The neighborhoods of Oak Cliff and West Dallas, just southwest of downtown Dallas on the other side of the Trinity River, are now two of the city’s buzziest districts. The historic areas -- once home to such figures as Bonnie and Clyde, Lee Harvey Oswald, and blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn -- had fallen on hard times but have seen a rash of rejuvenation in recent years. Some of Dallas’ most celebrated new restaurants/bars are located here. Here are some places to catch the action.
Since the late ’90s, when this formerly dilapidated stretch of Oak Cliff warehouses and old shops began to turn into a cultural hotspot, the Bishop Art District -- the heart of which is at the corners of Bishop Ave. and 7th St. -- has become a prime destination. It’s now a pleasant stroll of shops, galleries, and a plethora of eateries, so much so that it has been featured on such national shows as The Cooking Channel’s Chuck’s Eat the Street.
Some of the eateries to check out include:
Lucia (408 W. 8th St., 214 948-4998; luciadallas.com): This small, acclaimed restaurant, where reservations are a must, offers creative, authentic Italian in a cozy environment.
Veracruz (408 N. Bishop; 214 948-4746; veracruzcafedallas.com): In a sea of Tex-Mex, Veracruz changes things up with its Gulf Coast Mexico Mesoamerican/Aztec/Mayan menu. One of the best Mexican restaurants in a city with a lot of good ones.
Lockhart Smoke House (400 W. Davis; 214 944-5521; lockhartsmokehouse.com): Formerly found only in Central Texas, Lockhart has brought its no sauce, no fork, no kidding approach to BBQ to North Texas, and the locals seem to love it. Texas Monthly BBQ editor Daniel Vaughn calls it “a cathedral for carnivores.”
Eno’s (407 N. Bishop; 214 943-9200; enospizza.com): Even if you’re not in the mood for their flavorful cracker-crust pizza, the bar is a great hangout for Bishop Arts people-watching.
Pier 247 (247 W. Davis St.; pier247.com; 214 948-3232): Landlocked Dallas may not be the best place for seafood but it has gotten much better. Case in point is this eatery with its roster of oyster and crawfish nachos, seafood enchiladas, and triple-seafood club sandwiches.
El Si Hay (601 W. Davis St.; 214-941-4042): For something a lot more casual, head to this taqueria that seems to have been here forever. Heck, they don’t even have a web site. They don’t even have tables. You have to stand and eat your tacos or sit in your car. But they are so worth it and, unlike some of these new, upscale taco joints, you’re not going to break the bank scarfing down a few.
Bolsa (614 W. Davis St.; 214 367-9367; bolsadallas.com): With the money you save at El Si Hay, you can go across the street and have a drink and dessert on the patio at this restaurant/bar with an eclectic, farm fresh American menu.
Dude, Sweet Chocolate (408 W. 8th St.; 214 943-5943; dudesweetchocolate.com): Sharing an address with Lucia, Dude, Sweet provides the perfect after-dinner confections. These artisinal chocolates -- with names like Flower Child Truffle and Fungus Amongus Toffee -- are wonderful. And, if you don’t know what you want, they offer samples. Who can say no to that?
Emporium Pies (314 N. Bishop; 469 206-6126; emporiumpies.com): If candy’s not your thing, finish off your meal with a slice of homemade pie that comes with names like Snowball (coconut), Drunken Nut (bourbon pecan), Dr. Love (red velvet chess pie), and In the Limelight (key lime custard).
PhD (1300 W. Davis St., 214 942-0288; phdallas.com): Pour House, the popular Fort Worth sports bar, opened a branch in Oak Cliff last year and it’s a good place to catch a game while having a drink on their large patio.
Whitehall Exchange (500 N. Bishop; 214 946-3900; whitehallexhange.com): Right on the busiest corner in the bustling Bishop Arts District is this bar with really comfy outdoor benches and tables.
Oak Cliff Social Club (238 W. Davis St.; 214 941-0298): This low-key spot is a good place to get away from the weekend crowds in the Bishop Arts District.
Ten Bells Tavern (232 W. 7th St.; 214 943-2677; tenbellstavern.com): While the inside of this renovated house is cramped, it sports a wide and expansive patio that makes it perfect for hanging out on warm weather days.
The Kessler Theater (1230 W. Davis St.; 214 272-8346; thekessler.org): Not only does this historic, rehabbed movie theater -- once owned by cowboy star Gene Autry -- have a cool bar but it’s also one of the best venues in Dallas for live music.
The Texas Theatre (231 W. Jefferson; 214 948-1546; thetexastheatre.com): The vintage movie theater, once owned by Howard Hughes, is the site where John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended. Now, it’s making history in a new way as a venue for alternative cinema -- including some films in this year’s Dallas International Film Festival -- as well as special events like a ’70s Soul Train nights with a DJ.
In addition, Bishop Arts is home to other unique spots such as the bookstore/cafe The Wild Detectives (314 W. 8th St., 214 942-0108; wilddetectives.com), the arts/crafts Bishop Street Market (419 N. Bishop; 214 941-0907; bishopstreetmarket.com) and Artisan’s Collective (410 N. Bishop; 214 356-0818; artisanscollective.net), a showroom for some of the area’s most talented artists and artisans.
Just north of Bishop Arts is the area known as West Dallas, another part of town that is now seeing rejuvenation. It’s also home to some stellar foodie attractions.
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge: That big, beautiful new bridge now gracing the skyline leads from the Design District on the downtown side of the Trinity River to West Dallas. Designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it has quickly become an icon of the city.
Trinity Groves (425 Bedford St., 214 744-0100; trinitygroves.com): The Hunt Hill Bridge, or Large Marge, has also been dubbed by some local wags as “a bridge to nowhere.” But that’s quickly becoming less true with this development at the West Dallas foot of the crossing. An incubator for start-up restaurants, Trinity Groves boasts a variety of eateries and bars, all with a conjoined patio offering fantastic views of the bridge and downtown skyline. Some of the restaurants that have earned raves include Kitchen LTO (which rotates chefs and concepts every few months), Luck for comfort food, Casa Rubia for Spanish tapas and Souk for Moroccan.
Four Corners Brewery (423 Singleton Blvd., 214 748-2739; fcbrewing.com): West Dallas’ first brewery is open Wednesday-Sunday with free tours offered on Saturday afternoons.
Belmont Hotel (901 Fort Worth Ave.; 866-870-8010; belmontdallas.com): This former ’40s motor hotel has been rehabbed into one of the city’s most striking places to stay. It not only has a patio with a killer downtown view but is also the home to Smoke, an upscale barbecue restaurant with an incredibly popular weekend brunch.