Best Day Spa
The Spa at the Joule
It’s subterranean, it’s sleek, and you’ll need to remember your swimsuit to take full advantage of the jet-lined Vitality Pool. Massages start at $195 for 50 minutes; plan to lounge plenty before and after your treatment to get your money’s worth. 1530 Main St. 214-261-4555.
Best Place for a Staycation
How do we love the Thompson? Let us count the ways. The depth and breadth and height of dinner at Monarch. Sushi and cocktails even higher at Kessaku. The ideal grace of the Skyline Suite. And [satisfied exhale] the spa’s total wellness package. 205 N. Akard St. 469-320-1234.
Grand Nail Salon
Come in Monday through Wednesday for a classic French manicure, long-lasting gel pedicure, or gentle ombre dip powder, and you get 15 percent off. The discount is great, but the result is worth paying full price. Make an appointment or walk in. 3878 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste. 305. 214-812-9651.
Best Luxury Skin Care
Dr. Barbara Sturm
Sturm has been perfecting her anti-inflammatory, anti-aging skin care products for nearly 20 years. Her serums and moisturizers are pricy, but they’re gentle and work long-term. Try them out (or get a signature SturmGlow facial) at her flagship Dallas Boutique & Spa, opened in November. 28 Highland Park Village. 469-759-6144.
If you’re in a pinch for a press, head here. The house specialties at Piersten Gaines’ salon are silk presses and hard-to-find luxury care for textured hair. Opened in 2020, the blowout bar is known for its customer service, mimosas, and accessibility. Gaines also branched out to Plano and Arlington earlier this year. 320 Singleton Blvd., Ste. 160. 978-707-9545. Multiple locations.
Heart in Hand Gallery
Add a little edge to your look with a private piercing session, or opt for Heart in Hand’s new tooth gems, a painless alternative that brings some bling to your smile. All services are appointment only, so no impulse decisions. 2614 Elm St., Ste. 120. 469-776-5667.
Best Sunless Tanning
Sol Co. Sunless Tanning
A tan doesn’t have to be damaging to your skin, nor does it have to be orange. The customized and natural hues mixed by Sol’s certified spray techs will give you a tan that complements your skin color and looks sun-earned. 5555 E. Mockingbird Ln., Ste. 100. 214-484-4988. Multiple locations.
Brass Tacks at The Adolphus
Does a hotel need its own barbershop? Not necessarily, and, truth be told, guests at The Adolphus don’t take full advantage of having a Brass Tacks outpost on site. Their loss. The cozy two-chair tonsorium in the lobby has friendly, skilled barbers and a great location. You don’t need much else. 1321 Commerce St. 214-742-8200.
Best Blue Jeans Hospital
Dallas Denim Repair
Crotch blowouts happen. The only place in town that specializes in denim repair took our favorite pair of Naked & Famous and darned them beautifully. They also do sashiko, a traditional Japanese embroidery, and “visible mending” to turn your jeans into works of art. By reservation at dallasdenim.repair. 420 W. Davis St. 469-941-4021.
The Monogram Club
Tea and beach towels. Bibs and bloomers. Jean jackets and waffle robes. If there’s space for your initials, name, or favorite phrase, The Monogram Club’s Becca Quisenberry can personalize it. We especially adore her custom cocktail napkins. Email her to order or catch her at one of her pop-up events around town.
The best part about Bell’Invito’s custom invitations, stationery, gift tags, leather journals, and more is not the quality of materials (which is top-notch) or the beauty of the design (which is impeccable). Instead, it’s in knowing that you’re in the hands of etiquette expert Heather Wiese Alexander, who will never steer you wrong. 147 Pittsburg St. 214-741-1717.
Best Home Organization
Katrina Teeple’s neutral-heavy, minimalist style makes for a subtle yet effective approach to home organization. And her Instagram presence is appealing as she offers usable tips and tricks on how to better streamline your abode. 800-266-5135.
Best Local Gift Box
A Box of Dallas
Launched in summer 2021, this luxury gift box company doesn’t have as wide of a selection as some others. But almost every item that founder Theresa Dickinson does include is locally made, and she personally tries each one (like Niven Morgan candles) before adding it to her roster. Boxes start at $94; subscription options are coming soon. 214-441-6168.
Best Knife Sharpener
Veiga Knife Sales & Sharpening
Should your trusty 8-inch Wüsthof need some attention, just about every cook in every kitchen in town will tell you to go here. Its sterling rep is the only flashy thing about this place—well, that and how your old blades will look. And for $4 each! (Cash and check only.) 2929 Gaston Ave. 214-821-3240.
Best Car Detailing
Forest Car Wash
Whether it’s a complete detailing or just a hose-down after a road trip, this has been a convenient stop for auto detailing since 1991. The team has seen everything from petrified Goldfish crackers to “I Luv You Mom-E” in crayon and more, and doesn’t judge. 5415 Forest Ln. 972-385-1533.
Best Shoe Repair
Deno’s of Highland Park
Deno Velis’ kids (and their spouses) now run this mom-and-pop shop. But they’ve preserved his hard-earned reputation as the industry standard. “If it’s leather, people show up to see if we can fix it,” Deno’s son-in-law Harry Yianitsas told us in 2018. “As long as it’s not still moving, we’ll look at it.” 62 Highland Park Village. 214-521-1070.
Best In-Home Tasting Menu
For a friend’s birthday, we hired Olivia Lopez to prepare a seven-course dinner for six that started with wagyu infladitas and ended with strawberry tamales with crema ice cream. She took over our kitchen; we poured Mexican wine and watched her artistry at work. It was truly a gift. instagram.com/molino_oloyo
Senior event chef Manny Cruz puts together personalized menus with seasonal and local ingredients for weddings, corporate events, cocktail parties, or any other occasion that demands his attention. Swap the Champagne wall for Vestals’ soft pretzel bar. 4318 Eastside Ave. 972-803-3806.
At their shop in the Bishop Arts District, Sonya and Chris Eudaley offer creative arrangements in a range of vessels that go far beyond the ordinary. They even have their own event and wedding space, House of Dirt, right around the corner. Check Instagram for their weekly talent show schedule. 417 N. Bishop Ave. 214-242-9533
Best Balloon Installations
You’ve definitely seen one of Lushra’s jumbo balloon garlands in an Instagram backdrop at some point. These trendy decorations (which come pre-inflated or DIY) are an easy way to dress up a celebration, and they can be customized to match your wedding colors or emblazoned with the birthday boy’s name. 4607 W. Lovers Ln. 972-803-4771.
Best Party Rentals
“Event rentals” may conjure up images of card tables and folding chairs, but Loot, with a showroom in Fort Worth, will rewire your brain with just one visit. Browse a selection of cool pieces in a range of styles, from boho wall tapestries to vintage steamer trunks (and yes, plenty of chairs, tables, and bars, too). 3221 Lawnwood St., Fort Worth. 682-540-6677.
Best Mobile Birthday Party
The Little Art Bus
Niki Little’s bus is a full-on art studio. Book her to drive it to your preferred location for a creative birthday party with take-home artwork. The bus comes with an instructor and all of the tools to get the youngsters’ creative gears rolling. 5128 Birchman Ave., Fort Worth.
Best Upscale Bounce House
The Dallas Party
Aesthetic-conscious parents can find bounce houses straight from their mood board dreams. While The Dallas Party offers a wide variety of colors, we’re particularly partial to their all-white houses—the neutral you need for your carefully styled backyard shenanigans. From a terrazzo splash pad to a super slide combo, your little one can have it all. And all of it will be grid-worthy. 682-564-5528.
