Oak Cliff’s nightlife is blossoming with dives like Trade Winds and the faux speakeasy that is the Thirsty Bear. We keep our bars stocked, and we take our cocktails seriously. These are a sampling of …
Cocktails that pack a punch
1. Sassy Sara at Tillman’s Roadhouse. We love sassy Sara Tillman as much as we love a good cocktail. The namesake drink of the owner and founder of this longtime Bishop Arts restaurant has vanilla vodka, pineapple rum, limejuice, sweet-and-sour mix and red jalapeño.
2. Asian Tan at Bolsa. This is one of 21 seasonal cocktails at Bolsa, at Davis and Llewellyn. It’s a martini with 209 gin, cucumber, yellow chartreuse (that’s an old-timey herbaceous liquor) and ginger-infused cognac. They also make an old fashioned with Maker’s Mark that’s infused with blood oranges and vanilla beans.
3. Santarita at Smoke. The new restaurant at the Belmont Hotel on Forth Worth Avenue and Sylvan has more than just juicy smoked meat. They also have some tricked out cocktails. This one has prickly pear cactus puree (the fruit of a prickly pear is called a “tuna”, but who would order a tuna cocktail?), orangecello and homemade jalapeño jelly.
What would life in Oak Cliff be without pan dulce and pupuserias? So we don’t have the upscale grocers that other parts of Dallas enjoy, but our grocery stores have corn in a cup. Don’t miss these …
Must-try Hispanic grocers
1. El Rio Grande Supermerket. This Chuck E. Cheese-meets-taqueria at 2515 W. Jefferson features a tortilleria the size of a 7-11, an impressive selection of pan dulce and a hot food line with everything from barbacoa to menudo and hamburgers.
2. Fiesta Mart on Illinois. This enormous new Fiesta Mart is in the snazzy shopping center at Westmoreland and Illinois. They have a good selection of produce, plus low prices.
3. Jerry’s Supermarket on West Jefferson.
You haven’t lived in Oak Cliff until you’ve had a taco from the window at Jerry’s.
Oh, Whole Foods, how we pine for thee. If Oak Cliff actually nabbed a Whole Foods or similar market, it could change our neighborhood in ways we’re not sure we’d like. But at times, when you need two teaspoons of dried tarragon and not the whole jar, some fancy imported tea or Earth-friendly cleaning supplies, driving across the river just seems so far. Here are our neighborhood’s …
Best answer to Whole Foods
1. Ann’s Health Food Center and Market. Ann’s is a huge health food store at 2634 South Zang that draws customers from all over the city. There are several aisles dedicated to vegetarian and vegan food, and everyone there is friendly and helpful. They also serve smoothies and sandwiches.
2. Bolsa Farmer’s Market. This monthly event is part farmer’s market, part craft fair with a bit of rock concert thrown in at Bolsa, the restaurant at Davis and Llewellyn. Shoppers can find local honey and garden vegetables. And Tom Spicer sometimes brings his coveted ramps and morels when they’re in season.
3. Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. Owners Jenni and Shannon Neffendorf sell fair-trade, direct-trade and organic coffee roasted right here in Oak Cliff. It’s for sale at Bolsa and Hunky’s. The Neffendorfs accept orders online or by phone, and they deliver to certain parts of Oak Cliff. Call them at 214.948.5559.
So many famous people have come from Oak Cliff — Edie Brickell, Tevin Campbell, Yvonne Craig (the original “Batgirl”), Jack Nance (who played “Eraserhead”), and Earl King Gill (the Aggie 12th Man). And there are some famous people buried here, too. Take a trip to these …
Gravesites of the famous and infamous
1. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Laurel Land Memorial Park. The great blues man, Stevie Ray Vaughan, is the biggest rock star to come out of Oak Cliff so far. His original grave marker in the cemetery just off of Interstate 67 was vandalized, and now there is a new one, which reads, “Thank you for all the love you passed our way.”
2. Kenneth E. Lyon, Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. OK, maybe the grave of Lyon, a police officer who helped nab Lee Harvey Oswald at the Texas Theatre, isn’t that interesting on its own. But this military cemetery, set on a grassy hill at 2000 Mountain Creek Pkwy., is worth visiting.
3. Clyde Barrow, Western Heights Cemetery. Infamous old Clyde’s grave is in a shady little cemetery at 1617 Fort Worth Ave., just a few blocks from his childhood home and West Dallas stomping grounds. He is buried next to his brother/gang member, Buck, and their mom and dad.
Our neighborhood’s urban trails have some of the best mountain-biking terrain in the area. Jeremy Ordaz of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff told us about these …
Parks that are reasons to try mountain biking
1. Oak Cliff Nature Preserve at Hampton and Illinois. A good all-around trail with technical, intermediate and rocky courses. It’s quick to dry out after it rains, and it’s the closest
2. Boulder Park near Interstate 67 and Red Bird Lane. This park has the most hills, so there’s a lot of climbing, and it’s a well-designed course that’s not heavily ridden
3. Big Cedar Mountain Bike Trails at Texas Loop 12 and Texas 408.
A mountain bike destination, this is about 12 miles from the center of Oak Cliff. It has about 8 miles of trail with a lot of hills, plus ladder bridges, jumps and wall rides built in.
