When was the last time you visited Dallas? Probably on a work trip, or from the comfort of your couch (cue that Dallas theme song!). Dallas is a destination synonymous with sheer bigness. However, there’s a lot of small, personal and unique things happening in Dallas. From charming neighborhoods with a focus on local business, to unexpected green space and an incredible art scene, Dallas, Texas is a place to love.
PLACES AND STORIES TO LOVE
The best bbq in town
If a restaurant’s line stretches around the block at 10:30am, you know the food has to be good. And that’s certainly the case at Pecan Lodge. My friend and fellow travel journalist Jonathan Thompson introduced me to this family-owned business that started out as a small stand at the Dallas Farmers Market and has since grown into a cultural phenomenon. Though they’re smoking meat 24 hours a day, serving hours are limited—simply because they sell out daily! Yep, that means you could wait in line for an hour or more, only to be turned away. That’s just the risk you gotta take if you want to try what Texas Monthly dubbed one of the world’s best barbecue joints. Not sure what to order? Try the trough which comes with pork ribs, pulled pork, house made sausage, brisket and beef ribs.
IF YOU GO
Great news if you’re traveling with a group: Those who order five pounds or more can order from a shorter line! Not traveling with a group? Make one with your neighbors in line and order together!
2702 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75226
From Freeway to Free Space
For me what makes a city great is its walkability. In 2012, Dallas’ walkability score greatly increased with the opening of Klyde Warren Park, a 5-acre deck park over a recessed eight-lane freeway. Where a major thoroughfare once split the city, a new green space connects the vibrant Uptown neighborhood with the Dallas Arts District and downtown. It’s a game changer in the city’s energy, serving as a catalyst for the ongoing transformation of downtown Dallas. Downtown is no longer just about corporate culture and concrete jungles—it’s a gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Help from Home
There’s lots of ways to connect at Klyde Warren Park—from fountains to play in, games to like croquet and chess, as well as a dog park and putting green. You can also bring your lunch or a snack to the park’s tables and chairs, making for the perfect al fresco experience.
Klyde Warren Park
2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway
Dallas, Texas 75201
Art al Fresco
Klyde Warren Park is a part of the Dallas Arts District—one of the largest art hubs in the USA. Surprised? I was too! This city boasts 20 blocks of major art institutions, including the Nasher Sculptural Center. I met up with Heather Joy, a Visitor Experience Facilitators. That’s a complicated name for a wonderful service—Heather and other VEFs are artists and educators who are always available in the galleries to discuss the works on view, architecture, and history of the museum. Her knowledge and insight brought a deeper level of appreciation to the works at the Nasher.
IF YOU GO
Admission includes entrance to all interior galleries, sculpture garden, and special exhibitions. Admission is FREE every first Saturday of the month, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., and every third Friday of the month from 5 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
Dude, where’s my chocolate?
Most chocolate shops treat their craft preciously, placing small confections into luxe boxes tied with bows. Not so at Dude, Sweet Chocolate. Chocolatier Katherine Clapner infuses her chocolates with fun and adventure, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She views her kitchen as a playground, finding inspiration in the strangest of places. Her flavor shelf boasts everything from sarsaparilla and caramel to blue cheese and Jameson whiskey. Combinations might sound strange, but Katherine has a knack for unexpected pairings that sing. Sample some of her imaginative creations at her two store locations—one downtown and the other in the Bishop Arts District.
GOOD TO KNOW
There’s a sign that says Eat Chocolate Here, and they mean it. You really can sample everything!
Bishop Arts District
408 W. 8th St. – Sweet #102
Dallas, TX 75208
A Book and a Bump
The Bishop Arts District is home to 60 locally-owned business, shops and restaurants that inhabit 1920s buildings and Arts and Crafts style homes. One I couldn’t resist? The Wild Detectives, a bookstore featuring a coffee shop and cocktail bar, with a charming patio out back. Walking up the stairs and into the shop, you immediately feel a sense of calm, complete with the wood floors creaking under foot. This shop is the brainchild of Javier García del Moral and Paco Vique, two Spanish civil engineers who admittedly knew nothing about running a bookstore or bar, but have been doing it well since 2014. Javier talked to me about what makes this place special—from a curated book selection to the fact that they turn off the wifi in the evenings to encourage conversation.
IF YOU GO
They might not offer Prime-speedy shipping, but if you order a book from Wild Detectives and pick it up in the store, you get a free cocktail.
The Wild Detectives
314 W Eighth St. Oak Cliff
Dallas, TX 75208
A slice of Austin in the heart of Dallas
When you think Dallas fashion, a cowboy hat comes to mind. But not all hats are created equal, and certainly not all are created individually. Artist Travis Austin launched his design studio with the dream of building hats, leather jackets and boots that reflect the people who wear them. The two of us selected the perfect hat for me, then Travis customized with things that mean something to me—the date my children were born, the year I was born, and my place of birth, which just so happens to be Dallas! My custom hat gives me instant confidence and swagger. Am I a Texan now?
All in La Familia
The menu at chef Regino Roja’s Revolver Taco Lounge is delicious, but what you’ll find at Purapecha Restaurant is downright special. Located in the aforementioned taco place through a narrow passage and behind a wooden antique door, you enter a modern culinary experience shaped by Roja’s childhood. Roja, along with his mother Juanita, creates an 8-course meal with specially selected traditional Mexican dishes. Expect beautiful versions of the traditional foods Juanita cooked for Regino and the rest of their family. The postage-stamp sized space gives diners intimate and attentive service. It’s also worth mention there’s no menu—all making a meal here feel more like dinner at someone’s house versus dinner at a restaurant.
Nightlife in Deep Ellum
Looking for a fun night on the town? Look no further than Deep Ellum. The vibrant, historic district is situated east of downtown Dallas and was founded in 1873. Known for its grit and candor, Deep Ellum has been the city’s hub for music and art throughout its history. Today, the area is the largest entertainment district in the region and is home to 60+ restaurants, 25+ music and entertainment venues, and 30+ shops. My friend Jonathan Thompson brought me to the Blue Light, a live music venue known for Americana and rock shows. Texas musician Erick Willis + his band did a perfect job of melding rock with rootsy Americana, creating a sound that fits Dallas’ eclectic vibe.
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