Well, this one hits close to home. Quite literally! I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and am a proud Texan. Some of you might have started following along with my journey while I was living in Chicago for 6 years, or New York City for the past 2 years. Dallas is one of my most requested cities for recommendations and I always felt so silly that I’ve never even compiled a list on it! So I wanted to pull everything together for y’all, in my biggest City Guide yet!
Dallas has always been a food and shopping destination and it’s known for a few other things, too! It’s the home of America’s Team (The Dallas Cowboys), the 70s & 80s hit-show ‘Dallas,’ high hair (closer to Jesus!), the first Shopping mall (Highland Park Village), Neiman Marcus, the birthplace of 7-11, The Texas State Fair, the one we don’t talk about.. the assassination of JFK, Six Flags amusement park, and, in my opinion, the worst of the Real Housewives franchises.
I’ve been gone for the better part of a decade, always popping back into Dallas for the holidays, birthdays, or friend’s weddings. Every time I come back, there’s a new place that “I’ve got to go to!” And it seems there have been quite a few neighborhoods that have become trendy hot spots: Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts, The Design District! To be honest, I do feel like I don’t know ALL the hottest spots in the city right now, but these are all my staples, the Dallas institutions I grew up with. I went a little too in-depth on some of these spots, but I just couldn’t leave anything out! To make it a little easier, I’m marking a * = my favorites!!
- *Hillstone – (the old Houston’s) Upscale chain eatery serving burgers, steaks & another American fare in stylish, spacious surrounds. They just nail it. Their Hickory Burger, Ribs and Fries are all insane.
- *R+D Kitchen – sister restaurant to Hillstone. Get the ‘Osaka Style’ pressed sushi roll (before they run out!) The Carnitas Sandwich, Dip Duo, and Deviled Eggs are musts!
- *Honor Bar – sister restaurant to Hillstone. The Deviled Eggs, Kale Salad, and Crispy Chicken Sandwich are all winners!
- Louie’s – This neighborhood watering hole is serving up hot pizza and cold martinis!
- Homewood – Warm atmosphere & genuine food!
- *Bubba’s – Best fried chicken, breakfast sandwiches from this retro-style diner serving comfort food classics either at the counter or the drive-thru window.
- Mermaid Bar – Bright cafe in Neiman Marcus, filled with mermaid art & offering American fare, plus a full bar.
- *Neighborhood Services – Dimly-lit outpost of chef Nick Badovinus’ hip chain of eateries featuring New American fare & a buzzy bar. The Fried Asparagus is a must!
- The Henry – A fusion of industrial and classical influences, their open dining spaces are bursting with charm and energy
- Cisco Grill – Southwest cookin’! Their Potato soup is creamy & dreamy!
- Lucky’ Hot Chicken – Nashville-style fried chicken sandwiches and southern fare!
- *Hudson House – Neighborhood restaurant & Raw Bar. One of the best burgers in the city!
- Celebration – Homestyle pot roast, meatloaf, fried chicken, cobbler & more in a relaxed, family-oriented setting.
- Drake’s – Swanky, Old Hollywood-inspired steakhouse with sophisticated cocktails at a large, circular bar.
- *Montlake Cut – Fresh fish & raw-bar specialties headline this sophisticated Pacific Northwest-inspired destination.
- Leela’s Wine Bar – Relaxed wine bar with dozens of wines on tap, small plates & oysters served in a comfy environment.
- Beverly’s – Sophisticated neighborhood American bistro serving up seasonal seafood, produce steaks & cocktails.
- Georgie’s – Famous chef Curtis Stone’s first non-LA restaurant combines a retail butcher shop & fine dining.
- Gemma – Relaxed outfit decked in white & blue with a coastal California feel serving New American bites.
- Shug’s Bagels
- Breadwinner’s – Decadent brunch offerings
- Nick & Sam’s Grill – A more casual version of the steakhouse. A sophisticated & eclectic menu of American comfort food, with weekend brunch.
- Angela’s Cafe – Laid-back diner with staple diner offerings
- *Rise n°1 – French bistro specializing in soufflés! I typically get the Rise Salad to start with, the Southwest Chicken Soufflé for my main course, and the chocolate or Apricot Soufflé for a sweet finish!
