Hey yall! I just finished a quick trip to Dallas and wanted to put together a little guide to maximizing your time in the The Big D.
Whether you’re on an extended layover, driving through, or looking for a day trip destination from Austin, there are plenty of things to do in Dallas and I’ll share some of my favorites with you below.
Knox/Henderson: is home to many bars, restaurants, and shops. The area is known to be trendy, and walkable with stops like The Porch, Gemma, Velvet Taco, Candleroom, Rapscallion, The Whippersnapper, The Old Monk, and High Fives. To me this felt the most relatable neighborhood to what I would want to be near and walkable to. Between the fitness studios, shops, restaurants and bars, there’s enough to do here from sunrise to sunset.
Uptown: is known for its eclectic bar and restaurant scene, including sports bars, bistros and cocktail lounges. The action centers on McKinney Avenue, where a free vintage trolley trundles past boutiques selling high-end fashion and chic western wear. It is definitely a get dressed up and go out kind of neighborhood. Put on your best pair of boots and make sure to stop into Top Knot, Fat Rabbit, Moxie’s, CrushCraft Thai, Playground Bar or The Standard Pour.
Deep Ellum: is a neighborhood composed largely of arts and entertainment venues. You’ll find Cane Rosso, Emporium Pies, The Bomb Factory, The Door Dallas, Pecan Lodge, as well as boutiques, breweries, art galleries and more. I love walking around in this neighborhood because of the eclectic vibe, you’ll see all different types of Dallasites coming together to enjoy what this hood has to offer!
Bishop Arts: is known for its diverse nightlife, chic independent fashion stores and colorful street art. Dining choices range from Texas-style BBQ to Vietnamese pho, while relaxed bars pour everything from cocktails to house-brewed cider. Catch a cult movie at the Texas Theatre, or visit Kessler Theatre to watch a live performance by your new favorite band. Grab a bite to eat and drink at Bolsa, Emporium Pies, Hattie’s, Oddfellows, and Ten Bells Tavern.
Lorenzo Hotel: This boutique hotel sits right outside of Downtown Dallas which means it’s more affordable but still a quick uber or left away from the city or to any of the mentioned neighborhoods above. We recently stayed there and what I liked about it was the character the hotel brought. Everyone there was super friendly, the rooms were clean and spacious, and the art was intriguing leaving me little moments of whim. There’s a full bar and restaurant on the property, as well as an outdoor pool and indoor 24/7 fitness room. You can self park for free or the hotel also offers Valet for a nightly fee. Be sure to check out their bar because they feature my favorite Tequila 512!
Aloft Dallas: I’m a fan of Alofts, and stay at them often when I travel. This one is located within the Downtown district, and is a close drive to the Dallas Farmers Market, The Majestic Theatre, or the JFK Memorial Plaza. I’ve stayed here before on previous trips, and the rooms are loft style, and the property offers self park, as well as a snack bar. If you want full meals or drinks, you will have to venture out.
Joule: The Joule is a luxury hotel. Offering fine dining, a rooftop swimming pool, as well as a world-class spa. This is a place to stay if you want to enjoy Dallas in style. It’s central to Downtown, so everything is a quick ride away. Dining/drinking options include 2 cafes, a basement cocktail bar, and Texan and Italian restaurants. Other amenities include a fitness center and event facilities.
Mudhen Meats: Farm to table takes on a whole new name at Mudhen. Located across the street from the Dallas Farmers market, you’ll find Mudhen pulling fresh and seasonal produce, meats and cheese from their neighbor. You won’t find processed, frozen, or out of season items here. Everything will be seasonal and made with the freshest and highest quality ingredients. They pride themselves on being a restaurant for any type of diet. Whether you’re vegan, paleo, or a carnivore, Mudhen has a menu that will delight your pallet. We went here for brunch and were so pleased, it was the perfect meal to fuel us up before a day of shopping at the Farmers Market.
Top Knot: I’ll start with saying this is owned by the same people who brought us Uchi and Uchiko, in fact, it sits above Uchi Dallas. It’s beautiful, perfect for lunch, happy hour and even brunch. We went in for happy hour/dinner and had the best time. The food was flavorful, had a kick to it, and the vibes were everything I would expect from Hai Hospitality. Definitely make sure you visit this in Dallas, especially if you’re into things like hot fried chicken buns, hamachi toastadas, fresh rolled sushi, and boozy punches.
Pecan Lodge: One of Texas’ top BBQ spots happens to be in Dallas, and happens to be in Deep Ellum. And happens to be next to Emporium Pies. It’s usually got a line, but is obviously worth the wait. Open 11-3 on weekdays and 11-10pm on weekends, the weekday is usually a better bet to avoid lines. This is one of the better BBQ joints I’ve been to, and the perfect spot to visit whether you’re a Texan or from out of town.
