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Dallas weekend visitor’s guide

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Looking for ideas about what to do when the Canes visit Dallas? We’ve got you covered.

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Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes are opening their 2018 season with a marquee non-conference match up against the LSU Tigers at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX on Sunday, September 2nd. (Tickets available on StubHub or Seat Geek or Vivid Seats for those still looking.)

That means that a legion of Canes fans will travel to North Texas for a fun-filled Labor Day weekend vacation to see their team. And, with a full weekend to explore the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, I’m sure many are wondering what they can, and should, do while in Texas?

Good news: we here at SOTU have you covered. My mother has lived in the Dallas area for a decade (and I’ve visited a lot because I’m a good son), my good friend Robin (a UM Law School alum, btw) is a Dallas-native from Colleyville (a NW suburb 2 towns over from where my Mom lives), and our own Evan Hadrick is a Dallas resident! So, we’re putting all that Dallas knowledge to good use with this Visitor’s Guide!

Read it, bookmark it, refer to it often as you build your plans for a fun-filled weekend in Dallas! Here we go:

About Dallas

First thing you need to know about Dallas is that it is really two big cities (Dallas and Fort Worth) with a million smaller cities in between. Kind of like Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Much like Hard Rock Stadium, AT&T Stadium (aka Jerryworld) sits inconveniently in the middle not near much of anything. You will definitely need a car or be prepared for hefty Uber bills.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (pin @ AT&T stadium)

So yeah, be ready to drive when you’re in Dallas.

Getting to Dallas

Most people are going to fly to Dallas. If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet, these are the airports in the area.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) - This is where most people will fly into. It is almost exactly in the middle of Dallas and Fort Worth and is the closest to the Stadium. They have a DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit for those wondering) train that will connect you to the Tri-Rail which take you to either downtown Dallas or downtown Fort Worth but not many people use it. But it’s nice and efficient and you should totally use it (can you tell my mom works for DART? lol) https://www.dart.org/riding/dfwairport.asp.

When you are flying out of DFW, make sure to make note of which terminal you are in. Since American flies out of every terminal (Dallas is the largest American hub in the US), it could be a big time suck to get dropped off at the wrong one.

Dallas Love Field (DAL) - This is really only for Southwest. It is a pretty short Uber into downtown Dallas but quite a hike out from Love Field out west towards Arlington or Fort Worth.

And, uh, a word to the wise: if you haven’t bought your plane ticket to Dallas yet you might want to do that ASAP.

Neighborhood guide

In an area as large as the DFW Metroplex, there’s plenty of neighborhoods to explore or stay while you’re in town. Here are the ones you’ll most likely visit:

Downtown Dallas - It’s more the financial center. There are some hotels and shops but after everyone leaves after work, it becomes a bit of a ghost town.

Uptown - Just north of Downtown this neighborhood is relatively new and features lots of great restaurants and shops.

Greenville - Great neighborhood for restaurants and bars just northeast of the city center. Be sure to check out the Truckyard while you’re there, a unique collection of food trucks and the bars set up in a fun, communal atmosphere. You can also chill on a rooftop, grab a pint in a pub, or experience almost any style of cuisine you can think of.

Deep Ellum - This neighborhood is known for its live music and bars. Great for going out at night.

Mid-Cities - This is the collection of cities between Dallas and Fort Worth along 183 and I-30. They are relatively suburban but generally safe (although some of the hotels are just old). Just north of the airport is a town called Grapevine. It has a cute downtown and several restaurants/bars are popping up there. It’s a great location given proximity to the airport and stadium. And it’s where we’re having our SOTU Happy Hour on Saturday!

Arlington - This is the town where the stadium is located. It is predominantly a blue collar suburb. There are mostly chain restaurants and select service hotels. There isn’t much here outside of the stadium yet (more fun things are coming in 2019) so I wouldn’t stay here.

Downtown Fort Worth - Downtown has a good mix of things to do but tends more towards tourists. It is incredibly safe at night.

Museum District - This is where the Fort Worth locals hang out. It tends to be a younger crowd. There isn’t much in the way of hotels but there are a ton of AirBnBs.

