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."
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.
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.
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
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 hard-to-get vinyl at Good Records.