Dallas-Fort Worth city guide

Where to go and what to do in buzzing DFW

The Dallas-Fort Worth of the popular imagination, circa 1979—longhorn cattle, high-kicking cheerleaders, glassy skyscrapers—does not begin to capture the area today, which can lay claim to being a truly global destination: cool, cultured and buzzing with creativity. Sure, there are steak and Tex-Mex joints on every other corner, and you’ll still see businessmen in cowboy hats, but you may encounter these things on the way to a world-class symphony hall or a swish boutique hotel. The DFW of today goes beyond expectations.

Joseph Haubert

Arts District

In 1984, the year the TV show Dallas went into syndication, the city of Dallas opened its Museum of Art, the cornerstone for the city’s cherished Arts District. Today, the 68-acre complex contains 13 world-class arts venues, including the Meyerson Symphony Center and the sublime Nasher Sculpture Center, and buildings by I.M. Pei, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas. Restaurants include the Flora Street Café, which serves “elevated” Southwestern food, and the Nasher Café, Wolfgang Puck’s take on casual dining. It’s all a far cry from the tooth-and-claw antics of Dallas—but then, as JR Ewing once said, “You can't cross a bridge until it's built." 

Fort Worth

A planned $175 million makeover of the Fort Worth Stockyards means the cattle driven daily down East Exchange will soon pass a bunch of new bars, restaurants and shops, while Mule Alley is getting a 4-star “rustic resort.” The overhaul is part of a wider revival in Fort Worth, where standbys like Carshon’s Deli and the Longhorn Saloon are being joined by buzzy spots like the Cork & Pig Tavern and Kent and Co. wine bar. The National Cowgirl Museum shares space with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the two-step twangs of Billy Bob’s mingle with the mezzo-sopranos of Fort Worth Opera. Don't fret: The rodeos and T-bones aren’t going anywhere. 

Kristen Collie

Deep Ellum

Deep Ellum, a former industrial area, has fostered generations of blues legends, putting it up there with Nashville as an American music mecca. In recent years, Deep Ellum’s old-school bars have been joined by trendy clubs, eateries and brewpubs—the speakeasy-ish Truth & Alibi, the Spanish-inspired Izkina, the hipster-y Braindead Brewing. The music is diversifying, too. Today, local standbys like The Free Man and The Prophet Bar stage everything from hip-hop to punk. Blend in with a Texas Rose from Elm Street Tattoo, a Bettie Page dress from Dallas Pin Up or a pomp fade from the High & Tight Barbershop. 

Justin Turveen

Highland Park

Luxury shopping abounds in leafy Highland Park, home to Highland Park Village (“the Rodeo Drive of Dallas”), whose outlets include Alexander McQueen and Fendi, and a few clicks north, The Shops at Park Lane. Just across from there is the NorthPark Center (pictured), an extravagant shopping-mall-cum-art-museum where you can get your fill of both Giorgio Armani and Andy Warhol. There’s more good taste at Grange Hall, a creatively cluttered repository of everything from designer chocolates to designer duds. At the end of it all, spent shoppers head for Italian food at pricey Fachini, the latest hotspot from local hero Julian Barsotti.

Courtesy Truck Yard

Lower Greenville

It could be said Lower Greenville's transformation from sedate residential area to hopping entertainment district began 46 years ago with the Grape bistro. It's since been joined by a slew of eat-and-be-seen restaurants like the modish Rapscallion and the achingly fashionable Blind Butcher. Then there’s the Truck Yard, a lively lot with food trucks, bars and an onsite treehouse. There's also music shows at the Granada Theater, craft beers at the Libertine and sunset gazing from the rooftop at HG Sply Co. Retail options in Lower Greenville range from quirky T-shirts at Bullzerk to vintage duds at Buffalo Exchange, to (of course) hard-to-get vinyl at Good Records.

Meet a Dallas Cowboy

Neighborhood Services

(214) 350-5027, 5027 W Lovers Ln, Dallas, TX 75209, USA

Nick Badovinus must be the busiest chef in Dallas. The force behind the dazzling Town Hearth steakhouse, Badovinus cannot seem to go a week without announcing a new opening. His crowning achievement might be Neighborhood Services, a New American eatery that’s still buzzy after 10 years. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has declared himself "a big fan."

