Bishop Arts District. Photo courtesy of Visit Dallas
June 22, 2020

Exploring The Coolest Neighborhoods in Dallas

Looking for a couple of days of exploration and discovery in and around Dallas this Summer? Travel in comfort with the MICHELIN® Defender® family of tires, designed to deliver a comfortable and quiet ride, no matter the season.

This two-day tour of Dallas combines walking and driving around the city and covers four neighborhoods: Uptown, Downtown, Junius Heights/East Dallas, and Bishop Arts District. Look through the collections of some of Dallas’s best museums, tuck into global cuisine, enjoy a drink or two, and pop into indie shops. To help combat the spread of covid-19, some venues below may be closed. Check opening hours before you go.

Dallas Arts District. Photo by JOSEPH HAUBERT, courtesy of Visit Dallas

Day One

Breakfast in Latin America

Food from every corner of the world is served across Dallas’s restaurants, so start your day in Latin America at pan-Latin eatery Zaguan in Oak Lawn. Breakfast on a guanaba smoothie and an arepa, empanada, or cachapa (Venezuelan/Colombian grilled sweet corn turnover)

Arepas. Photo © imv/iStock

Museum-hopping

From Zaguan, walk 25, drive five, or take the bus 15 minutes. Most of Dallas’s fantastic museums are within walking distance of each other, in and around Dallas Arts District downtown.

  • Eye an impressive collection of samurai armor and weapons at the free Samurai Collection.
  • See thousands of pieces spanning 5,000 years and the entire globe at free Dallas Museum of Art (temporary exhibitions are ticketed).
  • Enjoy a superb collection of sculptures indoors and out at Nasher Sculpture Center (the garden café here is a good place for a break and the gift shop for souvenirs).
  • Admire ancient to contemporary art from every country in Asia at the Crow Museum of Asian Art.
  • Design a robot, learn why leopards have spots, goggle at enormous dinosaur fossils, and gaze at the solar system at the marvelous Perot Museum of Nature and Science, a kid favorite.
  • Learn about the history of Dallas county at Old Red Museum, inside a red brick 1892 courthouse, the Old Red.
Nasher Sculpture Center. Photo by Carolyn Brown, courtesy of Nasher Sculpture Center

Heading back Uptown for lunch. Walk seven minutes or take a ride back in time on the M-Line (McKinney Avenue Trolley), a free vintage streetcar that runs between downtown and Uptown (connecting to DART lines at Cityplace/Uptown Station).

McKinney Avenue Trolley. Photo by JOSEPH HAUBERT, courtesy of Visit Dallas

For lunch, the best sushi in Dallas

Continue your global food tour of Dallas at Uptown sushi restaurant Yutaka. Its location in a strip mall belies the sushi mastery within: here, Yutaka Yamamoto and his team nestle buttery toro and bitey yellowtail on warm, vinegary sushi rice, fry moreish baby octopus tempura, grill black cod with miso, and flash-fry shishito peppers. The sake menu here includes some unique options, like the citrusy Fukucho Sparkling Nigori.

Photo by Dong Cheng on Unsplash

From Yutaka, walk five minutes back to the hotel and enjoy the pool before heading back downtown for dinner.

Eating dinner while doing good

Cafe Momentum is one of the most unique restaurants in Dallas. This nonprofit eatery hires at-risk youth for year-long paid internships where they learn culinary and life skills before taking their kitchen artistry to partner restaurants around Dallas. Working with local farms and curing charcuterie, aging cheese, and fermenting vinegar in-house, the talented young chefs at Momentum turn out simple and delicious new American fare—seared scallops, spaghetti squash with mixed mushrooms, and salmon rillettes.

Café Momentum. Film courtesy of Café Momentum

After dinner, hop back on the M-Line for a fun, 15-minute ride Uptown. There are a handful of places for a nightcap within 10 minutes’ walk of the hotel: order from a 100-drink-long menu at cocktail den Parliament; play Jenga, Cornhole, and Connect Four while sipping ultra sweet punches at the youthful Playground Bar; or quaff a local craft beer at Ill Minster Pub.

Ill Minster Pub. Photo courtesy of Ill Minster Pub

Day Two

A green breakfast

Start the day in the Junius Heights neighborhood on Garden Cafe’s peaceful patio. From their on-site garden come the herbs and vegetables that go into the Southern-style brunch dishes on the menu (think French toast, pancakes, omelettes, okra, jalapeño corn bread). The Wootton family sources their honey and maple syrup from local purveyors, meat and eggs from nearby farms, and their coffee from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. The cafe prides itself on serving seasonal, local, organic food and hosting community events like art exhibitions, book signings, poetry readings, and occasional live music.

Photo by Claire K on Unsplash

Stop and smell the roses

From one garden to the next: drive 10 minutes to Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, 66 acres on White Rock Lake (kayak rental Wed-Sun). There are 20 small gardens here and they’re lovely to stroll between. A Woman’s Garden, with its infinity pool and fountains, is particularly serene. Crape Myrtle Allee is a pretty stone walkway under a tunnel of crape myrtle trees that lead to Toad Corner, where kids can splash in the Toad fountains. The Rose Garden is also beautiful, with 200 hybrid tea roses in 16 varieties. One of the nicest spots to picnic is in the shaded Pecan Grove (in autumn there’s a pumpkin patch here and, in spring, 100 blooming cherry trees).

Dallas Arboretum. Photo courtesy of Visit Dallas

All things cool in Bishop Arts District

From the Botanical Garden, drive 20 minutes to Bishop Arts District, a fun, lively neighborhood with a smattering of restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and bars. You can while away the rest of the day here. For lunch, try Vegan Food House (flavorful vegan versions of wings, shrimp tacos, jambalaya); Jamaican fare with a side of rum and reggae at The Island Spot; or BBBop Seoul Kitchen (kimchi kale fried rice, Korean fried chicken, meat and veg bibimbap).

Bishop Arts District. Photo by Dallas CVB, courtesy of Visit Dallas

After lunch, walk around Bishop Arts District, visiting a few of its shops:

The Wild Detectives. Photo by Joseph Haubert, courtesy of The Wild Detectives Texas Pecan Shortbread Cookie, Kessler Baking Studio. Photo courtesy of Clyde F. Greenhouse, Kessler Baking Studio

For dinner, take a seat at Veracruz, which specializes in cuisine from its namesake Mexican state, with a Texas spin. In a dark-walled room beneath chandeliers, tuck into dishes like smoked brisket tacos, salad with nopales (cactus) and mango, and red snapper with salsa roja.

Veracruz Cafe. Photo by JOSEPH HAUBERT, courtesy of Visit Dallas

Sip a post-prandial cocktail around the corner at The Botanist, a very inviting, dimly lit living room furnished with antique and vintage pieces. The cocktail list changes seasonally and includes tipples like Life’s A Peach (whiskey, lemon, peaches, mint, soda); a small wine selection and rotating local beers round out the menu.

The Botanist. Photo courtesy of Exxir Hospitality

Where to stay

Hotel Zaza

In the State Thomas neighborhood in Uptown is this 176-room hotel, an ideal base for exploring Dallas. Its rooms are well-sized and have comfortable pillow-top mattresses and ergonomic desk setups. The outdoor pool, surrounded by loungers and benches with blue and white striped cushions, is great for a cooling dip. Note that the pool area turns into a bar-lounge after 10pm.

Hotel Zaza. Photo courtesy of Tablet Hotels

See the entire MICHELIN Guide selection for the US, plus articles on cooking, travel, chefs, and more.

For global hotel bookings and the coolest places to stay worldwide, visit Tablet Hotels.