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Sensi Magazine

More than Meets the Eye

Jun 26, 2019 01:05PM ● By Dawn Garcia
A week ago, all I knew about Dallas was its football team is the Cowboys, it’s part of tornado alley, there’s a lot of wealth in the city, and Nick Jonas and Usher were born there. Now I can say that I’ve discovered arts districts, in-credible food, lovely people, and a deep appreciation for the locals’ willingness to open their minds.

Bishop Arts District is a tiny Dallas neighborhood that’s big on character, cuisine, and culture. Located in the center of North Oak Cliff, Bishop Arts is home to 60 restaurants, boutique shops, coffee shops, bars, and independent art galleries. Sprinkled through an active neighborhood comprised of darling turn of the century homes and modern remodels, the neighborhood boasts sweet stores, businesses, doctors and law offices, and a relaxed vibe. With the Dallas city skyline visible in the distance and the scare of tornados safely behind me, I found Bishops Arts District to be is its own self-contained artist’s haven. Staying in an Airbnb on top of an antique store aptly called Mantiques, the journey began. A room designed with all the contemporary modernism I love modern art adorning the walls, edgy furnishings, and a minimalistic bathroom and deck this loft was my home for two incredible nights.

Wandering out at night, my friend (a resident of the neighboring small town of Corsicana) and I set out to explore. Walking by a house with a decorative sign reading, “Taco y Vino” with picnic tables dressed with succulents in the front yard, we found the concept of tacos and wine too endearing to pass up. The restaurant packed with patrons did not disappoint. I highly recommend ordering three tacos: cochinita pibil (pulled pork), blackened baja (catfish), and nopalitos (prickly pear cactus). The wine selection spans from Europe and South Africa to South America.

The next two days would introduce us to a world of food, including Oddfellows serving exquisite coffee, cocktails, and meat-eater and vegetarian-friendly fare; Veracruz serving killer margaritas, tacos, mole, and enchiladas; and Tribal serving fresh pressed juices and dishes with an emphasis on clean eating. The last stop on our culinary journey may be my favorite. Serve is a beautiful café serving vegan dishes, superfoods, and hearty smoothies, but it’s the design of the space that invites you into a world of creativity and tranquility. With intentional art messages like “Do What You Love,” sprawling displays of greenery, authentic handmade lighting fixtures, local art, and furnishings that lean towards post-modernism with a contemporary flare, it’s beautiful. That said, just outside the double doors you will find a space filled with tables, cornhole, hammocks, massive murals, green grass, and swooning music. Serve’s mantra is “where fast lives slow down,” and it’s heavenly and blissful. Order the charcoal bowl for a tried-and-true tasty hangover cure.

In addition to an impressive selection of restaurants and bars, the quaint shops and art galleries are so interesting, you’ll realize you’ve spent hours in a state of discovery. One such shop is Fete-ish. Curated with works by local artists, quirky novelty items like stoner doormats and f-bomb hand towels, and Texas paraphernalia, this store has wall to wall, floor to ceiling gifts and goodies that will make your house smell nice, give you a hearty belly laugh, or tap into creative ways to tell someone to piss off. It’s a must see.

Bishops Arts District is also home to art galleries like Mercado369 featuring Latin American art and gifts; Mosaic Makers Collective featuring only female-designed goods; and Red Pegasus Comics carrying rare comic books. There is also a gorgeous and genuinely inventive event and wedding space called House of Dirt.

The white wrap-around porch calls you, and the painted tire succulents on the walls, the flower beds, and random pops of inspiration are exceptional. Should you find yourself in Dallas, this small arts district is the kind of place to get lost in.