"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, March 25, 2024

Joe's Guide to Dallas

I did this a couple years ago when Marquette came to Fort Worth, so I thought I'd do a sequel for Dallas.

I admit I'm not going to be your best Dallas tour guide, as I spend much more time in Fort Worth, where I live. But, since many of you may be visiting the DFW Metroplex for the first time, I figured I could at least toss out some things about Dallas to help you out.

Generally speaking, I find parking in Dallas more challenging than Fort Worth, which has a lot of free garages or places you can at least get it validated. In Dallas, you'll probably find Uber/Lyft rides more convenient in a lot of places. But there are some lots and garages that can work out, depending on where you're going.

American Airlines Center

The home of the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars, the AAC does have some good places to hang out before and after the game that are walking distance from the arena.

Hero is the bar immediately outside the arena, in Victory Plaza. It always has a big crowd before games. A good place for a quick bite or a drink before going inside.

If Hero is too packed, take a look at Black Tap Craft Burgers, which is right across the street. 

A little further out, but still an easy walk to the AAC, is Happiest Hour. It's a very popular pregame spot with a lot of space. If you drive there, though, prepare to have your car valet parked. Any time I've been there, they have been fine with you leaving your car there during a game as long as you valet park it. I can't say for certain it would be the same this weekend, but I assume it would be.

The Union is an area about three or four blocks from the AAC, and they have a handful of restaurants that are good for pregame drinks and food: The Henry, North Italia, and TacoLingo. They have a garage, and you can get your parking validated here, but I'm not certain it would cover the entire night if you leave it there.

El Fenix is a TexMex place across from The Union. Just a fair warning: do NOT try to park in their parking lot and walk to the AAC. There is usually an attendant making sure you're going to El Fenix, and they will tow you if you just park and head toward the arena.


I know my audience. You want to hit some breweries at some point this weekend? I got you. Dallas may not be Milwaukee as far as beer goes, but it has a lot of options. Some of my favorites:

Deep Ellum is one of the more popular DFW brands. Dallas Blonde is their signature beer, but they have something for everyone. This one is about 2 miles southeast of the AAC, and the Deep Ellum area in general can be a fun place to hang out.

Texas Ale Project is one of the closest breweries to the arena, less than 2 miles, but I would not recommend walking because it's on the opposite side of the highway. I like their Fire Ant Funeral, which is a red ale.

Peticolas is also not far from the arena, like Texas Ale Project: less than 2 miles, and also on the opposite of the highway. Try the Velvet Hammer, an imperial red ale.

Community is right up there with Deep Ellum among the more popular craft beers in DFW. It's a short 5-mile drive from the arena. You may even see it as you're driving toward downtown. Nice place to eat and drink. Their Mosaic IPA is a good one.


I mentioned a few places to eat in the American Airlines Center section, but a few others I'll toss out:

Nick & Sam's is a trendy and popular steakhouse if you want to treat yourself, maybe a date night for you and your significant other. It's in Uptown, which is a little north of the AAC and a popular area for the young adult crowd. If you're into the club scene, you'll find places that are your speed in this area.

Want some good BBQ? Pecan Lodge is the place to check out. It's in the Deep Ellum area, on Main Street. If you walk Main Street, you'll find a lot of options to eat and drink, so if barbecue isn't your thing, you'll find something to your liking. Twisted Root is a burger place nearby that I enjoy.

Katy Trail Ice House is a very chill bar with indoor and outdoor seating. As the name suggests, it's right along the Katy Trail, which is a nice walking and jogging path that goes right through Dallas.

Fun Stuff

Dallas doesn't have much in the way of "must see" tourist stuff like a lot of big cities, but if you're looking to do some exploring on Saturday, here are some things I can throw at you.

Texas Rangers - Hey, it's easy to forget baseball season starts this week! If you want to make a trip down to Arlington, the Rangers are playing the Cubs. I know we have a decent amount of Cubs fans in the MU fan base. Plus, you can hang out at Texas Live before or after the game and watch sports. Be sure to visit the Revolver Brewhouse at Texas Live and get a Blood & Honey!

Reunion Tower  - This is the easy-to-spot structure in the Dallas skyline with the giant ball of lights on top. It has a rotating view of the city, and you can get a drink or even dine up there. Crown Block is the restaurant. It's obviously an expensive place, but if you're looking for a fancy dinner with a view, you would have a nice experience there.

Sixth Floor Museum - It's the site of the JFK assassination. It's a very interesting museum that looks at the events of that day.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science - If you have kids to entertain, this is certainly a place you can spend an afternoon. It has a lot of hands-on exhibits that are very fun for children. It's actually pretty close to the American Airlines Center.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden - Want to just have a nice day outside with the family? This is your place. Bring some food and have a picnic, go for a walk, maybe take some nice Easter photos among all the flowers. This is a great place to just be outside and enjoy nature. If you've been buried in snow for a while, this may feel refreshing for you.

Golf - Yes, we mentioned on the podcast there are a few Topgolf locations in the area, but DFW has a lot of courses if you're looking to play 18 while you're in town. Some are a bit of a drive from downtown Dallas, but a few of my favorites: Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine is awesome, but it's not cheap. Tour 18 is fun because its holes are inspired by signature holes at iconic American golf courses. The Tribute in The Colony is modeled after some famous courses in Scotland. PGA Frisco is one of the newer ones, but it's a pretty good place to play and also just hang out for a drink or a meal.

I hope those of you visiting find this helpful and enjoy your stay in Dallas!

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