Your Expert Guide
Oak Cliff: The underestimated historic and culturally rich 'hood
There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
Bishop Arts is a huge attraction, but Realtor Kay Wood wants people to know that Oak Cliff is a lot more than just Bishop Arts.
"Oak Cliff has a really rich and complex history," the Briggs Freeman agent says. "I think it's one of the most underestimated neighborhoods in Dallas."
Wood has lived in Oak Cliff with her high school sweetheart-husband since 2008, but she's been helping people buy and sell homes there for the past 15 years, currently with her business partner Brian Davis.
"The neighborhoods here are close to everything but still relatively affordable compared to other areas of DFW," she says. "I love all the historic homes with their architectural interest and variety, the strong sense of community engagement, and how there's so much to explore. Whether you're looking for the best new restaurant, the most authentic taco, film festivals, the zoo, the best public high school in Texas, parks, nature preserves — I could go on all day!"
Wood offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in "the Cliff." Here's her guide to the area:
Where to eat & drink
The list is long: Nova ("you have to get the hummus," Wood says), Encina (pro tip: don't skip the blue cornbread), Cibo Divino for pizza and wine on the patio, coffee from Peaberry ("my husband swears their Vietnamese coffee is the best in town"), oysters at Boulevardier, the Perfect Picnic at Eno's Pizza Tavern, tio's elotes next to El Si Hay, the pistachio ice cream at Joy Macarons, and the spicy lobster ramen at Ten Ramen.
Wood advises picking up a great bottle of wine from Neighborhood Cellars and some steaks from Cooper's Meat Market. And, of course, there are tons of taco options in the neighborhood: "We can't get enough of Maskaras, Trompo, and Taco y Vino," she says.
Where to play
Marvel at the best skyline views in town while playing a round at Stevens Park Golf Course, take a walk through Twelve Hills Nature Preserve, bike along the Trinity River, or play disc golf at Founders Park.
The Kessler Theater is "such a great and intimate venue" for concerts, while the Texas Theater adds a touch of history to movie-watching. Escape to The Wild Detectives for books, music, and poetry, or head to the Dallas Zoo for a wild day out — "our whole family loves to feed the giraffes," Wood says.
What to see
Oak Cliff is home to the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial at Kiest Park and the La Reunion Monument at Stevens Park Golf Course that honors some of Dallas' earliest settlers.
On Jefferson Boulevard, you can pop into the Oak Cliff Cultural Center for regular art shows, and "my daughters love to walk down the street and look at all the quinceañera dresses in the shop windows," she says.
Where to live
A few years ago, Wood helped her buyers purchase 626 Rainbow Dr., a rare, two-acre midcentury modern estate that's wrapped on three sides by a babbling creek.
"When you're there, it's really hard to believe you're less than four miles from downtown Dallas," she says. The buyers hired local architect Eddie Maestri to update some aspects of the house while carefully preserving its midcentury style. There was an original barn that had been previously converted to a studio, but the buyers reinvented it as a guest house and added a pool and outdoor kitchen.
"It's hard to say what a 'typical' Oak Cliff house would be, because we have some of the very best examples of almost every architectural style in town," Wood says.
"In Winnetka Heights, you'll find Craftsman architecture (four squares, bungalows, Sears catalog, etc). Kessler Park has Tudors and Colonials and Texas eclectics from notable local architects like Charles Dilbeck and David R Williams. Stevens Park has all of these, as well as Spanish Revival and Dutch colonials. Wynnewood, North Kiestwood, and Wynnewood Hills have some of the best midcentury moderns in Dallas, as well as wonderful ranches. East Kessler has cutting-edge contemporaries that take advantage of the rare-to-DFW hilly terrain. You could teach a pretty comprehensive architectural history of Dallas without ever leaving Oak Cliff."
Kay Wood lives, works, and plays in Oak Cliff. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 214-908-5442.