The Dallas Hot List: Where to shop, eat, sweat and drink, plus other insider tips to keep you current

Dallas is hot, in more ways than one. We're here to keep you cool with these 15 insider tips.

Hottest suburb

Plano

What is this, 1994? Plano has been considered one of the hottest suburbs not only in North Texas but in the entire U.S. -- but that’s old news. The Dallas suburb has changed drastically since the ‘90s, most notably in the food and drink business, and namely that you can do both there now, and not only at Chili’s. With Dallas-Fort Worth’s other booming ‘burbs such as Frisco and even Argyle, Plano is still on fire, with its vibrant Shops at Legacy, a revitalized downtown and the $3 billion Legacy West development. Soon, Plano will have a food hall and a three-story brewery. Its new development is so sparkly, its restaurants so fun, we’re almost annoyed by Plano’s success. Shoot, do we need to move there? --Sarah Blaskovich

The Dallas band of the moment

Texas Gentlemen

As varied as Dallas' music scene is, pure country gold is often the musical color of choice 'round these parts. And the Texas Gentlemen, the Dallas band you need to know about now, is the most exciting country act to emerge from local clubs and recording spaces in recent years. Led by local producer Beau Bedford of Modern Electric Sound Recorders, the Gentlemen is a crack musical collective featuring an array of rotating players mingling with a few core members. Their shows are more all-star country soul revue than simple concert, thanks to occasional marquee-name guest vocalists including Leon Bridges. Their vintage-inspired matching ringer T-shirts and embroidered denim jackets are almost as swinging as the deep grooves and soulful rhythms that will be featured on TX Jelly, the group's debut album out this spring. --Kelly Dearmore

Best bargain spa

King Spa

It's easy to drop a whole paycheck on a little pampering, but there's no need to cut out self-care, even if you're on a budget. King Spa offers myriad ways to relax, rewind and rejuvenate. General admission is $45 for adults, and that includes 24 hours -- that's right, a full day -- in the facility's multiple Korean-style spa and sauna rooms, and that cost also includes Wi-Fi, movies in an auditorium, fresh towels and other perks. From there, it's easy to add on extras at additional costs. A tasty meal at the food court is reasonably priced, as are massages, scrubs and beauty treatments. King Spa also features a separate indoor waterpark (with its own admission fees) with an area for children to play and a second food court serving snacks and adult beverages.

Pro-tip: Check Groupon or another favorite deal website before you go; there is often a promotional discount online. --Brentney Hamilton

Beefiest section of Dallas

Uptown

Look out the glass wall of windows at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House in Uptown Dallas and you'll stare right at another steakhouse: Perry's Steakhouse & Grille. Two blocks up, there's Morton's The Steakhouse. A few blocks down, there's Ruth's Chris Steak House. Travel half a mile, and you've got Nick and Sam's Steakhouse and Dakota's Steakhouse. And nearby hot spots -- Fearing's, Truluck's, the Capital Grille, Ocean Prime and Water Grill, to name some -- offer pricey cuts of beef even if "steak" isn't explicitly in their names.

"The good people of Texas love a good steak," said Del Frisco's Restaurant Group's former CEO Mark Mednansky in a 2016 interview. Maybe. More specifically, the good people near one small area in Uptown Dallas love a good steak -- and have, literally, at least 10 options. --S.B.

Hottest place to sweat

Spin class is (still) in

Putting the pedal to the metal is all the rage in the Dallas-Fort Worth fitness world. Existing one-stop shops like Equinox and LA Fitness are revamping cycling classes. And, like bluebonnets in the spring, spin studios are popping up left and right. Some faves: Flywheel in Highland Park caused quite the fanfare upon its arrival several years back. The Ride House, proclaiming to be the ultimate sensory indoor cycling experience, is carrying its weight in the cycling realm. And ZYN22 sprouted up seemingly out of nowhere and spread across D-FW, from Southlake to the Shops of Park Lane in Dallas. And of course, the Dallas fitness world was rocked when two SoulCycle locations made their way to Preston Center and Uptown. Some of these shops are new, some aren't, but at all, it's tough to snag a seat. --Kimber Westphall

The “it” spot for bakeries

Preston and Northwest Highway in Dallas

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Preston Road and Northwest Highway in Dallas is paradise.

Used to be, the buzziest sweet shop at that intersection was Sprinkles, the hot Beverly Hills cupcake place that spawned a second store, Sprinkles Ice Cream, plus a cupcake ATM, where dessert lovers can swipe their credit card to get a cupcake fix 24 hours a day. Yeah, really. While Sprinkles is still popular, it stepped aside when Carlo’s Bakery, the made-for-TV shop made famous by TLC show Cake Boss, opened. You will wait in line for your cannolis; that’s just how it goes. While we’re still counting, SusieCakes and the Hospitality Sweet add to the sugar rush at this buzzy corner in Dallas. With one more, bakers, we’d have a half dozen. --S.B.

Hottest brewery

Peticolas Brewing Co.

Since opening in 2011, Peticolas Brewing Co. in Dallas has turned out some of the area's most coveted brews, in part, because the only way they were traditionally available was on draft at bars. With the opening of a new onsite taproom in late 2016, drinkers now know there's always one place to find favorites like the Velvet Hammer imperial red ale and easy-drinking Golden Opportunity. But why choose? Peticolas now offers a mega-flight at the brewery, which includes samples of each of the 16 beers on draft and one from a cask. (That's 17 total, in case you're bad at math.) It costs $40 and requires at least three people for an order. Finish that and you're ready to hit the foosball and ping-pong tables upstairs. --Tiney Ricciardi

The spot for live music

The 'burbs

Dallas proper is still a live music mecca. But this year, the suburbs are stepping up more than ever in an effort to keep concert dollars from going to the city center. Lava Cantina in The Colony, located near the gargantuan Nebraska Furniture Mart, boasts roughly the same capacity as the House of Blues, but will offer a retractable roof so that the extreme fickleness of Texas weather can be accommodated for all shows. Closer to the Dallas city line, Irving Music Factory will open on Labor Day weekend to host A-list music concerts and comedy shows in a highly central Las Colinas location. Add those choice new gems to winning spots such as Love and War in Texas in Plano and Hanks Texas Grill in McKinney, and the ‘burbs are boring no more. --K.D.

