Travel Journal: Dallas

This is my third Travel Tuesday post in a row that’s all thanks to work. I never used to include travel as a work perk, but once I started doing it, I realized how lucky I am to explore new places. True, it’s a cool experience because I’ve lucked into some fun destinations and actually enjoy hanging out with my coworkers. My thoughts on work travel may change eventually but I’m liking it for now! Even more than my last work trip, this one was packed with business. I was able to do very little exploring, but I think I can still offer a liiiittle bit in the way of a recap.

Tuesday, August 23rd

Dallas was slammed with flooding the day before I arrived and the weather was still dreary when I got there. I hopped in an Uber and headed to the hotel/convention site to start setting up. I immediately noticed that Dallas feels VERY much like Atlanta. The city sprawls in the same way, there’s a very clearly defined downtown business district, and even the shopping center design looks similar. After spending time setting up our company’s booth, I met some coworkers for a happy hour at Dot’s Hop House. If you’re a beer drinker, this place is great. They have an insane selection – you’ll find 99 varieties, color coded by type on their huge display board. They also have a huge gorgeous outdoor space that makes this ideal for events. As my first introduction to Dallas, it lived up to the “everything’s bigger in Texas” hype.

We were starving after the happy hour and I had read about an upscale taco joint nearby called Revolver. We wound up at their new gourmet taco-only spot around the corner from the original, but I hear the OG has a sick 8-course $150 tasting menu that I considered going back for, especially after our tacos on the first night – great start to the trip. We shared guac, queso fundido, and sopitos around the table. All were great, but I particularly love that the guac came with pork rinds. The meat blend in the sopitos was also nicely balanced. For my main I got three tacos: duck, octopus, and tongue. So so good. Several of my tablemates got the duck and octopus and couldn’t stop talking about it. After dinner, I met a some friends/former coworkers at the hotel bar before calling it a night. Standard.

Wednesday, August 24th

I woke up and hit up the gym – yay for hotels with Pelotons! This is where I noticed there are grasshoppers EVERYWHERE in Dallas. (Or crickets…I’m not up on my insects, despite taking an entomology class in college.) They were hopping into the gym and I later saw crushed ones littering the street. I’ve never seen anything like it. Must be a Dallas thing.

I spent all day working the event and only managed to break quickly for lunch at a salad spot in Downtown Dallas – lots of corporate midtown vibes – followed by coffee at Berni Bean. This cute spot felt like the Costa Rican rainforest and they. They did a great job making you forget you’re in an office building and the coffee was great.

Dinner was at Mia’s, at a local’s recommendation. Apparently this used to be a hole in the wall, but they recently expanded due to popularity and I can see why. (Also, I was hooked when I saw the giant “If Mama ain’t happy…” sign, since my own mother has proudly displayed that motto in our house my entire life.) Oh how I missed queso! Down and dirty runny white queso dip is nearly impossible to find in NYC and I love it so much. Had to get some to start and I could have taken down the entire bowl myself. We also split an order of the brisket tacos among the four of us as an appetizer and wow. If we’re talking Tex-Mex style, these are some of the best tacos I’ve had. I also got an order of the chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce as my entrĂ©e (recommended by the same friend who recommended the restaurant) and they did not disappoint. After dinner, I hit up one of the event’s official parties. It was at a club that was convenient to the conference but not someplace I’d rush back to. My one dream/plan for this trip was to go to The Roundup, a famous gay bar with line dancing. Alas, everyone was exhausted and nobody would go with me. Sad.

Thursday, August 25th

This time, I decided to take my morning workout outside. Going for a run is one of the best ways to discover a city. I decided to head from the hotel to the Katy Trail, which was less of a trail and more of a long narrow park. On the way back, I found a cute coffee shop (State Street Coffee) that was inside a wine bar (genius) and also had a walk-up window (also genius). I grabbed a latte and admired the architecture of the Uptown neighborhood on my way back to the hotel.

I had a very short window for lunch and everyone seemed to be dragging their feet so I rushed out by myself for some bbq. I went to Pecan Lodge because it was close and happens to have won a bunch of awards. I got the pulled pork with collards and mac and cheese on the side. The pork was great; my sides…meh. The mac wasn’t bad, but I’m a firm believer that mac and cheese should be casserole style. The collards needed more vinegar, more ham hock…just more? I will say I spied the potato salad next to me and it looked really good.

Dinner was a client event my company hosted (planned by moi!) at Yardbird. I’d never been to Yardbird but had always heard great things about their other locations and this proved the rumors true. The staff was so pleasant to work with and very accommodating. The food (deviled eggs, mini chicken and waffles, short rib sliders, mac and cheese cups, fried pickles, fried green tomato blt, and key lime pie) was some of the best I’ve had at a work reception. The cocktails were tasty and beautiful, and the decor was on point. There was no topping our own party so afterwards, we skipped the official wrap party and wound down at the hotel bar.

Friday was a travel day so I closed things up at the booth and headed to the airport. I only got a small glimpse of Dallas (more on what I’d like to do if I ever return below), but I can’t say I hated it!

Dallas Details
  • Accommodations
    • We stayed at the Sheraton Downtown because it was the site of the conference. Everything was great, but it wouldn’t be my first choice of neighborhood. The bonus here is that it’s a stone’s throw from the Deep Ellum neighborhood, which seems to be a fun area for going out at night. It’s also a pretty young scene – just a heads up.
    • If I was choosing my own hotel, I’d probably go with one of the following:
      • The Gaston: for a moody b&b experience
      • The Pittman: for a convenient downtown location…plus Kimpton hotels are usually a good bet. They also have a fun pool and a good restaurant that I sent some of my coworkers to.
  • Food & Drink
    • Tex-Mex: If there’s one thing you must eat in Texas, it’s Tex-Mex. We loved Mia’s (detailed in the main post, above), but I also hear Avila’s is good.
    • BBQ: If there’s a second thing you must eat in Texas, it’s BBQ. Dallas may not be as famous as Austin, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do some good smoked meat. In Texas, brisket is definitely the specialty. I can’t vouch for the best spot, but Eater usually knows what’s up.
  • Activities
    • The Round-up: I mentioned it above, but this well-known gay bar is bound to be a good time. If you go to Texas, you should definitely go to a saloon.
    • Everything’s bigger in Texas so I recommend taking in the megamansions built by that Dallas oil money and do some ogling in the Highland Park neighborhood.
    • I’ve been to a rodeo and let me tell you, it’s FUN. Hit up Cowtown Coliseum for some live entertainment.
    • You’ll hear a lot of people mention Kennedy’s assassination when it comes to historical landmarks, but here’s a full list of iconic historical spots in Dallas.
    • There’s some great vintage shopping in Dallas. I’d check out Lula B’s for antiques and Dolly Python for clothing.