Everybody has a favorite place to grab a slice of pizza or hang out on Friday nights, but do your tastes mirror those of your neighbors? Last November and December, we surveyed our readers to find out the most popular dining, entertainment, and shopping venues in Oak Cliff. Many of you filled out our form online, listing your favorite place to score dessert or the best place to see and be seen. All the votes have been counted, and here are your People’s Choice 2011 winners. Did your favorite business make the list?
FOOD & DRINK
Lockhart Smokehouse – 400 W. Davis St.
If you ask for the lean brisket at Lockhart, the man behind the butcher block is likely to posit the following question; “Ahh, a vegetarian, eh?” And that’s the kind of place Lockhart is: meat, for meat-lovers. And a very specific breed of vegetarians.
Runner up: Smoke
Tillman’s Roadhouse – 324 W. Seventh St.
Everything tastes better when it’s served by cute boys in Western shirts and belt buckles, but Tillman’s steak could pass the test without the benefit of hunky trimmings. The signature hanger steak is served in bite-sized pieces, battered and chicken-fried. The bone-in strip steak rocks, too, and comes with bacon-braised chard, “truffled” Tater Tots, steak sauce, and flourish.
Runner up: Charco Broiler
Bolsa – 614 W. Davis St.
A bartender often serves two purposes: making tasty alcoholic beverages, and making sure the consumer of said alcoholic beverages doesn’t feel like she’s drinking alone (not that we ever drink alone, but if we did, we’d want a cool bartender to chat with). The mixologists at Bolsa excel at both, and throw in regular drink specials (hello, half-price wine night!) along with interesting cocktail challenges (what is Pisco, anyway?). Let’s just say there’s a reason the bar is always crowded. Guess that means we don’t really drink alone, after all.
Runner up: Nova
Taqueria El Si Hay – 601 W. Davis St.
Davis Street taqueria El Si Hay is an Oak Cliff staple, with an authentic menu — think cilantro and lime instead of sour cream and cheese — and a regular following of customers willing to stand in line for a coveted bagful of tiny tacos. The salsa has zing. The employees will seem to remember you, and nearly every menu item is worth a shot. Try the barbacoa tacos or the al pastor. And considering dimensions, you’ll want to order least four (more like 10).
Runner up: El Padrino
El Ranchito – 610 W. Jefferson Blvd.
The smell of fresh tortillas brings you in the door, but the chicken mole will keep you coming back. This delightfully unpretentious restaurant offers authentic Tex-Mex at prices that make you wonder if you’re paying in pesos.
Runner up: Tejano Mexican Restaurant
Hunky’s – 321 N. Bishop Ave.
You know the burgers at Hunky’s are good because there’s usually a line of hungry patrons snaking through the lobby. The only upside to the wait is that it gives you time to peruse all the options on the menu. Do you want your burger topped with avocado? How about grilled pineapple? If you’re not a fan of fries, do you want to replace them with Tater Tots? Top it off with an old fashioned vanilla Coke, and you’re in heaven.
Runner up: Burguesa
Tillman’s Roadhouse – 324 W. Seventh St.
While French fries often play second fiddle to the main attraction, Tillman’s fries are truly works of art — in presentation and taste. Chef Dan Landsberg serves up the tasty taters in a wooden box, divided into three compartments: one for fries made from Kennebec potatoes seasoned with Parmesan cheese and black pepper, another holds sweet purple potatoes, sprinkled with smoked salt, and one for sweet potatoes dusted with chili powder. You don’t want to dip these delicacies in plain, old Heinz, so Tillman’s offers house-made ketchup — plus, its own horseradish sauce spiked with diced sweet pickles.
Runner up: Hunky’s
Chan Thai – 312 W. Seventh St.
What Chan Thai does, it does well. The menu is a blend of curries, noodle dishes, and stir-fry delights, and the decor is refreshingly contemporary rather than an Asian cliche. This restaurant can please everyone in your group, from vegetarians to those who love spicy fare.
Runner up: Zen Sushi
Eno’s Pizza Tavern – 407 N. Bishop Ave.
Our only complaint about the pizzas at Eno’s is that the crusts are so thin, we’ve eaten half a pie before we start to feel even slightly full. Not that that ever stops us from fighting over the remaining pieces with our dining partner. “You’ve had 10! I’ve only had eight!”
Runner up: Nova
Cretia’s – 509B N. Bishop Ave.
If you’ve visited Cretia’s and not succumbed to the tantalizing case of saucer-size cupcakes, you are a better person than most. But being good is overrated. Indulge yourself in cakes, pies, and cookies that are truly worth the calories at Cretia’s.