Zo Za Ot

Develop a dining habit

Jason Kindig

Heim Barbecue

(817) 882-6970, 1109 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104, USA

There are many barbecue options in DFW, but in terms of habit-forming food, the prize has to go to Heim Barbecue, which started a few years ago as a family-run food truck and now occupies a cool shop on West Magnolia. While some locals claim to be hooked on Heim’s brisket, the real Class-A menu item is the burnt bacon ends. 

Zo Za

Spot a London taxi

Courtesy Fish & Fizz

Fish & Fizz

(469) 687-0022, 400 N Coit Rd #1908, Richardson, TX 75080, USA

The black cab out front is a clue, as is the menu. Fish & Fizz, a new-ish “fine casual” eatery in Richardson, serves Brit-stodge staples like fish and chips and mushy peas, but mixes things up a bit with items like treacle-cured salmon, which can be paired with a nice bottle of French bubbly.

Eat like a fancy ranch hand

Gustav Schmiege Photography

Al Biernat's

(214) 219-2201, 4217 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219, USA

At local steakhouses of old, a lettuce wedge would have been seen as the height of fancy-pants gastronomy. How times have changed. At buzzy celebrity-selfie spot Al Biernat’s, you'll find caviar and sashimi, and dishes such as "Air, Land & Sea"—quail, buffalo, prawn and scallop with a port wine foie gras sauce—alongside faithful old prime rib. 

Zo Za Ot

Elevate your dining

Best of the rest


(972) 807-9388, 4010 Maple Ave, Dallas, TX 75219, USA

An old quote on the website of this traditional Roman restaurant and tavern reads: “Obvious effort is the antithesis of grace.” Expect skilfully executed comfort food at Sprezza, from spaghettini carbonara to charred onion pizza, raviolini with Roman Sunday gravy to crispy confit guanciale (pig jowl). 

Zo Za Ot

Catch up with a buddy

Impress the boss

Discuss Harry Potter

Meet a gay cowboy

Impress a date

Best of the rest

The Libertine Bar

(214) 824-7900, 2101 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206, USA

It’s hard to leave Lower Greenville without a stop at dimly lit The Libertine Bar, and hard to leave the bar once you’re in it. Grab a cherry whiskey with Mexican coke cocktail and try to convince yourself you’re finished trying out the menu, which also features an array of craft beers. 

Zo Za

Clark Cabus Photography


(214) 396-8050, 2816 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75226, USA

Deep Ellum is where locals go to see live music and kick-up their heels. There are plenty of places to do both, but if you just want a good drink, go to Hide and order an “Oaxacan Shaman,” a mezcal-based cocktail that will give your night new life.


Five notable locals show us how to do their towns, their way

When you think of Dallas-Fort Worth, you probably don’t conjure images of Japanese gardens, comic-book conventions or the perfect gin and tonic. You may not be aware that Fort Worth is home to one of America’s top modern art museums, or that some of the best restaurants in Dallas are...

The aesthete

Hotel ZaZa

(888) 880-3244, 2332 Leonard St, Dallas, TX 75201, USA

This place may as well have been called the Hotel Gaga. Themed suites include “The Last Czar” (gilded ceiling, brocade fabrics) and the “Shag-a-Delic” (multiple lava lamps, animal-print pillows)—all of which are best appreciated after a Drop Dead Gorgeous vodka cocktail in the exuberant Dragonfly restaurant and bar.

The history buff

The Ashton

(817) 332-0100, 610 Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76102, USA

The Ashton hotel Fort Worth isn’t big and it isn’t flashy, but it looms large in the city's history. It opened in 1915 as a gentleman’s club and still has the unfussy elegance that would have made those cattle barons of old feel at home. The nearby Jazz Scat Lounge is a must-visit for guests of today.

The peace-seeker

Texas White House

(817) 923-3597, 1417 8th Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104, USA

Texans aren’t known for understatement, but this tasteful Fort Worth B&B is an exception. You won’t see many celebrities or whimsical design details at the Texas White House, and that’s the point—this is a place to get away from all that. And when the appeal of that wears off, head to the nearby eating-drinking-shopping mecca Magnolia Ave., where “all that” is everywhere, all the time.