Best Pickleball for a Party
Chicken N Pickle
When Mexico travel plans fell through in January, we scheduled a 50th birthday party here at the last minute. At this latest addition to Grand Prairie’s 172-acre EpicCentral development—replete with indoor, outdoor, and covered courts—they’ll happily plan the party for you. But we kept it simple: we reserved indoor courts online and made our friends pay for their own beer and fried birds. Winner winner chicken dinner. (The Grapevine location should be open by the end of the year.) 2965 S. State Hwy. 161, Grand Prairie. 469-943-1410.
Best Yoga for Kids
The year-round classes and summer camps here introduce kids, tweens, and teens to traditional yoga stretches and poses. But the real fun starts with their aerial yoga. Kids are given the opportunity to learn spins and flips and master a few tricks using silk hammocks. 9026 Garland Rd. 214-505-9464.
Best Yoga Studio
Dallas Yoga Center
This studio works for both the inflexible beginner and pose-fluent student looking to transition into leading their own classes. For the former, there are seasonal specials; for the latter, 200- and 300-hour teacher-training programs. 4140 Lemmon Ave., Ste. 280. 214-443-9642.
Best Kids Art Studio
Oil and Cotton
Toddlers and teens alike love learning modern and traditional art techniques via Oil and Cotton’s weekly lessons, themed summer camps, and birthday parties. Professional artists and educators now lead drawing, painting, sculpting, and collage classes at a community-style space in West Dallas that founders Shannon Driscoll and Kayli House bought last year. 2313 Beatrice St., Ste. 100. 972-373-4528.
Best Tattoo Parlor
Rebel Muse Tattoo
Clean, well-lit, and friendly, with individual televisions for patrons to cue up their favorite Netflix documentary—this is not your scary uncle’s tattoo parlor. Even with two North Texas locations, appointments are booking six months to a year out, so lock in your artist as soon as possible. 17370 Preston Rd., Ste. 510. 972-677-7571; 1565 W. Main St., Ste. 419, Lewisville. 972-420-9666.
Best Pet Boarder
If you spent hours planning your perfect getaway only to realize you forgot to find accommodations for Fido, no sweat. We’ve yet to encounter a “no room at the inn” situation at this expansive, family-owned facility near Fair Park, even when booking last-minute. 2721 Logan St. 469-886-8003.
Best Doc in a Box
Lakewood Emergency Room
Our asthmatic daughter landed at DFW Airport at 10 pm with a respiratory infection that needed seeing to. The folks here were friendly and efficient, and the waiting room offered snacks and drinks. Most surprising: a few days later, we got an actual handwritten card thanking us for choosing them and inviting us to call with any questions. 6101 E. Mockingbird Ln. 469-392-4449.
Best Emergency Plastic Surgeon for Kids
Nothing is more stressful than an emergency room visit with a child, and no cool Band-Aid can make up for that. Enter Dr. Matthew Trovato. He and his team now see the tiniest of patients for in-person procedures or virtual consultations. 9101 N. Central Expwy., Ste. 600. 855-543-5887.
Midway Hollow Pet Clinic
People will tell you that they’ve been taking their pets to Midway Hollow Pet Clinic for decades, even driving across the city to do so. For good reason: Dr. Paul Carroll and his friendly, competent staff have some of the lowest fees and best service in town. 3780 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-902-0797.
Food & Drink
Best Regional Mexican
Maskaras Mexican Grill
The Jalisco specialties at Maskaras are as irresistible as its collection of luchador memorabilia. Try a torta or taco plate “drowned” in salsa, carne en su jugo, shrimp burritos, or some of the best birria from owner Rodolfo Jiménez’s hometown of Guadalajara. 2423 W. Kiest Blvd. 469-466-9282. Reader’s choice: José
Regulars line up early for huge breakfast burritos on fluffy tortillas, and the crispy tacos with house-made tortillas put everyone else in town to shame. 367 W. Jefferson Blvd. 214-946-5333. Multiple locations. Reader’s choice: E-Bar Tex-Mex
Jörg’s Cafe Vienna
OK, it’s not German, but it’s really, really close. Jörg Fercher serves up family recipes from far southern Austria, taking no shortcuts in the making of his schnitzels, sauces, and potato salads. This summer marks 20 years in business for Jörg’s, where generations of customers have come to enjoy draft beer and smoked pork chops. 1037 E. 15th St., Plano. 972-509-5966.
Best Fried Chicken
The spicy chicken at Mike’s is hot, juicy, and the exact right kind of greasy. No wonder crowds keep pouring into this spot adjoining a laundromat. Call ahead or order online if you’re in a hurry; everything is cooked to order. 4234 Maple Ave., Ste. 4243. 214-443-7822. Reader’s choice: Babe’s Chicken Dinner House
Best Late-Night Eats
The awning on this East Dallas dive bar advertises pizzas, but it should say pho in all caps. Or bánh mì or even kimchi tater tots. The not-so-secret is that the GM and executive chef is a guy named Jackson Tran whose mom, Thua, used to cook street food in Vietnam. 1212 Skillman St. 214-826-4200. Reader’s choice: Greenville Avenue Pizza Co.
No other pizzeria in town can match the creativity of Zoli’s. It earns trust. So, sure, we’ll sign up for everything bagel seasoning on the crust or Heim Barbecue’s brisket on top. Savor the always-flavorful crust. Don’t forget the monthly specials.14910 Midway Rd., Addison. 469-754-9654. Multiple locations. Reader’s choice: Cane Rosso
Vegan Food House
Here’s the thing about VFH: really nothing here is good for you. With few exceptions, it’s all Southern fried and served atop vegan cheese grits and covered with either Creole gravy or “cheese” sauce. Which is perfect. Vegans deserve comfort food, too. 832 W. 7th St. 469-248-0297.
Post pandemic lockdown, the buffet line and serene patio at this legendary Hare Krishna temple are once again open. The bright greens, rich curries, and fresh-baked cinnamon-raisin bread are as good as you remember. 5430 Gurley Ave. 214-821-1048. Reader’s choice: Spiral Diner
The Island Spot
Caribbean food is much more than the jerk chicken you had on vacation. Instead, think hefty plates of stewed goat in velvety curry, sweet plantains, and ackee and saltfish, Jamaica’s national dish. Nowhere better to explore the vibrant regional culture than at this family-owned spot. 309 Jefferson Blvd. 972-913-4919.
Best Soul Food
Roots Southern Table
Chef Tiffany Derry’s duck fat-fried chicken is her signature dish and a huge draw here. But there is much more to recommend in her modern homage to traditional Southern foodways. You will certainly want the cast-iron skillet cornbread. 13050 Bee St., Ste. 160, Farmers Branch. 214-346-4441.
Desta Ethiopian Restaurant
Fiery-red slow-cooked chicken and boiled egg. Cabbage golden with turmeric. Carrots and potatoes and spicy collard greens. Berbere-flavored lentils. All are placed on top of spongy injera for a familial feast. Add crispy, mouthwatering sambusa and order a bottle of honey wine to finish the meal. 12101 Greenville Ave., Ste. 105. 214-575-9004. Reader’s choice: Queen of Sheba
Best Barbecue To-Go
Rathbun’s Curbside BBQ
Kent Rathbun now sets up his barbecue trailer on a parking deck at the north end of the Katy Trail six days a week. It’s often a true tailgate, with beer, football, and live music while you wait. So your fall weekends are sorted. The smoked beef ribs and aged gouda mac and cheese are our to go go-to. 4901 Cole Ave.
