by Kitty Martini
Y’all, I was born and mostly raised in this amazing city, so when I was asked to create a “Best Of”/”Things to See” list I found myself both excited and overwhelmed! I needed to not only share what I think makes Dallas amazing, but also to condense it into a reasonably length list and not an encyclopedic entry—not an easy task. I have had the very good fortune to have traveled the world and seen amazing things, but there is nothing quite like home! Without further ado, here are my top picks for essential places to visit in Big D (yes, we really call it that)!
Let’s be honest, we all know half the fun of traveling is taking enviable photos to show off on social media. I’ve broken down the best neighborhoods for both interesting eats and photogenic sights for pics below!
Deep Ellum: My personal favorite spot in all of Dallas. There are amazing bars, brunch spots, coffee options, and sugary stops in this artist den of Dallas. With tons of live music and murals galore, Deep Ellum provides entertainment and nonstop opportunities to take fantastic photos, all with a side of good people watching.
Bishop Arts: If you are looking for something a little less gritty, this adorable neighborhood is the bougie base for you! With tons of local artisan shops and restaurants, Bishop provides a cute and fun environment to shop and selfie around.
Oak Lawn: Lovingly referred to as the gayborhood, this neighborhood is full of niche shopping, bars, and nightclubs.
The Arts District: Dallas’s museum hub is located right in the middle of downtown. Between the Dallas Museum of Art, The Trammell & Maragaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, The Nasher Museum of Modern Art, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science you have an entire day of of art and culture to take in (free, in the case of the DMA and Crow)! And, if you time your visit correctly, the DMA hosts monthly Late Night block parties where the museums keep their doors open until midnight and there are food trucks a plenty! While you are here, be sure to stretch your legs at Klyde Warren Park and catch one of their many outdoor concert series!
Dolly Python: If you have been dreaming of a pair of vintage cowboy boots this is the spot for you! Dolly Python boasts a massive vintage selection from clothes to home goods, but where they really shine is their expansive boot collection.
1916 N Haskell Ave, Dallas, TX 75204
Dallas Pinup: Your one stop shop in the city for your retro-wear needs! This shop hosts a plethora of female sellers and has you covered from pasties to petticoats. Also, it has the added benefit of being in my favorite neighborhood, Deep Ellum!
2928 Main St #102, Dallas, TX 75226
Northpark Mall: Also known as one of the largest collections of large scale modern art pieces, this mall is more than just a collection of stores, it is a full day of activities! Between the restaurant options (I suggest The Theodore for Wes Anderson vibes and tasty menu options), art installations, and the duck and turtle pond (yes, actual adorable little duckies and turtles) there’s tons to see. That being said, the stores are nothing to ignore. Notable mentions among them include: Lush, Sephora, Makeup Forever, MAC, and Agent Provocateur
8687 N Central Expy, Dallas, TX 75225
The Original Neiman Marcus: I’m not actually suggesting people shop here, but it’s totally worth walking around in for its gorgeous displays and also for the Neiman Marcus café, which serves the most delightful popovers and strawberry jam you will have this side of the Mason Dixon Line.
1618 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201
This isn’t so much a name of a store as a street. For allllll your stripper needs there are rows and rows of shops that offer inexpensive jewelry (Sam Moon), quick costume options (Electrique Boutique), and just about anything you could want for costume building needs. Drive around the area and venture into one of the many overtly named stores, or get your local burlesque dancer to point out their treasured spot to you.
Places to Eat
Soup Dumplings from Monkey King and cider from a local brewery- Bishop Cider Co.
This category was EXCEPTIONALLY HARD TO NARROW DOWN, because, in case you didn’t know, Dallas boasts one of the largest food scenes in the nation. I probably could write a book on all the great places to eat here, but I’m gonna try to just give you the highlights.
Best View of Dallas/Interesting Menu
Smoke: Smoke has an amazing view of the skyline and an adventurous menu of barbecue goodness. Attached to the Belmont Hotel (a renovated historical site) Smoke offers great cocktails, fantastic atmosphere, and an exceptionally well curated menu of farm to table items. Pro-tip: try the mac and cheese.
901 Fort Worth Ave, Dallas, TX 75208
This is a split between Pecan Lodge (Deep Ellum) and Lockart (Bishop Arts): both will give you the massive menu of meats and sides that has come to represent what Texas Barbecue is. Get to either spot early, because both will run out of options as the day goes on and the lines only get longer. However, here’s a sneaky pro-tip: my favorite barbecue spot, Cattlelack, is located in Addison (and is only open two days a week, Thursday and Friday). While it won’t be as glamorous or centrally located as Pecan Lodge or Lockhart, it’s by far the best of the bunch if what you care most about is ridiculous eats. Finally, if you’re new to Texas barbeque: get the brisket and, yes, you want some slices of plain white bread to go with it.
