15 Best Things to Do in Deep Ellum, Dallas

Deep Ellum, TX
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Texans looking to celebrate the good life will most likely veer toward the entertainment district of Deep Ellum east of downtown Dallas.

Deep Ellum’s establishment in 1873 as both a residential community and commercial hub created a milestone for Dallas.

Mainly defined by the parallel streets of Canton, Main, Elm, and Commerce, the Deep Ellum neighborhood became one of the first purposefully desegregated districts of Dallas.

Such openness and inclusion came with the influx of European immigrants and merchants to Deep Ellum, welcoming all, including African Americans, to their fold.

This rich mix of residents ushered in for the district an eclectic mix of fun places and historical landmarks that too became iconic of the city of Dallas.

When in northern Texas, reserve some time to visit this city’s Deep Ellum district.

This vibrant neighborhood teems with brewpubs, eateries, historical sites, art galleries, and more, as the following list of things to do in Deep Ellum shows.

Watch a Concert at The Factory in Deep Ellum

Exterior of The Factory
Jax 0677, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Formerly known as The Bomb Factory, this concert venue is the largest in Deep Ellum, boasting 50,000 square feet of space and a capacity of up to 4,300.

The building of this event venue was a Ford automobile factory in the early 1900s.

It was later used in making ammunition and bombs for the US WWII forces, thus, its old name "Bomb Factory” as a concert venue.

Its reputation among concert fans rose in the 1990s when it hosted big shows like The Vans Warped Tour, Nine Inch Nails, Dave Matthews Band, Tool, and The Ramones.

Expect concerts of such caliber from The Factory in Deep Ellum, as the booking agent AEG Presents took over this venue in 2021.

This company, one of the world’s largest live music companies, also books performances in the Texas Trust CU Theater in Grand Prairie.

The company promotes and produces global concert tours, regional music events, and world-renowned festivals not only in North America but also in Europe and Asia.

Go on a DIY Tour of Outdoor Arts and Murals

At once, capture the artsy vibe of Deep Ellum with a stroll on Elm Street and Commerce as well as the various side streets from Malcolm X to Good Latimer.

The old brick buildings along these corridors are splashed with colorful murals, most of which delve into the district’s musical history.

These murals extol the blues greats of the district, as well as its newer artists and other local characters.

There are also steam-punk sculptures lining some stretches of the sidewalk that further enhance Deep Ellum's artsy and funky personality.

A three-day arts festival each April attracting artists from all over the country is an event to look forward to in this charming Dallas district.

Browse Books on Deep Vellum

Located on Commerce Street, this bookstore, eponymous with the Deep Vellum district, was established as a nonprofit in 2015.

Here, you can browse books on poetry, fiction, nonfiction, photography, and Deep Vellum’s signature translated literature.

A plethora of topics comprises the inventory of this bookstore, which also focuses on curating a global selection.

As a publisher, Deep Vellum comes out with English-original books besides its book translations.

The bookstore notably displays a Texas Historic Site plaque honoring the legendary folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter.

His works have been covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Johnny Cash while also deeply influencing Nirvana and Kurt Cobain.

Get Tattooed at Artistic Encounter

This full custom tattoo shop is located on Main Street, also offering body piercing.

The works of Artistic Encounters’ founder and owners, Billy Jack and Stephanie Gunter, have won various awards in national tattoo conventions and featured as well in artsy magazines.

Like Stephanie and Billie, most of the tattoo artists of this shop are published award winners.

A familial bond with art prevails when you have yourself inked at the clean and well-kept Artistic Encounter, as it also features a gallery.

For more choices on tattoo designs, drop by Elm Street Tattoo, whose co-owner, Oliver Peck, is one of the judges on Spike TV's Inkmaster.

Cash In or Trade at Crossroads

Enjoy the shopping experience at Crossroads Trading on Main Street, which offers great options to its customers.

In this shop, you can sell your used but current, on-trend clothing and accessories for cash or trade them for credit.

Crossroads Trading evaluates and prices the items on the spot, and you can trade right away or take their cash value.

In trading items for credit, Crossroads offers up to 50% of what it priced your items, and you can use the credit on any of Crossroads’ US locations.

It pays as much as 30% in cash of what the store priced your items to sell for in the store.

Discover the Leather Goods of Barrington Gifts

Drop by Barrington Gifts on Canton Street, a leather goods manufacturer-retailer matching giants like Michael Kors, Coach, Kate Spade, and Fossil.

The motto of Barrington Gifts, “Valuable Gifts Made by Valuable People,” resonates well with customers.

Its Deep Ellum shop opened in 2016, housed in an edgy building painted in French blue.

Here, you can pick from Barrington Gifts high-quality leather bags, cabin bags, duffle bags, totes, wallets, writing instruments, cross-body bags, and laptop and passport cases.

In Barrington Gift’s understated but gorgeous showroom, search for its bestseller axis deer print, a ringer for real fur.

The Deep Ellum shop also offers a space for group events, providing a kitchen for party food and drink for shoppers’ parties.

Check What’s Up at the Latino Cultural Center

A hallway inside Latino Cultural Center
Photo: Andreas Praefcke, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Follow the social media page of Latino Cultural Center (LCC), as thousands do, for a cue on the events to expect in its Live Oak Street venue.

A unit of the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, LCC runs a 300-seat theater, an art gallery, sculpture gardens, and event spaces.

Opened in 2003, LCC has grown to become an institution in Latino art and culture not only in Dallas but the whole of Texas.

LCC has accomplished this through its membership in the Dallas Art Dealers Association and the support of corporate sponsors like American Airlines.

