Dallas, Texas’s third largest city, boasts a population of close to 1.5 million spread out over 400 square miles, with an intricate array of streets, highways, turnpikes, and interstates. Not surprisingly, “The Big D” can be intimidating to navigate, and though “Live large, think big” may be the city’s slogan, it might be best to plan one’s visit by focusing on the vibrant districts and neighborhoods that include an increasing number of pedestrian areas with parks and gardens throughout. In addition to an abundance of great shopping, there is a booming wellness industry, a flourishing live music scene, and top-tier culinary options.
Read on for recommendations of where to shop, eat, drink, play, and stay citywide.
WHERE TO SHOP
Forty Five Ten
Forty Five Ten, Dallas’s best-known retail mecca, moved its flagship into a 40,000-square-foot space on Main Street in historic downtown Dallas late last year. Native Dallasite Taylor Tomasi Hill, ex–fashion editor and street style darling, was recently appointed women’s fashion director and vice president of creative, and is steadily creating more attainable items—including additional American brands—helping dynamic shoppers create modern uniforms.
Highland Park Village
Think Rodeo Drive–ish done with Dallas flare. Some of the shopping center’s greatest hits include TTH Forty Five Ten (the edgier sister location, curated by Taylor Tomasi Hill), Céline, Bandier, and Hermès. Royal Blue Grocery hits the spot for lunch, snacks, or a cold press, while the Highland Park location of the über-popular Mi Cocina chain houses the Monkey Bar on the second floor, a great perch for people-watching over its signature Cadillac margarita.
Australian export Aesop recently opened two highly stylized flagships featuring the brand’s botanical skin, hair, and beauty lines. One is located in pedestrian-friendly Knox-Henderson and the other in the vibrant Bishop Arts District. Another location is slated for Northpark Center in the coming months.
Sustainable fast-fashion brand Reformation chose Dallas’s trendy Knox-Henderson to debut its latest tech-enabled shopping concept—the fourth to date, after San Francisco and Los Angeles—a system involving limited inventory on the floor in favor of in-store, online retail browsing with touch-screen monitors that sync and send shoppers’ picks directly to the dressing rooms.
This fall, leading SoCal optical brand Garrett Leight opened its first Texas location in the heart of the Knox-Henderson district. In addition to carrying an extensive collection of signature refined-retro frames, the 850-square-foot shop features a lab where customers can have lenses custom framed and tinted, a coffee shop, and a colorful light display inspired by artist James Turrell.
WHERE TO EAT
More than 10 years ago, friends Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun mused about opening a “little taco stand” together. From that seed sprouted Shinsei, one of the most popular Asian restaurants in Dallas to date. This inviting spot on Lovers Lane serves traditional Japanese dishes such as miso cod and sushi, as well as fusion-y offerings like chili and herb tempura fish with rice noodles, Thai brussels sprouts salad with yuzu vinaigrette, and grilled oysters with Korean chili butter.
Town Hearth, the latest venture by local restaurateur Nick Badovinus (see Neighborhood Services, below), is spread out over 6,000 square feet and is nevertheless one of the hardest reservations in town to come by. As the name suggests, it has become the de facto gathering place for multigenerational greater Dallas, a spot for parading, people-watching, and living (eating and drinking) large. In true Badovinus style, the aesthetic is carefully curated and, in this case, decidedly OTT, with 64 chandeliers, sports paraphernalia, a fish tank, and a vintage Ducati. With all that pomp and circumstance, it comes as a pleasant surprise that the amped-up comfort food—steaks, a raw bar, whole grilled fish, gourmet tater tots, mac and cheese—are top notch . . . albeit top dollar as well. Can’t get a table or not ready for the full dinner investment? Snag a perch at the bar.
Also on Lovers Lane, visit the original outpost of chef Nick Badovinus’s Neighborhood Services, a purveyor of the town’s New American cuisine. Highlights include raw plates like ceviche and crudo or oysters on the half shell, fried asparagus with a lemon dill Pecorino, West Coast fish-and-chips with a malt vinegar slaw, and the London broil with “voodoo” sauce.
Located in an attractive historic building in the Bishop Arts District, this independently owned gem serves creative and artisanal Italian fare, including house-made pasta and seasonal specials.
Hattie’s American bistro specializes in Low Country comfort food, including fried green tomatoes, shrimp and Cheddar grits, and cornmeal griddle cakes. Great for Sunday brunch followed by a stroll around Bishop Arts.
WHERE TO STAY
Housed in a 1920s Neo-Gothic landmark building, the Joule reopened in 2014, spearheading the revival of downtown Dallas. Located directly across the street from Forty Five Ten, this 160-room hotel has a bustling lobby culture, delectable cocktails, art installations, and on-site shopping, all intended to encourage crossover between locals and visitors. While in the hood, be sure to ogle the mosaic of handcrafted tiles covering a six-story corner building, with new gourmet market Commissary on the ground floor.
Located near the Bishop Arts District, the Belmont is a retro hotel that caters to travelers in search of a dose of easygoing comfort combined with featured artists, on-site music, and a fun bar and patio. Book one of the upgraded suites for a soaking tub and skyline views.
Another landmark hotel downtown, the Adolphus originally opened in 1912 as the first luxury hotel in the heart of Dallas. Modeled after a Beaux Arts German castle, the property was recently renovated, but its iconic history still shows through.
WHAT TO SEE
Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Garden
Situated in the heart of the Downtown Arts District, the Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Garden have extensive collections displaying contemporary works by artists including Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Monet, Picasso, and Rodin. The DMA’s boxy building was designed by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, and the stunning NSG was conceived by Renzo Piano.
Klyde Warren Park
This park is located above the Woodall Rodgers Freeway and connects uptown with the Downtown Arts District. The promenade is particularly popular for its bevy of food trucks, jogging trails, dog run, and weekly events like yoga, dance classes, and meditation meet-ups.
The Bomb Factory
The Bomb Factory is a large-scale standout event space and concert venue in Deep Ellum, a district famous for jazz and blues in the 1920s and currently undergoing a rapid renaissance as Dallas’s prime entertainment destination. Count on the Bomb to catch big-bang artists such as Bon Iver; Tyler, The Creator; St. Vincent; and Dallasite Erykah Badu.
The Lounge Here
Located in East Dallas, the Lounge Here, aka Here, is a bar and restaurant conceived and created by Julie Doyle and Tony Barsotti, two multihyphenate creatives whose intention is to “whisk guests away into another place and time.” Locals love this unique, thoughtful destination, with decor inspired by 1970s airplane lounges; a snacks and small plates menu featuring renditions of Southern specialties; and a carefully curated cocktail, spirits, and beer offering. Don’t miss the live music on Songbird Sundays.
High & Tight
Looking for a buzz or a buzz cut? Get either or both at High & Tight, a Deep Ellum barbershop with a 1920s-inspired speakeasy in the back. The feel is cinematic, especially on music nights, when the small stage hosts musicians.