When I first told my friend Cat that I was coming to visit her in Dallas, she started making an itinerary. In it were a bunch of options for places to go. I should mention that almost all the places were restaurants. This is why we're friends.
As dedicated gluttons, we managed to hit up almost every place on her list. I apologize in advance to my trainer, Carl. Your work is much appreciated, but queso and pies are gonna win every time.
Here are the highlights...
Pecan Lodge: BBQ
Since it opened recently, Cat hadn't yet tried it. We took the opportunity of my visit to test it out. We knew there'd be a line for "America's Best BBQ," but we thought at 10:30 a.m. (a half hour BEFORE OPENING) that we'd be in the clear. Silly us. Over an hour and a half later of standing in line, we finally got our food. I didn't think it would be possible -- but the wait was worth it. As a recent carnivore, I still don't consume all forms of meat, so I was basically left with fried chicken or pulled pork. This being a BBQ place, I went with the pork. We also got sides of fried okra (YUM!), bacon mac and cheese (solid), slaw (good), and collard greens (meh). I can't speak for Cat's brisket, but my sandwich was the best BBQ I've ever had.
Emporium Pies: Pie
After my plane landed, Cat swooped me up and drove us over to the Bishop Arts District. The closest thing that I can compare this area too is East Williamsburg circa 2009. It's pretty gentrified by hipsters, but it's still rough around the edges. The main drag has a bunch of cute indie shops and restaurants, but we weren't there to shop. We were there to consume pie. Possibly the best pie in Dallas. Located in a cute little house, the shop served up a range of 10 pies. Half were seasonal and half were regulars. We went seasonal with "Cherry Bomb" and "Chocolate with a Pretzel Crust." My mouth is actually watering right now remembering this. I'm disgusting.
I was told that you can't go to Texas without having Tex-Mex. Especially since us northerners apparently don't know what real Tex-Mex is (having now eaten actual Tex-Mex I can get on board with this statement). Cat took me to a few of her favorite places including Ojeda's for perfectly greasy chicken nachos and margaritas. We also ate at Mattito's where I was introduced to Bob Armstrong dip and ate ground beef for the first time in almost 15 years. Big step people.
Norma's Cafe: Biscuits, Chicken Fried Steak, + White Gravy
Cat said there's not really a "brunch scene" around her place (in Addision) the same way that there is in New York (i.e., no mimosas and bloody Marys with your breakfast). So she took me to a place that needed no cocktails -- Norma's. The place was like a diner on steroids. Everything was huge. I mean, it was in Texas, but still. WOW. Cat got the traditional Texas breakfast of chicken fried steak with gravy. I got a biscuit with eggs and no gravy. Huge mistake. Having only been exposed to that brown sludge served on Thanksgiving, I was like "HARD PASS" on the gravy. I had no idea gravy also came in white (its basically just cream, fat and pepper). Cat let me try some of hers and now I want it on everything.
Though I was only in Texas for a few days, I tried so many new foods. One of the first was a Dutch Baby. What's a Dutch Baby, you ask? Only the most delicious kind of popover you can eat. It's served with lemon slices, powdered sugar, butte,r and bacon. (OK, we added the bacon). I also tried a brand new kind of frozen margarita. I guess technically its not a margarita because its half sangria. There's a three-per-person limit on these. Try one and you'll see why. The last meal I had before leaving was Raising Canes. Cat told me that I couldn't leave Texas without trying it. I'm not huge on fast food, but I can see why she knew I'd like it. The chicken-tenders-only chain is amazing. Juicy, lightly fried chicken, and a sauce that's out of this world.
I'm not huge on beer, but since I was in Texas, I had to try a bunch of local brews. After all, my gift basket was full of them (thanks, Cat!). Besides Tex-Mex and BBQ, apparently Dallas is known for a great craft beer scene. I tried a range of 'em and I can say it's no joke. I think my favorite was either the St. Arnold Lawnmower (last picture) or the Oak Cliff Coffee Ale.
Politics aside, I'm glad I don't live in Dallas primarily because I know if I lived there I'd be at least 400 lb by now.