There may be no better chunk of meat in North Texas than the pastrami beef rib you’ll find here. Though the dining room is only open for a couple meals each week, the kitchen’s consistent excellence makes those short hours count. 13628 Gamma Rd., Farmers Branch. 972-805-0999. Reader’s choice: Pecan Lodge
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse
Before the pandemic began, we embarked on a rigorous project to judge and rank Dallas’ best steakhouses, and Pappas Bros. came out on top. We see no reason to change our minds now, as the restaurant’s impeccable service, dry-aged meats, and seemingly bottomless wine cellar are still going strong. 10477 Lombardy Ln. 214-366-2000. Reader’s choice: Al Biernat’s
Manhattan Project Beer Co.
It shouldn’t be this easy to brew hefeweizens that are full-bodied without bordering on heavy, raspberry goses that skew tart but not bitter, and blueberry milkshake IPAs that don’t collapse under the weight of their ambition. And it isn’t. Manhattan just makes it look that way. 2215 Sulphur St. 469-678-8870. Reader’s choice: Lakewood Brewing Co.
Best Place to Buy Booze
Bar & Garden
This is the liquor store that feeds curiosity. Go in with questions and let its sharp staff guide you to organic and natural wines from vintners across the globe. Its liquor selection is similarly strategic, preferring smaller producers that might make your favorite—you probably just haven’t heard of it yet. Check the website for tastings and events. 3314 Ross Ave. 214-774-9620.
Del Sur Tacos
The tacos de birria and Cubana torta are reasons enough to come to this luchador-themed restaurant and bar. But we return again and again for the margaritas. Passion fruit is their signature, but we were once offered an off-menu almond one that changed our lives. Tuesdays, house margs are half off. 720 E. Jefferson Blvd. 972-982-0004. Multiple locations. Reader’s choice: Mi Cocina
Chef David Uygur has managed to sneak a bit of his Turkish roots into his take on authentic Italian. Which is perhaps why guests still book weeks in advance to get a taste. But since his menu is constantly changing, try not to fall too hard for any one dish. 287 N. Bishop Ave. 214-948-4998. Reader’s choice: MoMo Italian Kitchen
Best Tasting Menu
Revolver Taco Lounge
If you haven’t already experienced Regino Rojas’ eight-course tasting menu, which is now offered for smaller groups in the main dining room (La Resistencia) in addition to the hideaway in back (Purepecha Room), it’s time. The parade of seasonal dishes emphasizing house-nixtamalized heirloom corn has never been more thrilling. 2701 Main St., Ste. 120. 214-272-7163.
Rex’s Seafood and Market
Where to begin? With the crawfish hushpuppies, spicy tuna tartare, or lemon pepper tilapia? Or the unparalleled oyster selection? Whatever you choose, just know that it’s all flown in daily. 6713 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-758-0566. Multiple locations. Reader’s choice: TJ’s Seafood Market and Grill
Best Latin American
In a tiny, old house, Modesto Rodriguez charts his journey from Venezuela to West Texas in edible form. The menu ranges from carne asada and burgers to charred nopales and blackened redfish, all cooked and plated with style. Fresh seafood is a must. 3811 Fairmount St. 214-468-4181.
Best Butcher Shop
Deep Cuts Dallas
A year after doubling its square footage, this butcher shop now offers its artisans room to play. You’ll find piquant green chorizo, boudin smoked in-house, kimchi brats, and house-made lacto-fermented salsas. Try to resist the marvels in the dry-aging cabinet near the register. 7989 Belt Line Rd., Ste. 146. 469-906-6420.
Best Place to Celebrate an Anniversary
Spring for a window table. The reservation deposit will cover your half of the chef’s tasting menu, and the 49th-floor view will assuage any simmering spousal resentments. Or save some clams and opt for insider-y Goodfellas-style glam: share an order of fritto misto and a dry-aged rib-eye at the intimate stairwell bar. 1401 Elm St. 214-945-2222. Reader’s choice: Town Hearth
Best Family-Friendly Restaurant
Tucked into a strip mall, Nico’s Cocina isn’t just a place to pick up a good plate of cheese enchiladas or a great margarita, but it’s also where you can off-leash the kids and let them run around in a fenced-in playground while you relax on the patio. 3065 N. Josey Ln., Ste. 24, Carrollton. 972-395-3663.
Best Restaurant Patio
Seated pool–adjacent at spacious tables under the shade of mature trees is the perfect place to sample Meridian’s fabulous Brazilian seaside fare and drink some caipirinhas as the sun sets. 5650 Village Glen Dr. 469-659-6382. Reader’s choice: HG Sply Co.
Best Cheese Shop
Their beautifully arranged cut-to-order cheese and charcuterie platters feature diverse, hard-to-source assortments that set the industry standard. 3511 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-219-1300. Multiple locations.
Best Bakery for Bread
Laura Webb trained in San Francisco before opening this bakery, which sells three kinds of sourdough (regular, whole wheat, sandwich loaf) out of Davis Street Espresso. Her handmade loaves are so crusty, you might need a new bread knife to slice through them. We’re speaking from experience. 819 W. Davis St. 214-929-6752.
Best NY Deli
Market Local Comfort Cafe
Jordona Kohn’s challah is legendary, and her bagel dough comes from Brooklyn. So the fact that this dairy kosher restaurant doesn’t have a corned beef sandwich can be forgiven. The East Coaster breakfast bagel with house-cured salmon starts our Sundays right. 13534 Preston Rd. 469-677-5424.
Best Take & Bake Biscuits
TX Brisket Biscuit
Available in 17 unexpected varieties with cutesy, countrified names—like The Buckaroo, a butterscotch-and-apple version paired with rum-cinnamon butter—these flash-frozen biscuits are perfect for when hungry guests show up unexpected. 2390 Fuller-Wiser Rd., Ste. 516, Euless. 817-403-9946.
Wu Wei Din
Some of North Texas’ best dumplings, spicy won tons, and fresh noodles are at this Chinese-and-Taiwanese spot, which also serves exceptional fried rice and cucumber salads. 2909 W. 15th St., Plano. 972-985-1688. Multiple locations. Reader’s choice: Royal China Restaurant
Fortune House Chinese Cuisine
We’ve eaten soup dumplings in Shanghai, so we can say with authority that Fortune House’s pork and crab versions are not only the best in town but the best reason to skip a 24-hour flight. The only thing better are the crisp-bottomed pork buns. 8150 N. MacArthur Blvd., Ste. 190, Irving. 972-831-9888.
Ka-Tip Thai Street Food
Operating from a counter at the Dallas Farmers Market, Ka-Tip seeks to highlight the flavors of Thailand. So dishes don’t shy away from the funky and sour, instead embracing what other restaurants might choose to mute. 1011 S. Pearl Expy.,Ste. 190. 214-238-2232. Reader’s choice: Bangkok City
This restaurant/market combo offers a lively, modern take on Indian street food, ranging from fried snacks to fusion inspirations such as “tosas,” a mash-up of tacos and dosas. 6451 Riverside Dr., Ste. 100, Irving. 214-238-7597. Reader’s choice: India Palace
Ichigoh Ramen Lounge
At Ichigoh, the ramen list—including brothless bowls and monthly specials—can reach a dozen delectable varieties. The vegan ramen, with apple and fennel, is pure, simple artistry. 2724 Commerce St. 972-707-0732.
The biggest challenge is getting in the door at this tiny, beloved izakaya, where customers wait to sit on the floor and partake in agedashi tofu, yakitori, gyoza, and Japanese beer. 3028 N. Belt Line Rd., Irving. 972-255-8889. Reader’s choice: Tei-An
At Edoko Omakase, Keunsik Lee, a Nobu veteran, blends his Korean heritage and Texas home into his spicy tuna roll, which he tops with guacamole, chimichurri, and crispy yucca chips. 1030 W. John Carpenter Fwy., Ste. 100, Irving. 972-600-8626. Reader’s choice: Uchi
The focus here is on home cooking and traditional dishes, which are done with a deft touch. Damasita is especially good for noodles, rice bowls, and kimbob, the large, veggie-centric Korean cousins of sushi rolls. They close early, so plan accordingly. 2564 Royal Ln. 972-241-3760.
