North Oak Cliff: The Connected Communities of West Jefferson and West Davis
May 30, 2017 10:39PM
By Amy Martin
Natural Awakenings DFW Edition and GreenSourceDFW.org are partnering in a new series called Green Neighborhoods. Over the coming months, we will be exploring the eco-friendly neighborhoods in North Texas with Green Source DFW reporter Amy Martin as our guide. She will reveal readers those communities where green retail, green venues and green folks intersect. If there’s a green neighborhood we should know about, email [email protected].
The northern part of Oak Cliff is a tale of two boulevards. Undulating from east to west is West Jefferson Boulevard, a half-mile of solid retail and restaurants that is the thriving heart of Hispanic culture. Yet the hipster love of history has drawn some development to the strip, saving significant structures and rejuvenating its art scene. A couple of million dollars in bond funds is being poured into new sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting and landscaping starting this summer.
Straight as an arrow about 10 blocks to the north, West Davis heads out from Bishop Arts as TX 180, the pre I-30 highway to Fort Worth. The historic stretch west of McAdams/Woodlawn sometimes called KingsX for a cross street, pitches a perfect balance of hipster and Hispanic with a strong sense of community.
A Natural Foodie Paradise
Oak Cliff has been an engine for the North Texas organic, locavore, farm to table movement, turning out imaginative fare with a genuine love for the farmer. Nobody does it better than Bolsa (BolsaDallas.com) on West Davis. Dine and drink in the paragon of hipness, use the easy takeaway service or get the ingredients to make a meal down the street at Bolsa Mercado.
Eat relatively healthy and for sure, creatively, at Nova (NovaDallas.com), and enjoy veggies galore with a fair amount of butter at chic southern Pink Magnolia (PinkMagnoliaDallas.com). Get soups, stews and grilled fish on with a tropical flair at Little Havana, and bbbop Seoul Kitchen (bbbop.com) crafts Korean fare with local ingredients. Wrap up the dining experience with a delight from CocoAndre Chocolatier (CocoAndre.com). All are located along the West Davis strip.
Amid the plentiful authentic Tex-Mex dining on West Jefferson is the fresh, imaginative Mexican food with a coastal sensibility of Mesa (MesaDallas.com). Small Brewpub (SmallBrewpub.com) dishes out craft beers and gastropub fare. Go a few blocks over to 12th Street for the seafood, salads and seriously great guacamole of La Calle Doce (LaCalleDoce-Dallas.com).
Cheese and Chutney (CheeseAndChutneyTexas.com) on West Davis bridges fine European cheeses and Indian chutneys, along with a host of tasty local food offerings. Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters (OakCliffCoffee.com) personally connects with their coffee bean farmers, ensuring good eco and social practices. Grow your food from scratch with some help from Community Gardens of Oak Cliff (CommunityGardensOC.wordpress.com).
A Hotbed of Holistic Healing
When rents rose in Bishop Arts, most health professionals moved a few blocks west, where their community-oriented focus blends right in. Now there is at least one practitioner of most modalities.
A Holistic Way (AHolisticWay.com) brings in expertise in nutrition and herbalism. Quantum Holistic Health Center (Quantumhhc.com) uses nutritional evaluation and quantitative EEG to diagnose health issues, especially neurological, biofeedback, neurofeedback and hyperbaric oxygen to treat them.
Partners in Wellness (PIW-Wellness.com) offers s spectrum of modalities including therapies for the body (massage, Bowenwork, reiki) and mind (guided meditation, hypnosis), plus a busy yoga schedule. Hispanic culture has long been open to holistic practices. The zippy Clinica Alternativa Naturista (ClinicaAlternativa.com) is located in a funky brick office building, bridges communities.
Oak Cliff is full of interesting chiropractors, but none more so than Dr. B at Growth Life Chiropractic (OakCliffChiropractor.com) in a small, historic building that shines with personality. But what’s not to like about a place called Urban Hippie Chiropractic (UrbanHippieChiropractic.com), which serves as a community focal point for compassion.