- *Ziziki’s – My go-to for Greek! You can’t pass up on the Ziziki Bread, Greek Salad, and Chicken Souvlaki
- Cafe Istanbul – Lively spot for classic Turkish cuisine, with a patio & belly dancing performances on weekends.
- Toulouse – warm French Bistro serves a menu of French classics indoors & out on a covered patio. I recommend the Onion Soup and Steak Frites!
- Kuby’s Sausage House & European Market – Sausage, sauerkraut, beer & more in homey digs with an adjacent European-style deli & meat market.
- *Le Bilboquet – New York export proffering elevated French fare in a sunny, white-tablecloth & rattan-chair setting. Their Cajun Chicken is an absolute must.
- Cafe Madrid – Spanish tapas and small bites as well as extensive wines list.
- Barcelona – The cuisine is clean and rustic, with tapas shaped by Mediterranean, Spanish, and South American influences. Nearly 400 wines are featured on the wine list.
- Mercat Bistro -Offers French favorites, wine, weekday breakfast & Saturday brunch in a bistro-style interior.
- La Duni – A blend of European and Latin American cuisine. They might have some of the best ribs I’ve ever had. And they serve my favorite Pisco Sours!
- Cafe Izmir – Offers home-cooked, family recipes for the best Mediterranean food in town!
- Parigi – Longtime neighborhood bistro boasts creative New American cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere.
- Bistro 31 – Elevated European bistro fare is served in an elegant, understated setting with exposed beams.
- Paradisio – Coastal Mediterranean fare in multi-venue culinary concept space surrounding a central courtyard.
- *Mi Cocina – “MiCo” is the place to sip and be seen! Modern classics & innovative Tex-Mex plates, plus frozen cocktails, in stylish surrounds. get the sunset fajitas and a Mambo Taxi.
- *Javier’s – Bustling longtime upscale restaurant featuring Mexico City-style cuisine & a swanky cigar bar. Some of my favorite margaritas in the city. The Pollo a la Parilla or
- Manny’s Uptown– Laid-back eatery with a small patio featuring cocktails & traditional Mexican & Tex-Mex meals.
- *Jose’s – Sophisticated Mexican joint for tacos, enchiladas, rellenos, beer & mezcal margaritas. Everything is great here, be sure to get the Street Corn and quesadilla!
- Mia’s – Bustling, casual, longtime eatery (since 1981) popular for its brisket tacos & other Tex-Mex fares.
- Rafa’s – Colorfully decorated destination offering Mexican standards, including margaritas & weekend brunch.
- *Torchy’s Taco – Austin taco joint (and my favorite one!) that serves up some of the best tacos. The Baja Shrimp and Green Chili Pork tacos are my go-to’s. Their queso is also one of the best around!
- *Taco Deli – Austin-born BYOB taqueria chain serving more than 40 types, including breakfast tacos.
- Velvet Taco – Not your average taco spot. Tacos with global flavor inspirations plus boutique sodas & beers in the hip, fast-food-style joint.
- Rusty Taco – Counter-serve taco spot offering classic & creative tacos, plus margaritas, in a refurbished gas station.
- El Fenix – Branch of a long-running chain serving Tex-Mex staples in a hacienda-style setting. Their tamales and fajitas are my favorites!
- Muchacho – Warm, inviting dining room & patio for enjoying Tex-Mex favorites & authentic regional Mexican food.
- TNT (‘Tacos ‘n Tequila’) – Spot serving tacos, burritos, skewers & tequila flights, with a rooftop bar & patio.
- *Desert Racer
- *Asian Mint – Great Thai food. Their chicken satay and pad thai are solid staples. Also their “glass noodle”
- *Shinsei – Their crispy Brussels are some of the best. Their Hoisin Baby Back Ribs fall off the bone and Braised Pork Steam Buns are *chef’s kiss*. For sushi get the seared tuna and the Kendall role!
- *Royal China – Authentic Chinese with some of the best dim sum and classic dishes!
- Oiishi -Strip-mall spot specializing in sushi as well as Chinese & Vietnamese eats.
- Sushi Kyoto – Petite, strip-mall sushi house featuring a variety of specialty rolls plus select Japanese entrees. Get the Monkey Brain, Crispy Rice, and the Super Kyoto Crunch roll!