This celebratory restaurant at the heart of Richardson’s Vietnamese community is a place to order lavish, banquet-style spreads. Splurge on whole roasted catfish, which comes with an array of sides, or opt for the Seven Courses of Beef. Every meal is a feast. 2150 E. Arapaho Rd., Ste. 200, Richardson. 214-575-6400. Reader’s choice: Mot Hai Ba
Cuban Dulceria International Bakery
The Vasquez family has been a Carrollton staple for more than 30 years, and one bite of their classic Cuban or media noche sandwiches is all you need to know why. Just make sure you leave room for a guayaba y queso pastelito. It’s one of the best pastries around. 2662 N. Josey Ln., Ste. 228, Carrollton. 972-242-3797.
Best Asian Barbecue
Koryo Korean BBQ
Eating at Koryo is a little bit like being Pac-Man, only instead of dots, you’re faced with a parade of delicious dry-aged and grilled meats, condiments, traditional soups, veggies, and noodles. Sit around a charcoal grill and choose whether to do the cooking yourself or have a server do the work. 2560 Royal Ln., Ste. 105. 214-272-7486. Reader’s choice: bbbop Seoul Kitchen
Best Bánh MÍ
Richness from the protein and aioli is balanced by house-pickled carrots and daikon with slivers of jalapeño, all atop perfectly crusty, pull-apart bread that comes from Garland’s Quoc Bao Bakery. Savor every bite on the new patio. 1902 Botham Jean Blvd. 214-484-5971. Reader’s choice: Bánh Mì Station
Sky Rocket Burger
The hard sear of the patties, the toasted sesame bun, the affordable add-ons: Sky Rocket is good without being pretentious. They know fancy cheese isn’t always the right cheese. And, gosh, do they know how to cook a burger. 111 S. Hall St. 469-372-6122. Multiple locations. Reader’s choice: Rodeo Goat
The Tejas Cheesesteak at Will Call
Picture a cheesesteak made with Puerto Rican sofrito as the veggie base and then topped with recognizable meat. So far, so good. But then add pickled jalapeños, crumbled tortilla chips, and gooey queso. Take that, Philly. 2712 Main St. 972-755-3490. Reader’s choice: Jimmy’s Food Store
Best Nashville Hot Chicken
Ricky’s Hot Chicken
Founder Ricky Tran is an engineer by training, so take the A-Bomb heat level at its face-searing value. We’re happy with Mild and extra Comeback Sauce. And cream corn. Don’t forget the cream corn. 100 S. Central Expwy., Ste. 18, Richardson. 214-272-3735. Multiple locations. Reader’s choice: Hattie B’s
Best Breakfast Taco
This lemon-yellow building in Elmwood is all about comfort. Which is what you want in the morning: scrambled eggs and heavily spiced chorizo wrapped in fluffy tortillas still dusty with fresh flour. Don’t walk away without a velvety refried bean-and-cheese. 1234 Newport Ave. 214-339-1661.
Best Ice Cream
This makes three wins in four years for Botolino, the gelato shop we can’t stop loving. Top-quality ingredients go into each scoop, and many of the scoops go into hedonistic sundaes. Flavors range from traditional chocolate and vanilla to Turkish coffee or Sicilian pistachio. Celebrating? Order a stunning frozen cake. 2116 Greenville Ave. 469-776-9077. Multiple locations. Reader’s choice: Howdy Homemade
Best Taco Joint
Taquería El Si Hay
They have it, as their name roughly translates to. At this tiny stand across from Encina, choose fajita, chicken, chorizo, or their tender lengua tacos. If you top your order with their spicy red salsa, grab a Jarrito to sip on. And bring cash to pay and a car in which to dine. 601 W. Davis St. 214-941-4042.
The restaurant is attached to a Shell station, and the kitchen sits across from a slot machine. There could not be fewer frills. Montes doesn’t need any, with homemade tortillas, meats that pop, and only two items on the menu costing north of $4.25. 19004 Midway Rd., Ste. A. 972-773-9262.
How do you decide between the Earl Grey, the Boston cream, the maple bacon, or the Nutella croissant doughnut? Our advice: don’t. 4740 TX 121, Ste. 700, Lewisville. 214-469-1177. Reader’s Choice: Hypnotic Donuts
Del Norte Bakery
This family-owned bakery has been serving soft, colorful conchas, moist tres leches cakes, and crusty bolillos to pan dulce lovers for more than 30 years. They also have tamales if your taste runs more toward the savory. 5507 Lindsley Ave. 214-821-0061.
BigDash Ice Cream and Pastries
The recent run of success for this Syrian pastry shop includes a New York Times feature, a move to a bigger space, and a new Frisco location. Get the baklava. 888 S. Greenville Ave., Ste. 140, Richardson. 972-979-4098. Multiple locations.
Best Vegan Bakery
Go for the red velvet cake and the pistachio macarons; stay for the jalapeño veggie dog kolache (even if it should technically be called a klobasnek). 980 N. Coit Rd., Ste. 2850, Richardson. 972-238-7511.
This cozy Oak Cliff spot produces top-quality truffles with a Mexican American twist, featuring flavors like cafe con leche, dulce de leche, and mezcal. They have a line of vegan offerings, too. 508 W. Seventh St. 214-941-3030.
Best Birthday Cake
A bowl of Froot Loops. A stack of syrupy pancakes. A Nike tennis shoe. After appearing on the recent Netflix cake-baking competition, Sam Cade can be asked only one question: “Is it cake?” And the answer, always and astoundingly, is yes. cakeyall.com
A family recipe, real fruit, and from-scratch ingredients are the building blocks for authentic Mexican paletas in 40 different flavors. Savor the watermelon hibiscus or opt for the creamy blueberry guava. Chili gummies or Tajín toppings add spice. 831 W. Davis St. 469-899-7434.
Sclafani’s New York Bagels & Sandwiches
Chris Sclafani’s Italian family has baked bread for more than a century. His dad married into a Jewish family that made bagels. The happy result: enormous, billowy, kettle-boiled bagels with perfect crusts. 6135 Luther Ln. 609-361-3723.
Best Place for Dessert
Maggie Huff brilliantly combines high-end techniques with the flavor combos you loved as a kid, taking simple ideas—chocolate and cherries, strawberries and pecans—and adding textural and visual flair. Order any dessert that stars fresh fruit or veggies. Yes, veggies. 4002 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-434-1244.
USA Today says it’s the best coffee in Texas, which is insane. But also maybe true? Two funny Australian brothers named Mark and Adam Lowes run an outfit that serves really strong coffee and employs people (at least at the White Rock location) who will learn your name and standard order by your third visit. 9005 Garland Rd. Multiple locations. Reader’s choice: Ascension
Everyone in Far East Dallas (and interlopers who come straight from White Rock) knows to come here for sandwiches on house-made beer biscuits, which can be healthier (egg white, avocado, tomato) or “Who cares?” (sausage, American cheese, gravy). There’s Cultivar Coffee, too. 1155 Peavy Rd. 972-807-2899. Reader’s choice: Goldrush Cafe
The Vietnamese Cajun flavors here invigorate Southern classics with the addition of C’Asian hollandaise, Sriracha aioli, and jalapeño-garlic gravy. Don’t miss the breakfast bánh mì—fried eggs and bacon seated in a fluffy French baguette and topped with pickled carrots and fresh herbs. 233 W. Seventh St.,Ste. 100. 214-253-9311. Reader’s choice: Beverley’s
Best Music Act
Ariel + The Culture
Under the name Ariel + The Culture, Jason Bobadilla makes music that pulls together the sounds of R&B, cumbia, and indie pop with a mesh of Spanglish lyrics. This young Latino artist has opened for the likes of Boy Pablo and is already expanding the boundaries of the Dallas music scene—mostly by completely obliterating them.
