The Insider Guide to Dallas

The Insider Guide to Dallas

Hotels, Restaurants, Shops & Spas; we have it covered
Amanda Z

If London is a man and Paris is a woman, then Dallas is, and will always be, a cowboy: smart, embracing, fun loving, and with a little of the frontier about it. This is in so many ways a surprising city. In the 1980s, its reputation was, thanks to the eponymous TV series, one of expansiveness, wealth, skulduggery – the best of Americana meets the best of prime time television. The oil wealth is still there, but Dallas has in recent decades transformed itself from a ‘hard’ to a ‘soft’ power.

People come from all over to shop (note that when Gwyneth Paltrow opened her first US pop-up shop, she chose to locate it here, not in New York or L.A.). There are some fabulous dining options stretched across both Dallas and its twin-town, Fort Worth. It is still manageably but wonderfully rowdy, and has retained its rough edges thanks to institutions such as the Fort Worth Stockyards, where you go on Friday and Saturday nights for the rodeo in the Cowtown Coliseum, and stay on behind for a sizzling steak. And there is sports, glorious sports, in the guise of the Texas Rangers (baseball), Dallas Mavericks (basketball) and, of course, ‘America’s team’, the NFL-playing Dallas Cowboys. Cowtown Coliseum.

Where to Stay

Four Seasons – Rest and Restoration
Located between Dallas and Fort Worth, the Four Seasons is a fabulous, sprawling place located in and around an 18-hole championship golf course. We recommend the corner suites overlooking the course itself, or the South Villas facing the pool – both come with baths that almost qualify as plunge pools, and which fill up in matter of minutes. The sports club is first-class with up-to-the-minute classes around the clock, and also contains an indoor running track, indoor and outdoor tennis courts and squash facilities, and enough fitness machines to keep you busy for a month. The famed southern hospitality is at its best here: Courtney the concierge manages to magically book restaurants that are sold out weeks before, and little touches like the staff remembering your name makes staying here an absolute pleasure. The spa is another great reason to check in (and not want to venture out): the steam room, sauna, whirlpool and treatments are the perfect tonic for those wanting to recharge their batteries while laying in the very lap of luxury. 
4150 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75038 |‎ 

The Joule – For Fashion Lovers looking to Shop

Seen as the cultural epicentre of downtown Dallas, this revitalised 1920s neo-Gothic landmark building used to be a bank. The lobby is designed as a communal space and houses some truly magnificent art, and it also plays host to some fabulous culinary events. The rooms are a mix of the Art Deco and the contemporary, varying in size from compact to spacious, but each equipped with plush en suite bathrooms, free wifi, iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs. For anyone intending to hit the shops, the Joule is perfectly positioned. It is adjacent to Neiman Marcus’ flagship store, and the hotel has its own retail boutiques that have transformed it into one of the city’s premier shopping destinations. Boutiques from New York and Los Angeles serve up exclusive collections found nowhere else. As if that wasn't enough there is an award winning ESPA spa and a roof top pool. 
1530 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201 |

Where to Eat

Lucia - For Italian
This creative-and-cosy restaurant in the hip-and-trendy Bishops Arts District is hands down the best Italian eatery in the city. It is also not easy to secure a reservation. Owner-chef David Uygur has a faithful following that heralds from his days heading up the kitchen at Lola (another popular Dallas spot) where he served up a limited-place tasting menu boasting beautiful rustic Italian dishes inspired by his partner Jennifer’s love of Italian food. There are only 36 seats available (which includes four at the bar), another reason it is near impossible to get a table (although Courtney the concierge at the Four Seasons managed to wangle us a reservation). The menu, divided in the Italian style into four courses, changes and adapts with the seasons. It changes frequently and uses a cornucopia of fresh ingredients, including pasta and bread made fresh and to-order on the premises. Wines are also superb thanks to Jennifer's past life as manager of the Dallas Wine Market. 
408 W Eighth St #101, Dallas, TX 75208 | Tel: +1 214-948-4998 |

Uchi - For Japanese
Combining local seasonal ingredients with an infinite spectrum of seafood from around the world – that is the basis for Uchi's culinary philosophy.  The fish is incredibly fresh, thanks to being flown in daily from the Fukuoka and Tsukiji markets in Japan. Executive chef Tyson Cole combines unexpected textures and flavours – we recommend you ignore the menu, and instead tell the waiter what flavours or fish you prefer, and let them create a perfect menu tailored to your taste buds. Just make sure you order the sprouts. It isn’t a vegetable I'd usually use as a focal point on my table, but in this instance it is well deserved. The food arrives as soon as it is ready, providing you with a steady stream of light dishes that are heavy on taste without leaving you feeling too full. And leave room for desert, because their chocolate creation is just heavenly. Uchi accepts a limited number of reservations each night, so if you go early, you have a reasonable chance of snagging a table. There is also space at the bar overlooking the open-plan kitchen, and a lounge out the back for cocktails. This hot new opening has been a runaway success and should definitely be on your list of places to go if you are a fan of Japanese. 
2817 Maple Ave, Dallas, TX 75201 | Tel: +1 214-855-5454 |

