Best Dive Bar 2022 | Lakewood Landing | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
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.

Barak Epstein

The Texas Theatre's annual film gathering was one of the first to welcome non-virtual audiences back to screening rooms. This year's Oak Cliff Film Festival offered a more inspired and enthralling list of films and programming in one weekend than most local theaters offer in an entire year. The festival's success started with its theme of "Cure Your Movie Loneliness," a perfect expression and tone for the movies that drew us out of our streaming loneliness. Then it rolled out a packed calendar of 58 films from documentaries to student shorts that took daring risks to explore the human condition in ways mainstream films would never dare. It also gave the Dallas film community its first glimpses of future classics such as James Morosini's dark comedy I Love You Dad, the documentary journey The Pez Outlaw and the comedy doc Chop & Steele, which is more about a deep friendship than about one of the most ridiculous lawsuits ever filed by a media organization.

Kathy Tran

The Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts celebrated its centennial year as a thriving institution in an area of study that other public school districts often overlook. The school started in 1922 as a segregated high school for African Americans and turned into a "technical" school in 1952 before reopening in 1976 as an arts magnet under the development and vision of renowned theater teacher and Dallas Theater Center founder Dr. Paul Baker. The school is DFW's own Hollywood High, producing famous and influential names such as Grammy-winning musicians Erykah Badu and Norah Jones, artist Chris Arnold and writers Noah Fleisher and Wendy Calhoun. The school has also led to the creation of local artistic institutions like the Soul Rep Theatre, founded by graduate Anyika McMillan-Herod, and trained future movers and shakers for a variety of national and global industries, proving that arts education isn't just about making the next generation of dancers, writers and painters. It's about creating a generation of creative, innovative and well-rounded contributors to our world.

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