There is so much available in Deep Ellum that you could throw a dart at a map of the neighborhood and find something fun to do. To save you the trouble, though, here’s our top picks for a great trip to the heart of Dallas’ music and art scene.
Okay, so we might be going out on a limb here, but Pecan Lodge is rumored to be THE BEST barbecue in Dallas. Now that’s a big title. However, if you have people lining up 20 minutes before you open every day and you often sell out before closing time, we think you might be onto something.
If you’re planning a trip to Dallas, you’re going to want to taste the city’s most award-winning barbecue, trust us. A word of caution: patience is virtue at this restaurant, because you’re probably going to have to wait for at least an hour or more to get your food (thank you, Guy Fieri), so we recommend getting there early. The wait is so worth it, though. We recommend their famous brisket, but don’t stop at that. The restaurant also offers smoked sausages and ribs that will have you back in line the very next day.
Dallas Comedy House
This place is a true all-in-one for the creative. You don’t have to be an aspiring comedian to enjoy a visit to Dallas Comedy House. True, they teach several classes, but DCH aspires to be a place where comedy lovers and artists can simply come to hang out and have a good time.
Their newest location offers a restaurant, a flexible co-working space, two theaters, four classrooms, and a writing room. DCH offers classes on improv, stand-up, sketch and storytelling. They even have classes designed for children! So, whether you’re in the mood to watch a performance, chill out, or get involved yourself, Dallas Comedy House is your one-stop-shop for all things entertaining.
The Free Man Cajun Cafe & Lounge
Pssst, come closer, we’ll tell you a rather well-known secret. There’s a thriving jazz scene in Dallas, if you know where to find it. One of our favorite listening spots just so happens to be one of our favorite restaurants as well. Dallas is no stranger to Creole or Cajun cuisine, but there’s something about The Free Man that hits you exactly like that special Louisiana taste should.
The jambalaya and gumbo are, quite simply, some of the best you will find in Texas. Try to catch them later in the evening, because when the kitchen closes down at 10 PM, the corner stage opens up with some great DFW rock bands. Who says you can’t have your jazz and rock it too? This restaurant certainly caters to those of us who can’t ever choose what we want to listen to on the radio.
Bark Park Central
Your dog wants you to take them to this dog park. It is a dream for those of us with fur babies and a flair for the artistic. Situated happily under an overpass, Bark Park Central is comfortably cool and has plenty of shade for your puppies, so their feet don’t burn under the unforgiving Texas sun (and your shoulders don’t, either).
The main attraction of BPC is its unique murals. Painted by local artists, the space is filled to the brim with whimsical depictions of all your favorite dog breeds. Enjoy a mini art walk while man’s best friend runs off to find some of his own best friends! There are plenty of amenities such as a pet waste station, a doggie shower, and a puppy accessible water bowl.
Deep Vellum Books
Deep Vellum is the bookstore you’ve always wanted. With a cozy, intimate interior and black bookcases that make the covers pop out in all their vibrant colors, you know you’ve entered a book worm’s paradise the second you step through the door. They’ve got those sliding ladders you’ve always wanted to see, too.
Plus, they offer coffee and wine, which is a total bonus. The best part of the whole beautiful package is that Deep Vellum focuses on putting books out that you won’t normally find in most large-scale bookstores. If you want more authors of color, women authors, Spanish language books, translations, and works from local writers on your wall, this is your spot.
Twisted Root Burger
In this day and age, it is easy to find a good burger. America has practically perfected the art of the good burger. But every once in a while, you wind up with something like Twisted Root Burger that totally flips your idea of what a burger can be right on its head. We’re talking some serious flavor, here.
This place feels like your favorite small-town burger joint, with paper towels on every table and a medley of mismatched chairs and tables. This is far from your everyday local fare, however. As yet another “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” feature in Deep Ellum, TRB is known not only for its food, but for its unique personality. Get a fun name to mark your order (we’re not going to spoil that experience for you) and help yourself to a pickle while you wait. Their beef patties are wonderful, but don’t be scared to try some of their less traditional choices like bison or kangaroo!
The Bomb Factory
While “The Bomb Factory” is objectively one of the best names for a music venue ever, the name is more literal than you might think. The converted warehouse was first used for manufacturing Ford automobiles, but come World War II, the space was transformed into an actual bomb factory, where ammunition and explosives were made for the war effort.
There’s nothing hazardous about this venue today, however. In fact, we recommend you go there for some music therapy. If you’re the type of person who likes to get pumped up in a crowd, this is the place for you. If you catch a top name there, you’ll definitely want to be down on the floor with everyone else. And they do get top names, believe us. As of this moment, the venue is on track to see performances from Maggie Rogers, Tenacious D, Skillet, Matt & Kim, and Brockhampton! Whatever your music taste, they’ve got a show for you.
Braindead Brewing Co.
“In Beer We Trust” is a pretty cool line to put on a brewhouse mural, but Braindead Brewing Co. gets so much cooler the longer you stay. Take, for instance, their award-winning burger, “The Coma Burger”. They start with their in-house brisket patty and it only goes up from there. Listen to our advice, you’re going to want to show up before the kitchen closes down, or you’ll be missing out.
As far as brews go, they’ve got a ton. Take your pick! With such a wide selection you’re bound to find something nice. This is a paradise for beer fans in Deep Ellum, and you’d be crazy to skip out on this experience. Not much of a beer drinker? That’s fine, stay for the food and wine. BBC is a great place to hang out, far from your everyday bar. Braindead is sophisticated enough for a date but comfortable enough for an easy night out, something that many brewhouses seem to have trouble balancing. Not Braindead Brewing, though. You’ll definitely leave impressed (and de-stressed).
Il Cane Rosso
In 1995, a passion was born. Owner Jay Jerrier went to Italy on his honeymoon and fell in love with true Italian pizza. He was so inspired that when he came back to the states, he built a wood-burning oven in his backyard and trained with a master. All of that work certainly paid off, because it gave Dallas the first Cane Rosso.
This is different from your everyday pizza, y’all. Cane Rosso isn’t super greasy with that sweet, fluffy American-style crust we’re all so used to. No, Cane Rosso’s pizzas are grounded in tradition, and if you’ve ever had a pizza in Italy, you’ll know this is the real deal. Neapolitan style pizzas are meant to be eaten with a knife and a fork, so don’t look at anyone like they’re weird for doing so. Don’t just stop at the pizza, though. Their sandwiches, pastas and desserts could all win their own awards as well (and should, if we had any say over things).
Trees is Deep Ellum’s most famous live music venue. Some of the biggest names in the business have played there since they opened in 1990, and they continue to see some of the best acts to date. Named for it’s trunk-esque support beams, Trees has been a Deep Ellum staple for a long time.
Notorious for the “Kurt Cobain incident” wherein the Nirvana star jumped on and got into a fight with one of their security guards before hiding in a broom closet, the venue has seen its fair share of crazy shows. Don’t worry, though, they seem to have things under far better control these days. The Bomb Factory is actually Trees’ sister venue, reopened by the current Trees owners. Safe to say, these people know how to do a great show.