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.

If you're looking at art as an investment, pop by to see what's on view at Talley Dunn. Located in a former antique car storage facility just off the Knox-Henderson area, the light-filled space is full of names that'll be hanging in a museum someday (if they aren't already). Dunn's stable includes such luminaries as Anila Quayyum Agha, Natasha Bowdoin, Gabriel Dawe, Joseph Havel, Robyn O'Neill and Sedrick and Letitia Huckaby, so you're almost guaranteed to find a piece that'll stand the test of time.

Your money's no good over at Hidden Door. Well, that is, if it comes in the form of a plastic card. Only cash is accepted at this little dive bar. But you won't have to worry about – literally – emptying your wallet or breaking the bank. Drinks are relatively inexpensive here, perfect for drinking on either of the bar's two patios or by the pool tables. Plus, early risers can come in and start drinking as early as 7 a.m. – yes, even on Sundays.

Gallerists Hilary and Hannah Fagadau have brought their sibling revelry to 12.26 Gallery in the Design District since 2019. The sisters grew up in an art-loving family, so they're adept at holding the hand of a beginning collector. Focusing on mid-career artists from Texas and beyond, the Fagadaus recently launched a West Coast outpost run by Hilary, allowing them to keep their fingers on the pulse in at least two towns.

The stunning music video for "Bones / Dust" by Dallas musician and artist extraordinaire Nicole Marxen looks like how grief feels. The song, taken from 2021's goth-industrial masterwork Tether EP, features Marxen's lovely, haunting vocals and lush production reminiscent of Chelsea Wolfe. The video for "Bones / Dust" was directed by Richard Krause, who created a black-and-white world of death and decay to breathe life into Marxen's evocative, soul-wrenching lyrics. Marxen's long been an Observer fave thanks to her stellar work with hometown heroes Midnight Opera. We're excited to see her star climb ever-higher with this important, innovative solo endeavor.

Dallas Observer

Leela's Wine Bar is a Pinterest board come to life. Since 2018, the wine bar has been a trendsetter by raising the standard for a well-executed design concept. Located in the former Crown and Harp, the industrial building has been transformed into an aesthetically pleasing backdrop for Dallasites to enjoy a well-crafted espresso martini while getting Insta-worthy snapshots. When it comes to a theme, no one does it better. Tastefully, Leela's has made Christmas, Valentine's Day and even Bachelor Mondays an experience to remember with theme-specific. visually appealing cocktails and decor. For its sixth decor pop-up, Leela's is teaming up with The Planting Hand to present "Summer House." Charge your camera battery and get there early. It is a guarantee that Dallas will be lined up out the door. The wait can be up to three hours on a weekend night, but it's well worth the exquisite vibes.

courtesy of @adriantorres_art

Prominently displayed on the wall of a building at Pearl and Elm streets is a colorful homage to three of pop music's biggest stars: Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Billie Eilish. The lifelike mural close to Dallas' Deep Ellum entertainment district is sure to grab the attention of even the most jaded of city-dwellers. The artist, Adrian Torres, told the Observer in April that he'd created the massive triple-portrait as part of 42 Murals, a project that helps elevate local artists' profiles by giving them a space to display their gifts. Hopefully, life will imitate art someday and the three pop stars will unleash a collaboration.

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