Let us take you on a tour of one of Texas’ most vibrant cities.
Dallas looms large in pop culture thanks to the 1980s eponymous hit TV show and the Dallas Cowboys football team, but what you may not know is that it has a booming culinary scene on par with its status as one of the fastest-growing metroplexes.
To really get a taste, you’ll need a game plan because the footprint of the DFW area is Texas-sized, which is to say, it’s sprawling with a dizzying maze of highways and a seemingly endless number of restaurants. If you’re short on time or are without a car, your best bet is to stick to Dallas proper. Nearby sister city Fort Worth is worthy of its own long weekend, while far-flung suburbs like Grapevine and McKinney shine, especially during certain seasons. (The latter offers a charming Oktoberfest organized around its town square, while the former boasts a wine trail and a designation as the “Christmas Capital of Texas.”).
Just don’t feel like you’re selling yourself short by staying within the city limits—from Deep Ellum to Oak Cliff to Highland Park, Dallas’ bustling enclaves have more than enough to keep you satiated.
Where to stay
Downtown is a hub for hotels, but none have a history quite like The Adolphus, built by Anheuser-Busch cofounder Adolphus Busch more than a century ago. The 407-room, Beaux-Arts-style hotel has hosted many dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II, but the oversized suites with plush beds and The French Room’s three-course tea service, held beneath Murano glass chandeliers, are enough to make anyone feel like royalty.
If it’s some serious R&R you’re after, look no further than The Joule. Post up at the rooftop pool in a private cabana or venture below ground to the subterranean spa—the blend of old-world techniques (Abhyanga massage) and new tech (LED light therapy facials) consistently earns high marks. And if after all that relaxation, you’ve worked up an appetite, choose between five on-site dining options. (The signature pig head carnitas at CBD Provisions will give you something to write home about.)
Across town, Virgin Hotels Dallas blazed a trail as the first hotel in the Design District when it opened in 2020. The interiors are hip (think feathered light fixtures, abstract art, and lots of patterned wallpaper), and so is the crowd. When you book, check the events calendar since there’s a good chance your stay will overlap with a tequila tasting, trivia night, or live DJ set. Fido can come, too, because the hotel is pup-friendly.
Last, but certainly not least, the former estate-turned-142-room Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek was the first-ever Rosewood property and continues to be the gold standard for Southern hospitality. Don’t miss your chance to dine at The Mansion Restaurant. With its cozy fireplaces, top-shelf cocktails, and seven-course tasting menu, the place is synonymous with special occasions.
Where to eat
It seems counterintuitive, but landlocked Dallas is quickly becoming a haven for sushi lovers. Nobu, as well as Austin-born concepts Uchi and Sushi | Bar, have all opened outposts—but the most exciting spots are Dallas originals. Chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi came to town by way of New York City and Hasuda, Japan, where he grew up. After a decade at Michelin-starred Sushi Yasuda and a residency at the Omakase Room in Manhattan’s West Village, he opened his own 10-seat, sake-forward experience Tatsu Dallas in Deep Ellum in 2022—and reservations have been almost impossible to get ever since. The more contemporary Shoyo in Lower Greenville, helmed by Nobu alums, has been around slightly longer and has three additional seats, so it may be a slightly easier mark. For a sure thing, try Kessaku downtown. The lounge-like atmosphere, skyline views, and truffle king crab roll are enough to make you temporarily forget your reservation woes.
Another hard-to-get-but-totally-worth-the-heartache reservation? Lucia. The Italian mainstay in Oak Cliff was recently a finalist in the James Beard Award’s “Outstanding Restaurant” category and pairs an affordable wine list with handmade pasta, house-cured salumi, and just-baked bread (the kitchen even mills its own flour). Pro tip: If you can’t nab a table, queue up before opening for a shot at the first-come, first-served bar. Or, for a worthy backup, seek out
Sachet in Oak Lawn. Its Mediterranean-inspired menu also features memorable pastas but covers more ground, reaching into the Middle East and North Africa. The one non-negotiable is the wood-oven-fired pita with Egyptian dukkah.
And of course, you can’t leave Dallas without enjoying one of its quintessential cuisines: barbecue. If you’re in town on the first Saturday of the month, count yourself lucky and head to Cattleack BBQ, which is typically only open for lunch three days a week. Brisket, spareribs, sausage—you can’t go wrong with any of it, and it’s best to get a sampling because they routinely sell out. On all the other days, opt for the specials at Slow Bone in the Design District or Deep Ellum’s Pecan Lodge, known for the Hot Mess—a winning combo consisting of a jumbo sweet potato, barbacoa, chipotle cream, and bacon.
Things to do
The Dallas Arts District is considered the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation and is home to the free Dallas Museum of Art as well as the acclaimed Nasher Sculpture Center (the outdoor galleries, featuring European masters, are a must when the weather is nice). Just outside the boundaries of the Arts District is The Samurai Collection, a small but well-curated, free museum that has the largest holding of samurai armor and weapons outside of Japan. Lastly, in the West End, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza recounts the somber day in November 1963 when President John F. Kennedy visited Dallas. The museum is as much about the assassination as it is about JFK’s legacy. Reserve your time slot in advance to guarantee admission.
For kids (and kids at heart), Klyde Warren Park packs a lot into five acres of green space built over a freeway: a playground, a light-up musical fountain that doubles as a splash pad in the summer, a stage for outdoor concerts and workout classes, and an expansive lawn for pick-up games and picnicking (food trucks are almost always parked nearby). On a rainy day or when the heat is too much, explore the Dallas Aquarium. The way it’s laid out, you’ll begin your journey in the cloud forest, surrounded by tropical birds and tree frogs, then follow a corkscrew-like path, descending several stories until you reach the bottom of the sea floor. Along the way, stop to admire sloths, otters, and even an ocelot.
At Highland Park Village, the country’s first open-air shopping center and a National Historic Landmark, the draw is both the architecture (Mediterranean Spanish-style) and the stores (Chanel and Cartier intermingle with Texas designers Tom Ford and Lela Rose). If you’re looking for smaller, homegrown boutiques, the walkable Bishop Arts District has some of the best, including candle hotspot Society by Jackson Vaughn and letterpress shop We Are 1976. South of downtown, the Dallas Farmers Market offers an indoor food hall, open seven days a week, where you can pick up culinary souvenirs—we recommend the local cheeses at Scardello or wines made with Texas grapes at Eden Hill Loft.
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