Runner up: Norma’s
Mesa – 118 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Sandwiched between Bishop Pawn and Jewelry and a beauty salon, rests this little gem of a restaurant. With a combined 60 years of experience in gourmet Veracruz cooking, owners Raul and Olga Reyes, both from Alvarado, Veracruz, serve up fresh seafood, fusing the rich flavors of their native cuisine to create upscale dishes. We recommend the ceviche with snook or shrimp cured in lime juice mixed with tomato, onion, cilantro, and avocado.
Runner up: Lucia
Spiral Diner & Bakery - 1101 N. Beckley Ave.
A family-friendly vegan restaurant? Yes and yes. Spiral Diner’s clean booths, bright interior, friendly wait staff, and healthy fare (and did we mention the clean booths?) is about as welcoming to kids as any restaurant can hope to be. Parents of always-hungry children are often seen at Sunday brunch, which features all-you-can-eat pancakes, hash browns, and biscuits and gravy.
Runner up: Oddfellows
Veracruz Cafe – 408 N. Bishop Ave.
When you walk into Veracruz, it’s like visiting an old friend. The brightly colored walls are a warm welcome to the restaurant featuring Mesoamerican, Mayan, Huasteco, and Aztec Cuisine. Just reading through menu qualifies you for at least a minor in Latin American studies. Soak in the great atmosphere as you chow down on south-of-the-border specialities.
Runner up: Bolsa
Gloria’s – 600 N. Bishop Ave.
What’s cooler than drinking an ice-cold, velvet margarita from Gloria’s? Doing it while chilling in a converted firehouse in the Bishop Arts District. Gloria’s newest location has all the hallmarks of the glorious chain, including a Sunday-through-Thursday all-day happy hour. The friendly wait staff is always quick with a drink or entree suggestion and makes everyone feel at home. When you have a recipe for success, why mess with it?
PEOPLE & PLACES
PLACE TO SEE AND BE SEEN
Eno’s Pizza Tavern – 407 N. Bishop Ave.
There’s a reason the customers are stacked two deep at the bar most weekends. Eno’s has the best draft beer list in Bishop Arts, and the best space to share one or two or six of them with friends. The outdoor seating provides customers with a chance to catch up on the sights of the block. Of course, we can’t count the number of times we’ve been at the bar and saw people looking in, planning their next Friday night.
Runner up: Hattie’s
Jacqui Bliss, who co-owns Anytime Fitness with runner-up Renee Reed, has been a certified personal trainer since 1996. Although she’s been at this a while, Bliss refuses to get complacent. Her training philosophy, “to embrace and seek out new knowledge,” is working. She has 22 clients, none of which has the same program. “I strongly believe that the program should be tailored to the individual,” Bliss said.
Runner up: Renee Reed
PLACE TO WORK OUT
Anytime Fitness – 611 N. Bishop Ave., 3434 W. Illinois Ave.
If you’ve heard Anytime Fitness’ radio commercial, you know you have no excuses not to join this gym. With it’s 24-hour schedule and multiple locations, Anytime Fitness offers its members complete flexibility. It even boasts an online community where you can find articles on health, nutrition, and fitness, as well as different tools for tracking your diet and workouts. Really, there is no excuse.
Model Nails – 213 S. Zang Blvd.
This gem of a nail salon has been operating in OC since 1997. Owner Tri Nguyen runs the salon with her daughter, Lia Ung. The salon focuses on the business crowd and offers a quality manicure in about 20 minutes. The key, Ung insists, isn’t fancy soaks or lotions but a manicure that lasts. “Other places might offer the latest-greatest-whatever, but we use the best polish and really take care of the nails,” she said.
Runner up: D&J Nails
From the minute you walk in for your appointment, masseuse extraordinaire Darlene Jett puts you at ease. She’s as talented at conversation as she is at relaxation, which explains her loyal client base. While she kneads your pains away, light aromatherapy fills the room. From alleviating routine aches and pains to eliminating pesky knots, Jett has your back, literally.
Runner up: YaYa Foot Spa
Studio 410 – 410 W. Davis St.
Miriam Ortega’s tattoos, stilettos, and can’t-miss coif should tell you all you need to know about the salon she runs under her alias, Lady Misfit. With new murals by the Sour Grapes crew and funky chairs, Studio 410 is all about hair on the cutting edge. (See what we did there?) After an appointment at Studio 410, expect an edgy new ’do that’s perfect for hitting the streets of the Bishop Arts District.
Runner up: Salon on the Square
Faulkner’s Dry Cleaning & Laundry – 1505 W. Davis St.
