Like Houston and Austin, Dallas is known for its aggressive rush-hour traffic. But the aesthetics of getting from A to B improved drastically with the recent completion of a striking Santiago Calatrava–designed bridge over the Trinity River. Two more bridges by the Spanish architect are on the way.
The new bridge eases access to the Oak Cliff neighborhood across the river. At its core is the Bishop Arts District, a cluster of blocks with more than 60 independently owned shops and restaurants in low-rise red-brick buildings. Here, trucks and SUVs defer to pedestrians and cyclists, and storeowners greet each other by first name. “It’s a small town in a big city,” says Jeff Harris, chef of Bolsa restaurant. The menu at his hip, barn-like restaurant changes daily, but his freshly made flat bread is always a standout, topped with ingredients like figs, goat cheese and arugula. Guests can also expect killer cocktails and a well-vetted wine list.
Those who can’t imagine a trip to Texas without barbecue should stop by Lockhart Smokehouse. Here owner Jill Grobowsky Bergus serves up delicious brisket and smoky ribs and sausages direct from Kreuz’s Market, a barbecue mecca in Lockhart, Texas, that used to be run by Bergus’s grandfather.
About a mile outside Bishop Arts is Smoke, attached to the Belmont Hotel. Chef Tim Byres gets rave reviews for his smoked-meat-focused menu. “Our motto here is ‘Honest, genuine and real’,” says Byres. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We just churn out really good food.” That means dishes like Berkshire pork chop with potato dumplings, and braised lamb shank with green lentils. Plates are intended to be shared—which comes naturally in Smoke’s casual surroundings. The décor mimics a 1970s living room with striped carpets and rough wood walls hung with retro family photographs.
One of the top shops in the Bishop Arts District is House of MacGregor, where milliner Cassandra MacGregor channels her inner Brit to make fedoras and feminine cloche hats. After 15 years, Bishop Street Market is the neighborhood’s matriarch, but it’s still a great place for unusual gifts: hand-painted cocktail trays, engraved wooden cheese boards and the like. Stunning arrangements of succulents and locally made lotions and soaps are found at Dirt Flowers. Dude, Sweet Chocolate sells fudge toffee, a rich hot-chocolate mix and housemade marshmallows.
Of all of this city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, Bishop Arts may be the most unexpected. But it doesn’t take any visitor long to realize this fact: When coming to Dallas, it’s best to leave your preconceived notions—and your cowboy hat—at the door.
Bolsa restaurant: 614 W. Davis St.; 214.943.1883
Lockhart Smokehouse: 400 W. Davis St.; 214.944.5521
Smoke: 901 Fort Worth Ave.; 214.393.4141
House of MacGregor: 614 Davis St., No. 203; 214.942.1966; thehouseofmacgregor.com
Bishop Street Market: 419 N. Bishop Ave. at W. 7th St.; 214.941.0907; bishopstreetmarket.com
Dirt Flowers: 417 N. Bishop Ave.; 214.242.9533; dirtflowers.com
Dude, Sweet Chocolate: 408 W. 8th St.; 214.943.5943; dudesweetchocolate.com
NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.