Dallas Travel Guide: How to See Dallas Like a Local

Dallas Travel Guide | Where to Eat in Dallas | What to Do in Dallas | Where to Stay in Dallas | Long Weekend in Dallas | Dallas City Guide by Travel Blogger Glitter & Spice

I moved to Dallas during the summer of 2013. Since that time, the city has completely changed. Areas I never would have thought to go for dinner now have some of the best restaurants in the city. Conversely, areas which I assumed would become increasingly lively 5 years ago have now instead stagnated.

I previously wrote a Dallas Travel Guide (which you can view here). So why the update? Well, for starters, I desperately needed to update my recommendations as a bunch went out of business (and a bunch went way downhill). Second, I wanted to create a Dallas Travel Guide for both (a) locals looking for the best spots around town and (b) for out-of-towners who want to experience all that Dallas has to offer!

Dallas Travel Guide by a Dallas local blogger | Where to stay in Dallas | Dallas skyline photo downtown

– Dallas Travel Guide: Where to Stay in Dallas –

I’m a weirdo who loves a staycation, so most of these recommendations do stem from my own experiences. Before you visit, you should know that Dallas has some awesome boutique. In fact, two of my favorite hotels in Dallas are boutique hotels: The Joule (Downtown) and Hotel ZaZa (Uptown). The Joule has an amazing rooftop pool and Hotel ZaZa is the easiest (and best!!) place to talk your way into a suite/room upgrade.

Downtown Dallas is also home to some amazing historic hotels – I particularly love The Adolphus (a Marriott property) and The Statler. Both of these properties sport fantastic restaurants (more on that below!) and some of the most fun rooftop pools in town. They were also both recently redone – The Adolphus with an 1920s art deco feel and The Statler in a mid-century design.

– Dallas Travel Guide: Where to Eat in Dallas –

In case you missed it, Dallas was named Bon Appétit’s Restaurant City of the Year in 2019. What does that mean? Basically Dallas is home to some damn good (and affordable!) food. And one of the most competitive foodie markets in the country (surprising, I know).

Best Restaurants in Deep Ellum

  • Cane Rosso – Wednesday nights are BYOB at this pizza place!
  • Monkey King Noodle Company – delicious Asian-inspired noodle soups and dishes. I love their chicken noodle soup.
  • Nori Handroll Bar – one of my favorite restaurants in Dallas, hands-down. Come hungry and prepared to eat lots of sushi!
  • Oni Ramen – fast casual made-to-order ramen spot. I recommend the Tan Tan Men.
  • Stirr – people go for the gorgeous views of Downtown Dallas from the rooftop bar but don’t forget about the food! Their brunch is secretly one of the best in town.

Best Restaurants in Downtown Dallas

  • City Hall Bistro – I love their shakshuka for lunch!
  • Mirador – take a break from shopping at Forty Five Ten (one of the most high-end stores in the country) and get the lobster roll for lunch
  • Musume – there’s a lot of lobster on this menu aka there’s a lot of things I LOVE. I’ve honestly enjoyed every dish I’ve ever eaten here. It’s also across the street from the Winspear so it’s the perfect spot for a pre-theater (or opera!) bite!
  • Overeasy – go for brunch. Get anything. Slash everything.
  • Scout – this restaurant literally has a bowling alley inside. It also has a great burger so get that.

Best Restaurants in Design District

  • Ascension Coffee – the best avocado toast in town. Just trust me on that one.
  • Sassetta – my favorite Italian restaurant in Dallas. Get the meatballs – you’ll thank me later.
  • Town Hearth – super-glam steakhouse. I love the interiors just as much as the food!
  • Wheelhouse – get the burger. Trust me.

Best Restaurants in Greenville and Knox-Henderson

  • Blue Goose Cantina – delicious and super cheap Mexican food. They have daily drink specials to make it even more budget-friendly.
  • Gemma – go for oysters during their excellent reverse-happy hour.
  • Grange Hall – get the snob sandwich. It’s every bit as pricey yet delicious as it sounds.
  • Henry’s Majestic – go for brunch… it’s my favorite in Dallas! Enjoy the sparkle bar (mimosa bar). Grab some deviled egg avocado toast and an order of the shrimp and grits for the table, before capping off your feast with the charred tomatillo chilaquiles.
  • HG SPLY CO – get a round of frozen moscow mules and enjoy the sunset toast.
  • Velvet Taco – this late-night spot is CLUTCH (and delicious!). Get a falafel taco, a fish ‘n chips taco, and a side of tots. Or just one of everything.
  • Ziziki’s – go for legit any meal… you won’t be disappointed! I particularly love their weekend brunch buffet.