Owner Jeff Faulkner has a theory that if you take care of the customer in front of you, everything else will fall into place. After more than 50 years of success, it’s probably safe to say Faulkner’s theory is true. The family-run dry cleaner offers same-day service, even on Saturdays, and does all laundering on-site. In addition to taking good care of customers, Faulkner’s focuses on employee retention, a rarity in the dry cleaning business. “Seeing the same people here every time you come in, it makes a difference,” Jeff said.
Runner up: N/A
JD’s Tree Service
For all the trees he fells, J.D. Dobbs loves nature — and says he’d rather leave a beautiful tree standing than touch it with a saw. But when old oaks graze power lines and branches crack in the occasional Snowpocalypse, Dobbs’ services are often indispensable. What’s more, he’s something of an artist, with a side business selling custom furniture and polished hardwood slabs that are crafted from old Oak Cliff trees.
Runner up: P-Tree Garden Concepts
Oak Cliff Bicycle Co. – 408 N. Bishop Ave.
Voted 2011 Best Bike Shop in Dallas by D Magazine and “Best Vigilante Justice” by the Dallas Observer, Oak Cliff Bicycle Co. gets the job done and more. In addition to repairing and building bikes, this shop encourages bikers to ride, alerts the community about bike thefts, hosts rides, and helps raise money for good causes. Could you possibly ask for more from your local bike repair shop?
Runner up: Bicycle Barn
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Coco André – 831 W. Davis St.
Didn’t think chocolate would make a great gift? Think again. Not only does Coco André use all-natural ingredients to make its delicious truffles, but this chocolatier offers custom molds. Trying to impress your supervisor? You can “emboss” your company logo along with a personal message into a delicious piece of chocolate. No matter the occasion, Coco André has you covered.
Runner up: Bishop Street Market
Green Pet - 315 N. Bishop Ave.
Furry friends are often more like members of the family, so why shouldn’t they eat like they are? That’s part of the philosophy behind Green Pet, the Bishop Arts District store that sells natural and organic foods and supplies for dogs and cats. Natural foods can be pricey, so the staff at Green Pet wants to make sure your fuzzy family member gets the right food through nutrition consultations and food transition schedules. And they deliver. Now that’s service!
Runner up: PetSmart
Epiphany – 412 N. Bishop Ave.
If you’re looking for a cool and quirky collection of the latest trends in clothes and accessories, your first stop should be Epiphany. From hilarious T-shirts to a well-curated jewelry selection, Epiphany has everything you need to update your wardrobe with one-of-a-kind clothes and accessories.
Runner up: Indigo 1745
Indigo 1745 – 370 W. Seventh St.
Jeans crossed the threshold of business casual years ago, and Indigo celebrates the quintessential American icon that is dyed denim. But don’t think that means the inventory is limited to Levi’s. The store carries T-shirts, cargo shorts, and long-sleeve linen button-downs. Indigo hopes you’ll think of the store’s racks as “your closet away from home.” We could all be so lucky.
Runner up: Epiphany
BEST CONSIGNMENT CLOTHING
Maria’s Closet – 420 W. Davis St.
Maria’s Closet is heaven for the well-dressed woman who can’t imagine paying full price for designer labels. The small but organized store has everything your heart desires, including new and hardly worn apparel, vintage shoes and accessories, and enough purses to make you weak in the knees. The best part? Not having to fork over a considerable chunk of your hard-earned paycheck for the privilege of being posh.
Runner up: Indie Genius
BEST CONSIGNMENT FURNITURE
The Rose Garden – 841 W. Davis St.
What’s sweeter than finding a good deal? Finding a good deal that does good. Therein lies the charm of the Rose Garden, a store that’s stocked with stylish housewares and clothes that benefits 2000 Roses, a nonprofit that helps women transition to life outside prison walls. Some of the items — such as candles, jewelry, and home furnishings — are even made by women in the program. What’s not to love?
Runner up: Indie Indie Genius
BEST ANTIQUE SHOP
M’Antiques – 424 W. Davis St.
While women will certainly find treasures in this reservoir of old wares, M’Antiques caters toward men seeking unique antique finds. A collaboration between Robert Owen and Compton Creel, the shop offers a cornucopia of timeworn goods such as original daguerreotypes, 500-year-old relics from Europe, advertising signs from the turn of the 20th century, Civil War memorabilia, bicycles from the ’50s and ’60s, German tribal artifacts, clocks and watches, and even a cigarette machine from the early 1900s. Although they do have jewelry, Owen said they stay away from glass figurines, lace, and pink stuff. “It’s not that we want to exclude women, but we thought men could use an antique store exclusively dedicated to them,” he said.
Runner up: N/A
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