You have to give Dallas a credit for its attempts to become more cosmopolitan and for the ideas behind its strive that in fact are not so bad. The ideas. Yet in reality no matter how many beautiful buildings you build, restaurants or clubs you open – the missing spirit will make it all look bleak.
It will take Dallas some time (quite a few long years) to change mentality of its population that tends to never leave the area. Nothing is wrong with that – convenient and relatively inexpensive life style (unless you have to pay property tax) makes one permanently settle in big D.
If New York is a city that never sleeps, Dallas is a city in a permanent state of lethargy. Because of the car culture and unbearably hot summers, it is easier to get run over than to see a pedestrian. After losing several corporate headquarter battles (MillerCoors, Boeing, etc.) to other more diverse and global cities, Dallas decided to step outside the box and add an urban flavor to the empty streets.
The ambitious Victory Park promises tremendous growth in the future. Once the country gets out of the current economic meltdown, the area most likely will become alive and perhaps the long lines to the W’s Ghost Bar will be seen again. Personally, I only liked one restaurant in this rather deserted neighborhood – Medina Oven – Moroccan with an American modern twist cuisine.
Difficult to find an interesting spot along McKinney Ave in the Uptown part of town. Only in Dallas Ritz Carlton’s lounge can turn from classy to trashy and harbor “wanna-be’s” with rented Ferrari’s, fake boobs, blond hair and Gucci bags. The lounge is a perfect spot for people-watching especially after fabulous scallops served by Fearing’s.
From scallops to pizza over wine – Coal Wines on Cedars Springs welcomes hunters for coziness and great atmosphere. The place is small and gets crowded quickly, so reservations are a must. As a side note, if you are relocating to Dallas and want to live in a more upscale flat, then Ashton is worth exploring. The apartment building is across the street from the restaurant.
Moving along Cedar Springs into Oak Lawn, where gay population shows off its creativity and free spirit (Halloween parade is a must-see!). My favorite latin cafe, La Duni is a hidden jewel in one of the shopping centers. “Where there is cake, there is love”, – says mama Duni, and her cakes are truly to die for.
A new kid on the block, transitional Henderson, separated by hwy-75 from its well-developed brother Knox, is trying to catch up. It attracts by a few interesting spots such as Tei-Tei (the best Japanese restaurant in town), Park, and Victor Tango. If you are up for dancing and too drunk to drive, check out Candle Room which is within walking distance from all these places.
For all jazz fans like me, Terilli’s is the only place in Dallas that offers eclectic jazz tunes. Terilli’s signature dish – ITALCHOS, an intersection of Italy and Texas. (Update: Not any more. The place closed down).
Skipping downtown with its temporary hot spots like PM and jumping right into legendary Oak Cliff neighborhood not only because JFK’s assassin Oswald lived there, but also because of its Bishop Arts district, a unique town square in the middle of ghetto. Every restaurant or boutique in the square speaks with a different accent that cannot be heard anywhere else.
Someone should create a reality show about West Village Starbucks. This popular spot hosts all kinds of nationalities and backgrounds. The stories about its regulars have been published in trendy D magazine. The village itself is a good area to live – restaurants, shops, an independent movie theater – all within walking distance.
One has to search for it even in the Arts District located in downtown Dallas. As downtown becomes a ghost town after 5, all museums close accordingly. Only every Thursday in May, downtown remains alive till midnight due to the Jazz under the Stars free concerts.
Newly built opera house looks promising in strong red colors and we yet to see a sold-out show. Across the highway, on Dragon St, Samuel Lynne Galleries opened its doors to public and has been hosting futuristic 21st century art exhibits.
Time flies, Dallas continues its slow-motion course, and my experiment will end soon. The cliquish Dallasie socialites will migrate from one hot spot to another wearing the same cookie-cutter outfits, having the same “ohmygosh ya’ll” chats. The city will change its makeup by adding new colors to the palette of buildings, clubs, streets. Like a perfect doll, it will look beautiful outside, missing the most important element on the inside – its soul.