Catch you later!!
In October – I was given a huge opportunity to lead a corporate support team in an event called the Red River Showdown in Dallas, Texas. The showdown is a college football game played annually at the Cotton Bowl inside Fair Park during the State Fair of Texas. My company partnered with the Cotton Bowl’s concessionaire in order to deliver a new “feature” to annual game. This would be the first game to have the ability to sell alcohol for its 92,000 fans, and I got to play a part in that momentous occasion.
As with most of the events that I assist with, or oversee – the hours are late and the work is hard. I am separated from my family for days – sometimes weeks, the sleep is usually less then spectacular and the hotel beds do a number on your back. However – the reward of having people leaving with a big smile plastered all over their face is all worth it. The sense of accomplishment just fills me with pride and a lust for the next “big one”. But alas this is not a post about my event – this is about what I make sure to do after every event in a different city. I take 2- 3 days to fully immerse myself in the local flavor, local cuisine, and local attractions – Dallas has been on my bucket list for a while and I was pumped to spend the next few days hittin’ the pavement – but unfortunately I had 24 hours so I had to make them count.
State Fair of Texas
Celebrate all things Texan – The State Fair of Texas started in 1886 and lasts 24 consecutive days! The fair promotes Texas agriculture, education, and community involvement through entertainment in a family-friendly environment.
Big Tex is the official greeter and star of the State Fair of Texas. He is known around the world as the world’s tallest cowboy. This giant has welcomed millions of guests annually in a billowy recording that airs in the park throughout the day.
Of course there is rides, and exhibits and can’t forget the obnoxious games – but the real reason I could not wait to attend – the food of course! I have been to a fair share of fairs but this one puts all others to shame!
Full disclaimer – if fried foods are not your thing – run – run as quick as you can (while you still can) – a few of what I saw/and tasted
Deep Fried Peaches & Cream, Big Red Chicken Bread (Big Red® -flavored frosted donut with a fried chicken wing resting in the middle), Fried Thanksgiving Dinner Balls, Deep Fried Butter (yup – I warned you). and fried bubblegum! I am so upset I do not have my personal photos ( had a fight with technology in Dallas and lost the bulk of my photos) but I made some of own versions you’ll read about a little later on – but if you cannot wait till then I suggest you buy the annual State Fair of Texas Cookbook here
West End Historic District
For some people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Dallas is: football, cowboys, “big” – for me it’s the city where JFK was assassinated. I know it sounds morbid – but I was obsessed with all things JFK as a kid – still am. I cannot pass a bookstore without looking at a biographical book, or history book about the JFK era. I could not take an official tour due to time constraints but I walked around Dealey Plaza, I saw the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza, The Old Red Museum, the infamous grassy knoll to spot where the former president was assassinated in 1963.
Dallas World Aquarium
I love aquarium’s – I have no idea why. I love to eat fish – and I can’t swim. I just do not know why I love them so – but in any major city I visit – I try to find theirs’ is. Luck be have it – this literally was across the street from my hotel. Fate.
This was no ordinary aquarium – this was an old warehouse, tucked into an alley between two buildings. I actually walked by it twice not knowing I had arrived at my destination. The aquarium closed at 4pm that day and it was about 2pm I think – so I was hoping I was going to have to deal with throngs of people and toddlers crying because they can’t touch. Again was I lucky – no one in line and the place was pretty quiet – it was a Wednesday afternoon mid work week, guess I shouldn’t be that shocked. The exhibits are really diverse, not your typical aquarium, they have an exhibit where you can hug a sloth, you get to see penguins in their icy open air home, tropical birds fly above your head, the flamingo’s are so vibrant you would think they had a filter on and the “pièce de résistance” is the 20,000-gallon walk-through exhibit filled with sharks (Picture taken from here)!!
This area offers just about everything your hungry heart and thirsty mouth desires! This neighborhood is filled with a mix of trendy eateries, bars, small shops, local art galleries. It reminds me of the Glebe meets Bank St when I lived in Ottawa, and the Wharncliffe area here in London, Ontario.
