Five Best Affordable Women's Clothing Boutiques in Dallas

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Catherine Downes
Mimosas while you shop
Rio Ritz
2722 Routh St.
A well-run boutique needs a welcoming atmosphere, trendy clothes, and pristine changing rooms. Oh, and booze. Rio Ritz has all of this in spades. Earlier this year, Thais Moses opened the doors of her well-curated shop to the benefit of closets throughout Dallas. The store stocks all the latest trends, straight from Los Angeles at prices that rarely exceed $50. Plus, upon entering the door, you're greeted with a mimosa. Shopping doesn't get much better.

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10 Best Galleries to Start Looking at Art in Dallas

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Last year, Jerry Saltz bemoaned the death of the New York City gallery show. He was pointing to the emergence of an online art market that no longer required collectors to be present at opening night receptions. It deflated the communal conversations at such events, leaving him with fewer people to "blurt whatever I'm thinking about whatever we're looking at."

It is with much happiness that I can report variance in the current state of the visual art scene in Dallas. Certainly there are fewer galleries in our American art outpost, but opening receptions overflow with enthusiasts, patrons and artists. The spaces range from refurbished warehouses, repurposed homes, and remodeled storefronts, with gallerists slowly transforming Dallas into a citywide art bazaar. No neighborhood ignored; no artist unrepresented. At least, that's the direction it's going, which is why it's time you entered the scene. We've taken inventory of some of the best galleries to start your descent into the cavernous art world of Dallas.

To keep things balanced, there's a healthy mix of experimental and commercial. As you work your way through this list, you're sure to find new spaces along the way. When you do, we'd love for you stick your nose back into this blog and write a note with your newfound favorites.


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10 Best Staycations in Dallas

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Joule Hotel
Fancy schmancy staycation

Living in Dallas in the summertime is honestly kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, it's going to be hotter than hell and utterly miserable until at least September. On the other, there are plenty of things to do that make it feel like you're actually on vacation without ever having to leave the city. This mix of activities and places to relax means that even if you don't have the money or time to skip the city for a few days off, you can still get to that vacation state of mind without ever leaving the Metroplex.

Staycations have become increasingly popular in recent years, likely due to the economic downturn, and Dallas-Fort Worth is a great place to plan a little adventure in your own backyard. Sure, you could always drive to Austin or San Antonio, but there's no need to get too far outside of the city limits with these ten excellent places to staycation.

The Joule
If you're looking for a staycay that is more bourgeois than budget-friendly, you must go to The Joule hotel in Downtown Dallas. Aside from being one of the city's best boutique hotels and favorite of every celebrity that comes through town, The Joule has a whole lot to offer. The infinity Get your sweat on at the immaculate Vital Fitness gym, caffeinate at top-notch coffee shop Weekend, and drop a few ducats on new threads at the trendy Traffic LA boutique. If The Joule doesn't fit your budget or you aren't able to reserve a room, feel chic on the cheap by sneaking into one of the daily yoga classes held in front of that giant eyeball sculpture across the street.


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Get a Big Dose of Korean Culture While You Relax and Avoid the Heat at King Waterpark

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Katy Robertson
Yes, this is in Dallas.

If you haven't been to King Spa & Sauna, you're missing out on one of the most unique cultural experiences in Dallas. Called jjimjilbangs in Korea, these sometimes gender-segregated, sometimes co-ed bath houses offer an opportunity to detoxify (whatever that means) in ornately decorated saunas, eat Korean food, have a massage, sleep, maybe even sing a little karaoke while you're there.

Until a few months ago, King Spa was largely a place to go when you wanted to sweat out a few months worth of brown liquor and late-night Whataburger. Now, though, King Spa offers a new kind of relaxation with a brand new water park that is practically a grown up's version of Hurricane Harbor. As always, it's about to be hotter than hell in this city. Sure, you can always go jump in the pool at your apartment complex or desperately douse yourself with a water hose, but King Waterpark is like a mini-vacation to South Korea while you try to stay cool, without the jet lag.

See: Best of Dallas 2009

As soon as you walk through the turnstile, you're immediately ushered into a locker room where you can shuck your clothes and change into a bathing suit. After changing, you walk through a hallway into the water park, where things really start to get interesting. People relax in huge pools equipped with massaging jets and high-pressure shower head, perfect for massaging away muscle tension.


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10 Best Theater Companies in Dallas

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Matt Mrozek
Pull up a chair, stay a while...

I should open this blog post with a caveat. These are the 10 best theater companies in town that aren't the Dallas Theater Center. The budget of the Dallas Theater Center sweeps it out of the competition. It's our local member of the League of Resident Theaters (LORT), which implies, among other things, DTC has a bigger budget and it works with more Actors' Equity Association members (the professional union). Oh yeah, and it's the arts district theater company. We salute you, DTC, but this is a different kind of list. It's a list about the artists who are getting down and dirty to make their craft, running one-person development departments, writing their own scripts and building their own sets.

If you find it difficult to believe that we could come up with 10, it might surprise you to learn that there are a few theater companies who didn't make the list. And we didn't even venture to Fort Worth, where we are big fans of Amphibian Stage Productions, Circle Theatre, Stage West, and the annual Trinity Shakespeare Festival. Let there be no mistake about it, there's a lot of theater in this city.