Kalita Humphreys Theater
Get ready for the silver age. A renovation led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the firm behind New York’s High Line, is returning the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed theater to its circa-1960s heyday and better integrating the site with the nearby Katy Trail. 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. 214-219-2718.
Best Album Release
Corners by Bastards of Soul
It’s the saddest triumph. Corners ought to have put the R&B group on the national radar. Instead, singer Chadwick Murray’s death last September made it their swan song. Still, the Bastards maximized the time they had: most bands spend decades chasing a track like “Just a Little Bit.”
Best Movie Theater
On the National Register of Historic Places and with a $2 million expansion completed last year, the space itself is a treasure. More than that, though, as the home base of Aviation Cinemas and the folks behind the Oak Cliff Film Festival, it’s an essential driver of Dallas culture. 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. 214-948-1546.
Best Performing Arts Venue
A night at the 101-year-old grande dame of downtown Dallas always feels special in a way that can only be created with a deep history. Above all, though, the 1,700-seat hall has great sound and comfortable rocking seats. 1925 Elm St. 214-670-3687.
Best Dance Company
Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Whether making moves in downtown Dallas or representing the United States at international expos, this contemporary modern dance company stays true to its mission of high-level artistic excellence. But there is another emphasis: the bridging of cultures through dance expression. 2700 Ann Williams Way. 214-871-2376.
Best New News Outlet
Dallas Free Press
Longtime Advocate editor Keri Mitchell knew that West Dallas and South Dallas had been “historically rejected and ignored by the media.” Her Dallas Free Press was born with a question: how can journalism serve you? www.dallasfreepress.com
Best Sports Team
South Oak Cliff High School Football
The Golden Bears became the first recognized DISD team to win a state championship since 1958 and the district’s first UIL state championship winners since 1950. They did it with a collective GPA over 3.0, too.
Best Social Media Feed
Think of SMU’s G. William Jones Film & Video Collection’s Twitter account as a grab bag of old Dallas, where consecutive posts on a random Wednesday take you from the 1972 Byron Nelson to tax policy debates in 1976.
Dallas Museum of Art
Under director Agustín Arteaga (and despite a wild break-in that caused $5 million in damage), the DMA has been on a hot streak that includes the first-ever museum retrospective of sculptor Octavio Medellín (up through January) and the jaw-dropping “Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity,” on view through September. 1717 N. Harwood St. 214-922-1200.
Best Art Space
Daisha Board Art Gallery
To see oneself reflected in fine art is a powerful act. For decades, BIPOC and LGBTQ artists and artists with disabilities did not receive equitable representation at galleries throughout the city. Daisha Board has created space for these artists to be seen, exhibited, and heard. That deserves our praise—and attention. 2111 Sylvan Ave., 214-407-2517.
Ashley Henderson, The Talon News
The senior and editor in chief of her Argyle High School paper won the Dallas Morning News’ “news reporting” category in the 2022 High School Journalism Competition for a story about how a shortage of substitute teachers led to pay inequity with full-time teachers’ aides.
Best Bargain Sports Venue
College Park Center
Tickets for the Wings start at $20. Parking in the Blue Garage is $10. Once inside the stadium, skip the beer line and head left: you’ll find top-shelf G&Ts for $7. The WNBA may be underpriced and underpaid, but that means you have no excuse not to watch Arike and Marina play. 600 S. Center St., Arlington. 817-272-5584.
Best TV News Anchor
Tashara Parker, Channel 8
Every morning, Tashara Parker arrives purely as herself, and for that simple but crucial act we are thankful. From her Emmy-winning series on natural hair in Texas to delivering testimony in front of the State Affairs Committee in support of the CROWN Act (which prohibits discrimination because of hair style or texture), Parker is the moment.
Best Parachute Podcast
Neither Mike Hixenbaugh nor Antonia Hylton is based here, but when the NBC News reporters came to cover the battle over CRT in one of the nation’s wealthiest school districts, they created a moving and important eight-part podcast that has informed a national conversation. nbcnews.com/southlakepodcast
Best Drag Queen
Bleach has cultivated a special space in the city’s drag community, from parties at Double Wide to various collaborations with some of the best drag queens in the city. After Kacey Musgraves, Bleach is now the most famous person from Golden, Texas.
Daryl “Razor” Reaugh
The former goaltender and TV color man just celebrated his 25th season broadcasting Stars games. His wit, wisdom, and wordplay make him a Dallas treasure. It did not escape our notice that in a single game in November, an overtime win, he used the words “fugacious” and “meretricious.” Look ’em up.
Best New Park
At 6 acres, this expansion and complete reimagining of the former Carpenter Plaza is now the largest park in the city’s urban core. That’s the headline. The real story for us: Robert Irwin’s wonderful reinterpretation of one of his own works, now titled Portal Park Slice. And downtown’s first outdoor basketball court. And fountains. 2201 Pacific Ave.
Best Public Official
Chief Eddie García
The Dallas police chief has brought stability and credibility to the force while embracing community engagement and threading the needle on police accountability. He took over in early 2021 and instituted a plan that has put Dallas in the headlines for bucking a national trend of higher crime rates.
There’s never been a Dallas Cowboy like Parsons, much less a rookie: a positionless force of nature who harrasses the quarterback, shadows wide receivers, and gets to everything in between with ease. He wasn’t just the best player for a should-have-been Super Bowl contender. He’s the future of football.
Best Radio Station
97.9 The Beat
The best radio stations center community. Whether it’s Jazze Maxie highlighting a entrepreneur on She Represents or Jazzi Black breaking the city’s emergent artists on The Kickback, the DJs at 97.9 educate while continuing to be the best outlet for R&B/hip-hop in town.
Pan-African Connection Bookstore and Resource Center
For decades, the Pan-African Connection has existed as a community center, an archive for African diaspora history, and a place to celebrate Black culture. Founded by former Boeing employee Bandele Tyehimba, the bookstore has been run since his death, in 2012, by his wife, Akwete, and daughter, Adjwoa. Every first and third Sunday, it hosts a market for local small businesses. 4466 S. Marsalis Ave. 214-943-8262.
Best Family Attraction
Dallas Children’s Aquarium
Inside Fair Park, this once overlooked and recently revitalized aquarium is home to friendly stingrays that you can feed and pet for a hands-on (hands-wet?) experience. Keep an eye out for spiky sea urchins, a rhino iguana, or (our favorite) the chocolate chip sea star. 1462 First Ave. 469-554-7340.
Best Botanical Garden
Fort Worth Botanic Garden
Established in 1934, this is the oldest major botanical garden in Texas. But this isn’t a nod to its seniority. Visit the Japanese gardens for a blissful stroll or schedule a tour at the Philecology Herbarium, home to more than 1.5 million plant specimens. 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth. 817-463-4160.
Best Radio Show
The Ben and Skin Show
Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade (with help from Krystina Ray and Kevin Turner) create the sort of show that can exist only when the hosts have been friends since middle school and broadcasting together almost as long. It’s an inside joke that they’ll let you in on. 97.1, The Eagle, 2–5 pm
Best Garden for Kids
Grapevine Botanical Gardens
Based in Heritage Park, these gardens offer something their bigger cousins in North Texas don’t: free admission and plenty of parking. There is also picnic space, benches, and a playground nearby, but where it really shines is as a family portrait backdrop. 411 Ball St., Grapevine. 817-410-3122.