Pecan Lodge: 2702 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226
Lockhart Smokehouse: 400 W Davis St, Dallas, TX 75208
Cattlelack Barbecue: 13628 Gamma Rd, Dallas, TX 75244
Monkey King Noodle Company: Located in Deep Ellum. I suggest the Dan-Dan, but, whatever you go with, don’t miss out on the soup dumplings.
2933 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226
Best Vegan Restaurant
Spiral Diner: Dallas is a super vegan friendly city, but the best of the bunch is Spiral Diner. If you can, try to make it to their brunch for some of the best pancakes I have ever had. No matter when you go, definitely don’t leave without grabbing one of their signature cupcakes!
1101 N Beckley Ave, Dallas, TX 75203
Zen Sushi: I gave it to Zen, because of the amazing location and interesting West Coast fusion menu. Plus the owner (the creator of the Caterpillar Roll) is a bad ass female sushi chef, a rarity in that field! Don’t miss out on the awesome drink menu of sake based cocktails.
380 W 7th St, Dallas, TX 75208
Best Brunch/Breakfast Spot
Yolk: This one hurt my heart to have to pick, because OH MY GOD Dallas has the most amazing brunch options! However, Yolk won out for its large menu and quality selection. While it isn’t the most glamorous, it is solid and tasty, and definitely my favorite before tech show day meal! That being said, if you are looking for something on the more instagrammable side I suggest Henry’s Majestic. Two words: Sparkling Bar.
Yolk: 8315 Westchester Dr, Dallas, TX 75225
Henry’s Majestic: 4900 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75205
Revolver Tacos: Located in Deep Ellum. Simple, delicious, and handmade tortillas, y’all.
2701 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226
I felt like this deserved its own category given that we all know the pain of wanting something more than drive-thru after we cram our costumes back in the case after a long show day. Below are my favorite late night spots that are tasty and won’t judge you for peeling off your lashes at the table.
They are lumped together, because, really, they are basically the same option of better-than-IHOP breakfast items and coffee that’s open 24/7. I lean towards BuzzBrews, but be prepared for mediocre to not that-great-service at any given point for either option.
Interesting tacos that are on the larger side (I’d never order more than two), but really I feel like the star of the show is their crazy tater-tot runny egg monstrosity side item they offer. Also, surprisingly, they have an amazing Red Velvet cake.
3012 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206
This is my favorite of all stripper breakfast options: late night Vietnamese comfort food. Do the pho and get it “dirty”, you’ll thank me later.
2537 N Fitzhugh Ave, Dallas, TX 75204
Glazed Donut Works
This would have gone into the sugar list, but because it’s mostly available late night and offers some pretty hefty savory options I felt like Glazed earned a spot on the Stripper Breakfast list. Glazed Donuts offers the best donut out of any place I have been to in the entire nation. The staff is incredible, the donuts are interesting without sacrificing flavor for flair, and you can get things like a donut grilled cheese sandwich after a show at 1:00 in the morning. Magic. Pure. Magic.
2644 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75226
If there is one thing your girl knows it’s sugar, and I promise you that you’ll want to at least add one of these to your list of places to visit.
The name speaks for itself. These macarons are all a joy, but be sure to snag a champagne flavored one!
839 W Davis St, Dallas, TX 75208
Serving their cheesecakes in adorable little mason jars, this locally owned shop is open late and serves some of the best cheesecake I have ever had. Trust me when I say to get the Lemmon Avenue flavor.
3906 Maple Ave, Dallas, TX 75219
There are multiple locations for this precious pie shop, but my favorite is still the original location (the address is the numerical Pi). Flavors switch out by season and all of them are amazing.
314 N Bishop Ave, Dallas, TX 75208
The Cake Bar
So, while this spot doesn’t serve alcohol, it does serve the best cake in town AND is right next to a fantastic chocolate shop (Kate Weiser). While they have a wide assortment of flavors, my suggestion is the simple yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It’s a classic for a reason.
3011 Gulden Ln #117, Dallas, TX 75212
Burning It Off
No matter what the night of the week, dancing in Oak Lawn is a good time.
Voted number one bar for dancing in Dallas, there’s two-stepping and country line dancing on the main floor and top 40 in the adjacent lounge area. When Dita’s in town, this is where you’ll find her.
With several floors and lounges, this is really four clubs in one. Check out the drag show upstairs in the Rose Room, or stick to shakin’ it on the main floor!