Your Expert Guide
Historic East Dallas: An eclectic, storied neighborhood with a friendly rhythm
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.
Real estate professional Bess Dickson’s greatest passion is helping her clients find the right space “to add beautiful chapters to their story.” Perhaps that’s why she has always been so drawn to Historic East Dallas, as the homes in this neighborhood really do have many tales to tell.
“It’s a magnificent collection of American architectural styles that have been slowly reimagined by the families who have lived within each home’s walls for more than 100 years,” says Bess. But what she loves just as much as the history is the friendly hum of the neighborhood. Front porch “howdies” are a regular occurrence here.
“The eclectic vibe of the historic neighborhoods of East Dallas lends itself to an easy life rhythm,” she adds. “People move here and stay — sometimes for generations — because of the love of neighbor, of home, and of variety.”
Bess, who has also been involved in residential construction in some form since childhood, mixed her first batch of concrete — shovel in hand — when she was 13. “My family watched This Old House, and then we lived the show by rehabbing our own home,” she says. She later volunteered in other countries to build transitional housing.
When she’s not matchmaking people to keys or cash, guiding clients through a home refresh, or simply connecting over coffee, you will often see Bess and her dog Truman running through the neighborhood, volunteering, or cooking (she’s a two-time salsa cook-off champ).
Bess’ passion for history and home is the "why" behind her long-time membership in Preservation Dallas, a nonprofit that's dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of the city’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, and places.
She offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in and around Historic East Dallas. Here's her guide to the area:
Where to eat & drink
"May I suggest a trolley tour?" Bess asks. "We are in the magic that is Historic East Dallas, after all."
When East Dallas was just beginning, trolleys were the main mode of transportation for most residents. The trolly stops were the convenience stores of their day, where locals could pick up milk, butter, and more before they walked the rest of the way home.
Now, to the joy of foodies, many of these stops have been repurposed. Urbano Cafe (and its sister site, Two Doors Down) showcases seasonal fare in a simple, elegant, approachable atmosphere. Reservations are highly recommended, as the seating is intimate and limited, but worth it!
Jimmy’s Food Store is on the other corner of this trolley stop. If you are in need of a great picnic sandwich, a little taste of Italy, or a $1 espresso pick-me-up, Jimmy’s is your place.
Within Junius Heights you will find the Garden Cafe, located across from a park and at the end of a beautifully restored stop. A "secret garden" sort of place with good parking ("a rare find in the ‘hoods of Historic East Dallas," says Bess), delightful outdoor seating (many a wedding has been had here, she notes), and delicious local fare. The brunch experience is a must, while weekday evenings are highlighted by excellent wine choices.
Where to play
"For me, places where I can bring my Jeep dog and constant running buddy, Truman, is a big factor in my decision on where to go," Bess says.
White Rock Ale House has a vast outdoor patio highlighted by fun murals, plenty of drinking bowls for dogs, and great food. In-house beer choices are always rotating — and always delicious.
Steps from WRAH is a direct entrance to the Santa Fe Trail, which makes this an ideal before or after-walk run for not just dogs but cyclists, too.
"Toller Patio Bar + Kitchen is always full of Truman’s new best friends," says Bess. "Good bar food, excellent beverages of all types, and seemingly acres of patio space with both tree and umbrella shade."
For a picnic afternoon, check out Crockett Dog Park, just off Victor Street. It's lightly used, Bess reveals, treed and nestled in the midst of many lovely bungalows.
Where to live
The bungalow, the Craftsman, and the Prairie are the three dominant styles in this neighborhood, according to Bess.
But there are some quirky twists, too, like Bess' all-time favorite property in the area: The Alamo House at 4525 Junius St.
The unique home is not only an ode to the original Alamo, it’s filled with gracious retreat-style spaces for relaxing and epic settings for entertaining, including a wisteria and jasmine-clad esplanade that’s made for the dinner party of your dreams.
Bess also points out that one of the best ways to experience these homes and learn about the different historic neighborhoods of East Dallas is to attend one of the home tours that occur throughout the year. "If you're interested, reach out and I'll be happy to connect you!" she says.
Bess Dickson works and plays in Historic East Dallas. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email email@example.com, or call 214-736-3921.