Food & Drink

I mean, you can’t go to Texas and not talk about food. It’s like, a major reason that people go to Texas at all. So, of course, we’re going to give you all the recommendations you need to have the culinary experience of a lifetime (or just this year, if you want).

Before anything else, be sure you plan to come out to the SOTU Happy Hour at Great Scott Restaurant in Grapevine! Here’s the tweet with all the details:

Now let’s continue.

I’ve made an interactive map so you can see all my recommendations including restaurants, bars, and hotels. If you are unfamiliar with Google maps, you can turn layers on and off and just see what you want to see. You can visit it here: https://bit.ly/2Hh4u2M. (this is good for all the topics we’re discussing here)

Our Vox Media friends at Eater Dallas have several culinary guides. Things like where to get great Margaritas, or 40 hours in Dallas guide to eating like a local, or 38 essential summer restaurants, or the 16 hottest restaurants in Dallas, and much more. Check them out for sure.

Guy Fieri has hit Texas 50 times for restaurants on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Here’s the full list of places he’s been in TX (not all are in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, but quite a few of them are — including several on our list).

This, all of it, is why you wanna go to Pecan Lodge.

One thing that everyone asks for is BBQ. The best place in North Texas is Pecan Lodge. Be prepared to wait in line BUT (pro tip) you can skip the line if you sit at the bar and order there. Also, if you are getting more than 5 pounds of meat in total, you can skip the line and go to the take out register. Great to bring to tailgate! 5 pounds sounds like a lot but you can get a pound of each item and you are already there. Don’t forget a slab of ribs averages 1.5 pounds. Make sure to get the brisket though and don’t even THINK about adding sauce. Another quality option is Lockhart’s Smokehouse, where you can get the classic BBQ experience with all of their quality meats served on butcher paper. Their updated takes on classic southern sides such as Mac-n-cheese, deviled eggs, and potato salad are worth making the trip to the Bishop Arts District just south of Downtown, or to their second location in Plano. They also have a top notch bar with many of Texas’s best local brews on tap.

If you are in the Mid-Cities, I highly suggest North Main BBQ in Euless. It looks like a shabby cafeteria but it’s quite good. The ribs are the stand out here. They close early though so make sure to check the time line. Also in the Mid-Cities, Meat U Anywhere in Trophy Club or Grapevine (2 locations) is good. There’s a lot to like here (the brisket is my favorite) but their breakfast tacos are PHENOMENAL!

Fort Worth is a toss up between old school Angelo’s (unfussy joint with animal heads on the wall) or Heim (used to be a food truck and run by hipsters). Both are good for different reasons. Anglelo’s is known for pork ribs & brisket. Heim is known for bacon burnt ends and their huge beef rib.

Everybody loves fried chicken and this is some of the best around.

No matter where you are, you are close to my favorite fried chicken/chicken fried steak place. Babe’s Chicken Dinner House is now a chain but they’ve kept true to the original. Perfect for soaking up all the booze and helping your hangover. I’ve only put one of them on the map but there are a few so check for one around you, so click the link and find the location nearest you.

If you want to try something really unique, go to CBD Provisions in Dallas. If you call ahead 48 hours in advance, they will make you a whole pig head for carnitas. It is quite the show when it is delivered to the table. It costs a pretty penny ($75) but it’s a showstopper, absolutely delicious, and will feed a crowd. CBD also does a huge 38oz Porterhouse for $140 that will fit as a “table steak”, which everyone in your group can share while still getting another entree of their choosing. Both the Pig’s head and the Porterhouse are meant to be shared, so share already!

After the game if you need to soak up some booze on the way home or if you wake up on Monday with a hangover and you are running late to the airport, swing into the nearest Whataburger. This 24-7 fast food joint is a Texas must-do. They serve breakfast 11pm to 11am. I highly suggest the Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit sandwich for breakfast. It will cure what ails you.

TAILGATING:

We all know that we’re going to Dallas for the Canes’ season opener vs LSU (kickoff at 7:30 Eastern/6:30 Central). But we gotta talk about the party before the game too, right? Right.

