Here’s a not-so-secret secret: Dallas is hip, vibrant and brimming with culture. Following a recent Fora meet-up there, we enlisted our local Texan advisors for some of their top recommendations for what to do, eat and drink in the home of the Cowboys. Spoiler alert: there’s a lot more to this city than football.
Read on for our advisor’s insider recs. Then, connect with Fora to plan and book your Dallas vacation today.
What to do in Dallas: nature trails, shopping, museums & more
The Katy Trail, a 3.5-mile public park, comes recommended by Fora Advisors Sara Wilcox and Sam Dwinell. It’s the perfect setting for a leisurely walk or bike ride — as well as a stop at the Katy Trail Ice House, a lively beer garden and restaurant. For more outdoorsy activities — hiking, walking, mountain biking — Fora Advisor Julie Spence recommends Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, located in Plano, a charming Dallas suburb.
For shopping, Sara loves Cabana Canary, “two of Dallas’ chicest stores located in converted bungalows along Lovers Lane,” she says. Fora Advisor Kris Weir says to head to Flea Style, where you can customize your own wide-brim or Stetson châpeau at the marketplace’s DIY hat bar.
According to Fora Advisor Nikki Brady, Dallas’ Bishop Arts District, brimming with independently owned businesses, is the place to be for an especially local feel.
“We have a hat shop, a record store, a candle store, a cigar lounge, a jazz hall (music nightly), fresh lemonade, boba, gelato, many boutiques and a plethora of bars and restaurants ALL in walking distance,” she says. “One of my favorite things to do is a ‘progressive dinner’ and get a little bite and drink at a bunch of different places throughout the night.”
Speaking of night-time activities: both Sara and Julie mentioned The Rustic, a live-music venue owned by country-music star Pat Green. For something more relaxing, Julie recommends taking art classes at Oil and Cotton, a chic, light-filled, women-owned space that champions community.
The best restaurants in Dallas, from casual pubs to upscale haunts
This is Texas, which means the culinary scene is a vibrant, comforting sampling of numerous cultural influences. You can’t visit Dallas without savoring some of the city’s stellar Mexican food. Fora Advisor Melissa Elliott loves The Mexican, a gourmet, trendy hot spot with great margaritas, she says. Julie loves Doce Mesas, a stylish mainstay with two popular locations (and more great margaritas).
Traditional Texan and Tex-Mex food is also a must. The beloved MiCocina is a Tex-Mex favorite of Kris’ (and home to the “infamous” Mambo Taxi margarita, she says). For delicious, tried-and-true Texas fare (chicken-fried steak, fried green tomatoes), Melissa loves Haywire, which focuses on locally sourced ingredients. Lockhart Smokehouse is great for Texas BBQ in a casual and fun setting, says Nikki. (“Don’t forget to get their amazing sauces and pickled toppings!” she advises.) Upscale Texas/Southwestern food is expertly prepared at Fearing’s, at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, another rec from Melissa.
We love some good-ol’-fashioned Texas BBQ, but Dallas’ selection of Italian restaurants is equally impressive. Per Nikki, Lucia is Dallas’ best Italian restaurant (hand-made pasta, freshly baked bread — the works). It’s small and intimate, she says, the type of place where the owner personally checks in on every table. Don’t miss the cured-meat plate, and be sure to snag a reservation at least a couple of months in advance, says Nikki.
Coastal Italian food gets a contemporary twist at Dea, a favorite of Sam’s (a rezzie here is also a must). Hand-made pasta and seasonal dishes are served at the breezy, plant-filled Paradiso, another favorite of Nikki’s (her pro tip: get the lightly fried artichokes). For wood-fired Italian food (fresh seafood, juicy steaks, seasonal veg) and fresh pasta, head to the sexy, vibey Monarch. It’s hard to get a reservation here, Melissa says, but she stresses it’s well worth the wait.
Modern European fare can also be enjoyed at Bistro 31, which Kris loves for their “creative cocktails in rustic upscale surroundings,” and the lovely, dimly lit French bistro Boulevardier, one of Nikki’s favorites.
And for fantastic Latin cuisine (and *the best* empanadas), Nikki recommends Chimichurri. As if you needed another reason to try it out, there’s a speakeasy in the back, she says.
The best bars and cafés in Dallas: kindness culture, cocktails & live music
Don’t sleep on Dallas’ café culture. Julie recommends the sunny La La Land (there are multiple locations), whose coffee shops revolve around an ethos of kindness, and Ascension, a collection of welcoming cafés serving specialty coffee with delicious bites (pastries, “sammies,” salads, bowls).
Breweries here are also popular — and tons of fun. 3 Nations Brewing, a bit further north, in Carrollton, boasts an outdoor patio and hearty pub food, says Sam. Per Julie, Peticolas Brewing Company is great for local ales, best enjoyed in their industrial-chic, tri-level (and kid-friendly!) taproom.
For fancy cocktails in a handsome, upscale setting, head to Rattlesnake Bar, the “see-and-be-seen bar in Dallas,” says Melissa. And for cocktails paired with live jazz, Nikki recommends Revelers Hall, in the heart of the Bishops Arts District.
Ready to travel? Connect with Fora to plan and book your Dallas vacation today.