Emporium Pies: No trip to Dallas is complete without a visit to Emporium Pies. They have a few shops around town now, and happen to be in all of my favorite neighborhoods. So whether you’re in bishop arts, Uptown, or Deep Ellum, know there is an Emporium Pies nearby. They have staples like the Lord of the Pies – deep dish apple, Smooth Operator -chocolate silk with pretzel crust, and The Nannerz- banana and vanilla custard. Seasonal pies this recent trip included Nutty Honey- peanut butter cream and nuts, and the Drop Dead Gourdgeous- spicy pumpkin custard and gingerbread crust.
The Rustic: I recommend coming here for brunch. You’ll want the Jam & Toast brunch, it’s served Saturday and Sunday from 10am- 2pm. Live music starts at 12:30pm, and at $16.95 a person you’ll be served family style: Cheese and Fruit, Country Baked Eggs, bacon and sausage, hot chicken, smoked cheddar grits, and daily donuts. They don’t take reservations so I suggest getting there early to ensure you get to enjoy this brunch!
Ferris Wheelers: I mean, for one, there is a ferris wheel on the property. So if that doesn’t entice you, then I’m not sure anything else I say will. JK, They serve BBQ, have an amazing patio, AND have that ferris wheel. Which to me seems like the trifecta. Oh and not to mention, all the beer, wine and cocktails you can imagine.
Happiest Hour: This to me is quintessential Dallas. Located between uptown and downtown is Dallas’ largest outdoor patio restaurant and bar. It’s got great food to help you wash your drinks down, but I love coming here for a nice cold adult beverage. Sit inside, outside, upstairs or downstairs and honestly no matter where you sit, you’ll be enjoying yourself. Guaranteed!
Stirr: Featuring skyline views, this Deep Ellum restaurant and bar is the place to be scene at. Whether you want to pop in for a drink or a full dining experience, it’s rated as one of Dallas’ best. I love to stop here for a drink before a night out on the town. During the week you can enjoy happy hour 3-7pm at the bar and in the upstairs lounge, it also makes for the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the city.
THINGS TO SEE
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens: Since it’s fall, we attended primarily to catch their famous pumpkin patch. Each year they decorate based on a theme, and this year the theme was The Wizard of Oz. For $15 per person, you have access to the whole garden which is full of miles of weaving paths that run you through flower beds, water installations, and even White Rock Lake.
Dallas Museum of Art: First of all, it’s free to attend, so take advantage of the art that is cumulated at this museum and go give it a visit. If you’re on a museum kick you could also check out the JFK Museum, and the Perot, which is a science history museum.
Dallas Farmers Market: Open daily 11am-7pm, you’ll catch vendors selling beer, baked goods, produce, coffee, gifts, snacks, seafood, lunch, and dinner. Whether you are looking for a snack, or want to pick up some local ingredients to make a meal at home. This is a fun place to walk around and shop.
GOING OUT/ LATE NIGHT EATS
Velvet Taco: This famous Dallas taco shop has recently moved to Austin. But let me tell ya, their tacos are legit. I’m partial to the traditional rotisserie chicken taco but am also known to indulge in their more eclectic tacos like the spicy chicken tikka, or the shrimp and grits. This is a great spot because it is open till 2am and even 3am or 5am depending on what night it is. AKA, Taco time is all the time. The one near Knox/Henderson is the perfect location on your way home from the bars!
Moxies: This is a Canadian chain that has made a home in Dallas. The restaurant and bar features a live DJ on weekend nights and makes for a great starting point to your night out in Uptown. You’ll find beer, wine, and cocktails on the menu, as well as things like fresh table side guacamole, tacos, poutine, and American staples like hamburgers and fries. The ambiance is what makes Moxies memorable, and it was also recommended to me for Brunch which I did not have. But I would say try Moxies if you pass by it! PS: Happy hour 3-6pm every day!
Beyond 500/ The Beyond Studios: This was a sweat like no other. If you’re into group fitness and high-intensity movements then this is a great studio to check out. You’ll split your class 50/50 on a treadmill that is powered by your movement, and a pilates machine. Located near Fort Knox/ Henderson, if you opt to stay in the area, this studio will be close by. It’s paired with uptempo pop music and is actually pretty challenging. It’s fast-paced, but the instructor does a great job walking you through the movements. The Beyond Studios have 3 different locations and each offers a slight variation of the method. Check their website for class details and location information.
Grit Fitness: The mood is loud and vibrant, if you’re looking for a place to sweat and sing along to your favorite rap songs, then check this studio out. Located in the design district, they offer HIIT, boxing, spin, yoga, dancing and kickboxing. If you’ll be in town a few days, consider their week pack for $10.
Bodybar: I’m a huge fan of reformer pilates workouts, and Bodybar has them! They also offer traditional pilates, as well as express classes. Their Dallas location is in Highland Park, but they also offer classes in Plano, Southlake, and Ft. Worth.