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6 Best Bike Shops in Dallas (Or Nearby)

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Bicycles Plus on Facebook
Most anyone who can ride on two wheels can tell you their favorite bike shop. In prepping and shopping for this weekend's big Bike MS: Sam's Club Round-Up Ride (aka, the MS 150), it seems I've heard raves about almost every one -- from tiny hipster outlets to big stores with enough flow to sponsor big rides. Some shops fully lived up to the hype, some were never open three times I tried to visit, and one had an employee (loose term) who actually yawned in my face and never stood up to show me to what I was asking for (apparently, pointing is very cycle-chic).

But there were more winners than non. More awesome and generous mechanics. More fanstastic customer service. And more chamois cream than I've wanted to know about. In alphabetical order ...

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Six Best Yoga Studios in Dallas

Categories: Best of Dallas

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We're bending over backward and sweating through our yoga pants for you, Dallas. For this list of Dallas' best karma palaces, Katie Womack and I combined our yogi knowledge and crawled out of child's pose to try new studios. We downward dogged for days on end to present you with the following round up of the city's best yoga studios. Namaste, Dallas.

-Lauren Smart


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Five Best Trivia Spots in Dallas

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Courtesy Trinity Hall

Building a solid trivia team is a tricky venture -- you need a jock, an entertainment junkie, a book worm, a history buff and at some Dallas venues, someone who has really good aim with coasters. My biggest regret about dumping my college boyfriend was losing his endless knowledge of useless facts. Grab your smartest friends or ex-boyfriends and head to these bars to test your trivial strengths.

Trinity Hall
Definitely the toughest trivia in town, Sunday nights at this Irish pub attract brainiacs from all over Dallas. You'll need to do more than kiss the blarney stone to be competitive with these professional nerds. Do you know answers to obscure questions like, How many strands of hair does a My Little Pony have? What is the sum of all the numbers on a roulette wheel? (answer: 666) Regulars like The Skinny Skiers do, but they were finalists to be on VH1's World Series of Pop Culture, so that's just not fair.

Bryan Street Tavern
Every Wednesday at 8 p.m. at one of the best dive bars in Dallas, a bunch of smart-alecky trivia nerds eats delicious pizza, throws back a few brewskis and competes in a few rounds, with themes like "TV Shows Your Parents Watch," and a few name-that-tune rounds. There are a couple other bars in Dallas who use the Geeks Who Drink trivia chain, including Snookie's on Mondays, Nodding Donkey on Tuesdays and J. Black's on Wednesdays. But BST is the better bar and the questions are more audible.

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Trivia

The Five Best Places to See a Play in Dallas

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Photo by Elaine Liner
Outside of Dallas, too many people think there's no great theater happening inside of Dallas. We know better. Besides the giant venues with the name of a telecommunications giant attached to them, there are a bunch of more interesting, smaller playhouses where local actors, directors and playwrights are putting new work and the classics on stages large and small. Here are our current favorites.

1. Bath House Cultural Center (Shown Above)
Built in 1930, this really was a place where bathers changed into swim togs before plunging into the then-swimmable waters of White Rock Lake. After sitting vacant for nearly 30 years, the Bath House (521 E. Lawther Drive at Northcliff) reopened in 1981 as a neighborhood cultural center, with many features of its Art Deco architecture restored.

The building now is home to an art gallery and several theater companies, including One Thirty Productions (which performs on a matinee-only schedule), WingSpan Theatre Company, Echo Theatre and the annual Festival of Independent Theatres. Audience-wise, the space is a comfy fit for 150 and has such good acoustics there's no need for microphones on the actors. Currently running: WingSpan's production of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days, starring the great Stephanie Dunnam, through October 26.


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Jeff Swearingen: Putting the Fun in Fun House Theatre

Categories: Best of Dallas

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If you think children's theater is just about giving a mouse a cookie or putting a hat on a cat, you haven't been to Fun House Theatre and Film, this year's Best of Dallas Best Theater Company. Located in an unglamorous little playhouse behind a Thai restaurant in a Plano strip mall, Fun House, co-founded by Jeff Swearingen and Bren Rapp, is children's theater as re-imagined by, say, Louie C.K. and Quentin Tarantino.

See also: Best of Dallas 2013

Swearingen writes and directs most of the shows, starring local kids age 7 to 17. His big hit earlier this year was his own script, Daffodil Girls, inspired by David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, about a troop of cookie-selling scouts getting a lesson in sales from a tyrannical teenage leader. Then he staged Edward Albee's Zoo Story starring teenage boys. Next was The Sound of Fannie, his original spoof of syrupy musicals like Annie and The Sound of Music, with deliciously subversive swipes at The Producers, Cabaret, Chicago and My Fair Lady.

Produced on budgets of tens of dollars, Fun House shows require their all-kid casts to work hard and nail the punchlines and dance steps like older pros. The results are polished performances of remarkably edgy material.

Via email, we asked Swearingen, an accomplished actor and improv comic, what he's up to with Fun House and if the parents of Plano mind their young 'uns playing tap-dancing Nazis.

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