Best Activist Athlete
Everywhere Ogunbowale goes, a community is forever changed. From her hometown of Milwaukee to Notre Dame to Dallas, the Wings guard utilizes her star power to make an impact. She has partnered with Red Bull to upgrade basketball courts throughout the city. Her reign has only begun.
Best Sports Venue
Globe Life Field
Still the newest, still the glitziest, and still only scratching the surface of its potential after opening at the height of the pandemic in 2020. And, let’s be honest, the closed roof is a game-changer during scalding summer afternoons. 734 Stadium Dr., Arlington. 817-533-1972.
Best Self Care Shop
Well into its second year, Molly Mathias’ groovy Bishop Arts emporium is still going strong, trading in CBD oils, sexual wellness products, and dietary supplements. It is practically a Gen Z starter kit, complete with brightly colored claw clips. 250 N. Bishop Ave., Ste 150.
Best Traditional Furniture
This is where we’ve found some of our favorite accent pieces, like a glazed ceramic end table, as well as focal points to build a room around, like a cocktail table made from a solid block of swirling hardwood. 2707 Fairmount St. 214-954-9511.
Best Bridal Registry
This Fort Worth-based e-registry service helps you create a more interesting, well-rounded wedding registry. How? The Dowry works with artisans who create uncommon goods—unique items that newlyweds will enjoy for many anniversaries to come. 833-883-6979.
Best Contemporary Furniture Store
Scott + Cooner
Whether you’re outfitting a living room or a lobby, you’re sure to find the perfect accent or statement piece in this sprawling showroom filled with all the most exciting and talked-about brands. It’s why, year after year, Scott + Cooner rises to the top. 1617 Hi Line Dr., Ste. 100. 214-748-9838.
Best Vintage Furniture Store
Sure, there are plenty of places in town where you can dig for dinged-up, run-of-the-mill midcentury furniture. But if mint-condition vintage pieces from notable 20th-century designers are what you’re after, Chris Thurman’s Design District showroom is the uncontested best. 1329 Slocum St. 214-887-6221.
Best Designer Hardware
Pierce Fine Decorative Hardware and Plumbing
It’s amazing what a difference the perfect fixture can make, and it’s amazing how many of them you’ll find in the Pierce showroom—luxurious waterfall showerheads, sensible sconces, just-right sturdy knobs. The top-of-the-line products are rivaled only by the exceptional service. 2615 W. Mockingbird Ln., Ste. 101. 214-368-2851.
Best Kitchen Accessories Store
Coryanne Ettiene’s McKinney shop (sadly, the Bishop Arts location closed in July) is known for its handpicked assortment of high-quality home goods, everything from artisan mixed-wood cutting boards to cast-iron skillets. What Ettiene is really selling is a lifestyle. Her charmingly practical products evoke simplicity and a sense of wonder. 115 W. Louisiana St. 214-799-5195.
Best Fragrance Shop
The Conservatory on Two
The Conservatory dedicates an entire wing of its new 9,000-square-foot store to fragrances, which include uncommon and posh brands like D.S. & Durga and The Harmonist. Before you leave, grab a bite at the Teak Tearoom. 100 Highland Park Village, Ste. 205. 972-863-8590.
Best Gift Shop
Commerce Goods + Supply at The Adolphus
More than a mere amenity at its historic-hotel home, Commerce has become its own destination. Christine Visneau stocks the shelves by focusing on unique goods from independent designers. We love the Valentine’s Day lockets, the Saint Rita Parlor unisex car fragrance inspired by leather seats, and ceramic bud vases by Kendall Davis Clay. The shop also has its own Stetson collab. The 1930s fedora is named Renard—the French mot for fox—in reference to the code word for the speakeasy once hidden in the hotel’s subterranean depths. 1321 Commerce St. 214-651-3643.
Best Athletic Wear
Head to this Inwood Village studio for a killer sweat session, then stay to shop its airy boutique. Many gyms feature only a limited selection of branded merch, but here you can find tons of colorful athleisure from the likes of StrutThis and Free People, with all sorts of fun patterns and cutouts, plus all the essentials to rock your next workout. 5550 W. Lovers Ln., Ste. 146. 214-433-7203.
Best Fair Trade Home Goods
Thanks to Carly Nance and Rachel Bentley’s ethical partnerships with thousands of master artisans in 22 countries, as well as their commitment to sustainability, you can feel good about bringing home handcrafted decor from around the world. Our favorite: the stonewashed linen bedding from Portugal. 400 S. Record St., Ste. 1150. 866-356-4284.
Best Birthday Cards
All Good Things
Kristen Miller carries gifts for every occasion (candles, succulents, whimsical stationery) to pair with that elusive card that somehow expresses your exact feelings without being cheesy. We come to shop for someone else but inevitably leave with something extra for ourselves. 404 W. Eighth St. 214-579-9961.
Best Antiques Store
Nick Brock Antiques
Go for the antiques, stay for the conversation (and adorable shop dog). From five-figure chandeliers to more affordable accessories, there’s something for everyone and from every era at this meandering Henderson Avenue mainstay owned by the affable and approachable Brock. It’s a favorite of Dallas’ design elite, and for good reason. Don’t miss the charming courtyard. 2909 N. Henderson Ave. 214-828-0624.
Kendall Davis Clay
From pretty planters to functional plates, mugs, and sake sets, the eponymous ceramicist—who holds an MFA in fine art—creates works of utilitarian beauty from her Fort Worth studio and storefront. She also hosts workshops and private classes where she imparts her wisdom to aspiring potters. 305 W. Daggett Ave., Fort Worth. 214-394-1653.
Best Vintage Dig
Lots of Furniture Antiques Warehouse
Sometimes you want a sure thing, and sometimes you’re in the mood for a treasure hunt. This generically named warehouse provides both. Come prepared to shimmy through crowded aisles, stretch for out-of-the-way items, and sort through stacks of stuff at unbeatable prices. 910 N. Riverfront Blvd. 214-761-1575.
Best Home Salvage Shop
Discount Home Warehouse
Want a custom look but don’t have a custom budget? Scour this treasure trove of salvaged doors, floors, millwork, decor, and more—most rescued from high-end homes and in great condition—available for a fraction of their original prices. (We still dream about Rose Tarlow drapes we once saw for a mere $150 per panel.) 1768 Empire Central Dr. 214-631-2755.
Best Hardware Store
Rooster Home and Hardware
Here is where you can finally track down hard-to-find tools of the trade as well as all the equipment you’ll need for your DIY fixups. (It incorporates a traditional True Value hardware outlet.) For handy how-tos, join one of their demos. 10233 Northwest Hwy., Ste. 409. 214-343-1971.
Best Home Accessories Store
In addition to Gus* Modern and Blu Dot furniture, you’ll find handcrafted pottery and textiles from Oaxaca, soy candles from Calyan Wax Co. in Arlington, and hand-dyed table linens from West of Here Studio in Dallas. Also, there’s always a rotating art gallery on the walls featuring local and national artists. 2532 Converse St. 214-943-5650.
Best Arts and Crafts Store
Asel Art Supply
Founded by brothers Kenny and Herb Asel, this arts and crafts store has supplied creative individuals with the tools to bring their visions to life for more than 70 years. Find paint, clay, calligraphy pens, screen printing sets, and much more. 2701 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-871-2425. Multiple locations.
