Eat, Sleep, Do: Dallas
- Two blocks from the original Neiman Marcus, U.S. presidents and Queen Elizabeth herself have stayed at this Dallas icon. Built in 1912 by beer baron Adolphus Busch to resemble a beaux arts German castle, it cost $1.8 million, or about $45 million today, almost the cost of the recent renovation.
- A local firm—Swoon, the Studio—ditched the J.R. Ewing-style opulence of the last renovation in the 1980s. The recent makeover updated the hotel with a contemporary residential feel. Steel-frame windows, wood paneling, leather sofas and modern art give the lobby lounge a clubby vibe while retaining the historic touches like old-world fireplaces, marble floors, and the bronze chandelier with the signature eagle.
- The 407 rooms and 56 suites are decorated in a soothing palette of pewter, cream, and white and feature Western touches like leather headboards and barn-door showers. Bedside technology, Nespresso machines and complimentary Wi-Fi are among the amenities.
- The ornate plasterwork and gilded accents have been restored in the fine dining French Room, where Murano glass chandeliers remain but the cherubs have been painted white.
- There is now a spa, a pool—the hotel’s first—with a limestone waterfall and cabanas, and a barbershop in the lobby where you can get a straight-razor shave.
- This is arguably one of the top steakhouses in Dallas, where the servers, many of whom have worked at the restaurant for years, rival the food.
- Steaks are 100% USDA prime beef that has been dry-aged in-house for at least 28 days—strips, bone-in fillets, prime rib eyes—simply seasoned and seared to perfection.
- Seafood for the classic offerings—stone crab claws, live Maine lobster, king salmon—is delivered fresh daily. Turtle gumbo and the New York-style cheesecake are two must-orders on the menu.
- Experienced sommeliers can assist with selecting from the 3,900 wines from around the world.
- Justin and Diane Fourton ditched their corporate jobs to open this barbecue joint in Deep Ellum that started out in Shed #2 at the Dallas Farmers Market, where they built a following for tender brisket smoked over mesquite wood.
- Among the meaty offerings are house-made sausage (regular or jalapeno), beef ribs that can weigh up to one pound each, and pulled pork. All are served on metal trays with sides of pickles, slaw and onion.
- Mouth-watering dishes like Southern fried chicken, collard greens, mac and cheese, and Aunt Polly’s banana pudding are made from scratch, using family recipes.
- In 2011, chefs Olga and Raul Reyes elevated Mexican cuisine in Dallas when they opened this restaurant, serving food inspired by their coastal hometown of Alvarado, Veracruz.
- Seafood dishes are the stars here, with consistent raves going to the lobster enchiladas topped with an avocado and crab salad, but everything—from the made-to-order guacamole to the queso fundido to fish and shrimp ceviche—is freshly prepared.
- Signature dish >> The award-winning mole with juicy bits of shredded chicken tucked into a house-made corn tortilla and topped with queso fresco and avocado.
- Favorites on the cocktail list include the Oaxaca Mule, Spicy Margarita or Mesa Martini.
Birthplace of the Frozen Margarita
As the story goes, in 1971 Mariano Martinez, a Mexican-American high school dropout, opened Mariano’s Hacienda with $500 and an SBA loan. His Mexican restaurant became so popular that he couldn’t blend margaritas fast enough. Necessity being the mother of invention, he adapted a soft-serve ice cream machine to create frozen margaritas. The rest is cocktail history—in this case, literally, as Martinez’s original frozen margarita machine is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
You can’t swing a lasso in Dallas without hitting a bar or restaurant that serves margaritas, whether they’re frozen, on the rocks or up. There are as many kinds of margaritas—classic, fruit-infused, laced with smoky mezcal—as there are places to drink them. If you only have a few days in town, the pressing question is where to get the must-sip margaritas. Let us point you in the right direction.
- Beeline for the best. The house margarita at Las Almas Rotas in the trendy Expo Park neighborhood has received Best Margarita honors in D Magazine’s “Best of Big D” issue for the last two years. The winning combination of Arette Blanco Tequila, Naranja Orange Liqueur and fresh lime juice is served on the rocks and garnished with a dehydrated lime wheel. Las Almas Rotas also offers an extensive selection of tequilas and mezcals.
- Sample the local favorite. Mi Cocina’s Mambo Taxi, a classic frozen margarita with a swirl of house-made sangria, was the readers’ favorite of D Magazine’s bracket of 32 margaritas. Troy Aikman is among the affluent tipplers that frequent the recently renovated Highland Park Village location. The third-floor Monkey Bar has tripled in size and has an outdoor terrace, giving it that up-in-the-trees feeling.
- Explore on your own. The Frozen Sunburst Margarita (tequila infused with strawberry and mango puree) at Mariano’s Hacienda is one of the inventive tequila drinks you can sample at the 21 restaurants and bars featured on the Margarita Mile app. Download at Google Play or the App Store.
- Take a tasting tour. Navigate the city’s best Tex-Mex food and drink in its coolest neighborhoods on the Dallas’s Best Tacos & Margaritas Tour. Offered by Dallas Bites! Taste Tours and Adventures, it was named “Best Tour” by the Dallas Observer in its “Best of Dallas” 2018 issue. Reservations are a must.