Down here they call it Big D (that’s Dallas, silly). And this not-so-humble burg is no mere stopover. Allow us to explain: The shopping’s swell, the vittles are tasty, and everything’s larger than life.
Before you say, “Duh,” some facts: Neiman Marcus started here as a prairie outpost for newly minted oil millionaires (1618 Main Street, 214-741-6911). Today the legacy lives on in the snazzy merch (Zac Posen? Check) and gargantuan dressing rooms. Of course, that?s only part of the local flavor. Forty Five Ten sells everything from Alexander McQueen to Tracey Ross, as well as beautiful housewares and gifts. And the T Room, the adjacent coffeehouse, serves snacks and refreshments in a garden setting (4510 McKinney Avenue, 888-567-4510).
Dallas has four times more restaurants per capita than New York. So take a deep breath and dig in. For real Tex-Mex, try Mia’s (4322 Lemmon Avenue, 214-526-1020); for Mex minus the Tex, Javier’s (4912 Cole Avenue, 214-521-4211) has specialties like barra de Navidad (shrimp in orange-coffee diablo sauce) and pollo ahumado (mesquite-smoked chicken). Texas barbecue is a cuisine unto itself, and Peggy Sue’s (6600 Snider Plaza, 214-987-9188) serves yummy ribs and home-baked pies. Looking for a one-named hipster hang? (This town?s got plenty to go around.) Stop in at Steel (3102 Oak Lawn Avenue, suite 100, 214-219-9908), for pan-Asian in a glam setting, or Local (2936 Elm Street, 214-752-7500), a catering service-turned-restaurant that specializes in upscale comfort food.
Locals joke that L.A. folks go to Hotel ZaZa (2332 Leonard Street, 214-468-8399) to feel like they never left L.A. (Cher and Ozzy dig it.) Check out the themed rooms (the Texas Suite is all cowhides and horns) and the trendy Dragonfly Bar. The Mansion on Turtle Creek (2821 Turtle Creek Boulevard, 214-559-2100) is all about serious Texas hospitality: Rooms start around $400 and they?re just about worth it, thanks to antique furnishings, daily fresh flowers, and stellar Southwestern cuisine. Prefer your accommodations sleek and small? (New Yorker, perhaps?) The Magnolia (1401 Commerce Street, 888-915-1110) will do ya. Modern decor, a great room for lounging, and late-night cookies and milk make it a hub of cozy urban chic.
History buffs flock to the Sixth Floor Museum (411 Elm Street, 214-747-6660) to view creepy re-creations of the JFK assassination. Not your idea of fun? Roam the 277 acres of Fair Park, home to the nation?s largest collection of exposition-style art deco architecture, as well as nine museums, six performance venues, and beautifully landscaped grounds. Or check out the Nasher Sculpture Center’s remarkable collection of works by Henry Moore, Rodin, Jeff Koons, Jean Arp, Alberto Giacometti, and Henri Matisse (2001 Flora Street, 214-242-5100).
Big sights, big fun. Now you’re getting the idea.