Archer Paper Goods
From stationery sets to stickers to greeting cards and more, you can be sure to find everything needed for any paper-worthy occasion. The boutique also offers a bar devoted entirely to pencils—the perfect place for office supply nerds to geek out. Pencils! 2649 Main St., Ste. 160. 214-272-7554.
Best Baby Registry
Keep the thought-that-counts shower gifts to a minimum by registering at a place that knows motherhood doesn’t have to mean losing your sense of style. Gear and accessories are selected with contemporary moms in mind, and all are tested by owner Carrie Barnard herself. 6721 Snider Plz. 469-232-9420.
Best Baby Fashion
When it’s time to get gussied up, Dallas’ most dapper babies only wear Dondolo. This locally based brand of fine, heirloom-quality children’s clothing (which recently expanded into homegoods) is impeccably crafted in founder Catalina Gonzalez Jorba’s native Colombia. 315 Cole St., Ste. 160. 972-803-3531.
Best Toy Store
Pam and Dean May have been staying ahead of new toy trends for 40 years, and it shows in their ever-changing selection. From the new additions to the old standbys, you’ll be hard-pressed to not leave with the perfect gift—which they’ll also wrap for you. 5460 W. Lovers Ln., Ste. 236. 214-956-8697.
Best Women’s Clothing Boutique
With its dramatic tile floor and bold yellow accents throughout, the sister shop to Merry Vose’s Cabana and Clover is as bright and daring as its coveted prints and ensembles. It’s our favorite spot for falling in love with new designers and features thoughtfully assembled runway looks you can wear in real life. 4609 W. Lovers Ln. 214-351-4400.
Best Men’s Clothing Store
Stag Provisions for Men
Stag is a bit of everything, blending the high-end with the low and the classic with the new. It’s also part antiques store, part gift shop, and part accessory counter. 3130 Knox St., Ste. 110. 214-599-2143.
Best Home Decor for Kids
The customizable pieces at Madre—such as cushioned toy chests, embroidered blankets, and soft fabric chandeliers—make your little ones’ rooms more welcoming. Prepare your own nursery, or check a gift off that registry. 4715 W. Lovers Ln. 214-577-4077.
Best Place to Buy Sneakers
Copping sneakers can be frustrating. Not so at this Deep Ellum outpost. From the minute you walk in the door, staff—or even one of the owners—will help find the best shoe for you. They also team up with various brands (most recently, ASICS) for special collaborations. 2822 Main St. 469-206-7825.
Best Vintage Clothing Store
Be prepared to spend a few hours perusing the racks. Not because it isn’t organized; there is just so much to consider. When you are finally done, you’ll come away with fit-pic-ready drip—a perfectly broken-in leather jacket, maybe, or rare vintage purse. 1982 Fort Worth Ave. 214-824-2185. Multiple locations.
Best Place to Buy Boots
SMU grad Lizzie Chesnut creates custom boots with bold colors and designs, bringing the modern cowgirl into an urban environment (#yeehawagenda). 3009 Commerce St. 817-688-9691. Multiple locations.
Best Hair Accessories
She’s designed for leading global brands, and her products are sought after worldwide, but something about Lisa “Lele” Sadoughi’s style is uniquely Dallas: bold, unapologetic, perfectly coordinated. She’s best known for her wide-knotted and embellished headbands, but the embroidered bucket hats have also been hot this summer. 67 Highland Park Village. 972-863-8361.
Best Affordable Jewelry Shop
Mod + Jo
Jordan Flynn couldn’t find the layer-ready jewelry she was looking for at a price that wouldn’t break the bank, so she made it herself. Her pieces are elegant, feminine, classy with just the right amount of sass, and, yes, attainable. 250 N. Bishop Ave., Ste. 180. 214-770-0833.
Best Holiday Shop
Somewhere between art exhibition and fairy-tale bazaar, this is our go-to for holiday decor, design, and installation. Linda McMullen and Melodye Green rotate the inventory of the 30,000-square-foot showroom every season, but, of course, winter holidays get the bulk of the space. 2819 W. 15th St., Plano. 469-814-0802.
Best Affordable Women’s Clothing
Instead of chasing trends, Harkensback co-owner Julie McCullough chooses and designs high-quality clothes meant to last, like bomber jackets handmade from reclaimed quilts. Each surprisingly affordable piece quietly defies the modern ethos of fast fashion, “harkening back” to a time when you knew where your clothes came from. 2321 Beatrice St.
For years, this streetwear boutique operated out of a suite on North Ervay Street. Now it has found a second home on Jefferson Boulevard where guests can shop the latest designs from local and international brands. Daily TX also has its own in-house label—and a barbershop, if you need a shape-up. 216 Jefferson Blvd. 682-235-4573.
Best Bookstore for Kids
Whose Books Neighborhood Bookstore
Claudia Vega stepped down as Sunset High School’s principal in 2021. By the end of the year, she launched Whose Books inside Tyler Station. Vega curates for the community, which means children’s books told from the perspective of migrants, a slew of gender-inclusive picture books, and programming that includes reading assessments and book clubs. 1300 S. Polk St., Ste. 267. 469-885-8004.
Best Record Store
Owned by David Grover (the singer for early ’90s psych-pop band Loud Sugar), this Bishop Arts storefront is the perfect entry point for the nascent record collector, with a sharp selection that isn’t overwhelming. Look out for all-vinyl DJ sets by Grover and guests (like DJ Sober) at the Adolphus, Las Almas Rotas, and elsewhere. 408 N. Bishop Ave., Ste. 102. 972-598-0814.
Best Game Shop
If you want it, Boardwalk’s got it, from board games to tabletop figurines to cards and card sleeves to a staggering amount of dice. But the secret weapon is the space itself, which features two rooms of tables for tournament and casual play without getting in the way of shoppers. 2810 E. Trinity Mills Rd., Carrollton. 972-810-0182.
Best Garden Shop
Ruibal’s Plants of Texas
Here’s a little-known secret: green thumbs from this family-owned operation will pick up your pots, fill them with plants, and deliver them to your doorstep. They also do succulent and cactus arrangements. And have fresh-cut flowers. And will sell you a mysterious pepper plant so hot it will melt your eyebrows. (True story.) 601 S. Pearl Expwy. 214-744-9100. Multiple locations.
Best Leather Goods
Sister-brother duo Rae and David Liu have crafted quality leather staples, like wallets, purses, and duffels, since 2008. Their 300-plus product line also includes great gifts, like tech cord rolls and watch cases. Leatherology had a five-month NorthPark pop-up last year, but we’re still waiting for a permanent storefront. 800-818-4478.
Best Indoor Plant Shop
Oasis Plant Shop
With a cacti-filled backyard, trees nestled in corners, and hanging plants everywhere, Oasis is a tropical mirage on the prairie. Once you decide on your greenery, head across the street to their sister store, Vessels. Opened last spring, it’s the perfect complement, with every planter you’ll ever need. 416 W. Eighth St. 972-773-9989.
Best Outdoor Furniture
Designer Jean Liu is known for luxury patio furniture that’s better made—and from better materials—than most regular furniture. Plus, the online-only brand ships directly to consumers, eliminating retail markups. As longtime fans, we’re especially excited for her two new collections to join the existing six in 2023. 844-557-8674.
Best Metaphysical Shop
After two years of pop-ups, the crystal purveyor opened its first brick-and-mortar spot last February. Reasonably priced, the shop offers everything from quartzes to amethysts to malachites, and displays have QR codes with information on how the different crystals work. The friendly staff is also on standby to answer any questions. 443 W. Davis St. 214-915-8866.
