About two weeks ago when I was busier than a one-legged cat in a sandbox, Douglas Trapasso, a Chicago Sommelier/Blogger and TEXSOM alum dropped in on the Texas Wine Drinkers (TWD) Facebook page and laid down a small challenge:
Ok TWD: Make your case. It’s been a month since TEXSOM and I can’t wait to see your state again! But where should I go next? I want to visit some cool wineries and restaurants, as well as work in some tasting and service practice with your talented sommeliers.
Austin, Houston or San Antonio? Make your best case. Ready? Go!
I was coming off the Level 1 Sommelier exam and wrapping up a move, either of which is sufficient to knock a gal out flat, and so when all my Austin and Houston buddies lined up on the side of the Hill Country, my lackadaisical response was pretty much, “Ditto.”
Not so fast, ya’ll. The wine gauntlet has been slapped across my sleepy Dallas face, and I’m about to get all bowed up here and make the case for my hometown. I’m going to give you, Doug, and all the other would-be Texas Wine Touristas Ten Reasons Why You need to Visit Dallas:
- Many fine wineries and tasting rooms. Here is a small sampling of the fabulous wineries you will find within a 50 mile radius of Dallas-Fort Worth, in no particular order: Times Ten Cellars, Cross Timbers, D’vine Wine, Sloan & Williams, Su Vino, 96° West, and Sweet Springs. And that’s not even including the Messina Hof winery about to open over in Grapevine this December.
- Cozy, boutique-y type hotels where you can wrap yourself in terry cloth and dawdle in the lap of luxury after a long day of wine tasting. Two nirvanas that immediately spring to mind are the historic Belmont Hotel (over here in my ‘hood) with its magnificent view of the Dallas skyline, which was just chosen first place in the USA TODAY Readers’ Choice contest for Best International Skyline. Or there’s Hotel ZaZa where you can do some celebrity stalking over a craft cocktail. I also need to mention the Four Seasons because it’s fabulous and home to one of Texas’ Master Sommeliers, James Tidwell (one of the co-founders of TEXSOM).
- Steak, steak, and more steak. I know ya’ll have some fine steak houses up there in Chicago, Doug, but you got nothing over on Dallas. We have Knife, Ser, Nick and Sam’s, Bob’s Steak and Chop House, Pappas Brothers, Chamberlain’s, Del Frisco’s, and Three Forks—if you want to give your Cabernet a dream wedding, marry it up with a thick, juicy, aged rib-eye from any of the preceding. And speaking of celebrity stalking, check out Al Biernat’s, the long-time haunt of many famous Dallasites, from George W. to Angie Harmon.
- Or maybe it’s Texas Barbeque you’re hankering after. You’ll have to get there before they open if you want to avoid the crush, but Pecan Lodge over in Deep Ellum will send you straight to smoke heaven. If you can’t get in there, there’s Lockhart Smokehouse, Slow Bone, or Meshack’s. I know I’m leaving some out, but there are more legendary barbeque joints here than you can shake a fork at.
- Where there’s wine, there must also be music. Oh, sure, Austin is the Texas music capital, but the pickings are pretty darned good around here, what with Poor David’s Pub, the Granada, the Kessler Theater, and South Side Ballroom. If you want to go highbrow, there’s the Meyerson Symphony Center and the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
- McKinney Avenue in Uptown Dallas. This is the place for a great pub crawl with plenty of beautiful people decorating the sidewalks and cafes for your viewing pleasure.
- Trinity Groves, a funky restaurant and retail area dedicated to cultivating chefs and local cuisine. You could start here, and then cross the bridge over into the Uptown/McKinney Avenue vicinity.
- World class art museums. The Dallas Museum of Art is free every day to the general public, and it’s just down the way from the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Trammell Crow Asian Art Museum. And while Fort Worth may be our smaller neighbor to the west, they have a stunning line up in their Cultural District with the Kimbell, the Amon Carter, and the Modern.
- Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Not into art? Maybe you’d prefer to geek out here. The striking building design by Morphosis Architects is worth a gander all on its own.
- Bishop Arts District. You know I have to put in a plug for my favorite place in all of Dallas, where you can get anything from tacos to vintage clothing. Be prepared to overindulge at Cretia’sTreats and/or Dude Sweet Chocolate, the best spots in all of Texas to sink into a sugar coma.
So, there you have it! It might have taken me awhile to get back to you, but if you haven’t bought that ticket, Doug, here’s new information for you.
Photo by Clay Coleman