Love of the creative force imbues the West Davis community. Jessica Tartaro (DrJessicaTartaro.com) provides services and counseling as an orgasmic intimacy coach. Our Birthing Home (LexiMeleski.com) shepherds a baby from prenatal through birthing and to infancy, plus chiropractic services (even for women not pregnant) and prenatal yoga classes.
Though classes occur at many places around West Davis, Dirt Cheap Yoga (DirtCheapYoga.org) and OmBalance (OmBalance.com) hold down the yoga scene with vigorous schedules and frequent workshops. Dirt Cheap moved from East Dallas to Oak Cliff and found its song. OmBalance is also a center for birthing.
Exploring the Human Condition Through Entertainment
Both West Jefferson and West Davis boast entertainment institutions that move humanity forward with thought-provoking offerings. The Texas Theater, known for its role in the JFK assassination aftermath, turned a dilapidated historic movie theater on West Jefferson into a beloved indie cinema and performance showcase.
Another historical cinema threatened by the wrecking ball, the Kessler Theater (TheKessler.org) is the vibrant beating heart of West Davis. Concerts by artists from local to national run the entire musical spectrum. Sincere respect for the performer promulgated by artistic director Jeffrey Liles keeps the attitude fun, but sans hecklers and drunks.
Vinyl recordings thrive in Oak Cliff (of course) at Spinster Records (SpinsterRecords.com), but so do local shows and deep audiophile talks. Wordspace (WordSpace.us) is equally obsessed about modern literature, presenting poetry slams, storytelling, author readings and talks by Dan Savage, Fran Leibowitz, and more.
Bishop Arts Theatre Center (BishopArtsTheatre.org) isn’t afraid to take on the big topics of being human in a hard urban world with theater and talks, but spices it up with jazz concerts. Keep an eye out for Arts Mission Oak Cliff (Facebook.com/artsmissionoakcliff), moving into an old Winnetka Heights church off West Jefferson and promising to present collaborative performance arts.
A Creative and Caring Community
It takes nurturing to create life-affirming communities like West Jefferson and West Davis. Right in the middle of West Jefferson retail, Oak Cliff Cultural Center (occc.DallasCulture.org) offers profound art exhibits and provocative performance to explore Oak Cliff’s diverse character, while being an undeniably fun place.
Not far away is Piece 24 (29Pieces.org/piece-24), a 17-foot-tall totem sculpture from the 29 Pieces peace-through-art project. The yellow hand with an embedded eye was created with help from area high schoolers and emblazoned with their sentiment: “My hands respect the things you have made.”
Better Block (BetterBlock.org) works with nonprofits, schools and others to expand their skills and knowledge base to create urban communities that raise everyone up. The Oak Cliff Foundation (OakCliffFoundation.org) works to ensure that the area’s history blends peacefully with development.
Saint Cecilia Catholic Church (SaintCeciliasParish.com) remains the spiritual heart of West Davis, with its love of justice, music and children. Twelve Hills Nature Center (TwelveHills.org) is its natural center, providing a respite from the area’s busyness with five acres of prairie and woods.
Keeping everyone connected in Bike-Friendly Oak Cliff (BikeFriendlyOC.org), working for streets friendly to bicycles and pedestrians, as well as cars.
Art, Retail and Celebrating Humanity
The human capacity for creativity is the anthem of Oak Cliff. N place, in Dallas, proclaims it more. Oil and Cotton (OilAndCotton.com) offers an astounding array of art classes, but excels with offerings for children.
With its love of history and embrace of modern science, The Book Doctor (TheBookDr.com) is thoroughly OC, restoring keepsake books and exalting historic tomes. Equally exacting and creative is Tom Battles Custom Picture Framing (TomBattlesFraming.com), an Oak Cliff institution. Many of the area’s rehabilitated buildings owe their sleek looks to Gary Bucker (StashDesign.co), located in the 1920s-era Dixie Wax Paper Company building.
Two retail enterprises in the West Davis area capture its ethos. Rose Garden ReMake (RoseGardenRemake.com) presents a variety of local artists and designers ranging from attire to home décor, taking the recycle/reuse/repurpose mandate to impeccable levels. Get swept away by the Caribbean vibe and peace-love-smoke philosophy of Roots and Culture (Twitter.com/RootsCultureDFW).