An important note: YOU CANNOT BUY LIQUOR AT ALL ON SUNDAY. Beer/wine is only available after 12pm. So, if you want a nice tequila sunrise or margarita or just a bottle of liquor to pour down your friend’s throat at the tailgate (looking at you, LAZ), you’ll need to plan accordingly. Buy your liquor when you get to Texas on Friday or Saturday. Or pack a separate bag with your bottles if you’re coming in on Sunday. If you don’t or you forget, you can buy beer/wine at grocery stores and convenience stores but the variety is usually lacking and the cost is quite high.

Traditionally, the parking lots around AT&T stadium open 5 hours before the game. For the Alabama game last year, they opened at 1pm (7 hours before kickoff). Here’s a twist: not all lots allow tailgating. Avoid lots 3, 5, 8, 9 if you want to tailgate. They do allow some tailgating in Lot 5 but from my experience, it’s easier to just avoid it.

You can tailgate post game for up to 2 hours. I highly suggest this strategy as the traffic getting out after the game can be a nightmare.

Other than that, the rules are more or less the same as Hard Rock stadium. More info on tailgating can be found here: http://attstadium.com/stadium-info/parking. Seriously, you should read it now so you can make plans and get prepared.

Here is a quick view of the map. Note the location of the two stadiums (the Rangers’ stadium is next to lot J — colored green on the map).

AT&T stadium parking lots. Bear in mind several lots are shared with Globe Life Park (MLB stadium). And several don’t allow tailgating at all. Happy hunting.

OTHER ACTIVITIES:

High School Football - Texas is one of the 3 best states for HSFB along with Florida (the best) and California. The New York Times best-selling book and outstanding movie Friday Night Lights is based on Texas HSFB and what it means to the people in their communities. I’ve been to several games before, and it’s impressive. There are tons of teams you could go watch, from Arlington Martin to Allen (with their $60 MILLION DOLLAR STADIUM) to Dallas-Highland Park to Southlake Carroll to Euless Trinity to any number of other teams. If you’re in town early enough, this should be a must-do event on your weekend’s itinerary.

This is a HIGH SCHOOL STADIUM, you guys.

Texas Rangers - the local MLB team is actually playing at home the weekend of the game. They play Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, and Monday night. The baseball stadium is next door to AT&T Stadium.

Museums - Fort Worth has a wonderful art museum scene! Amon Carter Museum has a great collection of western art including the largest installation of Remingtons. See the map for more information.

Zoo/Aquarium - Fort Worth Zoo is one of the best in the country. Dallas Zoo is considerably sadder and I don’t suggest it. If you are in Dallas and want to do something similar to a zoo, go to the Aquarium. It is set up like a rainforest so you will start in the treetops with monkeys and work your way down to the water.

Six Flags, Globe Life Park, and AT&T stadium, all in Arlington within a 5 minute drive

Amusement Parks - Six Flags Over Texas is the original Six Flags park. It is right next to the stadium. They also own a water park across the street. Scour a convenience store for a Coke or Pepsi can as you usually get discounted admission with them.

Bush Center - No matter what your political background, this presidential library is a great activity. I personally love the gifts from other heads of state. You can also get your picture in a replica of the Oval Office.

Dealey Plaza - The famous (infamous?) location where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. You can stand in the road on the X which marks the spot where he was shot (be sure to wait for a red light because this isn’t some closed off street; Elm Street is an active downtown thoroughfare so cars WILL be coming down the road towards you), you can stand on or kneel behind the Grassy Knoll, and you can go to the Sixth Floor Museum in the Book Depository building. There’s also a JFK Memorial Plaza about 2 blocks from Dealey Plaza, though walking there midday (like I once did) will be quite toasty in the late August Dallas sun.

Fort Worth Stockyards - You can see longhorn cattle driven down the street by cowboys or get yourself a pair of boots. While this area has become widely touristy, it is still pretty fun.

Billy Bob’s - The World’s Largest Honky Tonk has been the setting for many movies, it’s a good place to line dance, two step, or catch a live show. This is a peak Texas experience if you’re looking to fully immerse in the culture there.


From our SOTU happy hour to any number of restaurants to high school football to bars to tailgating, there’s plenty to do in Dallas this Labor Day weekend.

So make your plans and choose your own adventures. Feel free to add to the list in the comments below!

Happy traveling!

Go Canes