The Dallas Observer
Best of Dallas
Sex Symbol (Male): Tatu
Runner-up: H. Ross Perot

Flash! Short is sexy ... for men, at least. Neither this year's male sex symbol nor his runner-up have ever seen the top side of six feet tall. But both of these guys pack a lot of power into their Napoleonesque statures, and they're both making money amid the current economic malaise, and since we all know that money and power are the ultimate aphrodisiacs...

It should come as no surprise that Dallas' preferred male sex symbol is a winning athlete. Athletic aptitude is sexy in men and women, and the macho state of Texas is more than willing to hail its conquering heroes. We're amused, however, that this jock isn't a Dallas Cowboy. Maybe Dallas is becoming an international city after all. Its newly elected male sex symbol is the Brazilian star of a typically European sport.

Short, cute, and bursting with foreign appeal, everybody's favorite Sidekick Tatu takes first prize, most notably for his habit of tearing off his jersey when he scores on the soccer field, exposing that sexy South American chest for all within panting distance. How can someone so Brazilian seem so all-American? Maybe it's his humility: Tatu was, quite simply, speechless over his latest accolade.

What really boggles the mind is this category's runner-up. Sure, he's rich, powerful, and generous with his money and time. He's willing to look beyond a pretty face to find a good mind, especially in the Texas public school system. But we're very glad that, for all he's given away, Dallas homeboy H. Ross Perot has managed to keep the shirt on his back.

Best mural: Fishdance
James Brown has been singing his heart out for years on the wall at the corner of Lower Greenville and Marquita. (You know he's The Man by the necklace he wears, which spells GFOS for Godfather of Soul.) The building's current tenants have added an aquatic motif to the mural, and now the hardest-working man in show biz appears to be singing in the shower.

Best square thing: Thanksgiving Square
...the only problem is, there's nothing square in or about Thanksgiving Square.

The Czech Club, however, is probably the squarest thing we've witnessed this side of the mayor's hairdo. This bastion of blue-collarism calls the polka its anthem and makes the VFW hall look like Aqualounge on Saturday night. Whether the evening's bill features the Vrazel Polka Band or Brave Combo, patrons of all ages have a stompin' good time, especially on crazy-hat nights. And we hope that never changes.

Best mall store for the intellectually inclined: Shakespeare, Beethoven & Co., Inc.
The very names make a person wish engage Dick Cavett in lengthy discourse over a cup of lapsang suchong. These same monikers leave no question about the geniuses that inspire the store's buyers. The thoughtful collection of unusual music, publications, greeting cards and T-shirts, sold by an informed and creative staff, make the climb to the Galleria's third floor well worth the trip.

For all the rumors about Dallas' shallow intellectuality, we're pleased to report that NorthPark joins the Galleria with tenants that attract browsers other than big-haired blondes. We're thinking specifically of The Nature Company, with its educationally inclined toys of the world, and the Museum Company, which is affiliated with 220 museums internationally.

And, though it's not technically a store, one of NorthPark's new tenants offers a fair dose of brain food: The Dallas Museum of Natural History's new adjunct, Hidden Treasures, brings out of mothballs the museum's collection of taxidermied trophies. NorthPark as home to stuffed bugs, rhinos, lions and tigers and bears? Oh my!

Best radio station to sing along to: KZPS-FM
Lord knows how embarrassing it is to be singing along happily in sync with a tune when suddenly, the song sings the wrong words. Fortunately, KZPS plays the songs most of us grew up with, so we've had years to practice. In the words of the station's afternoon jock, Dallas perennial Jon Dillon, "We don't stop playing 'em long enough for you to forget 'em."

Burgers: Snuffer's
What's a good burger, anyway? A big, warm bun and a huge hunk o' meat? Lots of places offer that. We think it's what goes with the burger that decided this category -- and we don't mean cheese fries. Snuffer's has earned a reputation as one of Dallas's most prodigious culinary institutions in its 13 years. Many a romance has blossomed, many a brainwave debated, many a strawberry margarita swizzled, and many a scheme hatched in Snuffer's pew-like booths. You just might say their two-fisted, mustard-smeared wonderburger is a religious experience.

Alternatively, those who can't quite make the final leap of conversion to the church of the subcarnivorous might take their red-meat cravings to Bluebonnet Cafe at Whole Foods Market. A hamburger might be the last thing you think of eating when you set foot in this place, but this is the most virtuous hunk of cow in town. It's quite an offering: 100 percent natural beef (steroid free!) on a whole-grain bun with black beans, sprouts and chips and hot sauce on the side.

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