Three Days in Dallas, TX.

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I recently spent a couple of days in Dallas, TX while my husband Tony was participating in a Media Summit for Olympic athletes.  I am a big fan of Texas, which is interesting since I'm not a big lover of barbeque and I'm a liberal.  But I've had great experiences in the state (standouts being Austin and Hill Country), so I was excited to explore Dallas and see what it has to offer.  Once again, Texas impressed, and we returned to California with some great new memories and favorite finds. On Day One we arrived with just enough time to check into our hotel and head out to dinner at Smoke.  All I can say is WOW-- we both agreed that it was one of the best meals we've had in a while.  I started out with a "Lonesome Highway"-- a specialty cocktail made with Hendricks Gin, Lime Juice, St. Germain Liqueur and Maine Root Ginger Beer.  Tony opted for a house-made Maple Wood infused Bourbon on the rocks.  The standout small plate starter was a deceptively simple salad with arugula, pecan pesto, celery and lemon that was heavenly.

As a "medium" plate we tried a dish of succulent cabrito stuffed inside a corn "masa" pocket topped with fresh cream and some kind of cheese.  Definitely one of the best things either of us had eaten in a long time.  For our main course we split the "Big Rib" over blue cheese hominy casserole and fresh herb chimichurri.  I have never, ever tasted a rib that tender and delicious in my life.  Even though we were stuffed, we decided to split the cinnamon churros with burnt caramel dipping sauce to round off a perfect meal.  After dinner we headed next door to the Belmont Hotel for more craft cocktails and one of the only great views of the Dallas skyline.

Day Two was exploration day for me because Tony had interviews and photo shoots all day long.  I opted for lunch at The Gem Bistro and Juice Bar because I felt like I needed something light and healthy after our dinner  extravaganza the evening before.  Located inside a culinary retail store, this small place serves made-to- order fresh juices (I got the Green Goddess with kale, cucumber, green apple, ginger and lemon). The two or three lunch options change daily-- when I visited it was a quinoa bake, a kale and almond salad and a fresh hummus dip with homemade pita chips and veggies.  The staff is super friendly and gave me tips about what to do with the rest of my day.  I left there feeling refreshed and like the healthiest person in Dallas.

I decided to hit up the Sixth Floor Museum in the Historic West End district to take their excellent audio guide tour and learn a little about President Kennedy's life, death and legacy.  After that I walked down Main Street the art district, my destination being the Nasher Sculpture Center.  Once there, I lost myself by wandering through the beautiful garden, and finally sat down to a snack of a smoked salmon cheese platter while gazing out over the art.  From there I hitched a trolley (free) all the way up McKinney Boulevard and into Uptown, an area notorious for fun restaurants and bars.  I had a brew on the relaxing patio of The Quarter Bar, and then was whisked away by Tony's cousins to the West Village, a new development of trendy boutiques and happening restaurants.  I did a little shopping at Cowboy Cool and Kendra Scott Jewelry before sitting down for a few margaritas and guacamole at Mi Cocina.

Dinner that night was with Tony and a few other athletes at Sissy's Southern Kitchen, a newer restaurant I had read about located on historic Henderson Avenue.  We were lucky enough to hitch a ride in a Hummer Limo and arrived in style.  The restaurant is inside what looks like a little cottage-- country chic, rustic and extremely charming.

We piled into a cozy booth and ordered mint juleps, deviled eggs, chili fried oysters and squash puppies (with whipped Texas honey butter and jalapeno jelly) to start.  Then Tony and I decided to split a bucket of the buttermilk soaked fried chicken-- could you get any more Southern?  After stuffing ourselves yet again, we headed next door to Victor Tangos for some swanky after dinner cocktails.

Day Three was 'Wednesday Funday', which meant we were headed to the Katy Trail Ice House, an Austin style beer garden and restaurant located on the Katy Trail.  They have a huge outdoor patio with funky southern decor and games like bean bag throw.  We had also heard that they serve Beeritas (giant frozen margaritas with an overturned corona), which offer the perfect combination of cold beer and limey margaritas on a hot day.

We sat there all afternoon people watching and sipping our beeritas.

Needless to say, I look forward to the next time I can head out to the Lone Star State-- it has done well by me so far.