Hills Like White Elephants
Meet my new love: Lonny

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Howdy, y'all.

Wrapping up a week-long adventure in Dallas. It is HOT down here...nearly 100 degrees and very humid every day. Thankfully, there is a strong breeze which makes it bearable outside.

Here are the highlights:

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On Saturday we visited the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the eerie site of JFK's assassination in the former Texas Book Depository. It's very moving, even for those of us who didn't live through the event. The museum chronicle's Kennedy's brief presidency, the turbulent '60s, and that fateful day in Dallas when John & Jackie touched down on Love Field and joined the motorcade through the city. It's tough to watch the live footage of the event, knowing what the outcome would be. It also includes footage and background on Lee Harvey Oswald, as well as his subsequent murder by Jack Ruby, and of course all the conspiracy theories that surround those events to this day. The book depository is modeled to look like it did on November 22, 1963, and outside, two white X's on the street are a reminder of the bullets that took our 35th President's life.

P1000796After that sobering experience, we strolled around the historic and arts districts of Dallas to see some of the other sights. This included a stop at Wild Bill's Western store to check out the boots, hats, spurs and belt buckles. The Texans love their rhinestones! We also had our picture taken with an authentic cowboy who did his best to sell us some goods, but we left empty handed. This stuff just doesn't fly in Boston ;)

P1000806 Lunch at Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse was superb. It's name after a 40,000 acre longhorn ranch in Texas that has been in the same family for six generations. The beef is U.S.D.A. Prime and hand-cut in house, and prepared in the way ranch hands have used for over 125 years. We ate the Chipotle Sirloin Caesar with romaine, roasted peppers, and smoked corn, tossed with a chipotle spiked roasted garlic dressing and topped with grilled sirloin. Sooo good.

P1000813 After lunch we walked to the Fashion Industry Gallery, a boutique wholesale venue showing brands like Trina Turk, L.A.M.B., Citizens of Humanity, Ben Sherman, and Da-Nang, all at significantly discounted prices. It's a shopper's paradise: a seemingly endless corridor of showrooms. It's also an event space - Nicole Richie recently hosted a party there. I was sooo excited to visit this place, and super dismayed to find it closed the afternoon we visited! Ugh.

P1000818 The Nasher Sculpture Center is a small, outdoor space in front of the Dallas Museum of Art. And I mean small. There are only about a half dozen sculptures (when we visited, anyway...they say it can house up to 20, and there's an indoor gallery as well), so it's a very quick trip (but it's as known for its trees and stone work as much as for its installations). And they don't allow photos, but the guard was snoozing in a corner and I snapped 3 or 4 before she made me aware of the policy. Enjoy!

P1000821 On Saturday night, and had dinner at Craft, the tony restaurant inside the W Hotel owned by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio (of Top Chef fame). The food here was AMAZING. We shared numerous small plates, including quail, short ribs, salmons, halibut, gnocchi, Cippolini onions, sweet corn, key lime pie, toffee pudding, and more. But the [marketing] highlight was when they gave each of us an individually wrapped blueberry-lemon muffin...to enjoy the next morning. Brilliant!

P1000824 A visit to Craft isn't complete without a swing through the W Hotel lobby and bar (the Living Room). Like all W bars, it's a total scene on a Saturday night. But this one stays true to its Texan roots by having a wall of miniature cowboys, horses and steer hanging in the lobby like a beaded curtain. Hilarious. Everything else is as stark, swank, and fabulous as you'd expect from the W. With a little bit of southwestern kitsch thrown in for good measure. 

Fearings. Oh my. I don't even know where to begin with this Fearings_rattlesnake_barone. It started out on my list of must-visit restaurants, but when we ran out of nights for dining, we decided to just check out its bar scene. And what a scene it is. Lots of 50-somethings, lots of plastic surgeries, and wildly entertaining. I could sit there and people watch for hours. It's inside the Ritz...be sure to check it out if you're in town.

P1000838 Galleria Dallas. Like everything in Texas, this place is huge. Every major retailer you can think of, all under one roof. Seriously: a giant Saks Fifth Avenue, right next door to an even bigger Nordstrom. Heaven! There's even a well-utilized ice rink in center court. And it's 100 degrees outside! Conveniently, the hotel shuttle dropped us off here, but we didn't allot nearly enough time to explore this monstrosity. And believe me, our wallets were better off for it.

P1000840 Mercy Wine Bar. This was a great little find, right in Addison. It's located in an unassuming strip mall and surrounded by other restaurants, but is one of the top-rated wine bars in the country (and multi-year winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence). The food here was fantastic - especially the white truffle mac 'n cheese - and very reasonably priced. Their sign out front is cute, too...notice the silly hours of operation.

P1000785 The rest of the time, we've been at the Intercontinental Dallas for a business conference. It's past its prime, to be sure, (or as Kevin R. noted on Foursquare, "Get here 30 years ago.") The staff seems a bit sparse for a hotel of this size, the lobby shop has only one copy of each magazine/book for sale (and they've clearly been read before), and they are stingy with the towels (like today, to when I emerged from the shower to find only one small hand towel in my bathroom!). But the rooms are generally comfortable, there's a nice little pool area outside, and the meeting/function rooms have worked out well. 

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On the first night we dined at the Monte Carlo restaurant inside the hotel, which serves "Mediterranean cuisine with a Lone Star touch." Nearly everyone got the Cowboy Steak special (what else?!) but I had a nice piece of salmon, followed by strawberry shortcake. Decent meal, but far from the best one of the trip. We've eaten a LOT here...the Texans like to eat! There are tons and tons of restaurants and bars here.

Here's the full photo set (minus most of the conference-related ones):

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