Don’t worry, “Bad to the Bone” is not my song for this entry. Instead I choose Tomahawk’s “Oddfellows” which shares its name with an excellent restaurant I visited in the Bishop Arts District.
The Bishop Arts District is just slightly southwest of downtown Dallas, Texas; the fourth largest metropolis and ninth largest city based on population in the USA, with nearly 1.5 million people.
I love the Meet the Merchant blog on the BAD website where they interview each business owner, despite having my feelings hurt after realizing I missed out on brisket at Lockhart.
There are currently over sixty independent businesses in the district including bars, spas, cafes, retail shops, bakeries, venues, collectives, and more. No global chains, just independently-owned local businesses.
Some have additional locations in other parts of greater Dallas but they are owned by the same individuals, to the best of my knowledge. One of the coolest parts about hanging out in this area was that many times the owners themselves came over to see how everything was or to tell me about their business.
Bishop Arts District is part of the north Oak Cliff neighbourhood, and some areas of it are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The area was first built up for commercial use in the 1920s and remained lively until the mid 1960s, when changes in public transit routes and flashier developments in other parts of the city stole its thunder.
Two decades later a local named Jim Lake committed to bringing it back to life, and he did.
The Botanist Cocktail bar is just one of many business with intriguing murals splashed across its exterior. Check out their Instagram to see photos of how gorgeous it is inside!
Here are some of my other favourite murals in the area:
From what I observed on foot, the BAD parameters are between Davis Street to the north, 9th Street to the south, N. Zang Blvd to the East, and N. Adams Street to the west, though there appeared to have been many more places westward to N. Tyler Street that I did not make it to. A quick check on Google Maps seems to back that up.
The main intersection is at Bishop and Davis Street, but if you are limited on time, just walk along Bishop from Davis to make the most of it.
In addition to lots of rad murals, there are numerous sculptures, pretty green spaces, small gardens, and colourful patio seating areas.
My first stop was an early lunch at Oddfellows, a premeditated visit after hearing about their famous brisket hash. It comes with fried potatoes, caramelized onions, a fried overeasy egg, ranchero sauce, Hollandaise, and that famous Texas brisket.
Oddfellows is known for their Sunday brunch, but the hash is what I was after. This was my second favourite meal of the whole week in Dallas, beaten only by the Hungarian feast I had at Armoury DE in Deep Ellum.
After walking some of that off, I wandered into Picolé Pops, where a nice Brazilian lady gave me all the encouragement I needed (absolutely none at all) to try a boozy Rumchata ice cream pop.
Shocked to learn that it was my first visit, she drizzled the pop with white chocolate and covered it in almonds to make an even better first impression. Glorious.
The coziest place in this area was Wild Detectives over on Eight Street. It reminded me of my old Eleventh Street Coffeehouse haunt in Knoxville, with its eclectic crowd working on various art projects, curled-up-in-the-corner readers, sassy humour and oddball interactions between regulars and staff.
I enjoyed an informative chat with the staff and sampling different local beers. Revolver’s Blood & Honey got my vote out of the bunch.
Poet’s Oak Cliff Bookshop is the second bookshop I found in BAD, right at the main intersection of N. Bishop and W. Davis Street.
This shop is small but mighty, carrying a broad selection of local and culturally diverse authors with socially/conversationally engaging titles of all topics.
Fete-ish is a funky boutique with all types of pop culture lure, gifts, jewelry, nerdfare, household items, stationery, clothes, etc.
You can’t miss this vibrant storefront with jewel-toned images of this charming fellow who greets you at the door and checks up on you while you shop.
DIRT high-end floral shop channeled one of my more indulgent aesthetics; a botanist’s dream of fresh and dried custom bouquets, herbalist themed prints, trinkets, and more.
Society Candles & Home Fragrances is packed full of the most luxurious scents and burning supplies. I could have spent hours inside smelling each item.
Harkensback has a cool vintage vibe and some dreamy Insta-worthy sitting corners among its cabinets and shelves of upcycled hand-made clothing and accessories.
They also have a nice selection of burnables, body fragrances, oil blends, crystals, and jewelry.
Dolly on Bishop is a wild vintage and antique boutique with everything you could imagine and then some.
They also carry an extensive selection of wet specimens and even weirder things in jars.
White Rock Soap Gallery carries a vegan and soy-based line of artisan soaps and body products at seriously reasonable prices.
I scored two body scrubs, a lotion, a lip balm, a candle, a bath bar and bath bomb for around $22. So far I have loved everything I have used.
WRSG shares a building with the Mercado369 gallery, a community art space celebrating Latin American and Hispanic cultures.
Another interesting community art space is the Mosaic Makers Collective that has a fairly small assortment of gifts and accessories from local designers. They offer art classes as well.
And for the comic lovers, check out Red Pegasus Comics.
After walking for the better part of 7 hours since lunch, I needed a boost, so I stopped into the Tribal All Day Cafe for an elderberry syrup shot and an almond milk latte.
Later I stopped into Bishop Cider Co. I’m not really into ciders, but the bartender led me over to their Dark Cide, a very tart and dry black currant blend that I loved.
He also let me sample a few others like the Crackberry, Tiger’s Blood, and a spicy Habanero-Mango cider. All of their ciders are gluten-free and vegan too.
The Revelers Hall is a New Orleans-style jazz and rock venue / cocktail bar. I was too late for the House band and too early to catch the main act, but will definitely be back next time.
Bonus: I saw the name Baba Yaga Orkestar on The Reveler’s event calendar and it stopped me in my tracks, even though the show would be long after I left town.
I have looked them up online and am thrilled to know that Dallas has its very own Balkan Brass band. Oh, my love of Balkan brass…
Parker Barrow’s Bonnie & Clyde bar is a cocktail bar that I had been looking forward to, but I was immediately put off by the boy’s club clientele and loud sports blasting on tv.
Surely it is better on other days. Their website seems to be an inside joke I am not privy to so I am not going to link it.
Whitehall Exchange (mural above) is another cocktail bar, and yet another beautiful interior that comprises the norm in the Bishop Arts District.
In fact, almost every place I visited there was just lovely, unique, and carefully curated. I anticipate a return during one of the district’s infamous street parties or parades, and my list of places remaining to visit has grown since leaving.
Staying in the area for a few days? Follow me to Dallas’ Deep Ellum District.
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