These Five D-FW Eateries Go The Extra Mile When It Comes To Curating An Experience By Using The Best Secret Ingredient Available: Music.
Not to be dramatic or anything, but we here at Central Track strongly believe that music is an absolutely necessary element of life, and if we were given the opportunity to rewrite Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we’d put it near the peak of the pyramid.
In other words: We give a damn about music — and we think restaurants looking to retain customers and curate a complete dining experience should do so, too.
Granted, we understand that business owners have 10,000 other things to worry about, so music isn’t always as prioritized as it should be. But research has shown that the right music can positively influence guests’ moods, eating patterns and overall engagement — all of these are absolutely invaluable in creating a successful restaurant.
Eating is a sensory field day — one that engaged senses beyond just taste, smell and sight. Sound indeed plays a factor; studies also show that certain music affects how taste is perceived, which is a pretty damn important.
It’s a shame that so many places pay a third party commercial service without much familiarity with its space or business operations to curate a playlist for them. Trust us, we can tell.
On the other hand, we’d like to give major props to the places that do pay music its proper attention. You can always tell when music is designed with the environment and customer in mind — you can feel it.
With that said, here are five D-FW spots that we can personally attest to having taste — and in more ways than one. No, there’s no DJs, live bands or Top 40 necessary at any of these spots — just awesome and intentional sounds that enhance the overall vibes.
1. Wabi House (Lower Greenville)
The food is consistently delicious, the lighting is warm and cozy, and every other table is filled with a millennial who looks as though they’ve stepped off of Grailed and into a ramen shop show starring Aziz Ansari. Honestly, this place is just so effortlessly cool, and the music certainly helps. Wabi House tends to play mainly digestible early-’00s R&B on most nights but has also proven itself unafraid to explore more niche pockets like early-’90s Memphis rap and even local rap artists. Though they’re also know to throw on a chill-lo-fi-beats-to-study-to-type playlist from time to time, even that surprisingly works. Because, no matter where you’re sitting here, the soundtrack almost always makes every table feel like the cool table.
2. JuiceLand (Any Location)
Put two and two together and it makes sense: This fresh juice feel-good smoothie chain came to exist by way of Austin, where it was founded by former DJ Matt Shook. Given all of the ingredients that JuiceLand keeps behind the counter, it’s unsurprising that the brand boasts cleverly named smoothies to go with a nicely curated playlist for whatever the day and occasion may be. Need an example? OK. It’s a Sunday morning and you may find yourself grooving to the baby-making stylings of a playlist featuring H-Town, Keith Sweat, Adina Howard and Tevin Campbell al played back-to-back. Or it’s a Tuesday afternoon, and the soundtrack to your boring ol’ work week just got even more exciting with Prince and Rolling Stones deep cuts. Point is, from the music selections to the health food options, enter any JuiceLand and you’ll leave better than when you came in.
3. Ddong Ggo TX (Richardson)
Ever wanted to feel simultaneously ahead of the game and also 10 years behind? Take a trip to Richardson and step into Ddong Ggo TX. OK, first of all: Yes, we know that Ddong Ggo is slang for butthole in Korean, but the cuisine and music selection is far from butthole here. This super fun, spunky and always lively restaurant is almost completely surrounded by giant HD TVs that blast colorful K-Pop and Korean rap during all operating hours. That’s the best kind of sensory overload, we think. Just know you may want to keep a stack of napkins handy. Your fingers covered in the slurry-thick wing sauce won’t make pulling out your phone to Shazam whatever infectious track is whirring around any easier. This is a necessary strategy, I promise — especially when you don’t know what 90 percent of the song is saying, aside from the occasional word or phrase in English, because that’s the way K-Pop was designed to be, anyway. Either way, a visit to Ddong Ggo will be sure your waistline and personal playlist options expand tenfold.
4. Ruins (Deep Ellum)
Stepping into Ruins is like sneaking into the bedroom of an older, shy goth cousin of yours from Mexico. Here, you’ll find candles everywhere, skulls in every shape, hot demonic babes, tons of mezcal and, of course, an iPod filled with an impressively contradictory playlist — in the best ways. Grab yourself a frozen cocktail and sit down for a while. No need to harm yourself with a brain-freeze; just sip slow and enjoy, because in the 20-plus minutes it takes to nurse that cocktail, eight songs have already played — ones that seem to have no relation to each other but also somehow fit. We really cannot explain the science that makes a classic Maná track from the late ’90s fit in so well with a chopped-and-screwed Z-Ro track followed up by a Brujeria track — but, again, just trust us that it just works for some reason. Also? Your older, bashful Mexican goth cousin is really fucking cool. You should talk to him more.
5. The Wild Detectives (Bishop Arts)
The Wild Detectives is a tastemaker’s dream. It’s not only a coffee shop; it’s also a book store, a bar and a vinyl record shop. The extensive wine collection and sizable Latinx book selection make this densely packed culture hotspot in the heart of Bishop Arts a real oasis. The general music selection on any given day here runs the gamut from Brazilian R&B, and Cuban mambo to Israeli pop and indie jams you forgot you once played incessantly in your 1994 Honda Accord back in the day. It all adds up to an oddly seductive and inviting soundscape. It helps, too, that the staff here is also incredibly helpful, whether you have a question about Spanish literature or simply need to know what song is playing. Be forewarned, though: They may just direct you to their public Spotify playlist so you can jam their aesthetic to your heart’s content even when at home.
Cover photo by Porttia Portis.