I went to Dallas last week. The last time I was there was while I was still in college. Who remembers that far back? Wasn’t that pre-internet? Pre-social media? When Mother’s Day came around recently, I received a big surprise. My hubby surprised me with tickets to see the Phillip Phillips/John Mayer concert. MAJOR. BROWNIE. POINTS. John Mayer will be here at home in South Florida in the fall, but I will not be here for it and I was very disappointed I would miss it. But now? Now we would be seeing him in Dallas instead! Of course, for me that meant a little bit of a panic attack: where will we dine? What will we do? Where will we stay? It is a well known fact that around here, that’s my department. I did not have much time to prepare either which made it worse. I managed to quickly plan our 48 hour getaway and this here was my experience.
The first shocker was experiencing the Dallas heat in July. WOW! Initially, I wasn’t worried. I mean, I am from South Florida after all. HOT is what we do! This was different. It was like I was wrapped in foil and placed in the oven … at all times and even in the shade. I have never taken so many daily showers in my life!
We stayed at the Kimpton Palomar. What a great location! It’s right off the highway so everything was just minutes away. The hotel lobby was very nice and its restaurant looked promising. That said, I did not love our room. The 18″ between the bed and the dresser was always an uncomfortable tight squeeze. I was constantly frustrated with their wi-fi (which never worked) and the view from our corner room left a lot to be desired. After visiting many Kimptons, I still couldn’t get used to their “signature” sliding bathroom door (there’s an inch open on the side depending on how you slide it). They never have bathroom fans installed either. On a positive note, the room was always clean and well kept. There were plenty of outlets (an important perk for me) and storage was readily available in the room. I really wanted to try the nice spa attached to the hotel, but 48 hours was just not enough.
The hotel was supposed to have a complimentary shuttle car for locations within a 4 mile radius, but it was never available with less than 20-30 minute wait. We found a private car sitting right outside the lobby for our first outing and this is how we came to find Uber. Genius! Why don’t we have this back home? Note to Miami: hop on the bandwagon ASAP! (7/14 UPDATE: Miami now has Uber!) Uber was our savior this entire trip. Uber is an app based, private driving service. I downloaded the app, set up my credit card, and just like that, I was ready to go. All the cars are black and new. When a car is needed, you can easily see on the app how many are near you, and how long it would take to get one. I found it to be reasonably priced and every single driver we used was corteous and professional. After requesting the car, I mapped its location in real time using the map app. The name of the driver is always provided as well as his/her photo too. Upon arrival, you can also rate your experience on the app. The driver can also rate you as a passenger, therefore… be nice!
Our first stop was Mr. Mesero: a quaint Mexican American restaurant not too far from the hotel. The staff was very friendly and happy to serve. The food was great! Thankfully, they took the guacamole away from me. If not, I would have sat there for hours inhaling it. I enjoyed the Tejano Enchilada and the hubby had the Chicken Enchilada/Brisket Taco Combo. The highlight? Dessert! Two words: CHOCO FLAN. Chocolate cake with a flan on top of it? Sure! How could I have said no? Diet? What diet? Do or die! I was all in. We ended with a very strong Lavazza espresso and by then, I was ready to tackle Dallas and the heat!
Nestled near gorgeous luxurious homes, our next stop was at the national historic landmark of Highland Park Village Shops. We really enjoyed the drive through the area and then spent a couple of hours in and out of shops. The shops are mostly upscale with the likes of Chanel right next to a Starbucks and an Anthropologie. No outlets or bargains here. There are also some very nice restaurants and an adorable 1930’s movie theatre that has recently been renovated. When we were ready to go, we found a Uber car right at the shops ready for us. Score!
Later that night, we dined at Nick & Sam’s AMAZING! Nick & Sam’s delivered. The space was large and inviting, yet somehow still quaint despite its size. To get to the bar/lounge area we walked through a sexy cluster of high-top seating, framed by wine-racked walls and dimmed lighting. While at the bar, we enjoyed a loud mix of mostly 80s and 90s hits and people watched for days. Apparently, Dallas’ finest are here to be seen and heard. The main dining room was gorgeous and highlighted by the centered, dimly lit, large-and-in-charge chandelier. The service and food were all spectacular; Nick & Sam’s is alive. We could not help but take in all of it’s contagious energy. To start, we had the Caviar-Topped Deviled Eggs and the Crab Cakes. Our entrees were the Bone-in Filet, the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna (with the unexpectedly delicious Wasabi Mashed Potatoes), and a side of the Creamy Lobster Mac & Cheese. Dessert (yes, there was still room) was a glorious Peanut Butter & Jelly concoction, topped with a sparkler candle to celebrate my birthday. At that point, I was not sure any other Dallas restaurant would be able to top our experience. It’s been a week and we still can’t stop talking about it!