- Crushcraft Thai Eats – Casual hangout for traditional & modern takes on Thai street food & drinks including sake & soju.
- Oni Ramen – Cool spot offering poke plus house & build-your-own ramen.
- Nori Handroll Bar – Warm, wood-hued eatery offering small tapas dishes & Japanese temaki, plus sake, beer & wine.
- Wabi House – Ramen & izakaya-style Japanese dishes, plus sake & cocktails, are served in industrial-chic digs.
- Burning Rice
- Ngon – Vietnamese kitchen serving authentic dishes in a bright and airy atmosphere
- Malai Kitchen – Buzzy bistro serving Thai & Vietnamese fare & specialty cocktails in a sleek space with a patio.
- Tei Tei Robata Bar – Sushi, Tokyo-style robata & sake, along with other Japanese fare, rolled out in a modern space.
- Prego’s – Family-run eatery furnishing Southern Italian dishes, including red-sauce pastas & thin-crust pizza.
- Penne Pomodoro – Airy Italian bistro offering basic pastas & pizza in a bright, contemporary storefront setting.
- Sprezza – Pasta, pizza & other Italian favorites plus drinks are served in an elegant, comfortable house.
- *Terilli’s – Down-to-earth Italian fare shares the spotlight with martinis & live jazz in a funky ambiance – with a good rooftop.
- *Carbone’s – Julian Barsotti’s Italian fare is served in a spare, modern setting with nods to a corner grocery.
- Olivella’s – They’re dishing up a full menu of pastas, pizzas, salads, paninis, and desserts from century-old recipes.
- Eno’s – My family’s favorite pizza spot!
- Taverna – Small outpost offers risotto & Northern Italian fare, plus weekend brunch, in a comfy setting.
- *Campisi’s – They’ve has been serving iconic, award-winning pizzas and family Italian dishes since 1946. If you like crab claws, be sure to get the crab claw appetizer!
- Coal Vine’s – Swanky Italian eatery specializes in thin-crust pizza served Uptown in brick-lined interior & patio.
- Cane Rosso’s – Pizzeria specializing in wood-fired Neapolitan pies. plus Italian sandwiches, pastas & desserts.
- *il Bracco – Lush outdoor dining & chic interiors for homemade pasta, freshly butchered proteins, & a full bar. If you’re there for brunch, be sure to get the Carbonara (only available at this time!), and don’t miss out on their signature frozen cocktail “the Bracco” – it’s delicious!
- Fireside Pies – A buzzy pizzeria featuring wood-fired pizza complemented by wine, beer & cocktails.
- Pie Tap
- *18th & Vine – Kansas City-style smoked meats & chef-crafted entrees served in a rustic space with a music venue.
- *Pecan Lodge – Some of the best BBQ in the city. They offer a variety of smoked meats, sides & desserts are served at this BBQ eatery along with beer & wine.
- Dickey’s – A family-owned American barbecue established in 1941.
- Sonny Bryan’s
- Smokey Rose (BBQ) – Rustic-chic spot for meats cooked in a wood-burning smoker, plus chefy sides, local beer & cocktails.
- Son of a Butcher
- *Jack’s Burger House – the iconic Dallas Burger. They feature thin & flavorful patties with addicting french fries. Their secret seasoning salt will have you coming back for more!
- *Hopdoddy – Delicious craft burgers from this Austin eatery. Don’t skip out on their chili cheese fries!
- Goff’s – Old-school shack from 1950 serving patties, hot dogs, sandwiches & shakes in diner digs with photos.
- Adair’s Saloon – Enduring watering hole in Deep Ellum for live country music & bar bites in down-to-earth digs.
- Twisted Root (might be temporarily closed during the pandemic)
- Chip’s – Bright, family-friendly burger vendor is widely known for its old fashioned burgers!
- Keller’s Drive-In – Old-school drive-in dishes burgers & more via carhop to a lively scene of motorcyclists & families.
- OSK (Off-Site Kitchen)
- *Zöe’s Kitchen – Made from scratch, daily, this fast-casual Mediterranean spot is serving up healthy dishes that are great on-the-go.
- Dive – Lofty seafood spot preparing health-conscious fare in a bright, contemporary setting.