When it comes to public restrooms, cleanliness is key, but we want to recognize those spots that do a little extra to make your visit comfortable, convenient and, dare we say, entertaining. Here are a few of the …
Places worth a pit stop
1. Jack’s Backyard. Have you noticed the leaf imprints on the restrooms’ concrete floors? Those came from the fig tree in the yard of neighborhood residents and owners Kathy Jack and Susie Buck. (Buck, the executive chef, has been known to use figs from the same tree in her menu items when the fruit is in season.)
2. Smoke. The restaurant at the Belmont Hotel has an all-new mod look, but the bathrooms are pretty much the same — still fabulous. The dual flusher has options for a big flush or a wee flush.
3. Eno’s. The lighting in the bathrooms at this Bishop Avenue pizza joint is as flattering as the rest of the place. And they have good-smelling soap and hand lotion.
4. Hattie’s. We wonder if they bought that sink chest at Horchow — tres chic! But that’s to be expected from this Bishop and Seventh mainstay of Southern comfort and charm.
In case of emergency, it’s a relief that Methodist Dallas Medical Center is mere blocks away, so that we don’t need to cross the Trinity for treatment. But that’s just one of the …
Advantages of having a hospital in Oak Cliff
• Any neighbors who need a Starbucks fix can find one as close at the Methodist Dallas Medical Center lobby.
• Neighbors can always find their way home — just follow the cross.
• Want to take Tai Chi classes, play Bingo, or learn Spanish or how to use a computer? The Methodist Senior Access program offers a range of social activities for neighborhood seniors. Membership has its privileges: The coffee is free and parking is only $1. Call 214.947.4628 to find out more about this 55 and older program.
• Hitt Auditorium at Bishop and Colorado provides a venue for every imaginable city, county and neighborhood meeting. (Plus, free juice and cookies.)
• When the Methodist folks say, “We heart Oak Cliff,” they mean it. The Methodist Dallas Medical Center women’s heart health event, “Heart to Heart”, on Feb. 13 at the Women’s Museum will help Oak Cliff women dance their way to healthier hearts. Call 214.947.8181 for information.
What our neighborhood lacks in movie theaters, it makes up for with a sense of
history and preservation. Who needs an AMC when we have …
Vintage theaters that showcase much more than blockbusters
1. The Texas Theatre. The best thing about the famous, notorious, historic Texas Theatre is that it’s not a pawnshop. It’s not an empty, decaying building, thanks to the Oak Cliff Foundation, which strives to keep the West Jefferson relic a part of modern Oak Cliff. The theater recently received a new screen and rear projector for digital movie screenings. Next, they hope to buy a curtain and nab performances from the Dallas Summer Musicals.
2. The Kessler Theater. Gene Autry once owned this theater at 1230 W. Davis, which was built in the 1940s and survived a terrible tornado in 1957. For decades, it was one of those sad, decaying old theaters. But Edwin and Lisa Cabaniss are changing that. The Oak Cliff couple is remaking it into a performance and gallery space.
We’re proud of Oak Cliff’s hills and tree canopies. Our neighborhood has some of the biggest, oldest and
most beautiful parks in Dallas. Here are some of our favorite …
Spots to find zen
1. The labyrinth at Kessler Park United Methodist Church. The labyrinth, which the church at 1215 Turner commissioned about three years ago, has benches where you can read a book or your copy of the Advocate. Walking the labyrinth is a way to pray, meditate or seek inner peace.
2. The labyrinth at Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff. How many neighborhoods can say they have two labyrinths? This one, made of earth and stones, is in a grove on the church grounds at 3839 Kiest, in the shade of an oak tree.
3. Kidd Springs Park. Walk the trails, sit
on the grass, feed the ducks. Kidd Springs Park is one of Oak Cliff’s most beautiful green spaces.
Best dancing waiter
Tito the dancing waiter at Tillman’s. If you eat at Tillman’s Roadhouse late on a weekend night, and you’re lucky, you might suddenly hear a Ricky Martin song come over the speakers. Tito the dancing waiter will hop up on the table and shake what his mama gave him while chef Dan works the lights. “It’s his passion,” says restaurant owner Sara Tillman. Don’t forget to tip — passion deserves dollars.
Kudos to whoever had the vision for the Trinity River Project. That’s a lot of vision. Someday, that project might actually come to fruition, and we hope it does.
Until then, these public projects are, in our estimation …
Good uses of taxpayer dollars
1. Hampton-Illinois Library. Just when we thought no one cared about books anymore, the city built a cool, modern library in Oak Cliff. It includes a black-box theater for community plays and offers after-school tutoring.
2. Oak Cliff Cultural Center. This new center, which is set to open in March next door to the Texas Theatre on Jefferson, replaces the Ice House Cultural Center. It’s a performance space, gallery and incubator for young artists. And hopefully, it will bring new energy to Jefferson.
3. The fountain in Lake Cliff Park. Lake Cliff Park, if you can believe it, was like the Six Flags of the 1910s. There were three theaters, a roller rink, swimming pools and a rollercoaster. Now it is a pretty, old park at the gateway to Oak Cliff, and it wouldn’t be the same without the fountain.