Drop by LCC for its free 1–2 hours tour for an appreciation of its building designed by the award-winning Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta.

Murals by noted Latino artists and the current gallery exhibits are also among the highlights of an LCC tour.

Pay a Visit to Deep Ellum Denim & Vintage

Located on Commerce Street, this specialty boutique boasts as a haven for Japanese Denim, touted as among the hardest-to-find items in the Dallas region.

Deep Ellum Denim’s co-founders, Jeff Kauffman and Bennie Reed, traveled across Japan to search for the best denim materials and partner with expert manufacturers and craftsmen.

Deep Ellum Denim started crafting its proprietary line denim in 2019 and followed it up in 2020 with a collection of high-quality vintage clothing items and goods.

The shop ensures a personalized shopping experience for customers who want the best jeans with the perfect fit.

As delightful, a visit to this denim shop also opens the chance to enjoy the health food offerings of its next-door neighbor Purify Bowls & Smoothies.

The menu list here includes smoothies, fresh acai bowls, shakes, and cold-pressed juices.

Answer Your Fun Cravings at Will Call

This friendly neighborhood bar is located on the southwest corner of Main Street and South Crowdus Street.

It offers a wide selection of handcrafted cocktails and tap beers, including Mosaic IPA and Texas Lager of Community Beer Co.

Will Call also features a menu of elevated “bar food” such as cheesesteaks, farm salads, and coffee-candied bar nuts for appetizers.

It also takes pride as one of the local bars that help keep the spirit of soul and rock and roll alive in Deep Ellum through the bar’s acoustic artists and live bands.

Will Call likewise boasts other events in its spacious hall, including open-mic comedy and sports.

Founded in 2005, Kettle Art Gallery takes pride in being known as the unofficial cultural center of Deep Ellum.

It has relocated from its original venue on Elm Street to a bigger space on Main Street, demonstrating its expanding role in the Dallas cultural scene.

With its exhibition space now doubled, the Kettle Art Gallery has become the home of many up-and-coming North Texas artists.

The gallery’s exhibits are comprised of contemporary paintings, sculptures and installations, and other art pieces.

Because of its success in promoting local artists and drawing art patrons, Kettle Art Gallery has received several prestigious awards and citations like its inclusion in the USA Today list of 10 Best Galleries in Dallas.

Visit Dallas Pinup

Lady visitors of Deep Ellum are wont to find Dallas Pinup on Main Street an irresistible stop.

This unique shopping destination is a female-oriented retail center and a thriving community of artists and designers.

All told, there are more than 20 local female-owned businesses at the Dallas Pinup.

All of them offer products and services within the domain of pinup, burlesque, and glamour.

The shops here parade pin-up and burlesque clothing, lingerie, jewelry, accessories, and cosmetics.

Make-up and hair artist LaDonna Stein, The Unruly Dame Salon, and Jill Rasco pin-up photography studio are among the service providers in Dallas Pinup.

Have It All at Deep Ellum Art Co.

More than an art gallery, Deep Ellum Art Co., is located at Commerce Street and is open daily.

This fun place provides 5,000 square feet of interior space and a 15,000-square-foot yard to accommodate visitors and host a lot of activities.

A creative couple, John and Kari LaRue, founded Deep Ellum Art Co. to bring like-minded creatives together and contribute to preserving their district’s artistic vibe.

Besides the artworks for sale in an expansive art gallery, the La Rues offer art classes, live music, a large selection of wines and beers, and food trucks.

Kids are accommodated at the Deep Ellum Art Co. in yard games in its sprawling outdoor space.

Enjoy Snacks at Amor y Quezo

An enterprising mom, Sara Carlock, put up this small but charming restaurant on Main Street.

Amor y Quezo is perfect for a delightful afternoon snack with just an order of a mini-sized box already filled with a bounty of treats.

Box contents, which regularly rotate, will typically include choices of rosemary flatbreads, maple glazed pecans, dried apricot, candied oranges, grapes, and corn nuts.

Amor y Quezo sources several of these items locally for a quick taste test of what other treats are available in the Deep Ellum neighborhood.

The range of artisan goods of the Amor Y Quezo’s local partner vendors includes fare from Bonton Farms on Bexar Street.

Let Out Your Whim at Angry Dog

This friendly, longtime local favorite on Commerce Street has several faces depending on the whims of its customers.

For some, it is a bar with strong drinks, wine, and beer, including the light stuff and local brews.

For others, Angry Dog is a value-for-money destination for sumptuous lunches and dinners, as well as light snacks with no accompanying alcoholic drinks.

For all these offerings, Angry Dog has won a lot of awards, even as it lacks the live music that many of its Deep Ellum have.

What Angry Dog flaunts, though, is its sports TVs and a friendly staff that help form a beeline for its great selection of hot dogs, burgers, wings, and bar libations.

Tour the Deep Ellum Distillery

Join the tours and happy hours of Deep Ellum Distillery on Clover Street, which has been sharing its spirits since 2017.

This distillery offers a cocktail bar with sofas where you can enjoy samplings of its versions of blueberry, lemon, and grapefruit vodkas.

Besides these flagship drinks of the distillery, it also offers visitors a slew of cocktails, such as its Love Potion and Mi Paloma.

Private parties and events are also accommodated at the Deep Ellum Distillery’s tasting room.

Final Thoughts

Expect all the good times in a visit to Deep Ellum, with the wide variety of attractions that has been woven with the district’s multi-cultural character over many years.

The district’s eclectic mix of galleries, shops, restaurants, music bars, plus a motley of arts and cultural events combine for an exciting Deep Ellum visit worth some repeats.