Best Pet Supply Store
Lucky Dog Barkery
This true one-stop will outfit your pup in the most stylish four-legged fashion, satisfy his cravings with healthy food and sweet-tasting treats, and (prayer hands emoji) keep him entertained for hours on end with any number of balls, tugs, games, and squeaker toys. You’ll appreciate the selection of dog bowls, beds, and bath products. 8320 Preston Center Plz. 214-368-6000.
Best Bike Shop
If you’re into a brand exclusive to a certain shop, then you already know where to go, but Bike Mart, established in 1962, has the biggest selection of new and used rides in town, and their sales team and mechanics avoid the snobbery sometimes found in the cycling world. 1451 W. Campbell Rd., Richardson. 972-231-3993. Multiple locations.
Best Yarn Shop
We gave up making our own sourdough starter after our first vaccination, but knitting is a pandemic preoccupation we just can’t quit. Thankfully, McKinney Knittery has taken full advantage of its latest location in the old McKinney Office Supply building to expand its selection of quilting, crocheting, and knitting supplies, keeping our itch scratched. 117 W. Louisiana St., McKinney. 469-714-4002.
Best Happy Hour
We love grabbing an after-work drink here because it’s far enough away from downtown to feel like an escape but not so far that it’s inconvenient; the patio is near the platonic ideal; and that drink is a $5 pineapple chili ranchwater. 1812 N. Haskell Ave. 214-833-4983.
Pegasus City Brewery
It sounds too good to be true: a brewery in the heart of downtown with a massive patio and a chic art deco-tinged indoor setup featuring everything from bar billiards to a reading nook to a merch closet. Believe it. Then pop in and order a Nine Volt. 1508 Commerce St. 972-366-7722.
Best Frozen Drinks
How good is the frozen Irish coffee they serve at this Deep Ellum mainstay? We have it on reliable authority that two D Magazine staffers, having imbibed a couple, decided to have a foot race right out on Elm Street. We won’t say who won except that he also won the rematch and is our senior editor. 2640 Elm St. 214-741-2121.
Best Place to Day Drink
Taco y Vino
The justification is in the name, no? You get tacos (elevated, still approachable) and wine (diverse, reasonably priced), and when you’ve had a little too much of the latter you can keep the afternoon going with more of the former. Not in the name: a relaxing patio in front of a sweet little house. 213 W. Eighth St. 469-372-0022.
Best Bar for Beer
For a dozen years, this unassuming spot in Old East Dallas has been delighting beer drinkers with a chalkboard full of unusual finds. “We want to still surprise you with these little, underdog, tiny breweries out of Spain or Belgium or Italy,” co-owner Rosie Ildemaro told us in May. 2429 N. Fitzhugh Ave. 214-823-7800.
Best Bar with Games
Last year, the London shuffleboard bar opened its first United States location in Deep Ellum. With four games to play on their custom tables, as many as 24 people can compete at the same time. Not exactly the shuffleboard you’re likely used to. Start Sunday Funday at their weekend brunch. 2615 Elm St. 469-382-9888.
Best Monthly Dance Party
Dallas’ house party culture lives on at this one-Sunday-a-month shindig held at Tiny Victories in Oak Cliff. Created by DJ Sober and co-conspirator Jessi Pereira, Paradise brings together a cross section of the city’s diversity under one roof for a vibe-heavy good time. It is the place to be seen. 604 N. Tyler St. 972-685-7055.
Best Live Music Venue
There are plenty of worthy contenders here. Three Links remains Deep Ellum’s welcoming clubhouse. And keep an eye on the Design District’s new Echo Lounge & Music Hall. But the Kessler still hits all the right notes, from size to sightlines to sound, and its calendar stays packed and potent. 1230 W. Davis St. 214-272-8346.
Best Bar With Classical Music
The warm-lit ambience at this cocktail lounge underneath The Joule is enhanced by occasional pop-up classical music performances by Lydia Umlauf and company. Award-winning bartender Gabe Sanchez created the standout drink menu. May we suggest the slightly sweet Komodo Dragon or the sour-based Nightmarcher? 1530 Main St. 214-261-4601.
Best Bar Patio
Katy Trail Ice House
Managing partner Buddy Cramer did heroic research on German biergartens to create this Uptown watering hole, planting 30 live oaks across 27,000 square feet of picnic tables laden with icy-cold schooners of beer, all of it enlivened by a perfect playlist of Texas country and Southern rock that Buddy himself selects. 3127 Routh St. 214-468-0600.
Best Dance hall
Cowboys Red River
With a wooden track dance floor wrapped around a central bar that is tended by cleavage-baring women, this place is stuck in 1995. That’s why it’s great. Check the calendar for live shows, but most nights you can get in free—and take two-step and swing lessons—from 7 to 8. 10310 Technology Blvd. 214-352-1796.
Best Wine Bar
The Wine Authority
Get comfy in the lounge area and ask about their featured wines, each handpicked by an expert on staff. With more than 30 years’ experience, co-owner Kyle Kepner helps customers expand their palates—and save a few bucks, too. 508 W. Lookout Dr., Ste. 24. Richardson. 972-998-8364. Reader’s choice: Sixty Vines
Best Tiki Bar
4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge
Every ’gram-ready drink is made with fresh fruit, fresh juices, and/or fresh dairy—including nonalcoholic options. Don’t miss the Kahuna Cup (Dole Whip combined with dark rum) and their classic Mai Tai. 506 E. Division St., Arlington. 682-276-6097.
Best Distillery for a Drink
Lockwood Distilling Co.
Sally and Evan Batt’s aim was creating a distillery that was really a hangout, unpretentious and personable. They have. You can buy a fifth of its rye whiskey to-go, but you can also stop after work for a Reuben and wash it down with a Bees Knees, made with house gin. 506 Lockwood Dr., Ste. A, Richardson. 469-399-1599. Multiple locations.
Best Agave Bar
La Viuda Negra
Next door to their restaurant, El Come Taco, brothers Javier and Luis Villalva hid a mezcal bar behind a false bridal shop storefront. It’s the kind of place where local chefs hang after work, sipping curados de pulque, a pre-Colonial “drink of the gods.” 2513 N. Fitzhugh Ave. 214-821-3738.
Although she is the daughter of DJ Spinderella, Christy Ray pushes herself residency after residency, gig after gig, to be recognized by her colleagues and peers in the industry as a DJ on her own terms. There is something to be said about someone who crafts her own legacy.
Best Gay Bar
Kathy Jack reopened the state’s oldest lesbian bar—and one of the last 15 in the country—last June. Come to this two-story nightclub to dance, sing karaoke, meet old friends (or make new ones), watch a Madonna tribute act, or play giant beer pong with volleyballs. 3014 Throckmorton St. 214-559-0707.
Best Sports Bar
It has all the TVs, beers, and games you’d expect from a sports bar. But nowhere else has Luscher’s hot dogs and a rooftop deck that overlooks a softball field. Cleats on concrete and bat bags thrown under picnic tables—this place is for both watchers and players. 5625 Village Glen Dr., Ste. 170. 469-659-6372.
Best Dive Bar
Time Out Tavern
The most recent addition to the sports ephemera–covered walls here is a souvenir from the Mavericks’ 2011 championship run. That’s the kind of lived-in charm you want from a dive bar, the atmosphere somewhere between museum and shipwreck. There is also plenty of beer. 5101 W. Lovers Ln. 214-956-9552.
Best Hotel Bar
The French Room Bar
Like us, The Adolphus’ blue-lacquered bar upstairs has only become more alluring with age. This summer, it is being dubbed Bar Lilly in honor of Lilly Anheuser. This means more flowers, new specialty cocktails, and a fresh reason for a visit. 1321 Commerce St. 214-651-3615.