An Open Letter to These Travel Writers Who Keep Ending up in Dallas
flickr user anja_johnson Maybe try the back roads, honestly.
It's a strange pleasure to be a Texan, and then a Dallasite. Like everyone else these days, I hail from a multi-ethnic family. When asked about my ethnicity my favorite response is, "Puerto Rican and Texan." It feels the truest. Recently, and it seems throughout this year specifically, Dallas has had the pleasure of a few travel writers visiting to share with the world their experiences in the Dirty, Dirty D. They mostly made out OK, but I thought I might send out a little letter to writers following in their footsteps. If you insist on coming down and exposing our ill-kept secrets, let a sister help you round out the experience:
No, really, we are so glad you are here. Southern hospitality is a real and wonderful thing and even if you didn't mean to be here or you wound up here on some sort of long weekend vacation experiment, we love for visitors to come here and then publish nice things about our fair hamlet. Especially when you say we are better than Austin. We love that shit. So, thank you. And please note that many, nay most, of us do not want to secede from the country, although an afternoon spent with the Texans who do is sort of its own social experiment that I can't altogether discourage.
The cowboy hats are somewhat of a myth. The boots, however, are not.
Also, the Texan reputation for bragging has some truth, so recommending our favorite watering holes, dance floors and feeding troughs can sometimes take on a competitive spirit. Which I suppose is why I'm bothering to write an open letter. But I digress: If you only have 48 hours or so to spend here, I suggest you work in the extremes Dallas does so well.
First, your initial arrival at The Old Monk is getting a tad predictable. I understand that you all have a contact from D Magazine who you are meeting at their satellite office, and it really is an excellent bar at which to be a regular. However, if you only have 48 hours to swill booze, we are going to have to get more niche than pubs allow. To properly understand that breadth of Dallas, someone really should have taken you right to The Mansion's luxurious and seductive booths and then directly to Pastime Tavern's plastic and brightly lit ones. Sometimes the condensation from the window unit air conditioner will drip right on your table. It's a wonderful detail.
Other pairings representing this delightful contradiction of the Dallas personality include The Library at The Melrose and Ships, and for the new-money version of the high and the low, The Ritz Carlton's Rattlesnake Bar and The Loon. You must have the Loon's frighteningly colored neon margarita; it is a rite of passage in the 214.
Related to your traveling liver (and if we are using skill and ambiance as a criteria), it is a crime that some kind stranger didn't send you to Smyth or Black Swan Saloon, two sides of the same very alcoholic and refreshing coin in many ways. In fact, I am going to just assume that someone took you there, visiting stranger, and then you decided not to write about it out of discretion. It is far too sad to assume otherwise.
Now that you have a handle on the schizophrenic drinking scene, let's get you a cheat sheet on where you might engage your ears. Monday, you'll want to enjoy some Bad Ass Jazz at The Amsterdam in Exposition Park. This will also give you the chance to explore Fair Park a bit -- the Art Deco is worth an Instagram but sneaking in for a run down the field in the Cotton Bowl might make for a nice memory. Oh, your flight gets in on a Tuesday? More jazz at Sandaga 813, where the jam session has moved for years from Dallas private residences to art galleries and finally landing in a space where the public can enjoy it too.