Best Restaurants in Oak Cliff

  • Boulevardier – honestly any meal is fantastic here. I even love to pop in for champagne and oysters with friends.
  • Eno’s Pizza Tavern – fun atmosphere, great apps. I love their heirloom spinach white pizza and the meatball and the goat pizza.
  • Lockhart Smokehouse – my favorite BBQ spot in town. Like any true BBQ joint, it doesn’t technically have a closing time… it just closes when it runs out of meat! Make sure you get a side of the blue cheese coleslaw.
  • Lucia – exquisitely-executed Italian food with a several-week-long waiting list. Pro tip if you can’t get a reservation: show up at 6PM for bar seating.
  • Oddfellows – this Bishop Arts spot is known for its brunch… and for a good reason. Either make a reservation ahead of time or be prepared to wait… a long time.
  • Tacodeli – the best tacos in Dallas. I might be biased though, since this taco spot is originally from Austin!

Best Restaurants in Uptown & Harwood District

  • Crushcraft Thai Street Eats – love this fast casual spot… and I love it even more since it’s open till 3AM on weekends! Get the OG phat thai and an order of the veggie spring roll bites to share.
  • Dolce Riviera – sit outside on their gorgeous patio on a nice night and get a few dishes to share.
  • Hopdoddy Burger Bar – get any burger (they’re all amazing) but make sure you get the green chili con queso with fries. It’s life-changing.
  • Malai Thai-Vietnamese Kitchen – neighborhood spot with an extensive pan-asian cuisine menu. Their samosas, spring rolls, and thai tacos are all delicious.
  • Mercat Bistro – go for brunch, go for lunch, go for dinner… just make sure you get a péché mignon to drink!
  • Nick & Sam’s – classic steakhouse in Dallas. As with any great steakhouse, the sides are the best part of the meal!
  • Saint Ann – another great patio for outdoor dining on a nice night. Whether you go for brunch or dinner, make sure you get the truffle mac ‘n’ cheese.
  • Sixty Vines – enjoy the wines on tap and get the wood-fired cauliflower. Weird rec, I know, but it will change your life.
  • Uchiba – the less expensive version of its parent living downstairs, Uchi. For an amazing deal, go for happy hour (it’s every evening – even weekends!). Make sure you get the hama chili and the hot rock wagyu beef.

Best Restaurants in the Park Cities

  • Bird Bakery – super instagrammable lunch spot in Highland Park Village.
  • Bistro 31/Lounge 31 – Bistro 31 is more upscale, Lounge 31 is more casual with sushi. Very different menus but both are delicious!
  • Dive Coastal Cuisine – get the seared ahi tuna wrap. I have dreams about this wrap. Weekly.
  • Food from Galilee – BYOB hole-in-the-wall Middle Eastern restaurant. All of the dishes are super affordable and delicious and the waitstaff is so kind.
  • The Honor Bar – get the burger or the crispy chicken sandwich. Or the shrimp louie if you want to be “healthy”.
  • Hudson House – great for brunch, great for dinner, absolute perfection during the holidays.
  • José – get the ceviche la panga with a glass of the usual to wash it down!
  • Lovers Seafood & Market – everything here is fantastic. Go with a group and get a bunch of dishes to share.
  • Mi Cocina – this restaurant has several locations around Dallas. I love the rico salad and the tacos “de brisket”. Don’t forget to order a mambo taxi to drink!
  • Shinsei – get one of everything… and two of the shinsei shashimi and the coconut chicken jalapeño poppers.
  • True Food Kitchen – get the edamame dumplings. I also like the fish tacos and the spaghetti squash casserole, but everything here is healthy and delicious!

