Monday, January 4, 2010

Take a Lesson from the School of B.A.D. - N.O.C.’s (Bishop Arts District/North Oak Cliff)

Here's the last article of a very trying year for all concerned. Now we can get on with life and we can look forward to a great decade. Burgers, Bars, and Booze for all!

Take a Lesson from the School of B.A.D. - N.O.C.’s (Bishop Arts District/North Oak Cliff) By Greg Holman

Growing up in Richardson, other than the occasional jaunt to the Bronco Bowl for a concert, the “Cliff” was only thought of as a great place to pick up some crack or get car-jacked. After college, I began working for a couple of artists in the “new” arts district, on Bishop St. and quickly came to realize that Oak Cliff held a lot more intrigue and less crime than the rumors of my childhood had led me to believe. So much so, that I soon found myself buying a house in the “hood”. My wife and I still live there and love our little oasis of oaks and eateries, so near to downtown, yet so unfamiliar and removed from the general population of the sprawling Metroplex.

Oak Cliff, originally named Hord’s Ridge, was first settled in 1837 as a farming community and in 1845 William H. Hord built the first permanent residence on the west side of the Trinity River. In 1887, hoping to draw in a better class of residents, the more appealing name of “Oak Cliff” was designated to the area.

Commonly known for being Stevie Ray Vaughn’s old stomping grounds, the Cliff has had its share of famous and infamous natives and residents, including guitarist Rocky Athas, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (Clyde’s actually buried in a cemetery on Ft. Worth Ave.), Yvonne Craig (Batgirl), Ray Wylie Hubbard, Nancy Lieberman, Harvey Martin, Lee Harvey Oswald, Ray Price, Dennis Rodman, B. W. Stevenson, Jimmy Vaughn (Stevie’s brother); and T-Bone Walker, to name but a few.

With urban sprawl already extending to the Northernmost boundaries of the DFW area, and the new construction of the Trinity Strand Trail, Trinity River Project, and the Santaigo Calatrava Bridges, Oak Cliff has seen renewed growth and interest in the form of a resurgence of new bars and restaurants, as well as renovation to classic old buildings such as the Texas Theatre and the Old Kessler Theatre. And while much of the focus is on the thriving Bishop Arts District, there is a wealth of other bars, dives, and drinkeries to be experienced in and around the area. Here is a list of places to try, both bars and restaurants, next time you cross to the other side of the tracks and visit the “B.A.D. - N.O.C.s”…

Barbara's Pavillion - 325 Centre St. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 941-2145

A great gay/neighborhood dive bar that accepts anyone with no attitude and the ability to have a good time. Cool smoking porch, great staff, and off-the-hook karaoke. One of the best liquor selections in Oak Cliff.

Bar Belmont – 901 Ft. Worth Ave. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 393-2300

Cool 1940s art-deco motel bar, remodeled for an upscale feel. Great views of the downtown skyline. Try the house special “Belmontini.”

Beckley BrewHouse – 1111 N. Beckley Ave. Dallas, TX 75203 Phone: (214) 943-8977

Cottage-style house turned restaurant/bar/coffee house. Good patio to bring your dog. Sit on a rocking chair on the porch and try the pizza, burgers, or the espresso martini, or sit inside in the “living room” and play a board game.

Bolsa – 614 W. Davis St. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 367-9367
Award winning restaurant with indoor/outdoor bar and seating, a great atmosphere, and a changing menu, based on available local ingredients. Excellent flatbread and Sangria. Nothing fried or frozen here.

Cafe Madrid – 408 N. Bishop Ave. #108 Dallas, TX 75205 Phone: (214) 942-8272

Great little Tapas bar in the Bishop St. Arts District with a changing menu of over 30 tapas and good wine specials. Nice cheese selection and the surroundings are comfortable.

Cooper's Club – 2424 S. Cockrell Hill Rd. Dallas, TX 75211 Phone: (214) 337-0096

A dive bar in the truest sense of the words. Great mixed crowd with a juke box to match. Very laid back. Karaoke night can be a lot of fun.

El Ranchito – 610 W. Jefferson Blvd. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 946-4238

Authentic Monterey style food with strolling mariachis and huge, bad-ass margaritas. Try the cabrito, mollejas, and asado de puerco. Friendly staff and fresh made tortillas!

Eno's Pizza – 407 N. Bishop Ave. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 943-9200

Popular “B.A.D.” spot offers ultra-thin crust pizza with extremely well-balanced toppings and a cool selection of American-made beers.

