The State Fair of Texas
3921 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., South Dallas
The Texas State Fair is everything you might expect: country-and-western shows, livestock competitions, roller coasters, and food booths that will fry just about anything. Less expected are the tiny homes exposition, where every dwelling is less than 300 square feet, and the vegan-food pavilion. Open for only three weeks a year, the fairgrounds are filled with ornate Art Deco buildings built in the 1930s, and there’s also a lake you can paddle across in a swan boat.
Las Almas Rotas
3615 Parry Ave., South Dallas
Drinking Mexican beer or mezcal in the back bar here is a singular experience: A statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of desperation, watches over the room. The entire bar (the name means “the broken souls” in Spanish) is a shrine to Mexican culture. And the food—homemade tacos and salsas—and drinks are absolutely authentic. Get the El Topo, a combination of the mineral water Topo Chico, lime juice, and tequila.
Opening Bell Coffee
1409 S. Lamar St., South Dallas
Every town needs an arty coffee shop with open mic night and free Wi-Fi—with eclectic décor, oversize couches, and great coffee, Opening Bell is straight out of central casting. While the extremely full entertainment calendar makes this more of a daytime study location, there are plenty of tables, so you can find a seat even late in the afternoon. You'll also find all the requisite snacks and drinks, including a long tea menu, doughnuts, and a weirdly good breakfast taco.