Best in Dallas

All the things you thought Dallas didn't have

Howdy, Folks!

It’s that time of year again – we’re just days away from opening day of the great State Fair of Texas. You know, I actually know people who have lived here a long time and have NEVER BEEN to the Fair. Something about crowds and a questionable part of town… Well, their loss. The fall has been Fair time in my family for my entire life. As a child, I remember well coming home with an upset tummy because my Dad would let me eat anything – corn dogs, cotton candy, ice cream bars and taffy – we found plenty even before the days of the fried food competition. Add a few “funhouse” type rides and maybe a roller coaster and it was all worth the uncomfortable ride home.

My personal favorite place at the Fair is the Creative Arts building. I won a ribbon there as a teenager for a hooked rug. I love seeing what people can do with a camera or a sewing machine or other sometimes unlikely media. And don’t miss the butter sculpture.

The Fair has really come a long way in the last few years with beautiful landscaping and wonderful displays of gardening. I understand there’s a new greenhouse display this year and I look forward to it.

Music, new cars, arts, working animals and clever animals and birds, daily parades – we can spend a day and honestly never even make it to the Midway rides. One ride that shouldn’t be missed, however, is the Texas Star. The largest Ferris Wheel in the Americas marks the skyline of the Fair. The lines are long and it’s a bit pricey, but worth the wait.

So take an evening or a weekend day and visit Big Tex. They’re putting him up tomorrow. He’s always reminded me of my late Uncle Norton, who was the real deal.

The Fair opens Friday and runs for 24 days. Tickets are $15 at the gate but look for discount tickets (at Kroger & McDonalds) and special discount days. Every school student in the state receives a free ticket – don’t let it get lost in a locker or backpack!

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September 19, 2010 Posted by | Edible, Fair Park, Historic | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Long Summer

I’ve been a slacker this summer. I must admit that when the extreme heat hits, it’s a little less tempting to get out and maybe even a little harder to brag on Dallas. But when the “cold front” arrived yesterday and I realized that the State Fair is right around the corner, I started thinking of what to feature next. We also have a new house guest, an exchange student from Korea. Suddenly I’m seeing things through the eyes of a teenager who is new not just to Dallas, but to the country. Should give me some new perspectives!

Here’s where I need the help of my readers. Suggestions? Recommendations? I would love to check out the places that you find to be unique to this area, and to hear why. And I’d love to know what you think are the best places to show off to someone entirely new to the country and the area!

(P.S. Can’t they just call them “less-hot fronts”?)

August 25, 2010 Posted by | Bishop Arts District, Creative, Dallas Suburbs, Downtown, Edible, Fair Park, Historic, Houses of Worship, Knox Henderson, Lovers Lane, Outdoors | , , | 1 Comment

DFW Attractions Pass

I have suggested this for a long time and it’s now available! For one price, you can buy a 2- or 3-day pass to seven Dallas Fort Worth area attractions and get discounts on even more. (I’m breaking my no-Ft. Worth rule here, but it’s a great package.) You can visit places you know you want to see and check out some that you might not otherwise try. Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Zoo, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Southfork Ranch of Dallas TV fame, plus 3 major attractions in Arlington and Fort Worth all for $29-$59. You also receive discounts for the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, Tussaud’s/Ripley’s, and the National Scouting Museum in Irving. Take a local vacation this summer or entertain out-of-town guests at the best places on both sides of the Metroplex! Order yours here. Where else can you get art, elephants, bowling and cowboys all for one ticket?

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Creative, Dallas Suburbs, Downtown, Historic, Outdoors | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rainbow Grill

Continuing with the hamburger theme, check out Sid’s Rainbow Grill on the Carrollton Square near Belt Line and 35E. With DART rail coming to the neighborhood soon more people will discover this place, but they do a brisk business now. (In fact parking can be a challenge.) The menu has other kinds of sandwiches, but the burgers are the best. The jalapeno burger is my favorite because they use just the right kind of peppers (equal parts flavor and heat) and they’re generous with them. Don’t miss the potato chips. House made with a mix of white and sweet potatoes – worth the trip all by themselves. For a summer treat, take the kids to Rainbow for ice cream or a soda. The bar has old-fashioned spinning stools so take the time to enjoy it there. A fun and nostalgic stop; the square is also charming and has several shops and restaurants that are worth a visit.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Dallas Suburbs, Edible, Historic | , , , , | Leave a comment

Goff’s

When I ask people about their favorite Dallas institutions, it’s amazing how many answers involve hamburgers. You can get them on pretty much any corner, but good hamburgers are not so common. Goff’s has been in Dallas since 1950. They only have 2 locations left, but check it out when you’re hungry. The #2 Hickory Smoke Sauce is my favorite since childhood. You can even buy the sauce in a jar and it’s better than any barbecue sauce on the market. Hot dogs, good onion rings, and real milk shakes will satisfy your cravings. Indulge in a fresh fried pie if you have room. Goff’s is located on Hillcrest right across from SMU and also at Preston and LBJ (southwest corner). The Hillcrest location is great if you’re attending a program at SMU. You can arrive early enough to get a parking place, have a good and inexpensive dinner, and go on to your event!

