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What's cool in Dallas?

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Perhaps "cool" is a loaded word but I have lived here my entire life and compared to other cities, Dallas doesn't have many "cool" places. Maybe I think other cities have "cooler" places because they are new to me or in a different city. Regardless, What is cool in Dallas? Why is it cool?

I am not talking about the newest see and be seen trendy places that come and go. Although it is certainly possible for a new place to be cool, I am talking about solid places that will survive the days of Ed Hardy and Bump-its.

Say what you will about Sonny Bryan, but sitting on those old, wood school chairs eating a chopped beef sandwich over on Inwood is cool. Drinking a beer and eating a burger next to a fire pit at Lee Harvey's is cool. Drinking Scotch. listening to the piano at the Library in the Melrose is cool. The French Room is cool-just because. The Mecca is cool-I don't know why.

So when someone says "Dallas sucks." Where would you take them in an attempt to convince them that Dallas isn't so bad afterall. Maybe it is a little cool.

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  1. Great topic and I couldn't agree more with your premise as another native. The things I think are cool:
    Nursing a hangover with a good beer and cheesburger at the Angry Dog.
    Brunch at La Duni on Oak Lawn
    Dinner at York Street
    Eating sammy and bottle of wine at Jimmy's
    Dinner at Nonna

    1 Reply
    1. re: J.R.

      Eating a meal at Urbano is steadily climbing up my list of cool things to do...

    2. Standing outside Meshack's amidst the smell of smoke, waiting for your BBQ
      Rahr and Franconia brewery tours
      Seeing an out of towner's reaction as you walk into Babe's
      Brunch at Henk's. Bonus points if Germany is playing a soccer match.
      Wandering Downtown Plano for food, and cap it off with a beer at Fillmore Pub
      My hangover cure of choice is an early morning bowl of pho at Pho Bang
      Grabbing the last almond croissant at Ravelin Bakery

      1. Great topic! I'll just sit back and enjoy all your cool favorites. Then, I'll know where and what to do that's, cool.
        Keep em coming.

        1. I don't know about cool but these are things that make me happy no matter what's going on:

          Standing in line in Taqueria El Fuego as office workers with doubtful, dubious expressions get introduced to this little gem by kind, more adventurous co-workers.

          Walking into Jimmy's, past the luxury cars in the overflowing parking lot, the sandwich line a dozen deep, another dozen mingling around waiting for their order.

          Sitting three deep in Wingfield's lot, the line out the door, the sun beating down on the locals, the out of place office workers (including me), everyone mingling in anticipation of their burger fix.

          Awaiting a steaming bowl of pho in a Vietnamese shop in Richardson/Garland (pick one), sipping an iced sweetened coffee, and feeling like I'm halfway across the world... while watching the cnn scroller on the flatscreen.

          As you can tell, I like it when cultures and different groups of people mix.

          1. Packing a picnic lunch of your favorites and hitting the road to "pick your own" at one of the many farms located a short drive out of the metro. After picking - unfolding your picnic treasures, hopefully boosted by your newly picked harvest, and enjoying a fresh and tasty lunch on a beautiful spring afternoon.

            Of course.... we have to wait for the beautiful spring day to arrive first.

            (And if you don't want to go pickin', a picnic is still a pretty cool thing to do.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: CocoaNut

              That reminds me: Going to the farmers market in summer, visiting one of the stalls that actually grows their produce, getting a tomato, showing a friend what a ripe tomato actually tastes like. Makes you hate supermarkets.

            2. I think cool is in the eye of the beholder, and once everyone else thinks it's cool, it is now passe to that person. I too loved going to the Library when I lived in Dallas, and eating BBQ in some sparse joint, that was cool to me at the time. I thought going to the Prince for greasy burgers was cool, but that has since closed, so apparently I was mistaken.
              I agree with you that when you live someplace and travel elsewhere, things are new and different so they seem more cool. I remember my first visit to Dallas we went to the top of some building that rotated, I thought that was pretty cool and I was with good friends and had lots of drinks.
              I'm from new Orleans, so all of my cool places to hang out there are not places that are cool to the masses, that's why I like them. Now living minutes from NYC I find I still like the dive sort of place, not impressed by the places that are trendy (never have been).
              My last visit to Dallas my buddy took me and my wife to the Time Out Tavern, which I loved and I know I had been there when I lived there, just not on a regular basis.
              You don't see many bars in most big cities anymore, everyplace has to be a club/lounge for the younger people these days that need lots of flashing lights and thumping music.

