Things Dentonites Might Like Doing in Dallas - Part 2
The most important part of this piece are the food recommendations. Part 1 of The Dentonite’s Guide to Dallas was about music and bars. Here’s the part to step up your culture and dining experiences.
The Dallas Museum of Art
Located right in the middle of the Arts District in Downtown Dallas, the DMA has one of the largest permanent collections in the U.S. with exhibitions being rotated fairly frequently. It’s super quiet, as to be expected, but surprisingly full of people given its sound, and if you haven’t been there before you can get lost. Their late night events used to be the stuff of legends, but have since tamed down since charging $15. But hey, the DMA is still free during normal hours. The rotating exhibitions have a small fee and there are student discounts.
The Nasher Sculpture Center
Look, if you’re going to go to the DMA you may as well pop in to the Nasher, which holds an impressive collection of sculptures and hosts its own free late night event usually countering the DMA’s with local and visiting musicians playing in the back followed by a film to be shown. It’s good stuff, and if you’re nice with the bartenders they’ll be nice to you with the drinks.
Klyde Warren Park
Highways suck, right? What if we got a highway and just pissed off everyone for like a year with construction so we can put a park on it? That’s what Dallas did. It’s actually a very impressive park, just right across the street from the DMA filled to the brim with food trucks. There’s plenty of parking lots all around, and if you’re spent the day at the DMA and the Nasher you may as well stop by here for a little and take in some of the best people watching Dallas has to offer.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science
This is a very hands on place. Seriously. From the minute you walk up the steps there’s going to be a constant barrage of stuff to do and touch, from the marimbas at the entrance to the tornado simulators. Once inside you’ll notice that there’s a lot of kids because it’s frequently used as a field trip destination by schools all over the DFW. If that’s an issue for you, you should seriously consider going to their own late night event: Social Science. Tickets do sell out fairly quickly, so get them in advance and enjoy the live music as well as being able to do shots next to human skeletons. $24 to get in for non-members.
Dallas World Aquarium
You’ll have to go during the day, but the Dallas Aquarium is massive. I mean like really really big considering its apparent size from the outside. The way they do this is by making it very maze-like as you walk through trying to get a glimpse of the sloths (good luck, they’re shy), the crocodile (it likes to chill on the rock), and the otters. There’s lots of other stuff of course, but what you want to do is get a good photo under the shark tunnel and feel like a bond villain. $20 plus tax to get in.
White Rock Lake
Unfortunately, outdoors activities in Dallas proper are limited by its geography. The biggest exception to this is White Rock Lake, where you can rent kayaks, go for a walk around and watch the locals take in a jog (or join them), or simply watch one of the best sunset views in Dallas for some golden hour photos. After nightfall, this is a popular spot for people who still play Pokémon Go in 2019 as well as high schoolers looking to get away from their parents for a little. Good stuff.
When referring to the Farmer’s Market, I really mean both the market and the shed. Once here, you’ll find a few restaurants and specialty foods with multiple Best of Big D nominees. It’s not for the indecisive since you’ll be flooded with options. Take a look around before you make a decision, but I personally recommend the Caribbean Cabana’s jerk chicken (the greens are actually the best part).
Right across from the farmer’s market is Mudhen, one of Dallas’ best farm-to-table restaurants. It’s got a very good following and with the area’s development it’s quickly becoming difficult to get a table if you’re looking to do brunch, but it’s very much worth the wait if you’re into this kind of food. Their Aguas Frescas are cold pressed and if you can their shrimp and cauliflower grits they are absolute bomb. Being what they are, this is also a good bet for vegan options. Stuff does run out, so keep that in mind.
Ellen’s Southern Kitchen
I’m a sucker for really good mac and cheese, which you wouldn’t think would be all that difficult, but Ellen’s is where it’s at if that’s your thing. That being said, their brunch is very good but what you really want to go for here are their dinner options as well as a very generous cocktail bar. Parking is right across and the wait is never terrible, but you’ll be limited as for options immediately close by unless you happen to be catching a show at the House of Blues, which is just down the street.
Up until a few years ago, Dallas was depressingly short of chef-driven Mexican food. That’s not the case at all anymore, and one of the newest spots to prove this is Jalisco Norte. If you’re looking for tex-mex, this isn’t the spot for that. It’s about the sauces, the subtle spices and the Mezcal-forward cocktails.
Fun fact: did you know the DFW area is home to the largest population of Korean-Americans in Texas? Well, that’s the case, and because of that we have no shortage of Korean BBQ places, but the recommendation in Dallas proper has to go to Koryo Kalbi. Not only because of their superior selection of proteins as well as a higher quality of cut, but because of their non-bbq options. Seriously, if you’ve never had Kimchi Jjigae, now is a very good time to drown yourself in a bowl of this stuff.
Monkey King Noodle Co
If you’re in Deep Ellum and you’re in the mood for some Chinese noodles, this is it. You’re probably going to end up in Deep Ellum as the night progresses anyway, so this is actually a very convenient spot. It isn’t a very complicated menu, but it is done right. Get the hot spicy beef noodle soup and share some soup dumplings with a friend or two.
Revolver Taco Lounge
Look, we could get into a huge debate about the tacos in Dallas, but if we are going to talk about location as well as quality, its tough to beat Revolver. It’s right in the middle of Deep Ellum. The owner, Regino Rojas, also runs a back room 8 course menu known as Purepecha for which he has been nominated for James Beard awards. The tacos run from 3-7, and I highly recommend the Octopus tacos. The back room requires reservations and is currently sitting pretty at $110 a person. Yikes, but highly worth it.