Best Restaurants in Victory Park

  • The Henry – this spot is bustling for every meal of the week, and for good reason! It sports a tasty menu and a lively atmosphere. I highly recommend getting the short rib potstickers.
  • Hero – if I have to go to a sport’s bar, it’s gonna be Hero. Get the calamari lettuce wraps, the burger tacos, and a frozen aperol spritz to wash it all down.
  • Imoto – I’ve never had a bad meal here. Make sure you get the tempura lobster shooters.
  • JINYA Ramen – get the wonton chicken ramen or the slurp up cilantro ramen. And some mini tacos because why not.
  • Taqueria La Ventana – if you’re sticking to a budget, get excited. La Ventana is inexpensive and DELICIOUS: my favorite taco spot in Dallas. Get the elotes. PS the Cedar Springs location is open until 3AM on weekends!

– Dallas Travel Guide: The Best Bars in Dallas –

If you’re looking for a night (or day) out on the town, Dallas has plenty of bars from which you can choose. Most places have great happy hour deals, and many are even dog-friendly (especially Mutt’s in Uptown)!

BTW if you find yourself looking for a chic bar in Oak Cliff, I recommend Botanist. The vibe is awesome and the drinks are fantastic.

The Best Bars in Deep Ellum

  • Dot’s Hop House – great place to bring the dogs and grab a beer with friends
  • Harlowe MXM – I love the art deco style of the bar downstairs! They make mean cocktails and I’ve gone on many a date here.
  • Punch Bowl Social – this bar is MASSIVE. Bowling alley, darts, games, arcade, karaoke, it has it all.
  • Stirr – I mentioned this in the section above and I’ll say it again: Stirr has some of the best views of the Dallas skyline! It’s also a great date spot, but I recommend going during early in the week as you’ll have a better chance of getting a table.

The Best Bars in Downtown Dallas

  • Akai – this speakeasy is located in the back room of Musume. You have to know the password to enter, so I recommend making a reservation.
  • Bourbon & Banter – a speakeasy-like feel, this bar is located under the Statler hotel in what was originally the beauty salon. And they make fantastic cocktails.
  • Midnight Rambler – I rang in the new year here! This bar in the Joule has long been one of my faves in Dallas. It’s great for dates!
  • Waterproof – rooftop bar at the Statler. So so fun. And a total scene on a nice night. But so worth it for the views!

The Best Bars in Knox-Henderson

  • La Viuda Negra – this speakeasy mezcal bar doesn’t require a password… it’s hidden in plain sight. Be prepared for one of the best gin & tonics of your life (odd from a mezcal bar, I know).
  • The Old Monk – an oldie but goodie! This bar has been a Dallas staple for 20+ years. Pretty much the closest Dallas gets to the authentic English pub experience.
  • Truck Yard – beer garden with food trucks and the occasional live music. Dog-friendly and always a fun time!

The Best Bars in the Park Cities

  • Inwood Tavern – another classic Dallas spot… this neighborhood spot has been around since the 60s! I love to sit out on the patio on a nice night with friends.
  • The Library – this bar inside of the Warwick hotel (yes, technically Oak Lawn but whatever) is SO fun. Be prepared for live music in a chill atmosphere.
  • Lounge 31 – almost all of my favorite memories in Highland Park begin with sipping champagne with friends on the patio of Lounge 31. On a nice day, it’s my favorite spot in Dallas. Also this spot is full-service and has great sushi!
  • The Mansion Bar – my old apartment was right next to this jazz bar, so I was there all of the time! The cocktails are fantastic and I love walking through the Mansion hotel (technically Turtle Creek!).
  • Monkey Bar – this spot above Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village was just recently redone to include a larger indoors and patio seating and I’m so glad. Go for the mambo taxis, stay for the queso.

The Best Bars in Uptown

  • Bowen House – this tiny craft cocktail bar is one of my favorite places to go for a first date in Dallas. Or to go… period. Don’t miss their happy hour!
  • The Grove – this outdoor spot in the Harwood District is absolute perfection in the summer time and comes complete with a volleyball court and lawn games!
  • Happiest Hour – while I’m still not over the deceiving name (how do they not have a happy hour deal with that name?!?!), I must admit that this bar is one of the best in Dallas. Great food, great drinks, lively atmosphere, this spot is awesome after work or on a weekend.
  • Katy Trail Ice House – no Dallas Travel Guide would be complete without the Ice House! Located right off of the Katy Trail, this bar is home to massive beers and margaritas served in legit goblets. Go with friends and feel free to bring dogs!
  • Parliament – long one of my favorite bars in all of Dallas, this cocktail bar has one of the best happy hour schedules of all time (whenever it’s raining = heck yes!). Let the bartenders fix you whatever concoction they fancy, I promise they won’t steer you wrong!
  • The Rustic – when I think of live music in Dallas, I think of The Rustic. Country artist Pat Green is a co-owner, so you never know when he (or anybody else!) might pop by.
  • Standard Pour – while this place can be a total zoo on weekends, it’s actually pretty fun during the week after work (it sports a great happy hour). You really can’t go wrong with any cocktail on their list (I recommend getting a tiki drink… mostly because of the glass!).

