“Diving Into Deep Ellum”
Deep Ellum is one of the oldest and most historical districts in all of Dallas, and owns the largest collection of original storefronts from the early 20th century. Deep Ellum, originally known as “Deep Elm”, derives much of its cultural history from the African American and European immigrant’s that made up the original Deep Ellum community. Live music, public art, delicious food, and antique architecture are just a few of the reasons that Deep Ellum is one place in Dallas that you’re going to want to explore. Check out this five-part series on what makes Deep Ellum so vibrant and fun to check out alone or with friends.
Part I: “Live Music, Cajun Style Cooking, and a Homestyle Feel Bring the Best of Two Worlds Together”
Deep Ellum is more than just block long murals, craft breweries, good eats and music venues – sometimes all of those elements manifest themselves in the same establishment. Although
The Free Man, a Cajun style café and jazz lounge, is what owner John Myers describes as “the kind of place you find on Bourbon Street…always filled with music and the distinct smells and tastes of Cajun style cooking.”
Myers is a musician himself, he plays drums for his band The Free Loaders – a group of local Dallas rockers – so he knows what it’s like playing in joints like The Free Man, and he wants to cultivate “an atmosphere that brings food and good music together at once.”
Admittedly, it seems that he’s struck a chord. The Stevie James trio was jamming onstage just a few feet away, and the Fried Egg and Brisket Grilled Cheese sitting on the table demanded immediate attention; the best of two worlds coming together in harmony. The Free Man is one of many small jazz-fused cafes in Deep Ellum, and the abundance of live music make the storefront littered sidewalks of Dallas’ East Side a great place to explore during both the day and night.
Part II: “LMAO, ROFL, LOL – Whatever your acronym, DCH is the right place to do it.”
If you’re looking to crack a rib, bust a gut, or any other euphemism for laughing your keester off, then there’s a spot that you might want to check out.
The Dallas Comedy House features local artists every weeknight, with affordable rates and an intimate setting that make it the perfect place to get away for an hour and just laugh. The DCH also hosts everything from workshops for small local businesses to large-scale video and sketch productions for larger companies – so you know the space is versatile.
Thankfully, I got to see Mortified Live before it hit the road. Mortified is a witty exposition into the darkest, funniest and strangest adolescent writings by the adults who scribbled in their diaries and journals years earlier.
Stephanie Mojonnet, one of the producers for last weekend’s show, said the Mortified podcast has a strong following here in Dallas, so it only made sense to bring the live show to Deep Ellum.
“When we first looked into all the venues in Dallas, the one venue that just felt right was the Dallas Comedy House,” says Mojonnet. “The venue is intimate and DCH has been so accommodating and helpful with promotion of the show.”
Cruise on down and check it out – there’s a live set every night and some killer cocktails.
Part III: Takin’ it to the streets
Dallas’ Deep Ellum district has one of the country’s most vibrant and thriving art districts. Artists from all over the city have been commissioned to paint murals in order to preserve and enhance the cultural experience.
Ever since Henry Ford targeted the area for one of his earliest automotive plants, Deep Ellum has become one of the city’s most colorful and personality-rich areas. A deep part of the Deep Ellum tradition lies in the artistic community, with local artists, musicians, and shop-owners symbiotically functioning as a collective force; ebbing and flowing with the changing artistic styles of the times.
Murals in particular have long provided visual punctuation to the bluesy spirit of Deep Ellum, and this is a tradition that developer, Scott Rorhman, has taken to heart. The owner of 42 Real Estate, Dallas, has purchased 39 properties in Deep Ellum since 2012– a solid sized chunk of the neighborhood’s 177 acre frame – but he has no ambitions of changing anything now.
If you’ve ever walked down the streets of Deep Ellum, you will have noticed that the artwork tattooing the walls and alleyways are as alive as the residents themselves, and there is a certain vibrancy that emanates from all around. Art, community, and music are all such big parts of Deep Ellum’s history, and the stories told by artists from all generations can be found all over the neighborhood. In the last 4 years, Rohrman has commissioned artists from all over the city to submit depictions of murals that they could paint – receiving 225 submissions for only 42 spots- in order to preserve and enhance the community’s personality. The murals, ranging in shape and size, can be found all over Deep Ellum. There is even a tour that leads you around the district, flaunting the chosen ones and giving people a chance to flood their social media accounts with trendy photos. You can even access the walking tour from your mobile device, making it easy to follow along on your own free time.
Part IV: Art, Music, Taste
Jumbo corn dogs, C. Bridges head sculptures, and the sounds of Michael Lee Band bring thousands to Main Street every April.
The Deep Ellum Arts Festival had its 23rd meeting this week and the count down has already begun for next year. The festival attracts some of the top artists from all over the U.S. that have made it their career to chase festivals in hopes of selling more pieces.
As I walked down Main Street I was captivated by how the festival exemplified what Deep Ellum stood for. All the murals that line the streets were now on paper for me to buy, the music I’ve paid to see in the Bomb Factory was in the air for all to hear, and the mesmerizing food I’ve tasted so many times was now being sold for $5 out of a food truck.
This block party has truly made its mark on this area. I could tell by the local sponsors that this was a festival supported by the city.
Mark your calendar and start the countdown because this festival will be back in just 334 days!
Part V: “Love Runs Deep” – and close to home
One of the state’s hottest breweries is gaining some real notoriety lately – both with the normal everyday Dallas-Joe’s and the budding college crowd. The beers, bold and unique, are reflective of their home in Deep Ellum.
If there was going to be a brewery in Deep Ellum, it might as well reflect the the personality of the surrounding neighborhood, right? Well – good thing, because that’s exactly what they’re going for. With a newly expanded distillery and brewing room, master brewers at Deep Ellum are looking to make some mouths water with a new line of signature sour beers. The brewery is also quipped with an excellent outdoor seating patio, where live bands often perform, and food trucks like to park outside for some reason…
This new expansion has propelled the brewery to recent success, recently being voted one of the top 5 breweries in the state. Light, dark, sour, bitter, sweet, complex or simple- they have it all at Deep Ellum. Bars and kitchens all around Dallas are having to order more and more just to keep up with the demand. Willis Petit, tour guide at Deep Ellum, said that “there are delivery trucks here every other day. There are a lot more tours too.”
The weather recently has also been pro-outdoorsy, as the sun is really starting to beat down on us. I know, I know it’s too hot to go outside and hang out anywhere.But hey, I suppose if you pair a great beer, some sunshine, and a killer outdoor patio area – complete with some fun pub-style games, then this isn’t a bad place to be.