Home to countless cultures and a thriving LGBTQ+ community, Dallas is proud to be one of the most diverse cities in the nation. And it shows: It’s easy to find and experience many different types of art, entertainment, food, and history here — and support a good cause with your wallet at the same time.
When you choose to patronize any of Dallas’s minority-owned businesses, you invest in that entrepreneur and their community at large. From Black-owned bakeries to the largest gay dance club in the state, here’s a look at five Dallas neighborhoods and their hotspots that help the city shine.
Oak Lawn / Cedar Springs
Home to one of the largest LGBTQ+ communities in the city — as well as the most vibrant entertainment district in Texas — it’s safe to say the excitement runs nonstop in Oak Lawn and Cedar Springs. From piano bars to drag-diva hangouts, here’s where to head:
JR’s Bar & Grill
An Oak Lawn staple since 1980, JR’s Bar & Grill has evolved from a single bar to a multi-level space where most everyone can find their vibe. Toss back cheap beers and bask in the warm Dallas air out on the patio.
Work up a sweat on the dance floor at S4, the biggest gay dance club in Texas. With 17 drink stations, the space is primed for letting you quickly grab a cocktail refill and return to dancefloor before the next beat drops. Take in the dazzling world-class laser and light show and pumping dance music spun by local and international DJs.
Attracting the best local and international drag talent, the Rose Room puts on spectacular drag shows four nights a week. The stage has all the dramatic bells and whistles: smoke machines, special effect lighting, and of course, fans at the ready to blow on performers for that perfect Celine Dion moment.
Not only has the Round-Up been the place for a good time for 42 years, it’s also the largest Queer country-western dance club in Dallas. With a bustling schedule of trivia, drag shows, and even line-dancing lessons, it’s easy to see why locals frequent this watering hole on the reg.
Grab a pint or two at the oldest lesbian bar in Texas — and one of only a handful left in the country. Owner Kathy Jack was one of the first women in Dallas to manage a bar, and she’s still going strong. On weekends, tunes from live bands and spinning DJs set the mood.
Once its own city, Oak Cliff is now a popular neighborhood in Dallas across the Trinity River, to the southwest of downtown. Spend the day exploring its street art, historical buildings, and indie shops — the places listed below will get you started:
Three sisters run Kookie Haven, where those in the know head for their square bites: moist, square-cut cupcakes. The flavors change daily, but you can expect to see classics like red velvet, carrot, and German chocolate. (It’s said the recipe comes from Mom.)
Sweet Georgia Brown
Former football player turned restaurateur Walt Williams owns this cafeteria-style spot serving up hearty Southern classics. Think brisket, sausage, and mac n’ cheese. Come hungry — the portions are generous.
The Island Spot
With live reggae music and Jamaican eats, The Island Spot captures the easy-going tropical vibes of the Caribbean right in the heart of Texas. Crispy fried coconut shrimp and mango jerk-glazed chicken wings pair perfectly with a rum cocktail at this family-run operation.
Bishop Arts District
While it’s technically part of Oak Cliff, the Bishop Arts District deserves a section all its own. Once a warehouse district for artists, today the neighborhood is home to galleries, specialty shops, and high-end restaurants. Make sure to check out these spots on your visit:
Kessler Baking Studio
Pop into Kessler Baking Studio for a famous buttery Texas-shaped pecan shortbread cookie made by 2020 James Beard nominee Clyde Greenhouse. And definitely set a calendar alert to start your Saturday with one of their warm, gooey cinnamon rolls.
Casa Del Vegano
At Casa Del Vegano, vegans and non-vegans alike tuck into hearty Mexican-inspired dishes with generous portions. Birria brisket (or pulled jackfruit) and chili nachos and grilled scallop (or king trumpet mushroom) tacos are two tasty options.
This award-winning vintage shop opened during the pandemic and has been making serious waves. On the racks hangs a mix of unisex designer and handmade clothing carefully curated by owner Nikayla Golatt-Barrett.
As one of the city’s first Black neighborhoods, Deep Ellum has a rich history as a hub for jazz and blues venues. Today, it’s still a destination for vibrant nightlife and live music in a variety of styles. But music is just the beginning:
At Picolé, delightful paletas — frozen treats similar to popsicles — are made in small batches using locally sourced ingredients. Cool off with flavors like strawberry cheesecake, made with homemade strawberry marmalade. For more of a kick, chow down on one of their alcohol-infused varieties.
African American Museum of Dallas
Founded in 1974, this 38,000-square-foot museum technically sits just outside Deep Ellum’s borders, but given the neighborhood’s history it makes sense to visit both together. Preserving and showcasing African American culture and history is the mission statement here. Spend an afternoon perusing one of the largest African American folk art collections in the country across the museum’s four vaulted galleries.
Neon Kitten is a happening late-night dim sum lounge where dumplings are king. Try the savory prawn and pork siu mai or the bright green edamame gyoza. A speakeasy in the back serves up handcrafted cocktails with a Japanese flair to keep the party going till 2am.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Located in the Dallas Arts District, just to the northwest of Deep Ellum, is the renowned Dallas Black Dance Theatre, the fourth-largest Black dance company in the country, which puts on shows year round. Dancers here come from all backgrounds and are dedicated to the company’s mission of bridging cultures and bringing contemporary modern dance to diverse communities around the US.
Cedars / Southside
One of Dallas’s oldest neighborhoods, the Cedars / Southside has undergone an energetic revitalization. It currently attracts some of the most exciting artists and designers in Texas and beyond and is filled with contemporary galleries. Here, creativity reigns — take a look:
Distinctive Vines Wine Lounge
Make this laid-back, Black-owned wine lounge the location of your next date or night out. Nosh on flatbread pizza as you sip on a wine flight. If you’re really enjoying your glass, you can purchase the bottle to take home.
At Sandwich Hag, Chef Reyna Duong creates a welcoming atmosphere and emphasizes inclusion by making it a point to hire differently abled staff. The menu lists out Vietnamese eats like bahn mi sandwiches — the popular nem nướng bánh mì features garlicky and sweet housemade pork sausage.
Off the Bone Barbeque
Mouthwatering Texas BBQ with a cajun spin is served up by pitmaster Dwight Harvey and co-owner Rose Broussard at this casual joint. Fan favorites include the pecan-smoked baby back ribs and smoked brisket.
As you can see from the five neighborhoods profiled here, exploring Dallas means delving into the many cultures and people who call the city home. These folks bring their own perspectives, backgrounds, and flair to their businesses and epitomize the city’s common thread of good music, good food, good people, and good times — for all.