Walk the streets of Deep Ellum, and you feel it: the neighborhood is Dallas’ lungs. The ever-growing district fills the rest of the city with breath and spirit. Your eyes will dilate from crispy falafel with garlic sauce or sweat spraying on electrified amps during concerts; from 800-degree ovens blistering pizza crust and pulse-quickening coffee. Our little neighborhood, just east of Downtown and the Arts District, has experienced a roller-coaster of changes over the past decade.
In the ‘90s, a boom of nightclubs and bars, tattoo parlors, and residential lofts made Deep Ellum (originally named Deep Elm, but residents pronounced it “Deep Ellum” and the name stuck) the perfect home for nightlife, booze, and music. Now, Deep Ellum is smack in the middle of a dazzling second boom. At least 20 new restaurants and bars have opened in the area in the past year. High-rise apartments are cycling up, floor by floor, with more being eyeballed. Street construction is making Main and Elm more walkable, with brand-spanking-new parking meters. It’s a living, breathing, kinetic district.
It’d be easy to compare it to Brooklyn or LA or San Francisco, but Deep Ellum is an amalgam of no other city but Dallas. Side by side, the community embraces its newness alongside its icons: order handmade Taiwanese street noodles with a cold lager that was brewed down the street. Devour deviled eggs and wander into a punk show. It’s not an “eclectic” mix of food and entertainment; it’s a mirror of who Dallasites already are in 2016.