Gloria's #1 – 600 W. Davis St. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 946-0819

The first and original location. Above average Salvadoran/Tex-Mex fare. Great margaritas (try a meltdown), sangria, and mojitos. Love that black bean dip!

Hattie's – 418 Bishop Ave. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 942-7400

Great haute cuisine. Reservations are recommended. The prosciutto wrapped black mission figs, with bleu cheese & walnut stuffing are worth fork-stabbing the other diners at your table over.

Huckleberry's Bar & Grill - 305 Centre St. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 943-8030

Interesting bar in a converted house decorated in a hodge-podge of styles with a widely mixed clientele. Free happy hour buffet and full menu. Live music on the weekends.

Jack's Backyard – 2303 Pitman St. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 741-3131

Hard-to-find spot with lots of outdoor tables and fire pits (think Lee Harvey’s). Everyone is welcome, but widely considered a lesbian bar. The boundaries of the yard are defined by train cars! Typical bar fare menu and a friendly, accommodating staff.

Kavala (closed for remodeling, but soon to be named "Crave") – 1417 W. Davis St. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 942-8100

Above average Greek/Mediterranean cuisine with nightly specials and strong drinks. The wood burning oven turns out good pizzas. Check out $2.00 Tuesdays. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

La Calle Doce – 415 W. 12th St. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 941-4304

This, the original location, sits in a nicely converted house and serves great Mexican seafood dishes and top-shelf margaritas. Sit on the front porch and enjoy David Bowie’s favorite Dallas restaurant.

New O’Malley’s Club – 2720 S. Zang Blvd. Dallas, TX 75224 Phone: (214) 943-0164

Nothing “new” about it. A straight-up old-school dive that the old Norge repairman would be proud to frequent, buttcrack and all. Don’t look for any fancy imported beer here, just sit back and be regaled by stories of “how things used to be” by one of the colorful regulars while slammin’ a cold Schlitz.

Player's Sports Bar and Billiards - 210 Western Park Shopping Village, Dallas, TX 75211 Phone: (214) 339-0955
Darts and Pool are the name of the game here. Live music on the weekends. They serve a strong drink and cater to a very mixed crowd. At the corner of Illinois and Cockrell Hill Rd.

Quinn – 202 W. Davis St. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 943-4606

A neat pub-style venue in a converted Long John Silver’s! Has very good food and some of the best chili in Dallas. Their cool little patio overlooks Davis St. and they are within walking distance of the Bishop Arts District.

Smoke – 901 Fort Worth Ave. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 393-4141

From the same guys that brought you Bolsa. Upscale BBQ? That’s right! Dishes like smoked salmon and duck confit sit on the menu alongside pulled pork and biscuits and gravy. You’ll smell like smoke when you leave and it’s totally worth it. Kinky Friedman was even there for the grand opening!

Tillman's Road House - 324 W. 7th St. Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 942-0988

Started by the late Ricky Tillman (sous-chef at the Mansion and brother of Blood, Sweat, and Tears sax-man Bill), Ricky’s wife Sarah has grown this place into one heck of a bar/restaurant. Great atmosphere and wonderful food at a good price. Look for her new location in Ft. Worth to be opening soon. Ricky would be proud!

Trade Winds – 2843 W. Davis St. Dallas, TX 75211 Phone: (214) 337-9075

Listed as one of the 10 best dive bars in Dallas. Recently purchased by Phil Jester, formerly of Lee Harvey’s, the Harvey’s crowd has started to migrate to this awesome Cliff dive. Double D karaoke is the bomb on Saturdays. Look for a small but tasty menu soon.

Vera Cruz – 407 N. Bishop Ave. #107 Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 948-4746

Authentic Vera Cruz style Mexican food served up in a cool little corner spot on Bishop. The Manager here used to be my favorite waiter at Tillman’s Corner (now Tillman’s Roadhouse) and they do a wonderful job with the food and presentation. Service is always good. Worth the trip to the Cliff!

Don’t let the rumors of the Oak Cliff’s past prevent you from venturing over to the “dangerous” side of the Trinity, for you may find, like William Hord did, back in 1837, that there is a wealth of undiscovered potential to be had here in the B.A.D. - N.O.C.s of Oak Cliff. You might even come to realize that “Cliff” diving is to your liking, and that it’s more tasty than scary.