The Western enthusiast

Stockyards Hotel

(800) 423-8471, 109 E. Exchange Avenue, Fort Worth, TX 76164, USA

“Where the West began” might sound like a catchphrase, but at the Stockyards it’s kind of true. You can find cowboy hats sold for four figures without irony here, and cattle are still driven along the area’s main thoroughfare. Guests can sleep in the Bonnie and Clyde room, where the infamous criminals stayed in 1933. Bonnie’s .38 revolver is even encased across from the bed.

The dealmaker

Courtesy The Statler

The Statler

(214) 459-3930, 1914 Commerce St, Dallas, TX 75201, USA

On opening in 1956, this hulking downtown property had a heliport among its amenities (time is money!). If you had a buck for every contract that’s been signed here since, you’d be as wealthy as the people signing the contracts. Revamped in 2015, the hotel has expanded beyond its business base to become a sleek option for visitors wanting access to downtown, along with locals who like to mingle at the trendy rooftop bar.

Best of the rest

Steven Visneau

The Adolphus

(214) 742-8200, 1321 Commerce St, Dallas, TX 75202, USA

Set in a 21-story beaux arts building, The Adolphus hotel opened in 1912 and the décor—wood paneling, limestone fireplaces—reflects the spirit of the age. Local legend has it that the ghost of a young woman has roamed the 19th floor since her death here in the 1930s. The apparition, we are told, “is often accompanied by the sound of a music box playing 1930s tunes.”

Courtesy Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek

Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek

(214) 559-2100, 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas, TX 75219, USA

Guests posting pics of this palatial property are better served worrying about what hashtag to use than what filter—every angle at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek turns out beautiful. As you go about capturing the hotel’s neo-renaissance flourishes, keep an eye open for Instagrammable guests: the likes of George Clooney, Jay-Z and Cindy Crawford.

Courtesy Gaylord Texan Resort

Gaylord Texan

(817) 778-1000, 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, TX 76051, USA

Not only is this kid-friendly resort set beside DFW’s huge Grapevine Lake, some of its rooms overlook a wild multi-story atrium. There’s also an on-site waterpark, a lodge-like lobby and, in winter, two million pounds of ice that’s fashioned into sculptures, slides and tunnels. Jackets are provided, but not crampons.

Casey Dunn

The Joule

(214) 748-1300, 1530 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201, USA

It’s fitting that this neo-gothic property is close to the Arts District. The rooms and public spaces are crammed with edgy works by leading international artists, while the overall design is an artwork in itself—with splashes of color and crafted fixtures everywhere you look. Even the outdoor pool gets in on the act: jutting out into empty space, while, far below, Tony Tasset’s 30-foot eyeball stares right back up at you.

W Dallas - Victory

(214) 397-4100, 2440 Victory Park Ln, Dallas, TX 75219, USA

A favorite of sports personalities and sundry celebrities, the W sits across the street from the American Airlines Center, home to the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars, and a venue for live shows by the likes of Drake, Selena Gomez and Bruno Mars. It’s also next to the achingly cool Living Room Bar—the perfect place to schmooze with visiting record producers.

Red Pegasus Comics

(972) 413-8716, 319 N Bishop Ave, Dallas, TX 75208, USA

As a rule, DFW’s comic book stores tend to have mythical-sounding names: Titan Comics, Zeus Comics and, erm, Keith’s Comics. An enduring favorite is Red Pegasus, whose stock includes enough comic books, role playing games, graphic novels and toys—sorry, collectibles—to keep an enthusiast confined to his or her room for a month.


(214) 821-7300, 1917 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206, USA

Some people like to go shopping, some just like to go ping. Barcadia, which looks like a high school lunch room—except for the beer, arcade games and absence of trays—is a great place to get your game on. Other local gaming spots include the Kung Fu Saloon and the Quarter Lounge Arcade, which couldn’t be more 1984 if Madonna walked in wearing a wedding dress.

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