Best Convention 2022 | Texas Frightmare Weekend | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Kathy Tran

As conventions become more corporatized and less local, it's easy for the organizers to forget how to cater to the fans who truly fuel the experience. The annual horror gathering Texas Frightmare Weekend is still a local entity that knows what its fans want and gives them more of it each year. This year's gathering in April-May featured the usual array of big-name cast reunions of horror classics such as Scream, The Monster Squad and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3. It put a great amount of focus on Texas' contribution to the genre with a number of panels and a special screening of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre and local filmmaker Bradley Steele Harding's creepy and creative 13 Tracks to Frighten Agatha Black.

Alex Gonzalez

There are many excellent ambassadors for the Deep Ellum neighborhood. This award goes to one who needs some recognition: Geoff Lloyd. Lloyd has been in Dallas for 27 years and a Deep Ellum resident for 16. You've seen him as the sound engineer of RBC. You've surely come across him sitting at the bar of your favorite neighborhood spot. Today, he's a partner at Club Dada and Off the Record, both on Elm Street. He's an expert in sound with a passion for good, live music. We all know Deep Ellum has less of the live instrument pulse these days. But ask Lloyd what's coming up at Dada: He'll list off shows with enthusiasm, and that night you'll hear the energy that only live music can offer.

Lauren Drewes Daniels

If cheap and easy is how you roll, welcome home. While so much has changed around it, Lakewood Landing has literally held steady for decades. It offers a simple menu of affordable bar food. Try the pork tenderloin sandwich with a side of thinly sliced onion rings, a seasonal specialty. If you go late, get the house-battered and fried corn dog made with Rudolph's sausage. The jukebox has some strange juju, too, bouncing from Dwight Yoakam to Duke Ellington like that's how music is supposed to go. A dark beer in a dark bar never felt so right.

Rent, gas and food prices are skyrocketing, making meeting up for happy hour tougher on the ol' pocketbook. But great deals aren't the only thing that make Three Links' happy hour outshine the competition. Happy hour-goers can escape the heat upon entry into the dark cavernous space. The Deep Ellum spot is a dive bar institution, with band stickers plastered everywhere and cryptic occult imagery. Stick around long enough and you might catch soundcheck for whatever punk, metal or otherwise underground band is featured on that night's bill. Before you go, grab some mouthwatering bar food to help soak up that tallboy.

Dennis Jansen

Queen Bleach is putting in the work. She's been in overdrive in 2022, and Dallas is living for it. Bleach has naturally stepped into her celebrity status in Dallas as a style icon and top-of-the-line entertainer. Bleach transforms from the likes of Gwen Stefani to Peggy Bundy flawlessly. Her Kim Kardashian 2021 Met Gala take is top tier, but what keeps Dallas infatuated with Bleach is her ability to host a damn good time. If Bleach is on the mic, be prepared for an interactive experience. The queen does what it takes to make sure everyone has the time of their life, even if that means a Disney princess orgasm-mimicking contest. It's no wonder Bleach became the queen of Dallas pride this year. From events at Fair Park to Double Wide, Bleach hit every stage and made Pride 2022 one for the books.


When Texas' hysteria over so-called "critical race theory" erupted last year, certain Black educators were falsely accused of teaching the academic framework to public school students. Unfortunately, Dr. James Whitfield, who served as Colleyville Heritage High School's first Black principal, was also driven from his district amid the furor. But Whitfield hasn't let that keep him down. Since then, the education advocate has continued to inspire. Whitfield has opened up about what it's like to teach about race in the West and has spoken to Congress about the nationwide spike in school censorship efforts. Texas needs more educators like Whitfield.

Bring only your smartest friends because you'll be trapped in a room with only an hour to get out at Escape the Room Dallas. Escape the Room has locations across the country, including several in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. With most allowing up to 10 people, there are several rooms to pick from, one of the funniest being from the creators of South Park. In this creation, you enter "the most diabolical and evil place ever invented: SKOOOOL! There, you'll see cartoon violence, comic mischief," as the website describes it, and everything else that makes South Park great, all in a cleverly designed escape room. Other rooms include The Agency, where 10 players become secret agents taking part in a classified mission; the Western Bank Heist, where 10 players rob a bank and have to make it out alive with their loot; and several others.

It began as a "fan/community page" for the city of Garland and grew into a group of 18,700. It's a space where members can share job postings and offer free items, but it's also like a hyper-localized version of website Nextdoor, full of random posts that give you a good sense of the kind of people who live among you. There are people asking for "unwashed eggs" and some others seeking general advice over family conundrums. The same way older people use Facebook like it's Reddit or even Google, often posting questions they should ask on specific forums or even to Siri, the Garland group is one of the most beautiful Boomer groups in all of the internet, where you'll find lost neighbors asking "Is Dancing With the Stars on tonight? What channel is it?"

Kathy Tran

Even before you step foot in this Deep Ellum lounge, you know that it's going to be special. A neon pink light shaped in the contour of a cat entices happy hour-goers to enter. And as soon as you do venture inside, Neon Kitten's staff greet you with shouts of "Welcome!" It only gets better from there. Each of the lounge's unique cocktails is handcrafted with care. Case in point: the delightful snowcone-esque Osaka is served in a groovy Hello Kitty ceramic cup. Happy hour-goers should also make sure to check out Neon Kitten's Japanese-inspired dinner menu, including delicious dumplings and gyoza.

Karina Sanchez by Kari Martinez Photography

For Carne Asada Fest, the glow up was real. The inaugural 2021 festival was a shoutout to Latinx culture, but in 2022 founder Sonia Kilo made strides in production and execution of the event without jeopardizing authenticity. The event is an ode to the Latin tradition of la carne asada. Carne Asada Fest embodied the essence of the familial pastime by highlighting food and music. Over 25 food vendors gathered at Gilley's to provide Dallas with tacos, pupusas, elotes, agua frescas and micheladas. Nina Sky, DJ Kane, Paul Wall, Big Tuck and Slim Thug took Dallas back to the 2000s with nostalgic hits while Steve Garcia, Michael Sanchez, Nategawd, Rayburger and others invigorated the crowd with homegrown hits. DJs Uneeq, Madd and Albert G kept the party going between sets. With Up2Something Media hosting, it was a family affair.

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