Weekend in Dallas: Barbecue, Football and JFK Conspiracies

When people think of Dallas, they think of cowboy hats, who shot J.R., oil and George W. Bush — not exactly the types of things that make you itch to visit a city. But on our recent trip, we saw a sophisticated city filled with pride, sports, culture and fashion. Yes, Dallas — the ninth most populous city in the United States — is having a renaissance.

We arrived in Dallas on a rainy afternoon and checked in to The Joule (1530 Main Street; 214-748-1300), one of the city’s hippest hotels. Situated in a 1920’s neo-Gothic building, this hotel incorporates sleek design, impeccable service and comfortable accommodations. Don’t have time to see any art? Do it at your hotel! The Joule’s collection includes works by  Andy Warhol and Richard Phillips. The rooftop swimming pool was hands down our favorite part of The Joule. One wall of the pool is entirely transparent and looks over Main Street. Spend every free moment you have in it, like we did. It’s breathtaking.

First thing’s first. Dinner time! A visit to a steakhouse is a must when you’re in Texas. We suggest you try Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (10477 Lombardi Lane; 214-336-2000), where you can get quality cuts of Prime Ribeye and New York Strip seasoned with kosher salt, black pepper and butter. Afterwards, go down a bottle of Lone Star, Texas’s official beer, at Club Schmitz (9661 Denton Drive; 214-350-3607), a quintessential Dallas dive bar.

Rise and shine! It’s not football season, so football fans, do the next best thing to watching a game in Texas and arrange a tour of Cowboys Stadium (1 Legends Way, Arlington, Texas; 800-745-3000). We got to see where Tony Romo changes, where the VIPs can party on in private and we even got to throw a few passes on the field. And if you’re not into football, the stadium also an immense art collection.

We know you’re anxious to spiffy up your wardrobe while in Dallas, so head out the Joule’s doors and walk down Main Street. First, stop at Traffic L.A. (1530 Main Street; 214-748-1300), which has got to be the coolest menswear boutique in the city. Indulge in Comme des Garçons, Viktor & Rolf, Rick Owens, Paul Smith and more. Then walk down the street to one of Dallas’s most famous exports, Neiman Marcus (1618 Main Street; 214-741-6911). If you have enough money, treat yourself to the most coveted item in menswear by a Texas native: a Tom Ford suit.

Wind down your day with some authentic Tex-Mex at Tupinambá (12270 Inwood Road; 972-991-8148), and have some chili con queso before moving on to some scrumptious West Texas Enchiladas.

Wake up and head over to the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 North Harwood Street; 214-922-1200), the city’s finest art institution. Check out “Chagall: Beyond Color” and the Cindy Sherman retrospective, which we think is quite well hung. Jokes aside, the artist’s conceptual self-portraits look a lot better here than they did at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. When you’re finished, walk over to the Nasher Sculpture Center (2001 Flora Street; 214- 242-5100) to admire works in its sprawling garden by Richard Serra and Nathan Mabry.

If you’re all into seeing where people got killed and conspiracy theories, venture to Dealy Plaza to see the spot where John F. Kennedy got shot in 1963 and the grassy knoll that was the location of a lot of the post-assassination melee. Then go to the Sixth Floor Museum (411 Elm Street; 214-747-6660) to learn about every detail of the Kennedy assassination.

New York has Williamsburg, Los Angeles has Silver Lake, and Dallas has Deep Ellum. Explore this creative neighborhood, which is filled with microbrews, music venues, vintage shops and galleries. Afterwards, satiate your appetite with good old Dallas barbecue at Mama Faye’s (2933 Commerce Street; 214-741-3144), and order some beef brisket, pulled pork and baby back ribs, get some turnip greens and mac and cheese, and wash it down with some sweet tea.