- *Flowerchild – Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, or just hungry, Flower Child in Dallas is the place to enjoy feel-good food in a cheery and colorful space full of feel-good vibes. You can’t go wrong with the Mother Earth Bowl!
- Juiceland – This Austin juicery has pressed juices, smoothies, and great vegan food options to-go!
- *Southpaws – Great spot for a protein-packed smoothie or nutritious bowl! The Thai Chicken lettuce wraps are always a must!
- The Market at Bonton Farms – Bonton Farms is an agricultural intervention to restore lives, create jobs, and ignite hope. This South Dallas destination is probably the last place you’d expect to find a farm, but they’re serving up sustainable and delicious food!
- Start – All-day menu of health-conscious American eats served in a modern, fast-food setup with drive-thru.
- True Food Kitchen – Relaxed, eco-chic chain serving health-conscious fare, including vegan options, plus cocktails.
- *HG supply c Co. – Paleo-centric American meals, craft beers & cocktails in a rustic-chic locale. The vegan queso is surprisingly great, and it’s nice weather sit up on the rooftop patio!
- Short Stop – They’ve got the best chicken salad in all of Dallas!
- NY Sub – My go-to for a classic cold cuts sandwich. Their oil/vinegar dressing is like liquid crack!
- *East Hampton Sandwich Co. – Upscale craft sandwiches
- *The Great Outdoors – Casual local chain offering subs, croissant sandwiches & ice cream in an outdoors-themed space.
- Empire Bakery – Family-run bakery/cafe turning out artisan breads, pastries & sandwiches from eat-in/take-out digs.
- *EatZi’s – European-style market with take-out foods plus baked goods, wine & specialty foods. They’ve also got some of my favorite hummus and cornbread!
- Roly Poly Sandwiches – Outpost of a counter-serve chain featuring a large selection of wraps, plus soups & salads.
- Great American Hero – Long-running counter-serve stop offering sandwiches, soups & salads in a snug, spartan space.
- Mendocino Farms
Steakhouse & Seafood
- Bob’s Steak & Chop House – Texas-born local chain serving big slabs of beef, seafood & a large wine list in a woodsy ambiance.
- Al Biernat’s – Longtime upscale steak & seafood hot spot is known for its ever-present host & vibrant bar.
- Del Frisco’s – Opulently outfitted chain restaurant specializing in prime steaks & seafood along with fine wines.
- Truluck’s – Upscale seafood & steak chain featuring half-price happy hours, a deep wine list & swanky surrounds.
- 3 Forks – Branch of a luxe, clubby chophouse & seafood chain with a broad wine list & many private rooms.
- S&D Oyster Company – Cozy old-fashioned New Orleans eatery with shrimp, oysters & more! Their Crab Dip is killer!
- Cafe Pacific – This neighborhood restaurant is a seafood & steak institution, located in Highland Park Village!
- Papas Brothers Steak
- Coopers Meat
- Nick & Sam’s – Destination for prime steak & seafood in a polished, swanky setting with a happening bar scene.
- Capital Grille
- Ocean Prime – An upscale seafood restaurant with a great wine list and outside patio
- *Eddie V’s – Fine-dining seafood – you can’t miss their Kung Pao Calamari and Lobster Bisque!
- *Katy Trail Icehouse – This Austin-style beer garden has dozens of brews on tap & a roomy patio affording a view of the Katy Trail. There’s a reason this is the most profitable bar in Texas! You’ve got to get their “bottlecaps” (fried jalapenos with ranch!) and wash them down with a cold Texas beer!
- The Rustic – Down-home venue with locally sourced American eats, Texas brews & an outdoor patio with live music.
- The Happiest Hour – Stylish bar offering choice bites, cocktails & a large deck with city views in a bustling ambiance!
- Truck Yard – Complex housing food trucks in an expansive, retro outdoor space with treehouse & trailer bars. They’re also serving up some of the best Philly Cheesesteaks in town!
- Dot’s Hop House – Industrial-style bar with huge open-air courtyard serving craft brews, cocktails & casual fare.
- Toller Patio – An al fresco backdrop sets the scene for this massive dog-friendly patio for cocktails & bar food.
- JD’s Chippery – Classic cookie joint that has been a Dallas staple. Their cookies are amazing as well as an assortment of muffins. Don’t leave without getting some of their hand-squeezed lemonade!