Hottest drag show

Rising Star at The Rose Room

Kelexis Davenport performs at the long-running "Rising Star" drag queen competition at the Rose Room on Cedar Springs Road in Dallas.

Dallas’ Oak Lawn area is one of the largest gay neighborhoods in the country, which is why you can find drag shows seven nights a week. One fierce show that never disappoints is the long-running “rising star” competition at the Rose Room on Cedar Springs Road. Every Thursday night, drag queens from across D-FW compete for a cash prize and new fans. Cartwheels and splits in high-heels, comedy routines and intense dance moves are just some of the things you’ll see during this weekly show attended by people of all genders and orientations. Cover is free for 18+ before 10 p.m. and the show starts at 11 p.m. If you arrive early, ask about the drink and shot specials. And bring dollar bills to tip the performers! --Dennis Jansen

Food trend No. 1

Food halls

People sit at the bar at Americado in Fort Worth.

There’s no hostess who greets guests at Americado, a new eatery in Fort Worth. No menus to sit down with, no wait staff; there are just three cooking stations for whether you’re in the mood for chicken, seafood or red meat. Americado is one of a growing breed of restaurants in North Texas known as the food hall, where window shopping and menu hopping are part of the experience. Most food halls, like Dallas Market Hall at the Dallas Farmers Market, house many restaurants or food stands under one roof so visitors have their choice of cuisine without compromise. Think of it like a mall food court, but much more chic. Legacy Hall, a forthcoming food hall in Plano’s new Legacy West development, even tapped high-profile local chefs such as John Tesar and Matt McCallister to open pint-sized versions of their existing restaurants. So bring along your stubborn and picky eaters, the food hall has something for everyone. --T.R.

Food trend No. 2

Poke

Poke rhymes with okay, but this hot food trend in Dallas-Fort Worth deserves a much more affirmative exclamation. Poke restaurants are popping up all over North Texas, selling healthy, quick bowls of raw fish, rice, fruits and veggies. (And note: Poke has been a “thing” in other cities for a long time. But it’s now D-FW’s turn to see if we can hit peak poke.) Poke seems perfect for the on-the-go eater who likes the build-your-own bowl model that Chipotle made famous. FreshFin Poke Co. on Greenville Avenue in Dallas and Below 40 in Plano are but a few of the popular poke spots popping up. --S.B.

Hottest skinny marg

A skinny margarita at E Bar Tex-Mex

E Bar Tex-Mex

Forget sugary sweet and sour mixes. The skinny margarita at E Bar Tex-Mex boasts just the essentials: tequila, lime juice and a dollop of agave nectar. (Salt rim optional.)

It not only sounds delicious, it is: This neighborhood hot spot near Cityplace Tower in Dallas is renown for its house margaritas. Our advice: Grab a table or bar stool, order a few rounds and soak up the booze with free chips and salsa. Avoid holidays such as Cinco de Mayo when the fairweather patrons stop in. --T.R.

Gotta-get-this secret menu item

Ace of Spades taco at Torchy’s Tacos

The secret menu at Torchy's Tacos isn't new, but it definitely lives up to the Austin-based chain's tagline promising Damn Good Tacos. The spicy Ace of Spades is a standout, with ingredients including jalapeño sausage, brisket and a fried egg on a flour tortilla. It's so Texas. Ask for the secret menu at the counter to check out the other options. --Ann Pinson

Where to make your mark ... and not get arrested

Adair's Saloon

Adair's Saloon in Deep Ellum

At Deep Ellum honky tonk Adair's Saloon, the writing's on the wall -- literally. For decades, locals and visitors have taken a Sharpie to the walls and ceiling to leave their John Hancock. Don't worry, it's totally allowed, encouraged even. A word of warning to newcomers: You'll have to get creative. The bar is so covered in signatures that most are now written on top of others. But searching for a millimeter of free space is half the fun, especially after a few drinks. Good luck finding your name the next time you boot-scoot 'n boogie on through. --T.R.

Hottest place for cool kids and their cool parents to hang out on weekends

Lake House White Rock Bar and Grill

Jeremy Gorden holds Clara Gorden (left front) with Sean Gorden, 6, (from left back) Laura Gorden and Ben Gorden, 8, at Lake House White Rock Bar and Grill.

Parents, you remember life before kids, right? There was brunch. Pub crawls. Pool parties, then midday naps, then back-at-it trips to your favorite bar that night. It is still possible to be a cool mom or dad in Dallas, but your weekend plans clearly need to change. The place for parents on a sunny Saturday or Sunday at lunchtime is Lake House White Rock Bar and Grill, where kids in sunglasses hang out with Mom and Dad for an afternoon of eating and listening to live, local music. The owners throw open the windows at the Lake House, making this family-friendly spot feel like it’s on the water. (Which we must point out: It is not. It’s close to White Rock Lake, but you won’t actually look out over it.) The food’s good and the atmosphere is great. You might just feel like you’re in your twenties again. --S.B.

For more hot stuff in Dallas-Fort Worth, check out guidelive.com/things-to-do.

Update at 4:35 p.m. May 25, 2017: In "Beefiest Section of Dallas," Del Frisco's Restaurant Group's former CEO Mark Mednansky was named as "CEO." He is no longer with the company.

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