Nathan McCabe, Contributing Writer
Tired of studying on campus? Want a (relatively) cheap outing that will get you downtown? Dallas has a rapidly growing independent coffee shop scene that can provide a much-needed mental break from the captivating suburb that we call home.
Located at a comfortable distance from downtown Dallas, Opening Bell Coffee provides a uniquely nostalgic café experience. Hidden underneath an apartment lobby that showcases an impressive model train exhibit (crazy, right?), this coffee shop is a throwback to days gone by. The main seating area is littered with antique instruments, books and coffee apparatus, with the occasional chalkboard table for your creative pleasure. Its lack of traffic and spacious seating areas make it a great study spot. If local music is your craving, it hosts small concerts almost every evening and features open mics every Tuesday. In addition, Opening Bell serves breakfast all day from a menu that includes kolaches, quiches and a variety of pastries.
There are some downsides to this otherwise appealing café, however. First and foremost would be the quality of coffee for the price. Overshooting Starbucks, a latte at Opening Bell is $4 and some change. Other specialty drinks run upwards of $5. Beer, wine and pastries are similarly overpriced. Also, the run-of-the-mill coffee snob’s palette would be left unsatisfied due to the mediocre mass-roasted coffee Opening Bell uses (Bristot) for espresso and drip coffee.
Location may also be a deterrent for the average University of Dallas student. It is only a couple of blocks from the Cedars DART station, but with transfers and walking time, the trip by public transit takes over an hour. If you’re set on going, it’s definitely worth grabbing a friend with a car and coercing him to come with you in order to save 40 minutes.
An important side note: It’s also probably worth your time to ask a regular customer how to get to the café’s restroom. The bathroom is not connected to the main space, and without guidance, you’ll get lost in a maze of underground industrial tunnels, with only your internal bathroom radar for a guide.
Mediocre coffee and hidden bathroom aside, if you need a place to crank out the last pages of your essay or if you long for a change of scenery to enjoy a locally brewed beer with a friend (and you don’t mind dropping some coin), Opening Bell is a curious little café that is worth the trip.