One of the city's busiest restaurants also features a third-floor lounge many locals don't even know about.

REDESIGN PROMO Best-Kept Secret in Dallas
Order appetizers and drinks at Mi Cocina's Third Floor Bar, and feel a world away from the busy restaurant.
| Credit: Art Meripol

Here's a hint for your next visit to Dallas: The always-bustling Mi Cocina restaurant in Highland Park Village is also home to one of the city's great hidden spots.

High above the main dining room, where dozens of diners wait for tables (and some of the city's best Tex-Mex), sits a small bar that feels like a haven. Go up to the restaurant's second floor and through the doorway leading to another flight of stairs, and you'll find yourself in a comfortable room up among the live oak branches. With the windows open on a cool fall evening, it's one of the best spots in town to relax.

Above the Crowd
The restaurant exudes high energy with loud Latin rhythms piping in from the speakers and a diverse mix of diners. But at the Third Floor Bar, all that fades away. Here, you can sip a frozen margarita or a Mambo Taxi, the restaurant's signature drink made of frozen margarita and fresh sangría ($8). You can lounge by one of the windows, and munch on tasty appetizers of nachos, flautitas, or quesadillas ($11.95) while watching the shoppers buzzing through Highland Park Village. Owner Mico Rodriguez never advertised the bar's presence, and to this day it remains a surprise to many of the restaurant's regulars.

"It's the best tree house in Dallas," says local resident Molly Sealy. She's right. And come autumn in the city, there's no better place to be.

Mi Cocina: 77 Highland Park Village, Dallas, TX 75205; (214) 521-6426.

Stroll Through the Village
Highland Park Village is one of the country's oldest outdoor shopping centers and a great place to stroll. With stores such as Hermès, Jimmy Choo, and ESCADA, you might need a second mortgage to shop here.

The St. Michael's Woman's Exchange features more affordable gifts, from porcelain to soaps and accessories, and all profits support missions and outreach programs. You'll get the good feeling of knowing your money goes to a good cause. 5 Highland Park Village; (214) 521-3862.

"Best-Kept Secret in Dallas" is from the October 2006 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.