Dallas is rampant with every type of musician, varying from classically trained savants to experts in genres which can only be described as WHAT?, and we're damn proud of our diversity. While they're all rich in talent, local musicians' finances slightly vacillate, depending on, among other things, their tip jar's undernourished or obese nightly mass index. One day they're dining at the Ritz Carlton, and the next the most exotic meal they can afford is the Oriental flavor of Maruchan Ramen.
If you're looking to recruit a drummer for your band or your bed, or if you're a civilian with a dream of being a muse or manager (groupie or roadie, more realistically), these are the places to network and have a good burger while you're at it.
Sure, sometimes you have to wait an hour to get your food and the potatoes are still undercooked. But it's hard to care given those burritos, vegetarian meats and smoothies that possibly cure cancer. As a bizarre bonus, the Deep Ellum location's men's and women's restrooms are conjoined, so if you and your partner are in the John-and-Yoko habit of going to the bathroom together, this is a romantic spot to do it.
They may be all over the metroplex, but no other Café Brazil has babysat us to sobriety as much as this location. Just a few months ago Amanda Palmer tweeted from the Deep Ellum diner, not even noting the giant picture of her manic mid-performance face hanging on the wall. Their menu is pretty large and varied, so you can experiment with preemptive remedies to your morning-after regrets. The place always fills up after shows, so if you still have something to say to that annoying person who ruined your concert experience with high-pitched chatter, you're likely to run into him or her at Café Brazil.
2815 Elm St., Dallas, cafebrazil.com
8. Mama Mia!
In a far-off corner of Deep Ellum sits the neighborhood's best not-so-secret secret, which serves the fanciest meal you'll get for $20. Though oddly named after a song by Swedish sensation ABBA, it's a family owned Italian place with a real Lady and the Tramp kind of vibe (or Scorsese movie mafia hangout, if you find that reference too cutesy). Their pasta and salads are "fuhget about it" good and the service is simply fantastic. They close at 3 a.m. on weekends and never rush you to leave.
2935 Elm St., Dallas
7. Spiral Diner
Spiral has a surprisingly innovative menu for a vegan restaurant, and is far more appetizing than faithful carnivores would expect. In fact, their desserts will make you question the use of dairy. It's a family-friendly place, and not just for those who are animal-cruelty and lactose intolerant. You'll feel healthy in many ways, including your conscience. It's a bright, open space that sells organic beer and adorable cupcakes, but their servers are hardcore. Literally. Ask them about their next metal show, and it's that kind of edge that saves it from feeling too new-agey, Gwyneth Paltrowish annoying.
Metro is a wonderfully greasy 24-hour diner — like Waffle House, but less classy. As it approached closing, their old location by Baylor Medical Center went back to its 1960s prices and charged $0.50 for everything on the menu. We will never forget that glorious day, and neither will the configuration of our thighs. Prices have gone slightly up, but Metro remains just as pleasant — the staff is really friendly and brings food out with impressive timing, no matter how busy. It's not really vegetarian-friendly; their vegetable soup contains pieces of beef, although to be fair, it does also have the promised vegetables.
This is a 1950s-inspired burger stand, though they do have about four chairs and a bathroom. The truth is, you would eat these burgers in any position of the Kama Sutra if you had to, and your only thought would be of when you could buy another. The manager warns they are "the best burger in town" and, knowing he can be trusted, you want to ask him all questions pertaining to the meaning of life. He also explains the history of the company as it started with the famed Barbec's in Garland. Harvey B's staff treats customers like family, even watching a single lady to her car. Bring your family and have a tailgate party, because you'll want to stay all day, every day.
The Landing has a good sense of humor, calling itself an "upscale dive bar," and it has the wood-paneled interior design to back it up, plus a couch so lived-in that you expect to find a pile of porn stashed under it. It is irresistibly dim, and coming in for their after-hours corn dogs will make you want to become a regular just so they'll put your picture up on the wall with all the others, since your parents won't.
Let's be honest, Adair's looks like a shit-hole, but it doesn't care. And it's that confidence that makes it so attractive. If you're a voracious reader, you'll be happy to discover that Adair's walls are covered in more written words than Shakespeare has ever penned. It's one of the best dive bars in Dallas and books some of the greatest talent. They make the thickest burgers a bun could ever hold, and also have a cigarette machine. So, like the Walmart of bars, it's a one-stop shop for all your vices.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Gold Rush has been serving omelettes to bands for over 35 years. With a clientele made up of obsessive regulars, it's the kind of place you'll see so-and-so before he gets famous. That's the kind of fantasy the diner offers, along with a relaxed atmosphere where everyone looks like they walk-of-shamed their way in. Good things come to those who wait during the busy morning rush, but if you're reading this list you're probably not an early riser anyway.
All Good Cafe in Deep Ellum isn't just a diner; it's a safe zone free of judgments, like a support group for your hangover. There is just no better place to have a 4 p.m. breakfast, under All Good's cloud of origami butterflies hanging from the ceiling. All Good serves inexpensive meals that taste slightly more expensive. Nearly every server is in a band you like, and in the evening you can sit through a decent live show. It's also close to a rock-poster museum and has that right amount of endearing Deep Ellum scruff — you know, like the appeal of an old person who still has kind eyes.
2934 Main St., Dallas, allgoodcafe.com