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Edible, Historic, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Smoke

Wait until you’re good and hungry and head for Smoke.  This restaurant, located adjacent to the historic Belmont Hotel in Oak Cliff, combines the work of a great chef with the down-home Southern foods you really want to eat.  Meats hardwood-smoked on-site, baked goods made from scratch, and many veggies from their own garden – Smoke redefines fresh.  Weekends feature a brunch menu until 3:00pm.  The Dilbeck-designed hotel was built in 1946 and perches on a cliff with a skyline view of Dallas.  Smoke is located at 901 Fort Worth Avenue in Dallas.  Worth the trip!

May 2, 2010 Posted by | Creative, Downtown, Edible, Historic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weir’s Furniture Village

The original location is on Knox Street and Weir’s now also has stores in Plano and Southlake. The store opened in 1948 and is currently in the hands of the 3rd generation of the family. Most of my household was furnished from Weir’s. I stroll through whenever I’m in the neighborhood of any of their stores. They carry furniture and accessories that simply feel like home. You find distinctive pieces instead of pre-arranged sets like so many stores are now featuring. Bargains can be found when they have a close-out item, but prices are fair all the time. If you don’t like something once it’s home, they will take it back. Don’t miss the Country Store where you’ll find old-fashioned candy by the ounce, fresh popcorn, and cold bottled soft drinks as well as gift items, children’s gifts, a selection of Christian books and cards, and even a Post Office. The history of the store is a fun read as they’ve really grown with Dallas.  Closed on Sundays; here’s where you’ll find them.

April 27, 2010 Posted by | Creative, Historic, Knox Henderson | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lovin’ Oven

Lancaster’s historic town square is home to this miniscule bakery that has been in business for almost 30 years.  The town square has taken several beatings over the years from fires to a Bonnie & Clyde bank robbery to a devastating tornado in 1994, but its charm has survived and it has some cute shops.  The Lovin’ Oven bakery is a great stop simply for yummy cookies, cakes, and other baked treats to eat on the spot or to order for an event.  Located at 181 Historic Town Square in Lancaster.

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Creative, Dallas Suburbs, Edible, Historic | , | Leave a comment

Dallas Summer Musicals

In the past when you wanted to buy season tickets to the Summer Musicals, you had to buy the whole season and the same time slot for all of the shows, even if not all the shows were of interest. We once split a season with someone that worked out remarkably well, but it was rare to find someone with opposite tastes to split the shows. Now, you can build a custom season ticket package with as few as four shows, selecting your preferred time slot for each individual show. You can combine shows at the State Fair Music Hall and the Majestic Theater downtown. Both of these historic venues are worth the trip and the shows are great productions. The cheap seats are no more expensive than a 3-D movie, and this is the original 3-D! I recommend that you splurge on at least one show, though, and go for the good seats. The first show, Xanadu, is already underway.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Creative, Downtown, Fair Park, Historic | , , | Leave a comment

Historic City Tours

When I served on the Dallas County Historical Commission (for almost 7 years), the response I frequently received when I told people I served was something along the lines of “Dallas has history?” Everybody knows about The Event, but many are not aware of anything happening here prior to 1963. Well, the Dallas Historical Society is here to set you straight. How did a major city come to exist on an unlikely plain? Find out on Saturday tours hosted by entertaining and informative guides which include lunch at classic establishments on the tour routes. Tours take you to areas of town like Oak Cliff, East and South Dallas, McKinney, historic Dallas neighborhoods and more. Others feature themes like Bonnie and Clyde’s exploits, local historic cemeteries, and, yes, The Event is featured in a tour that follows the steps of Lee Harvey Oswald on that fateful day.  “The Extreme Dallas Tour” (one is coming up on April 24) features little-known facts and details that even the Dallas experts will enjoy. Dallas simply isn’t as old as New York or Chicago, but we definitely have history and wonderful examples of architectural eras. Tours begin at the Hall of State at Fair Park, where the Dallas Historical Society headquarters. By the way, if you’ve never been to Fair Park during a non-State Fair time, check out this National Historic Landmark and enjoy the largest collection of art deco architecture when you can take it in without the crowds.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Fair Park, Historic | , | Leave a comment