              8 Replies
              1. re: roro1831

                Roro..You were not mistaken..The Prince was indeed Cool!

                1. re: J.R.

                  +2! For many years..... Even the signage. They just don't do it like that anymore.

                  1. re: CocoaNut

                    Yeah, I remember Prince on Lemmon Avenue, too. It made Sonic look like the McDonalds of drive-ins.

                    1. re: twinwillow

                      Mmm... Prince of Burgers. I went there as a lil kid, and I was there a few weeks before they closed. Sad when I went back and the sign was down. The burger was incredibly simple. And the o-rings. Check the links below for the building and a bit of histroy (interesting).

                      I think it is cool to take the trolley down McKinney on a Saturday afternoon. Hit a few pubs along the way, ferret out a good burger, end up at the museum for a stroll and back again.

                      And Sonic IS the McDonalds of drive-ins.


                      1. re: DallasDude

                        Trolley is a good call. I don't do that enough. Isn't there a train that goes out to vinyards in Grapevine? Has anyone done this? Can you ride the train and drink some wine and tour the vineyards and then return to Dallas? (I guess I could just google it but it is more fun th ask you folks.)

                        1. re: fixer

                          There's 2 different things: Wine Trail and the Jazz Train.

                          You park your car at a winery and then go from there. Some are walkable, and you take a shuttle for the ones that aren't. For the Jazz Train you're just riding the train and being entertained onboard. The train doesn't actually go to Dallas, it departs and comes back to Grapevine.

                          I hear it's possible to split the $55 ticket between two for the Wine Trail, could possibly work for the Jazz Train too. A friend has done the split for the wine trail and he threw in that advice since there will be an overwhelming amount of wine for one person. Good idea to have a DD!


                          There's also one that takes you from Grapevine to the Stockyards via a 20's/30's era train, would also be something neat to show an out of town guest.

                          1. re: fixer

                            The Grapevine Vintage Railroad (used to be named The Tarantula) runs from GV to FW on a regular weekend schedule. There are also special, very cool "theme" runs (see the web-site's Special Events Tab), including GrapeFest excursions in the fall. https://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/Thi...

                            Utilizing the GVRR, but it's own event is the "Blessing of the Vines" in the April - High demand, so if interested, buy your tickets early. Can't swear to it, but I think you drive yourself (designated driver a plus!) around through the various wineries. https://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/new...

                            All that said..... you don't have to wait for April or even the weekend to enjoy Grapevine. All of the wineries are open to the public year-round - and Grapevine's "Historic" Main Street has some very cool and interesting shops and galleries to browse, with some restaurants of decent quality. https://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/Thi...

                            A favorite destination of mine is Vetro Glassblowing Studio and Gallery. Grab a sandwich from Weinberger's a block away, a bottle of wine from any of several wineries located on Main St and grab a seat on the bleachers in the studio to watch the artists air sculpt their designs. https://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/Thi...

                  2. re: roro1831

                    Ha. I was at Time Out and Inwood Tavern(s) this weekend.

                    The new phenom in Cane Rosso is pretty cool. I was there both Friday and Saturday, and found it interesting to watch people approach with HUGE grins on their faces. The pizza genuinely kicks ass.

                  3. I find Highland Park Pharmacy totally cool. Used to be even cooler, but hey ... I get the ham salad sandwich and a chocolate malt. Get the rest of the malt in a to-go cup and go visit Froggie's down the block ... or Sur la Table in the other direction.

                    It's cool that Texas' best burger is in Dallas (at The Grape). My dining companion was literally moaning as we ate ...