Intentions the Musical in May. The traveling show retold the '90s teen-movie tale of Sebastian, a rich kid vying for a place in his cokehead stepsister's bed through a bet hinging on his ability to deflower a waiting-till-marriage ingenue. In the play, the Dangerous Liasons-inspired story is told as a musical with '90s hits, from one-hit wonders like Marcy Playground to the decade's rock icons like No Doubt. The production not only captures the sound of the time but also its irreverent humor, including the casual misogyny, racism and homophobia. It was, after all, a time in which "gay" was interchangeably mixed with the word "lame," while "fag" was tossed around like a hacky sack.

What the Design District has: a great dive bar/bowling alley (Bowlounge), a fantastic craft beer bar (Meddlesome Moth), a perfect neighborhood coffee shop (Ascension) and a bevy of the city's best restaurants (Town Hearth, Wheelhouse, Sassetta, El Bolero, Rodeo Goat and Ferris Wheelers, to name a half-dozen). What the Design District doesn't have: overwhelming crowds, stumbling drunks or — for the most part — scooters on the damn sidewalk. Gather ye rosebuds and head to the west side of I-35 while ye may.

Robert Redford publicly announced The Old Man and the Gun as his last film, and the last story he wanted to tell was that of affable and gentlemanly bank robber and serial prison escapee Tucker Forest. Redford brought the script to Dallas-based (and Disney director) filmmaker David Lowery, who assembled a dream cast including Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Casey Affleck and Elizabeth Moss. The film puts its audience through an awkwardly conflicted moment of moral introspection as we root for the bad guy to get away with crime. It's a beautiful piece of filmmaking told through Lowery's austere style, with impeccable scoring by fellow Dallasite Daniel Hart.

Roderick Pullum

The phenomenon that is May May Graves has been wowing audiences throughout the area since making her way into the local drag and burlesque circuit in 2015. Confidence and stage presence may be prerequisites for drag performers, but Graves has those attributes on a level that's transcendent within her craft. Graves has built a massive following, which has allowed her to pursue other ventures in the entertainment industry. Graves released an industrial punk album in July 2018 called Monsters. She's also a highly sought-after event host, but fair warning: Graves as an MC is essentially a stand-up comedian. The only thing that's more blue than her make-up and outfits is her sense of humor. On the second Thursday of every month, Graves produces Qweird at The Nines. The show blends the genres of drag and burlesque while intentionally pushing the boundaries of what audiences come to expect from both.

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