Dallas will never be mistaken for Vienna, Rome or Berlin. But now, thanks to the Dallas Streetcar, you can pretend you're in Europe for a few hours as you ride the rails and sample bars, restaurants and points of interest from downtown Dallas to the heart of North Oak Cliff.
Launched in 2015 -- with an extension to the Bishop Arts District that opened in August 2016 -- the DART-run Streetcar looks very much like the trams that have been a fixture in European cities for decades. Sleek and modern, with accordion-like joints that allow it to slither down Zang Boulevard, the Streetcar feels more like a light-rail train than the charming-but-clanky McKinney Avenue Trolley in Uptown.
Best of all, the Dallas Streetcar is free. Climb off and on as many times as you like, any time between 5:30 a.m. and midnight, seven days a week.
The Streetcar runs every 20 minutes, leaving downtown from a stop on Houston Street next to Union Station. It then crosses the Trinity River on the 106-year-old Houston Street Viaduct and makes five stops in Oak Cliff, including one at its final destination, the Bishop Arts District.
It doesn't travel far -- just 2.45 miles in 10 minutes. But there are no shortages of places to eat, drink and investigate along its brief span.
(We didn't list stop No. 1, Greenbriar, because it's a residential area with no restaurants or shops.)
If you're connecting to the Streetcar via DART rail, simply walk outside Union Station and hop aboard on the southwest corner of Houston and Young streets. If you're coming by car, there's a $5 parking lot directly next to the stop. Either way, you can fuel up for your excursion at Cindi's New York Deli and Bakery (306 S. Houston St.) or the more upscale Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck (300 Reunion Blvd. E) atop the glowing Reunion Tower. The tower's GeO-Deck also boasts the casual Cloud 9 Café.
The streetcar's second stop is light on restaurants but heavy on greenery. You can picnic, play and hike at two nearby parks: the small, shady Oak Cliff Founders Park (Zang at Oakenwald) and Lake Cliff Park (300 E. Colorado Blvd.), a neighborhood gem complete with rose gardens, tennis courts and a small lake perfect for walking around.
The stop at Beckley Avenue offers a multitude of food options. On the healthy side, you can choose from fruits and juices galore at Fruteria Cano (1133 N. Zang) or vegan meals and delicacies at The Spiral Diner & Bakery (1101 N. Beckley). Other nearby choices include macarons and pastries at Rush Patisserie (1201 Eldorado Ave.), comfort food at the popular brunch spot Jonathon's Oak Cliff (1111 N. Beckley) and an eclectic menu at Victor Hugo's VH Casual Dining and Bar (1115 N. Beckley).
History buffs will want to hoof it three blocks over to the Lee Harvey Oswald Rooming House (1026 N. Beckley), where Oswald lived at the time of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Reserve a tour in advance to get inside the home where Oswald went immediately after shooting the president, just before he was arrested.
The streetcar makes its final stop next to the construction site of the future Bishop Arts Station, a big residential-retail complex that could drastically change the flavor of the neighborhood. For now, it's still business as usual in the district, with a wide range of culinary options within spitting distance of the streetcar stop, including sandwiches and craft cocktails at The Local Oak (409 N. Zang Blvd), brunch and pub grub at Ten Bells Tavern (232 W. 7th) and beer, coffee and more at The Wild Detectives bookstore bar (314 W. 8th Street).
If you want to explore more of Oak Cliff, you can catch the Bishop Arts Shuttle (Bus Route 723, at Elsbeth and Davis) to Jefferson Boulevard and the historic Texas Theatre (231 W. Jefferson Blvd.), or head to one of the best music venues in town, The Kessler Theater (1230 W. Davis St.). But if you're pressed for time, skip the shuttle and simply focus on Bishop Arts by foot: With more than 60 galleries, shops, bars and restaurants, there's plenty of food, drink and shopping to keep you busy until you climb back aboard the Streetcar and head home.