– Dallas Travel Guide: Things to Do in Dallas –

I have written so many posts about things to do in Dallas. We have my previous travel guide, which mentioned all of the sporting events, museums, the Katy Trail, and Klyde Warren Park. I mentioned the Dallas Farmers Market in this post about summer activities, and the Cidercade (another awesome Dallas bar) in this post about winter activites.

Since I’ve been at this a while (and will inevitably write yet another Dallas Travel Guide at some point when the city completely changes yet again), I thought I’d take a different approach this time. Instead, I’m going to share everything I can think to do in a normal weekend (well, more like… a really solidly awesome weekend).

Quick note: if you’re in Dallas in September or October, this itinerary should definitely include the State Fair of Texas. Everything delicious and fried. Fun concerts. Amazing people watching. Slightly broken down but still fun rides. Trust me, you want to go!

Walking, Running, and Biking Trails in Dallas

Just about every weekend, you’ll find me either walking the Katy Trail (3.5 miles) or around White Rock Lake (9.33 miles). Sometimes even twice in the same weekend!

In the past few years, sidewalks have been added to connect the Katy Trail to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (through Victory Park). I like to use these paths to walk over to Trinity Groves for lunch or even over to the Farmer’s Market.

Museums in Dallas and the Arts District

Since Dallas has such a big arts scene, I try to do something arts-related at least once a month. Fun fact, Dallas is home to the largest contiguous urban arts district in the United States. And that’s not even all of the arts that Dallas has to offer!

Y’all know that I love the Dallas Opera, but you can find whatever suits your fancy in the Arts District (ballet, symphony, choirs, dance, etc). Additionally, I love the Dallas Museum of Art (fun free activity!), the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. My biggest tip with the Perot Museum is to get tickets to their quarterly Social Science events – they’re adults-only (booze is served) and always really fun!

Outside of the Arts District, my other favorite museum in Dallas is the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on SMU’s campus. The museum is absolutely incredible and always has great temporary exhibits. And who knows, you might spot a former president while there!

Sporting Events in Dallas

No Dallas Travel Guide is complete without the mention of sports. After all, we have so many. Occasionally, one of my friends or my work will invite me to a sporting event (or concert). Dallas is home to the Dallas Cowboys (football), the Dallas Stars (hockey), the Dallas Mavericks (basketball), and Texas Rangers (baseball), among many others.

FYI I listed the sports just to prove I could to my dad. I’m really proud of myself right now. But back to sports.

It’s typically pretty easy to find last-minute tickets to Mavs or Stars games at AT&T Stadium in Victory Park. Though you might be in the nosebleeds, the games are always a fun time!

PS if collegiate sports are more your thing, remember that SMU is right up the road!

Shopping in Dallas

Hahaha you thought I’d do a Dallas Travel Guide without an entire section devoted to shopping in Dallas? Do you know me at all!?!?

Dallas is one of the most stylish cities in the country, and it has some of the best shopping in the world. Dallas is the original home of luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus, Stanley Korshak, and Forty Five Ten. Highland Park Village features some of the biggest names in luxury retail, including Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Hermés, Dior, Cartier, and even skincare retailer, Bluemercury. One of my favorite boutiques in Dallas, Market, is also located in Highland Park Village.

If luxury retail isn’t your scene (or isn’t in your budget), NorthPark Center is just a short drive from Downtown Dallas. This mall is known for its range of stores: from the high-end like Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co. to the more budget-friendly like Dillard’s, Macy’s, and LOFT. There are also smaller boutiques located throughout the city – there’s definitely shopping in Dallas for every style and budget!

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