- Steel City Pops – Fun craft popsicles that come in fun flavors (like Blood Orange or Arnold Palmer)
- Nothing Bundt Cake – Bundt cakes with creamy cream cheese icing is always a win. It’s dangerous, but they now offer mini cakes and bite-sized offerings too!
- Pokey-O’s – If ice cream sandwiches are your thing.. Pokey O’s is your spot. Fresh-baked cookies with Texas Blue Bell Ice Cream in between.. what more could you ask for!
- Wild About Harry’s – Hot dogs & (some of the best!) frozen custard is what this neighborhood joint is servin’ up!
- La La Land Kind Cafe – Coffee & matcha cafe with craft toasts!
- Royal Blue Grocery – High-end boutique grocery serving up Stumptown
- Wild Detectives – Quaint little house converted into a bookstore & coffee shop. Located in the Bishop Arts District!
- The Merchant – Coffee, Tea & stationary!
- Midnight Rambler
- Sandbar Cantina & Grill
- Lounge 31
- Tiny Victories
- Drake’s Hollywood
- The Charles
- Billy Can Can
- Shoals Sound & Service
- Thunderbird Station
- Jaxon Beer Garden
- Ebb & Flow
- 77 Degrees
- Commons Club
- Walk/run the Katy Trail – A walking path built upon a historic railroad line that cuts through the city
- Walk/run White Rock Lake – One of the most heavily-used parks in Dallas. This lake is surrounded by a running path and natural wildlife.
- Visit The 6th Floor Museum – The Sixth Floor Museum chronicles the assassination & legacy of President John F. Kennedy. Explore different aspects of the history of Kennedy’s Presidency & assassination.
- Visit the Dallas Arboretum – An extensive 66-acre botanical garden with seasonal exhibits!
- Visit the Perot Museum of Nature & Science – With 11 permanent exhibit halls in the heart of Dallas, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science provides an unforgettable experience for guests of all ages!
- Visit Klyde Warren Park – A 5.2-acre public park in Downtown Dallas, Texas. The park is over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway!
- Shop & Dine at Highland Park Village – an upscale shopping plaza located at the southwest corner of Mockingbird Lane and Preston Road in Highland Park, Texas, and was the first self-contained shopping center in America. The Highland Park Village was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2000!
- Shop at Northpark Mall – An upscale, enclosed shopping mall
- Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field – an aerospace museum memorializing the pioneers of flight, from the 1920s, 30s, World War II, and to the jet/rocket age of today!
- Nasher Sculpture Garden – An outdoor sculpture garden that houses collections of modern and contemporary sculpture.
- Catch America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys in action, or a ball game with the Texas Rangers!
- See the Giant Eyeball – A 30-ft. tall, realistically rendered fiberglass sculpture of a human eyeball in a fenced garden. (1601 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201)
- Dallas Farmer’s Market – since 1941, the Dallas Farmers Market has been filled with wholesome produce and the collective fruits of our labor.
- The George W. Bush Presidential Library – George W. Bush museum with 9/11 “Situation Room’ Experience
- Dallas Reunion Tower “The Ball” – Observation Deck and restaurant located at the top of one of Dallas’ most iconic skyline buildings!
- Visit Medieval Times– A family dinner theater featuring staged medieval-style games, sword-fighting, and jousting.
- Visit the Texas State Fair – an annual state fair held in Dallas at historic Fair Park. The fair has taken place every year since 1886 except for varying periods during World War I and World War II. The 2020 State Fair was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Starts last Friday of September and lasts 24 days
- Dine & shop around Bishop Arts District- The hip Bishop Arts District 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.
- Visit Thanks-Giving Square – Public park featuring a sanctuary with amazing stained glass on the ceiling.
- See a show at the Granada Theater – The theatre was built in 1946 as a movie house. In 1977, it was converted to a concert hall, only to revert to a movie theater soon after. In 2004 it was again opened as a concert hall.
- Texas Live! – Vibrant entertainment food fair featuring a variety of restaurants, cocktail bars & giant sports TVs. Between Arlington Park and The Cowboys Stadium
Have you been to Dallas? Let me know if you’ve got any favorite spots that I might have missed!