Pappas Bros. - For Steak
Before I even set foot in the place, I knew this was going to be special. Half the town talks about Pappas Bros. Word is that it is the best steakhouse in Texas – indeed, it felt like you couldn't have a conversation about a steak without Pappas Bros being mentioned. The building is truly grand: Vegas-like with a big entrance, a jazz pianist playing in the old fashioned bar, and an old-school dining room with its own cigar shop. Pictures adorn the wall, crisp white linen covers the tables, and there is enough subdued lighting and nooks and crannies to keep the atmosphere buzzing. The starter options aren't the most imaginative, the highlight being the seafood tower, a combination of crab claws, oysters, devilled eggs and prawns – but the show-stopper is, of course, the steak menu.  You will find every slice and style here, from filet mignon and ribeye to porterhouse and the strip. All are aged for at least 28 days, gorgeously marbled and cooked to perfection.  There is however one point of mention, perfection comes at a price, at around a $100 a pop, this restaurant is best saved for special occasions unless you are someone who regulary pushes the boat out at dinner. 
10477 Lombardy Ln, Dallas, TX 75220 | Tel: +1 214-366-2000 |

Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck – For Fusion
For some of the best views the city has to offer, head to the revolving dining room atop Reunion Tower, where Wolfgang Puck’s celebrated Asian fusion cuisine can be found together with an extensive list of wine and sake.  We skipped the glass cocktail bar and lounge and headed straight to the table, where we decided to start with wine. Unsure of what to select, we were offered a wine-tasting session at the table before selecting two different whites. Then we tucked into the proper menu, starting with the crispy Maine lobster and shrimp rolls, beautifully cooked, crispy, light and big enough to share.  That was meant to be followed by the sea bass and the beef stir-fry but before the beef made an appearance the quail arrived. Perhaps it is the revolving floor, I wouldn't blame anyone for feeling confused with tables that are never in the same place - either way we gained another dish. All were full of flavour, the wines were a perfect match to the food and the ambience, and the 360-degree views were spectacular. The location didn't feel an altogether obvious choice for Puck, but it works well, the food is excellent and the bill was more than reasonable. 
300 Reunion Blvd E, Dallas, TX 75207 | Tel: +1 214-571-5784 |

Proof & Pantry – For a laid-back gastro evening
If something a little low key is what you are after, head over to Proof & Pantry, an American gastropub that serves superb food and compliments it with knock-out cocktails. The menu is designed to be shared, dishes are described as ‘bulk’ (which refers to the size of the portions). Go with a group of friends to make the most of the menu. However be warned, Proof & Pantry has one drawback, it is rather popular and occasionally the service can be a little slow, order some drinks and enjoy the company while you wait for food to arrive. The dishes are seasonal, tasty and well worth the wait. The cocktails are creative and the atmosphere offers a good vibe without being pretentious.  In short we loved it.
1722 Routh St, Dallas, TX 75201 | Tel: +1 214-880-9940 |

Where to Shop

Hyland Park  – For designer boutiques, Highland Park Village is the Fifth Avenue, Bond Street and Rodeo Drive of Dallas; Balenciaga, Chanel, Hermes, Tom Ford and Stella McCartney all have outposts here. It was also the location of choice for Gynthew Paltrow when she opened a 'Goop' pop up shop in the States.  Stepped in history, it was the country’s first shopping centre, and gained historic landmark status because of it. 
Hyland Park |

North Park – As with many American cities, this is the land of the shopping mall, North Park is one of Dallas’ better offerings, with an entire section dedicated to designer shopping outlets. Cartier and Burberry sit cheek-by-jowl among other popular American high street outlets, including Victoria’s Secret, Frye, Anthropologie and Free People.  You will also find an outpost of Everything but Water here (see below)
8687 N Central Expy, Dallas, TX 75225 |

Neiman Marcus - Their flagship store is adjacent to the Joule hotel and is the original store in the US, but there is also one in North Park - which is worth a visit if only for the cocktails served in the basement when you want to take a break from denting the plastic. There is little you can't buy here: the shoe department is exceptionally good as is the service. 
1618 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201 |

Everything but Water – For beachwear, look no further than Everything but Water with brands that includes Lulifama’s colourful bikini’s and kaftans, Melissa Odabash, Rachel Zoe, Heidi Klein and L*Espace are just a few of the brands that will have you reaching for your credit card. Be super-chic poolside with their range of beautiful summer collections.
Multiple locations |

Where to Spa & Get Pampered
For a great spa experience, head to either the Joule or the Four Seasons. Both offer award-winning spas with a great range of bespoke and traditional treatments.  For waxing head to the European Wax centre and the Nail Lounge do a mightly fine mani/pedi that defintely won't break the bank.

What to Do

Stockyards – Spend a night in the Wild West and go and enjoy the Rodeo.  As soon as you arrive in Fort Worth you get the feeling of being transported back to another era. The cowboys all look the part, and if you so feel inclined, you can buy a pair of boots made to order. Though be careful – some stretch into the thousands of dollars, and will make a real dent in your credit card.  After the Rodeo there are a host of great restaurants (we’d recommend Cattlemen’s Steak House) and bars with live music and plenty of atmosphere.
130 E Exchange Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76164 |

Enjoy the Sport – Basketball, baseball or American football – Dallas has some of the best sporting teams the country has to offer. From the billion-dollar AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, to the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Mavericks, there is something for everyone. Tickets range in price and there is something to suit all tastes and incomes.

Getting There
British Airways fly to Dallas Fort Worth from London Heathrow once daily.  Fares start at £763 return including taxes/fees/carrier charges. Sale fares (selling until November 3rd 2015), start from £516, to book visit British Airways