Arts & Culture

Deep in the Heart of Dallas with TommyJay

The Oak Cliff Native Talks Upbringing and Favorite Spots in the City.

TommyJay - Courtesy Fredy Mejia
Dalila Brent
Posted on Sep 22, 2021

Welcome to Deep in the Heart of Dallas! Our latest series, focused on sharing the stories of the Dallas Black community, follows local creatives through the city to learn about favorite spots, must-taste foodie finds and how the city inspires their work. Today, we're featuring Tommy Jordan, better known as TommyJay. The culture curator, photographer and Oak Cliff native has seen many versions of Dallas and his present and future contributions are attributed to his lineage. Let's take a dive into TommyJay's story!


Tell us about your Dallas upbringing and how your creative side developed.

My people migrated from Chicago and Arkansas. My grandfather drove DART buses for 40 years. My grandmother was a strong Chicago woman who did a lot of things including gospel singing and traveled all over the country. My mom was also into the arts. She was a singer and would go back and forth to Jamaica. My dad was very fashion forward,  taking pride in how he put his clothes together. I got the best of both worlds. Seeing so much culture made me comfortable with expressing myself when it came to my style, creativity, and art.


Where's your favorite place to eat in Dallas?

I'm going to give you my top five. Elaine's Kitchen is my favorite Caribbean spot. I love the oxtails and curry chicken. My soul food pick is Sweet Georgia Brown because that's what I grew up on. Record's BBQ is third. Rudy's Chicken is a landmark. And lastly, you can't go wrong with Fuel City


Where can we find you on a weekend afternoon?

Probably in Deep Ellum, catching a vibe out there. Or a park. On Sundays we go to a spot off Jefferson Boulevard where low riders post up. A lot of people don't know there's car culture here. In Houston they roll 84's or swangas, which is a wide rim. In Dallas, we drive Daytons, which is another wide rim. 


Tell us about a neighborhood you love.

Oak Cliff. I love my neighborhood that I was born and raised in. I bought the house that I was brought to from the hospital when I was born. It's a castle to me. It might be nothing to someone else, but it was something I inherited, and I want my kids to be able to inherit their foundation. 


What's your go-to place to take out-of-towners?

Off the Record in Deep Ellum is a cool spot, or somewhere in Uptown. For a shopping experience, I'd take them to the store I represent, Centre


What is your favorite Dallas memory?

My favorite Dallas memory is throwing a party with Playboi Carti and 40oz Van. They were all coming from SXSW in Austin so it fit perfectly. I remember it raining. So many things were happening. It was a crazy party. 


What are you looking forward to in the next year or so? 

I'm looking forward to getting myself out there more. The growth of the store. The growth of myself. My whole drive is to uplift the city in all aspects. 


To learn more about TommyJay, and what he's up to in Dallas, follow him on Instagram: @tommyjay1word