If you’re going to Dallas for Midwinter, you’ve probably seen the different lists of places you should visit and eat. Having lived in DFW (that’s short for Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, by the way), for a couple of years now, I can tell you that a lot of places that make those lists aren’t the true gems. I asked around my library friends and what follows is a list of our combined must-see and must-dine places in DFW:

I’ll admit, you’ll see this place on most every favorites list, but that’s because it’s so awesome. It was the first place my husband and I visited when we moved here, and it’s the place that we take everyone who comes from out of town to see us. It’s the Dallas World Aquarium. You’ll get an up-close look at the penguins, and if you’re lucky, a trainer will be out and about with the sloth. It will run you about $21, but it’s worth it.

If it’s your first time in Dallas, you probably don’t want to miss the Grassy Knoll, also known as Dealey Plaza, on Elm Street. Last time I was there, a guy was sehttp://yalsa.ala.org/blog/wp-admin/post-new.phplling pamphlets, but instead of getting one of those, visit the Sixth Floor Museum, located in the former Texas School Book Depository that Lee Harvey Oswald used to watch for JFK’s motorcade. The cost is $13.50 for adults, but if you don’t want to go through the museum, it sells a cell phone walking tour for $2.50 that takes you to all of the important stops.

Now, for the more important places: restaurants!

For vegetarians or vegans, check out Spiral Diner. It’s not easy finding food that’s not meat in Texas, and this place comes highly recommended. Also, they apparently serve pancakes all day on Sundays, so that in itself is reason to check it out.

If this will be your first time down in these parts, you’re going to want some Tex-Mex, and a friend recommends Torchy’s Tacos. The best part is you won’t blow your wallet eating there.

If you’re in the mood for Italian, try Campisi’s. Jack Ruby ate there after shooting Lee Harvey Oswald, the backroom is said to be haunted, and I’m told they have the best meatballs you’ll ever have.

Surprisingly, DFW has a good German restaurant, Henk’s European Deli & Black Forest Bakery. After you’ve had the potato salad and pork chops, I hear you must try the strudel. Plus, it’s across the street from a humongous used bookstore. Just sayin’…

If you’d like to class it up a bit, try Victor Tangos or Mercy Wine Bar for fancy food and drinks. It’s a bit of a drive, but you can come visit us in Denton, straight up I-35E, to visit two of the best library schools in north Texas, University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, and dine at Hannah’s, which is super delicious.

Let’s talk a second about nightlife. Yeah. Can’t help you there. Recommended to me is Barcadia, which I might find more interesting for the vintage arcade games and lifesize Jenga than for the drinks, although they do have specials every night. My area of expertise is more on the craft beer side. If you’re interested, check out Meddlesome Moth, The Ginger Man, or The Flying Saucer. If you’d like to try real Texas beer without driving five hours to Shiner, TX, go over to Fort Worth Saturday afternoon and visit Rahr & Sons Brewing Company for a tour and a tasting.

One other note about DFW if you’re driving: the roads are often confusing and the traffic is always horrible, so safe travels and we look forward to seeing you!

3 Thoughts on “Insider’s Look at Dallas for ALA Midwinter

  1. Amanda Poore on January 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm said:

    I live in Dallas and I approve of those choices! I would also like to add that Eno’s Pizza and Oddfellows to the must dine list. They are in the Bishop Arts district, which has neat little shops to look in as well. Texas Theater is a fun little theater in that same area that shows off kilter movies for those who dare to be quirky. Plus, there is the Half Price Books flag ship store on north west highway that is HUGE and will blow your mind. Hope everyone has fun!

  2. Mary Hastler on January 5, 2012 at 4:58 pm said:

    I visited Dallas at the end of September and totally agree with all these choices. If you only have the time to do one special thing, I especially recommend visiting the Sixth Floor Museum.

  3. Agree with most. I’ve lived in Dallas 26 years, but grew up in Ft. Worth. FW has better museums, so if you can take the train over to FW, or drive over (45 or so minutes) the Kimbell, Modern and Amon Carter are all great art museums.

    As for Henk’s – I personally prefer Kuby’s in Snider Plaza near SMU – their German potato salad is the best in the area IMHO. And they have a little grocery store there to pick up all kinds of German and European goodies.

    And of course the old standby traditional Tex Mex – El Fenix, which is just north of downtown and in many other locations.

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