Photo by Kristi and Scot Redman.

How to Spend 12 Hours in Deep Ellum

The historic neighborhood showcases Dallas' creative side.

The fortunes of Deep Ellum, one of Dallas’ most historic neighborhoods, have risen and fallen–and risen again–over the years. An early hot spot for jazz and blues musicians in the first half of the 20th century, Deep Ellum continues to be a hub for the city’s music scene. On any given night, the sounds of local bands and national touring acts can be heard coming from the area’s many venues.

After some down years, Deep Ellum is enjoying its latest renaissance, with new bars, restaurants, shops, and nightclubs again making it one of the liveliest communities in town. There’s a lot to love about the neighborhood and its artistic culture.

Our Dallas neighborhood guide looks at how the city lives, works, and plays. But the best way to get to know a place is firsthand. Spend a day in Deep Ellum to see Dallas at its most creative.

Mom and Pop Shopping | 1 pm

Check out the neighborhood’s mom and pop shops and some of the most unique stores in Dallas. The Deep Ellum Outdoor Market pops up once a month — and you should make it a point to pop in — but here’s how to shop Deep Ellum any day of the week. Buy some new kicks at Epocha, the best sneaker shop in Dallas, or find something vintage at Lula B’s.

Gallery Walk | 3 pm

Some of the neighborhood’s most notable art can be found outdoors (we’ll get to that), but don’t neglect the work on display in the contemporary galleries in Deep Ellum (and nearby Expo Park). Take a peek at the galleries included on the semiannual Deep Ellum Art Walk for an idea of where to go. Keep in mind each gallery maintains its own hours. Some of them are not conducive to afternoon jaunts, so be prepared to come back later. Plan and improvise accordingly as you spend time in one of Dallas’ hottest art scenes.

Take in the murals and public art (Traveling Man, pictured) of Deep Ellum. Photo by Kristi and Scot Redman.
Take in the murals and public art (Traveling Man, pictured) of Deep Ellum. Photo by Kristi and Scot Redman.

Mosey Around | 5 pm

From the murals (with more on the way) to the large robot sculptures, there are a lot of things to look at during a walk around Deep Ellum. Take in the scenery, appreciate the art, and enjoy the buzz of the community. Marvel at all the photo shoots or star in one of  your own.

Load up a plate at Pecan Lodge. Photo by Elizabeth Lavin.
Load up a plate at Pecan Lodge. Photo by Elizabeth Lavin.

Break Bread | 6:30 pm

All that art and shopping should work up quite an appetite. Fortunately, Deep Ellum is home to some of the best restaurants in Dallas. Try Pecan Lodge (best barbecue), Luscher’s Red Hots (best hot dog), BrainDead Brewing (best burger), or Cane Rosso (best pizza) for dinner.

Early Show| 7:30 pm

As night falls in Deep Ellum, get ready to make some compromises. Even a slow evening in the neighborhood will feature a number of shows competing for your eyes and ears. We’re hoping you’ll be able to squeeze in a few performances. To start off, catch a show at Undermain Theatre, one of the city’s most important theater companies. If you could use a laugh, catch an early set at the Dallas Comedy House.

From intimate club shows to massive concerts (see the Bomb Factory, above), Deep Ellum is a hub for live music in Dallas. Photo by James Coreas.
From intimate club shows to massive concerts (see the Bomb Factory, above), Deep Ellum is a hub for live music in Dallas. Photo by James Coreas.

Late Show | 9 pm

No visit to Deep Ellum is complete until you’ve heard some live music in one of the neighborhood’s many venues. From blockbuster concerts at the newly reopened Bomb Factory to close-quarter gigs at Three Links, Deep Ellum has something for any live music fan. Stick around on Elm Street long enough, and you may even catch Leon Bridges busking.

Night Cap | Midnight

By now, it’s getting late and your ears are ringing. But it’s been a long day in the heart of one of Dallas’ finest entertainment districts, and you should decompress at a nearby watering hole. There is no shortage of bars to choose from. Try Off The Record if you want some vinyl to go with that drink, or Double Wide if you’re feeling kitschy (and remain in the mood for live music).

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