A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of joining friends in Texas and taking part in the City of Addison's Fork and Cork Festival. I had a great time checking out all the fun vendors at the festival and learning about Addison's restaurant history. On my down time, a good friend took me to a few places around town. Instead of hitting up the usual tourist destinations, we left the museums behind and I quickly realized that if the saying "Go big or go home" is a good mantra for Texans.
I spent a lot of my free time in a neighborhood called Deep Ellum,its name coming from a deep southern pronunciation of Deep Elm (Street.) The neighborhood is right up my alley; not necessarily known to be the most popular part of town but a culturally and historically rich neighborhood with a deep connection to the arts. Walking down the streets you see part grit, part Texas, part art, part class. Here are a few places I found in the neighborhood:
The Pecan Lodge: A friend of mine kindly invited me to the Pecan Lodge'spre-opening night Friends and Family celebration and I'm glad I went there straight from the airport. It was the best Texas welcome I could have asked for. This BBQ joint has everything from house made sausage, home cured pickles, beautifully marbled brisket, sweet tea and one of the most impressive 24 hr BBQ pits I've seen. Justin and his team have put a great deal of work into learning what makes people's mouths water. Go early!
Twisted Root Burger Company: As a naturalized citizen, I love seeing Americana at its finest. The burgers here are delicious, inventive and bare clever names like The Kevin Bacon (three slices of bacon and Danish bleu cheese) and The Frito Bandito (Texas Chili, guacamole, cheddar and Fritos.) The real star here is the light-hearted and playful atmosphere. The set up is counter service with a faux attitude and a play on pop-culture. Don't think they are going to call you by an order number- instead they've selected songs, personalities and moments in history to call you when your order is ready and perhaps poke a little fun at you.
Lula B's: One of my favorite parts of traveling across the US is antiquing and vintage shopping. There are so many regional specific things you find the more you shop, plus the prices are great outside of NYC. Lula B's was no exception to the rule. I could have spent a whole day sifting through the vintage photographs, records and furniture. What great restaurant design inspiration!
Other places to check out in Dallas: Smoke and The Foundry & Chicken Scratch Chef Tim Byres knows what's going on. I first met Tim at Austin Food and Wine so I had to check out his restaurants while I was in town. Smoke is a more traditional sit-down restaurant that as you could have guessed, serves some killer BBQ (and an amazing brunch.) The Foundry and Chicken Scratch are just down the road and serve as a beer garden/outdoor music venue combo with nothing but the coolest Texas flare. Theres comfy couches, picnic tables, a serious beer list and some pretty impressive chicken fingers.