Bowen House
Courtesy Bowen House

Though it's one of Uptown's oldest buildings and a state historical landmark, Bowen House has earned its place as Dallas' go-to for fancy dates with its menu of exquisite cocktails and high-class speakeasy ambience. Dallasites looking to impress someone special are sure to love the dark interiors and deft service (the menu encourages patrons, in all caps, to ask for "suggestions from the bar"). Bowen House is focused on its drinks, but their highbrow eats--from the truffle-showered steak tartare to the veal katsu--are still made to perfection. If you're looking for a more exclusive setting, get in line early: Bowen House's Back Room is one of the harder reservations in town to secure.

The Londoner Pub

If you're looking for somewhere to witness diehard sports fandom but can't handle another round at a Cowboys bar, this is your spot. This North Texas chain operates several locations around DFW and still manages to generate the sort of fervor only found in British pubs on Premier League game days. With at least 15 beers on tap and dozens available by bottle, your excursion is sure to be well-oiled. If soccer and beer aren't your thing, The Londoner has a generous spread of deliciously greasy pub fare you don't want to miss. Think unruly portions of fish and chips, or shepherd's pie as big as your face.

Best Arcade Bar
Mikel Galicia

Take heed, Dave & Busters: With 140-plus games and unlimited daily play for only $10 a person, Cidercade is hard to beat. Located in the Design District, Cidercade stays family-friendly until 8 p.m. and only serves ciders, hard seltzers, and wines they make themselves. Cidercade is "BYOF," or Bring Your Own Food, and invites customers to have food delivered or check out the rotating cast of food trucks that line the parking lot. The arcade is outfitted to please vintage-gaming purists and casual gamers alike. Inside, you'll find all the classics like Street Fighter, Pacman and Donkey Kong, and the newer sports and first-person shooter games.

Best Speakeasy
Roderick Pullum

Candy shop in the front, speakeasy in the back. If you want a refreshing spin on your nights out in Deep Ellum, Truth & Alibi is your best bet. Take the time to track down the secret password online (hint: check Facebook), and you're all set to enter Truth & Alibi's backroom. There you'll find a Prohibition-style lounge replete with early '20s art and dramatically low lighting. You're there for the underground (and slightly gaudy) vibe, to be sure, but there's still a strong roster of classic cocktails to choose from, plus several absinthe-infused and house-specialty drinks.

Best Secret Show
Joel Olivas

If someone asks you, "Hey, do you want to go see Tyler the Creator perform at a show no one knows about?" The correct answer is "Yes, yes I do." In July, the Odd Future co-founder hit Trees Deep Ellum with a set so exclusive that it was his only Texas tour stop for the year and only a handful of fans knew ahead of time. Those two facts didn't stop Dallas from packing the place for the rapper's appearance. He didn't just do his hits. His main reason for being there was to try out some new songs for live crowds, so the audience got to see one of the pre-eminent musicians of our time trying out tracks that could be global hits. Then as if the evening couldn't be more unbelievable, Dallas' Queen of Music Erykah Badu made a cameo at the end of Tyler's set just to say hi to her hometown fans.

Best Erykah Badu Moment
Peter Larsen / Getty Images

You know you're an icon when you can take one of your body's natural functions and turn it into a product strictly for your fans' smelling needs. Badu did just that with her newest incense fragrance, Badu Pussy, which re-creates the smell of her beloved kitty Mr. Sniffles. (If you believe that, then we suggest you stop reading right now and move on. No? Alrighty then. You were warned, granny.) Her Badu World Market website in fact says these limited edition incense sticks were made with pure resin, essential oils and herbs and "the ashes of Badu's underwear." Each order of 20 sticks comes in a box with art by noted album cover artist Donald Ely. Some fans thought Badu was just making a joke when she first announced it but most realized she was super serious and the vagina-scented incense sold out fast.

Best Pop-Up Bar
Danny Gallagher

It seems unthinkable that in the trend of pop-up theme bars, it took this long for someone to attempt a Simpsons concept. The Whippersnapper on McMillian Avenue already did pop-up homages to The Office, Harry Potter and Breaking Bad, but the place really stepped up its game with its version of Springfield's favorite watering hole. The place did more than just paint its façade to look like Moe's Tavern. The staff dressed up as some of the show's most beloved characters, and they created some tasty Springfield-ian creations that dove deep into the canon like a bourbon and black tea mix called The Simpsons & Sons Revitalizing Tonic, a fruity mixture called Lil Lisa's Slurry and the classic Frozen Squishee from the Kwik-E-Mart. The décor celebrated some of the show's most iconic moments like Homer's immortal declaration "To alcohol! The cause and solution to all of life's problems."

Best Spot For Old-Timers
Alex Gonzalez

Sons of Hermann Hall was built in 1910, and DFW music lovers have found a home at the venue, which is the oldest free-standing wood structure in Dallas. The Deep Ellum mainstay was originally built by a fraternity of German immigrants who identified themselves as the Sons of Hermann, and it attracts an older clientele these days. Ray Wylie Hubbard, the Chicks and the Old 97's are just a few on the list of impressive names who have rocked the stage. And that list keeps getting longer.

Best Karen Venue
Getty Images

The majority of 2021 may have been spent indoors but that didn't prevent the Karens of the world from making venues feel cornered by their petty problems and complaints about nothing. The Haltom theater in Haltom City faced just such a situation over a song performed by Auntie AJ, who was opening for rapper Mike Jones. AJ's set included his song "Fuck White People," an obvious jokey jab. (On SoundCloud, AJ urgess the viewer, "Don't take this song to heart.") Of course, that didn't stop someone in the crowd from just posting a video of AJ chanting the song's chorus in a TikTok style video with the caption tagging FOX 4 and asking, "Why don't y'all report on this. [sic] #racism". The venue's owner issued a statement apologizing to any offended patrons, promising them a refund and a permanent ban for Auntie AJ. The owner also vowed to "act faster to cut the audio if an act crosses the line." Good to know, especially for adults who'd rather not have a theater owner acting as nanny at a hip-hop show. They can go elsewhere.

Best Championship Mullet
Zoie Shepard

It takes work to have great hair. Even something as frowned-upon as the classic mullet requires dedication to maintain the business in the front and the party in the back. Jaxon "Hot Rod" Crossland of Celeste is so dedicated to maintaining his Camaro accessory that he won the 2020 USA Kids Mullet Championship and $500 in cash. The 8-year-old's 'do was so stunning it made him an Internet and social media celebrity and even scored him some recognition in the real world.

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