WATCH: Gay travel writers descend on Dallas for GLBT International Press Tour 2011

Former City Councilman Ed Oakley, from right, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Councilwomen Linda Koop and Delia Jasso all attended the kickoff party.


CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE GLBT PRESS TOUR KICKOFF AT ILUME

San Juan Capistrano has its swallows, Copper River has its salmon, Mexico has its monarch butterflies. But Dallas has its own annual migration: Every spring, gay travel writers from around the world come to town give precious ink (or for the bloggers, electrons) to what makes gay Dallas a worthwhile travel destination. The process seems to have worked: Over the six years the Tavern Guild has been sponsoring this influx of journos — the group that arrived Thursday marks the seventh time — Dallas has popped up on the radar of many “best of” polls for gay cities. And all without a beach or clothing-optional guesthouses.

I’ve taken these tours myself as a writer (surprisingly, the Tavern Guild has never invited me to take the tour), and Dallas usually puts on a pretty good show. First, it’s a lengthy tour (running for most reporters until Monday). Second, it is organized with Teutonic efficiency, including a great variety of dining options (from high-end to down-home) and traversing the Trinity to include our Cowtown brethren. From the responses I heard, the show is a good one.

And another selling point is, our local celebrities turn out. At Wednesday night’s kick-off event at the ilume pool bar, the five journalists in attendance — from  Barcelona, London, Madrid, Los Angeles and Chicago — were welcomed by a slate of local dignitaries including Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Chief of Police David Brown, and three current members of the city council, as well as former councilman and mayoral candidate Ed Oakley and current mayor attache Chris Heinbaugh. After the meet-and-greet, the writers headed off for Nana for dinner, followed Thursday with a trip to Fort Worth.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Diego all the way

San Diego’s Hillcrest gayborhood gives off major charm and hot charisma

Tenille Taggert and  Josh San Julian Contributing Travel Writers | gaytravel.com

Hilcrest
HARD TO MISS | Hillcrest is home to a bustling LGBT community in San Diego.

Homo is where the heart is, and for San Diego’s gay and lesbian community that means Hillcrest. Spanning less than a mile’s walking distance, this easygoing neighborhood makes a perfect triangle appropriately enough. Three points and one magical means of transportation will get visitors from point A to B, and then C. Genius? We say yes. This is dubbed San Diego’s Gay Triangle, and unlike the Bermuda Triangle, you will not get lost.

Urban Mo’s, a well-known gay restaurant and bar in San Diego, offers rides on their Mo’s-Mobile to their sister locations Baja Betty’s and Gossip Grill. This comes in handy for extra exploring of the neighborhood. The Mo’s-Mobile is an open-air golf cart capable of seating six and ideal for some major bar hopping. Travelers will be in luck to get Nino as a driver. He plays classic Madonna via his iPod as the cart cruises down the avenues.

Adventures should be started at Urban Mo’s mostly for the frozen black lemonade — basically a Slurpee with booze.  Happy hour can’t come soon enough, and Baja Betty’s has figured that out. They have created the “Papi Hour” where 2 p.m. is the new 4 p.m. Affordable drinks and nibbles this early in the afternoon and the kind of deal that will assure Hillcrest newbies and visitors they will never go hungry or sober again. Betty’s is famous for their margaritas, welcoming atmosphere and cheese queso dip that has earned the not-so-attractive nickname “cheese crack” because it’s just as addictive. Just don’t smoke it.

The newest addition to Hillcrest is the Gossip Grill. This lesbian hot spot is gender friendly, but the ladies have called it home. For the obligatory cup of coffee outside, Filter Coffee House is  a must. Aside from shooting up espresso beans, a cup of joe from Filter turns out to be just as invigorating and potent and the best part — it’s open 24 hours a day every day of the year. Geared with free WI-FI and European-style seating outdoors, any homework assignment or break-up coffee date can be vanquished here.

If the dance floor is beckoning, make your way to Rich’s, the gay dance club of Hillcrest. DJs make love to their turntables, which is a good thing. The spot has an outdoor dance floor, beer garden and VIP booths. Thursdays at Rich’s is Repent night which translates into ladies night. Bacchus House caters mostly to the Latino crowd with Bear Night every Saturday. For a simple speakeasy environment, cruise the gents at Pecs bar, which was named one of the top 50 gay bars in the U.S. by Logo. Bourbon Street offers many options for men and women with club nights, live music and even dining options.

Much more than cereal at the Lei Lounge is on tap for Sunday brunch where the menu  includes petit filet mignon and eggs, stuffed French toast, an omelet bar and smoked salmon quesadillas to name a few. Also on hand will be an assortment of recovering gays from heavy weekend activities.

………………………..

LITTLE BLACK BOOK

NIGHTLIFE
Rich’s San Diego, 1051 University Ave. RichsSanDiego.com. Bourbon Street, 4612 Park Blvd. BourbonStreetSD.com. Pecs Bar, 2046 University Ave. PecsBar.com. Bacchus House, 3054 University Ave. BacchusHouse.com.

DINING
Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill, 308 University Ave.
UrbanMos.com. Baja Betty’s, 1421 University Ave. BajaBettysD.com. The Gossip Grill, 1440 University Ave. TheGossipGrill.com. Filter Coffee House, pictured, 4096 30th St. MySpace.com/FilterCoffeeHouse. Lei Lounge, 4622 Park Blvd. LeiLounge.com.

RESOURCES
San Diego Gay and Lesbian Travel Guide, SanDiego.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens