A collection of neighborhood gems that are better than the ‘best’

Creating a “best of” list isn’t really our speed. At the end of the day, who’s to say what is truly “best”? Highlighting one neighborhood shop, restaurant or experience as better than another based on votes or our (ahem) expert opinion tends to be subjective, and it doesn’t allow us to fully appreciate the countless gems in Oak Cliff.

Instead of declaring the “best” this month, we’re calling attention to the things we love about Oak Cliff — the kinds of things that wouldn’t make it on a broader “best of” list because those of us who live here are among the few who know they exist and who understand their worth.

This story is only the beginning of our list. We’ll be highlighting the things we love weekly on the Back Talk blog.

We want to hear about the things you love, too. Send an email to thingswelove@advocatemag.com, and you might find your description of a neighborhood gem on our website or in the magazine.


1. Sundays at the Belmont pool
Fort Worth and Sylvan
When the pool opens in May, and the water is still clear and cool, it’s the best pool in town. Plus, it’s a big ol’ party with DJ Jennifer Miller.

2. Cheap tickets at The Kessler Theater
West Davis and Clinton
The Kessler Theater last year brought us Edie Brickell, the Black Angels, Junior Brown, Bobby Patterson and many more local and national acts. And the tickets rarely cost more than $15.

3. Old movies on the big screen at Texas Theatre
Jefferson and Zang
Since Aviation Cinemas took over management last year, the Texas Theatre has shown “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Seven Samurai” — two of the greatest movies of all time. Plus, they’ve premiered several independent films and put on a “Blood Bath Film Festival”. We can’t wait to see what they do this year.

Fun classes

4. Make Shop & Studio
Bishop and Eighth
Make teaches sewing, screen printing and candle making, among others.

5. Oil & Cotton
Tyler and Seventh
Oil & Cotton teaches basket weaving, canning, bookbinding and more. (Watch video at the top of this page.)

6. The Kessler Theater
West Davis and Clinton
The Kessler offers music and dance lessons. All three places teach adults and kids.


1. Croissants from Rush Patisserie
Eldorado and Beckley
Crispy on the outside, light and buttery on the inside. Pick one up from Samatha Rush’s storefront or at Urban Acres on West Davis at Clinton.

2. Chocolate soufflé at Zen
Seventh and Bishop
It’s so worth the 20-minute cook time, and sushi is healthy! Why not splurge on a sinful dessert? This soufflé is on point, so the calories are worth it, too.

3. Truffled popcorn amuse bouche at Tillman’s
Seventh and Bishop
It goes perfectly with beer … and wine … and cocktails … and soda … and by itself.

4. Burger at Eno’s Tavern
Bishop and Seventh
Yes, the pizza is good. And they have the largest selection of beer in Oak Cliff. But this melt-in-your-mouth burger and its buttery bun are the things we think about late at night.

5. Corn in a cup from Jerry’s Supermarket
Jefferson and Illinois
To the enterprising immigrant who invented corn off the cob with way too much (and yet, just enough) margarine and sour cream served in a Styrofoam cup, we salute you.

6. The redesigned bar at Nova
West Davis and Windomere
It’s brand new, but it’s so ’50s, and it reminds us of the Edward Hopper painting “Nighthawk”.

7. El Ranchito’s annual Elvis tribute
W. Jefferson and Llewellyn
Every year around Elvis’s birthday, Jan. 8, Elvis impersonators make their way to Oak Cliff for a night of “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Teddy Bear”. Make reservations or get there early because the huge restaurant will be packed. This year, there are two Elvis tribute nights planned: Jan. 12 & 19. Besides the fact it serves cabrito every day, El Ranchito is loads of fun.

8. Dining at the Norma’s counter
W. Davis and Winnetka
Rub elbows with regulars, and watch the waiters call out orders. Put away the iPhone, read the newspaper, and pretend you’re back in time.


1. The sunset viewed from Jefferson Boulevard
We named a school after it.

2. The hills of West Clinton
If a developer tried to build houses on raised lawns today, he would be run out of the neighborhood. But houses on the west side of Clinton in Winnetka Heights, whose lawns are substantially higher than their counterparts on the east side of the street, have almost a regal feel to them and are one of the many reminders that our neighborhood’s history is worth preserving.

3. The dumpster pool
They were annoyed the city closed Kidd Springs Park pool, so neighbors Mariana Griggs and Zac Lytle made a pool out of a trash dumpster this past summer. It didn’t last long, since it had no filter, but we expect more dumpster pools this year.

4. The mannequins on Jefferson Boulevard
When you frame it just right, it’s like you’re in Mexico City.

5. The bunnies of Winnetka Heights
We don’t know how they got here, but there are bunnies, bunnies everywhere in Winnetka Heights and the surrounding neighborhoods.

6. Fruit trees
Peach trees, pear trees, pomegranates, figs. The weather was perfect last year for productive fruit trees, and in Oak Cliff, they’re everywhere.

7. The Better Block
It’s a national phenomenon that started on little ol’ Tyler Street. Founders Jason Roberts and Amy Cowan have inspired cities across the nation to create a “living charrette” to show the community how one block can be better.

8. Bonnie and Clyde
Sure, they were cold-blooded murderers. But deep down, haven’t we all got a little bit of bank robber in us? Plus, the movie is a classic.

9. The blues
What town is more soulful than Oak Cliff, Texas? It’s the home of blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, and blues men and women still make our ’hood a regular stop thanks to venues like the Kessler Theater and Jack’s Backyard.

10. Unique signage on Jefferson Boulevard
Among other classics, there’s Raven Pharmacy, Taqueria Pedrito and, of course, the Texas Theatre, but Charco Broiler? C’mon. The old-school giant-cow-atop-the-steakhouse look is simply too much. Tres chic!

11. The football field at Rosemont Elementary
Rosemont’s lower campus has a downtown view, and it backs up to the Twelve Hills Nature Center and the modern mansions of Kessler Woods. We love its between-the-hedges football field.


1. Finding the necessities at Salvation Army
Jefferson and Tyler
Need some extra chairs for a dinner party, or maybe a mid-century modern end table? The manager just might cut you a deal if you find what you want.

Handmade finds

2. Artisan’s Collective
Bishop and Seventh
Artisan’s Collective offers local art.

3. Olni
Bishop and Seventh
Onli carries local, handmade clothing and jewelry.

4. Indie Genius
Seventh and Zang
That makes Oak Cliff the first stop on any quest for one-of-a-kind gifts, jewelry, clothes, home goods and much more.