The next day’s schedule was very limited because it was “concert day.” There was not much time to explore. We decided to head down to the Bishop Arts District and spend the little time we did have there. This time around we took a cab instead of a Uber car. Our cabbie got lost getting us there and then refused to let us pay him for the entire fare. I don’t know about you, but down here in South Florida, you would have been expected to cough up the entire rate (including a tip) and would have been given an attitude. What is it with Dallas people being so nice? I was not used to it, but I really enjoyed it! The Bishop Arts District has a lot of character. Once we drove through (what seemed to be) several less than favorable areas to get there, we arrived at a small strip with one of a kind stores, and an abundance of restaurants. No chain coffee shop or franchise there; how refreshing. We loved our lunch at the very chic, Hattie’s: a self described American bistro with southern low-country flair. We enjoyed the Pecan Crusted Catfish, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Sweet Biscuit Shortcake, and Bread Pudding. Need I say more? Before heading back to get ready for the concert, we strolled through the shop-lined strip and acquired several unique pieces. Oh and yes, there was a UBER car only 6 minutes away for us.
The John Mayer concert was at the Gexa Energy Pavilion. I was not sure what to expect given the online less-than-favorable reviews of the location. Uber dropped us off at the amphitheater and we strolled right in. The staff was very friendly and welcoming. I really wish this would have been in the fall, the heat was brutal. Our seats were in the covered area, but it was still extremely hot. Space was ample. The concessions and bathrooms were conveniently located. The seating at the amphitheater was absolutely awful. Their hard metal chairs are rusty and falling apart. I think that was part of the reason the crowd stood for the (close to) four hour concert. Investing in new seating and a cooling system for the covered area would certainly turn this place around. Little by little, the lawn area got filled until not a single spot was open.
As for the main event, I will say this. If you can get to the Phillip Phillips/ John Mayer 2013 Tour, do it! I don’t watch American Idol, so I had no idea who Phillip Phillips was. I had only heard the song “HOME” on the radio and didn’t even know it was his. This kid is talented. Since he was the opening act, he had the honor of playing with the full sun hitting his face. What a trooper! He played and behaved like a pro. I, for one, am a new fan. John Mayer did not disappoint of course. Donning a different guitar per song, he played as casually as he would have at home, in front of a group of friends. There was no rush as he played for almost 3 hours, often deciding his song order on the spot. He “lived” each chord played on that guitar. Completely dedicated and committed to his audience, he played through 22 songs including some unplanned, no lyric, acoustic solos. My absolute favorites were “Slow Dancing”, “Neon”, “Edge of Desire”, “Gravity” and “Who Says.” Needless to say, I am still on a concert high which is not going away anytime soon.
We indulged in our last Dallas meal (brunch) the next day. We headed to the Ritz Carlton to dine at Fearing’s. I started with an amazing spicy Bloody Mary. The bread/pastry basket was wonderful. Knowing we had a lot more food ahead made us pace ourselves (but if you don’t have to do that then go ahead and indulge in the corn bread!). We then ordered the Almond French Toast and the Goat Cheese Croquettes with a vegetable salad. The French toast was underwhelming, but that salad was spectacular! I know what you must be thinking. It’s just a salad, right? But, it wasn’t JUST a salad. Everything was delightfully fresh and the dressing was divine. I could have stopped there, but what fun would that have been? I moved on to the Nova Scotia Halibut and the hubby had the Steak and Eggs plate. It was all very good (even the battered okra was delicious). The perfect ending to our brunch was the dessert: Buttered Popcorn, Ice Cream/Cola Cake, with movie theater candy, and cream soda. Are you kidding me? How can I say no to that? This had malt balls and licorice sprinkled over it. The soda came in a mini bottle. It was a sinful, feast on the eyes, last Dallas hoorah. Sadly, that was the end of my 48 hours there. Dallas treated us well and we were now ready to return home. I could not believe Ft. Lauderdale’s balmy 89 degrees actually felt cold! What a difference this trip made!
What are your favorite absolute stops while there?
What should I do next time I am in town?