Before I hit a couple of restaurants and bars to dive into the local flavor – I couldn’t help but gaze in wonder at all the murals. The arts in this district is phenomenal. They are just begging to be on your instagram! If you have a couple days hop on over to the Jasminalley.com/bishop-arts-district-dallas/ They have an amazing guide – next time I am in Dallas, I am crossing every item off her list – another good blog to know where to see art all over Dallas is https://www.agirlfromtx.com/dallas-murals/
I was told by so many people in Dallas that I had to check out the following – Eno’s Pizza and Lockhart Smokehouse – so I did just that – Eno’s for lunch and Lockhart for dinner, with a nightcap at the Botanist.
Eno’s – so I heard really great things, they buy local produce from local farmers, they use micro-breweries for their draft lineup an that they use a woods stove for their pizza’s. Let me tell you – this is not your standard pizza joint! I was hungry. Don’t judge. I ordered the Arugula Pear Salad, an Eno’s Original Pizza with a Mean Green to wash it down.
The salad was delicious – the baby arugula was just bitter enough while it swam in a champagne vinaigrette – topped with crispy bacon, fresh basil and some blue cheese. Not always a fan of blue cheese, but today, definitely.
The pie (American for pizza – learned that the hard way my first time in the states telling the server he was wrong I didn’t want to start with dessert and he rudely informed me I was an idiot) had garlic mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, peppers and salami. It was a big pie 14″ for a solo diner but just meant leftovers for the trip to the airport the next day! This was absolutely delicious. You can taste the wood fire in the thin crust, the mushroom and tomatoes were tender – I need to go back now – just writing about it
To accompany my salad and pie I had the “Mean Green:; it’s a Cucumber Vodka, with fresh lime topped with Bubbles and Tajin Seasoning (mid chili peppers, lime and sea salt). Can you go wrong with anything that has bubbles in it! One thing to remember for us Canadians – the pour is strong. Forget those 1oz (ok you know its really 3/4oz) Canadian “poor” shots.
Lockhart Smokehouse is pure Texas BBQ – now I fully get it when I tell my co-workers from the States that we tend to BBQ every day in the summer and they look at me funny. Burgers and hot dogs on a mastergrill BBQ is not BBQ. Point taken. I will never make that mistake again.
In Lockhart’s you head to the counter and place your order – they charge by the half pound, but thank the lord I was able to just order a couple slices of brisket. If I keep eating my way through Dallas I may have to pay for extra weight on the flight home.
The staff were also super friendly, helping me out with the menu and what to order. Again – you can tell they love their food and are proud to tell you all about it. I decided on the brisket, the smoked baked beans and the brisket devilled eggs (I know!!)
The brisket was moist and tender, and had such a flavorsome smoke aroma – I thought I died and went to heaven. I was in BBQ heaven at least. The beans were a little too spicy for me – but I am a baby – certified 7 month old when it comes to heat. The eggs were slap me in the face good – lil spicy but so good I’ll suck it up – the mixture of egg yolk, mayonnaise, mustard and chopped brisket just made sense! Pretty sure there was some siracha, and smoked paprika in there as well!
They have weekly specials from porchetta, prime rib to leg of lamb – so if you are in town this a place you need to get your butt to.
When I was trying to figure out where to head for a night cap, I looked online – normally I would be down for a wee pub crawl, but an early flight out dictated a little research to make it count. Typically I am a dive bar kinda gall, nothing pretentious, I don’t want to have to watch my posture the entire time I’m sippin’ a cocktail. I went onto yelp as saw a description for the Botanist, “a mix between an upscale classy cocktail bar and a place where frat brothers come and get wasted” , perfect I’m down.
This place is out of this world. Leather love seats, cozy arm chairs, dimly lit, just inviting, cozy and makes you never want to leave. The service was top notch – the staff were friendly, made great recommendations and overall looked happy to be there (hard to find these days)
The drink list is well priced, libations are quirkily named and are clever with ingredients; Bob Ross (Jalapeno infused beer tequila, dry curacao, lime and agave), Remembering Places (coconut washed Japanese whiskey, blended scotch, pineapple rum cachaça, bitter aperitif, angostura bitters) . They also have the classics and a great wine list.
The Botanist is open Wednesday – Sundays; 5pm – 2am so make sure you plan ahead!
Well all – that was it – that was my 24 hours in Dallas, there was so many other things I wanted to do, catch a Dallas Stars hockey game, visit the Sixth Floor Museum, take a Trolley, or head to the Arboretum, well I guess I will have to “catch you later” ….
I want to leave you with one last picture – this is the sight I saw heading to the airport – just makes you feel real small (and mildly terrified when you don’t like flying to begin with)!