On a sunny Sunday afternoon — one of those pre-summer days that's hot but not quite the surface of the sun — cyclists have swarmed Deep Ellum. They may not outnumber the patio-seeking brunch crowd, but there are dozens of them. These are not the typical bikers who are mashing around White Rock Lake as fast as possible in head-to-toe moisture-wicking fabric.
These riders, dressed casually in jeans and pedaling leisurely on cruisers, are going somewhere. And more and more, their destinations are Dallas bars and restaurants.
"I see so many more bikes in Deep Ellum parked outside bars than I used to," says Kristie Holt, a local cycling infrastructure advocate and owner of Local Hub Bicycle Co. in Deep Ellum. "It's so much easier now with the trail system and places being accessible."
Dallas is far from being a world-class city when it comes to bike-friendliness — it's still the largest city in the U.S. without a functioning bike-share program, and it's got more poke restaurants than bike lanes — but that's changing.
Which is why now, more than ever, is a good time to stop fighting for a parking spot and opt instead to bike to a local coffee shop or burger joint.
While certain Dallas neighborhoods are more bike-friendly than others — Deep Ellum and Oak Cliff in particular have an excess of restaurants that are a breeze to bike to — the places below were chosen not just for their location. The list also factors in amenities that give riders added incentive to dismount there.
By the way, Friday, May 19, is National Bike to Work Day, and bike groups and shops will be setting up "energizer stations" all around the city with free coffee, breakfast and, in some cases, mariachi bands. After work, celebrate your successful bike commute by riding to one of the city's most bike-friendly eateries.
7530 E. Grand Ave.
When you're in the middle of a long, sweaty ride on the Santa Fe Trail — a 4.2-mile concrete surface trail that starts in Deep Ellum and connects to both the White Rock Lake Park Loop Trail and the Union Pacific Trail — stumbling upon The Lot can feel like finding a beer-filled oasis in the middle of the desert. With plenty of signage off the Santa Fe Trail, it's easy to find and has shady spots to park your bike. Grab a seat in the beer garden, on the wrap-around porch or inside if you need A/C. If you're hungry but mid-ride, there are excellent light options on this menu, from salads to a house-made cashew butter-honey sandwich. There are plenty of water stations, tons of outdoor play spaces if you happened to bring the kids and, in a fun twist, an ever-changing fresh juice menu that can be made decidedly less healthy with a shot of liquor or rum. Did you know that fresh carrot juice and rum are a match made in heaven at the end of a long ride? Now you do.
Bonus bike-friendly spots nearby: Cane Rosso White Rock is just across the street, and you can continue along the Santa Fe and White Rock Lake trails until you get near Peavy and Garland, where you'll find bike-friendly businesses like Cultivar Coffee and Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House.
Katy Trail Ice House
3127 Routh St.
This Uptown spot was built with bicyclists and joggers in mind. Nestled just off the Katy Trail, a popular 3.5-mile urban trail that winds through the city's core, it's got tons of amenities with fit folks in mind: water stations, spots to stash your bike (though it could use more) and a little to-go window where you can grab a coffee, beer or Topo Chico without wrangling a server. There's also a ton of shady outdoor seating, Wi-Fi and 50 beers on tap. While there are a couple of salads, the food menu is a little heavy for those with another 15 miles to go, but this is a solid spot to take a breather and sip a beer while you watch people make good use of the Katy Trail. Just keep in mind that, on evenings and weekends when the weather is nice, the Katy Trail can get pretty congested, which makes cycling a challenge during peak hours.
Bonus bike-friendly spots nearby: Follow the Katy Trail to Knox Street, and you'll find yourself in a neighborhood filled with bars and restaurants like Wild About Harry's, Chuy's and the paleo-friendly Kozy Kitchen.
2625 Main St.
Deep Ellum is one of the best neighborhoods in the city when it comes to bike-friendly bars and restaurants. Traffic moves slowly, and it's easy to access from multiple neighborhoods, whether you're zipping through downtown's Main Street as you bike from Oak Cliff or Oak Lawn or using the Santa Fe Trail to ride from East Dallas. One of the most bike-friendly spots: Braindead Brewing, a brewpub and restaurant with a massive beer menu, tons of outdoor seating and dedicated bike parking on the patio. It's also next door to Local Hub Bicycle Co., an uber-friendly bike shop that recently installed a bike-repair station out front in case you need some air or a bike tool when the shop is closed. If you find yourself in need of a new taillight or a tuneup, you can leave your bike with the pros at Local Hub, and they'll get you set up while you grab a burger next door.
Bonus bike-friendly spots nearby: Cold Beer Co. and the new Bowls & Tacos offer ample bike parking, frosty beer and sunny patios welcoming to cyclists.
Local Press + Brew
1605 N. Beckley Ave.
Thanks to bikeable viaducts and a free, bike-amenable streetcar that can give you a lift if you need a break, Oak Cliff is a great spot for cycling if you're coming from outside the 'hood. Our pro tip: Hop the street car (which comes every 20 minutes) at Union Station, slip your bike on one of the hanging hooks and take an air-conditioned ride over the viaduct. Exit at Founders Park and use Greenbriar as a shortcut to bypass the hills, dumping you right in front of Local Press + Brew. This highly Instagrammable coffee shop and juice bar has a happy patio, killer coffee (try the nitro cold brew or an iced matcha latte if you need to cool down) and healthy snacks like avocado toast and fresh, cold-pressed juice. Like several Oak Cliff businesses, Local Press offers a 10 percent discount for cyclists, and if you want to continue on, you're not far from Bishop Arts district. Trust us: You don't want to deal with parking in Bishop Arts anyway. As an added bonus, bikers of another ilk will dig the forthcoming Local Moto, a vintage motorcycle repair shop and beer spot opening soon next door to Local Press. The cafe is also opening a new location at the mouth of the Katy Trail this summer.
Bonus bike-friendly spots nearby: Just a mile and a half away, Bishop Arts District has bike racks and a ton of dining options. Oddfellows and the Wild Detectives are particularly breezy and bike-friendly with coffee, cocktails, cold beer and food. Look for the orange Bike Friendly Oak Cliff stickers for that 10 percent discount.
Anything in Trinity Groves
3011 Gulden Lane
Trinity Groves, along both the Ron Kirk pedestrian bridge and Trinity Skyline Trail, is easy to access and offers tons of variety with plenty of spots to stash your ride. Whether you want a local beer at Luck, vegan chicken-fried steak at V Eats or duck fat-fried rice at Chino Chinatown, there's plenty to choose from and seemingly endless patio dining.
Bonus bike-friendly spots nearby: Continue along the Trinity Skyline Trail and head into the Design District, which is filled with local breweries (Community, Noble Rey and the new Pegasus City are just a few) and spots like Taco Stand and Rodeo Goat, or head down Sylvan to enjoy some of the city's best taco stands, including Trompo and Tacos Mariachi. You're also not far from Chicken Scratch and the Foundry or, around the corner, Sylvan Thirty, where you can grab coffee at Houndstooth, wine and pizza at Cibo Divino, ramen from Ten or smoothies at JuiceLand.