A Newcomer's Guide To Appreciating Denton.
If past years are any indication we can be fairly certain of one thing heading into this weekend's 35 Denton festivities: For at least some of this year's festival attendees, this will be their first time taking the so long drive up 35 Denton (which, in reality, is closer to, like, 40 minutes, depending on traffic).
And, really, that's a huge shame. Denton is a glorious place. Did you know that you can drink beer, right out in the open, on the Square? It's totally doable and totally legal, so long as you beer's in a can.
Anyway, we're not the only ones who think Denton's pretty awesome. Last year, Rand McNally and USA Today named the city the best “small town” in the whole damn country. Pretty awesome, right?
Well, it's also the city where Charles “Tex” Watson lived for a couple of years before he moved to California and made friends with some crazed killer guy named Charles Manson. That part? Not so awesome, maybe.
On the other hand? Sly Stone was born here! So that's pretty cool!
Point is, although we know that music will be the central focus of your trip this weekend, thereâ€™s no reason why you can't take this opportunity to check out Denton as a whole these next few days, too. There's plenty to do here — and plenty of distractions to employ if you need to take a break from festival things, which you probably will at some point, if only for a few minutes. Hey, standing around and listening to music constantly for four straight days can be tiring.
With that in mind, allow us to suggest a few Denton mainstays off of the 35 Denton path but still well worth your investigation.
Get Your Drink On.
Fry Street Public House
125 Avenue A
The best spot for cheap drinks in Denton? That would be The Public House, located right in the heart of the Fry Street area of town, which, only a decade or so ago, was the heart of Denton's music scene (see: Fry Street Fair). Every night from 9 to 11 at The Public House, well drinks cost all of 50 cents. The bar is pretty fratty, though, so keep that in mind if you have an aversion to country songs and the entire Nelly catalog.
122 N. Locust St.
This swanky bar owned by the members of favorite area band Midlake is located on the second floor above Andy's Bar, which, fun fact, was a porn theater back in the day. At Paschall, the bartenders make drinks that look like they've been lifted right out of a James Bond movie. Into muddling, stirring and shaking? This is your spot. Oh, and there's absinthe, too. Basically, this is Denton's primo fancy pants bar, and it wears those fancy pants quite well, thank you very much.
Oak Street Drafthouse
308 E. Oak St.
Looking for a middle ground? A nice mix of the low-brow and the high? Oak Street boasts a relaxed atmosphere and, almost always, a very eclectic mix of people. It also has a wide selection of beer, with 24 Texas beers on tap at all times, in addition to 24 other, non-Texas varieties. Also? There's a ping pong table in the back, a Pacman arcade in the “living room,” and more board games than you could ever need.
Go Crate Digging.
Recycled Books Records and CDs
200 N. Locust St.
Recycled Books has the largest catalog of used records you'll find this side of Lake Lewisville, and it's not even that close. There's even a section near the front of this revered store that's specifically dedicated to local albums. Really, though, Recycled is best-known for its books collection. If you're feeling literary, you can pick up a cheap copy of a classic book here no problem, then cross the street and plop down on the Square's grass for some nice mid-afternoon reading.
Mad World Records
115 W. Hickory St.
This place's specialty is its selection of contemporary vinyls, and, man, does Mad World have a huge selection in this regard? Looking for some newer indie rock, punk, pop or jazz records? Mad World's your spot. The hip-hop section lacks dearly, we admit. But the store's wall full of buttons and its rack of magazines — some made by locals — more than makes up for it.
Books & More
1626 W. University Drive
Only serious collector's need apply here. Mint condition rock classics fill up this place. If you're in Denton and suddenly find yourself dying to have a first pressing of Abbey Road or Exile on Main St., this is the place to look.
Pop Some Tags.
Downtown Mini Mall I & II
108 and 118 N. Locust St.
Hands down, this is the best place in Denton to go thrifting. These two stores are just plain weird, labyrinths of random things that somehow also have price tags on them. Clothes, VHS tapes, old pins from city elections, Stetson hats — you can pretty much find anything at these places. Oh, and Downtown Mini Mall I has vintage Playboy collection, too, if you're looking to, ahem, read some great articles this weekend.
Alex and Afton Vintedge
109 E. Oak St., Suite 900
This a newer thrift spot in a not so optimum location, trapped in the huge, landmark Opera House building where Recycled Books is, but towards the back where the office buildings are. Yeah, that gives this show a pretty out-of-place vibe. But there are always some nice threads to be found — mostly for women, but with a solid little section for men, too.
708 W. University Drive
Your conventional thrift shop., Denton Thrift isn't necessarily anything special — unless, as with most traditional thrift spots, you get lucky. To that end, yes, there's some inexpensive gold to be found here. It just takes a little looking is all.
Grab a Bite to Eat.
Old West Cafe
1020 Dallas Drive
Open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays, Old West might be the most popular breakfast spot in Denton. Get up sooner than later to avoid lines before enjoying a southern-styled breakfast.
600 N. Locust St.
The greenhouse is great dining and affordability meet in Denton. They've got everything from tacos to veggie burgers to prime steak cuts on the menu, and, for a nice dinner, this is the place in town — especially this weekend, given its proximity to the festival's grounds.
Hoochie's Oyster House
207 S. Bell Ave.
Within walking distance of 35 Denton, this spot, located right next to the train tracks, sells dollar beers every time a train rolls past. Also, their seafood-heavy offerings are pretty legit.
Be Artsy Fartsy.
Materials: Hard & Soft
400 E. Hickory St.
Materials: Hard & Soft, now in its 26th year, annually garners submissions from artists from across the country. The idea? Those artists all create art out of materials hard or soft. Makes sense, right?
UNT Art Building
1201 W. Mulberry St.
Need some inspiration? Go check out some young scholars expressing themselves through art at the University of North Texas campus, where student work is always posted in the hallways and galleries abound. You never know what you'll see here. Maybe you'll catch a rising star! Or maybe you'll just see the work of someone who will soon be changing their major.
Cover photos by Erika Lambreton.