The Hedonist: Dallas
What to see and where to be seen
Saturday 22 January 2011
Since it was put firmly on the map by that TV series, Dallas has maintained a reputation for cowboy cool. Resolutely patriotic, Dallas residents keep their fingers firmly on the pulse while staying true to their roots – and I, for one, can't get enough of its sophisticated southern style.
Upon arrival, I check into the ridiculously hip W Dallas Victory Hotel (001 214 397 4100; WHotels.com/Dallas) on Victory Park Lane. With a horse-and-cowboy motif on the curtains in the lobby, the country bumpkin décor proves that even the trendiest places in this city can't help but add a Texan touch. After enjoying a few Texan-sized bellinis by the infinity pool, I join a few friends for lunch at the in-house eatery, Sammy's BBQ. Texans take their barbecues very seriously, and Sammy's doesn't disappoint. With buffet-style service and down-home atmosphere, this place is straight-up local territory. I quickly catch the eye of a tall one named Billy (what else?) and find myself saying yes to dinner that evening. I now understand what they mean by Southern charm.
With the largest urban arts district in the US, it is a real shame to visit Dallas and not squeeze in some of the culture. However, I'm in a hurry, so I head to the North Park mall for a slightly superficial take on modern art. This retail space has hosted works from Henry Moore, Andy Warhol and many others. But before I know it, the sales assistant in the Neiman Marcus department store (001 214 363 8311; neimanmarcus.com) is sending me on my way with more new pairs of shoes than is sensible. Surely Sue Ellen didn't carry her own bags?
Time for a pampering at The Spa at the Rosewood Crescent Hotel (001 214 871 3200; crescentcourt.com). The Crescent is city-chic at its best. Located in fashionable Uptown, it offers a perfect combination of traditional elegance and modern accessibility. The super-sized changing rooms in the spa should please even the most discerning oil heiress.
After that, I've got a craving for more of those Texan flavours, so the stunning Stephan Pyles restaurant (001 214 580 7000; stephenpyles.com) on Ross Avenue is just what I need. My date suggests the tamale tart with roast garlic custard and peekytoe crab. Chef Dean Fearing's restaurant in the Ritz Carlton (001 214 922 0200; ritzcarlton.com) on McKinney Avenue also does wonders of the state's increasingly glowing culinary reputation, with southwestern-inspired offerings like tortilla soup and buffalo tenderloin.
Ready to get our groove on, we head to the warehouse district of Deep Ellum to knock back a few beers. Notorious for its influence on the local punk music scene of the early 1980s, the spirit of the area still exists, with tattoo parlours and dive bars on every block.
After catching a great live gig, we head Downtown to new hotspot PM Nightlife Lounge (001 214 261 4501; pmnightlifelounge.com) on Main Street. With oversized chandeliers, animal-hide rugs and patent red leather cushions, the décor puts me in the mood to mingle and my attention soon strays to the bartender. A few frozen margaritas later, the rest of the night is history...
I wake up with a thumping headache to match the bass of last night's music. I can't remember what happened to the bartender or the cowboy, so I drag a friend/witness to brunch at the terrace of the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek (001 214 559 2100; mansiononturtlecreek.com). The hotel earns its name with seemingly effortless glamour. As I lounge beneath the oak trees and devour my huevos rancheros, I forget my hangover.
We gather enough strength for a stroll in the Dallas Arboretum (001 214 515 6500; dallasarboretum.org) on White Rock Lake. The gardens feature countless flowers that bloom all year round. And then, after grabbing a last bite at Sardinian restaurant Arcordoro & Pomodoro (001 214 871 1924; arcodoro.com) on Crescent Court, I am once more a fully functioning person. But I am so full from good eatin' I may need medical assistance to get me home. Dallas's motto is "Think Big": here size really does matter.
A Hedonist's Guide to... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com
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