Dallas Handmade Arts Market, Inc is a magnet for the city's creative community. Once per month, it pulls in a rotating lineup of more than 45 independent artists, designers, and crafting enthusiasts to sell their wares to enthusiastic customers hoping to discover a new artist or innovative piece. Live musicians set the mood as visitors wander past stalls, chatting with the artists behind the work and purchasing jewelry, pottery, and other creations. On select days, the market transforms into a center for artistic education where professional artists teach visitors to craft jewelry and mold ten-gallon hats out of clay.
When Carlene Saelg and Rita Davis moved from Austin to Dallas in 2007, they immediately began their search for their new favorite coffee joint. They didn't find it. Instead of despairing, the duo took matters into their own hands and created their idea of the perfect coffee shop, which they decided had to include a cozy space, a vibrant community of regulars, and a menu of delicious beverages. A mere six months after opening, The Pearl Cup had become a Henderson Avenue hit and its signature drink, The Pearl Latte, had been named the best latte in town by D Magazine. The Pearl Latte, just like the rest of The Pearl Cup’s decadent coffee drinks, starts with direct-source beans purchased at above fair-trade prices and roasted by local Texas roasters. From there, skilled baristas craft shots of straight espresso, carafes of French press, or robust drip coffee made from custom bean blends. Those who opt for a dressed-up drink, such as a cappuccino or latte, will notice that The Pearl Cup's sizes are a bit smaller than those of big-name chains; this is all in a well planned effort to maintain the integrity of the coffee profile, rather than overwhelming it with milk or a cup it can't climb out of. No matter the size, customers will likely want to match their drink with what D Magazine called “first-rate” paninis and hummus.
To replicate the espresso made at Ascension, you'll need about $20,000 and an exactingly scientific sensibility toward coffee. The Design District shop’s espresso machine, the Synesso Hydra Hybrid, is the first of its kind in the city and is guaranteed to pull single-origin espressos perfectly every time. With the ability to manipulate brewing pressure for a variety of profiles, the machine contains individual heaters and pumps inside a wood-adorned vessel customized to match the coffeehouse's design scheme. Of course, only the best coffee would do with such an impressive machine, so there's no doubt that Ascension's owner, Russell Hayward, brings in top-notch beans. They're culled from all over the world, including Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, and Rwanda, and roasted locally by Coffee Eiland. Yet, as Entrée Dallas discovered, the relationship between Hayward and his go-to roaster goes beyond business as usual. Both Ascension and Coffee Eiland consider it essential to not only take care of farmers but also the surrounding community—likely a reason why Hayward sits on the board of one of the largest private coffee plantations in Rwanda. Even for the non-coffee drinkers of the world and people who hate feeling alert, Ascension has more than enough to offer. A full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu features elegant meals and small plates, including housemade granola with greek yogurt and local honey, slow-roasted flank steak served atop crostini with tomato and onion jams, and soppressata and fig paninis. When the clock strikes 5 p.m., an in-house sommelier takes over the rustic space, which becomes a full-fledged wine bar complete with artisanal meat and cheese plates.
Vino 100 teases taste buds with a tempting menu of light Mediterranean appetizers designed to complement their collection of more than 100 wines. The Farmer's Trio dheese plate ($13) brings manchego sheep's-milk, dilled havarti cow's-milk, and soft chevrine goat's-milk cheeses together in a flavor combination as complex as a Rube Goldberg machine that solves rubik's cubes. Scott's Savory Bistro plate sates carnivores with a tantalizing combination of sopprasata italian sausage, double cream brie cheese, aged sharp cheddar, mixed olives, and a fresh-fruit garnish ($16). Though alcohol is not covered in this Groupon, the bistro lines its walls with limited-production and artisan wines, at least 100 of which are under $25 per bottle.
The Alcove’s name alone brings to mind a cozy nook where one can curl up with a book and perhaps a little something to drink, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at this Uptown wine bar/coffee shop. By day, it functions as a friendly espresso bar with comfy couches, free WiFi and fresh pastries; caffeine fiends will enjoy the extra kick of the Japanese-style cold brew. At night, settle in with a generously poured glass – or bottle – of one of the affordable, small-producer wines while you catch up with friends on the patio. Not much of a wine drinker? The Alcove also offers a whopping 75-plus different beer varieties, including plenty that are local and craft.
Indecisive lunchgoers, beware: Sandwich corporation Which Wich gives you exponentially more options than your average sub shop. Take a gander at the deceptively simple menuboard and pick a meaty category, or opt for something vegetarian. Then grab a red marker and paper bag to customize the rest, from toppings and condiments to breads. There are preconceived options as well at this downtown Dallas location on Main Street, including traditional reubens and a fried chicken parmesan sandwich. With more than 60 different fresh toppings and a speedy ordering system, Which Wich is a perfect grab-and-go option for busy downtown business folks or anyone coming in off the street looking for an inexpensive and downright tasty lunch choice. Best of all, this location is adjacent to the corporate headquarters, which means new sandwich iterations roll out here before anywhere else.