I didn’t expect to like Dallas, Texas all that much. I’d been plenty of times, but not for years.
I’m also one of those annoying “raised in New York, lives in London” types who sees a map of the USA and envisions at the least, a couple handfuls of cities on a map I’d choose to visit before Dallas.
Hey, we’ve got a beautiful country, am I right?!
But through the magic of work, travel and all things “points”, I found myself in Dallas for a couple days, and actually with more free time than expected. When I arrived, I felt instantly gratified with my hotel choice – The Kimpton Pittman in Deep Ellum.
The 7 days leading up to my arrival were hectic, so a very brief google neighborhood description search lead me to the Deep Ellum area of Dallas, without the typical level of fact checking I may pedantically and obsessively do while frequently planning all my vacations — occasionally.
My ride from the airport took me along a little strip of unique, obscure, hilarious, delicious and charming streets, just a couple blocks from my hotel. It was pretty much a mix of that — almost in equal measure, in my opinion. Somehow, I found it to be just wonderful.
Some vintage, some high end, some seriously weird. Some third wave coffee, really well curated clothing boutiques, some inspired homeware stores selling plants and others selling dream the beautiful living dream — that kind of stuff.
I’d usually blame that need for amusement on the lack of Vitamin D living around London this time of year, but I was really lucky to be in Greece in the days leading up to this trip from London, so I can’t. I was upbeat when I got here, which makes me think I really loved it.
On my first morning, I was instantly amused with a quick search for “coffee roaster”, rather than “coffee”, a somehow still underrated trick for rooting out most of the bad coffee in a city. These places are obsessed with beans, fair trading, refined latte art and equal dashes of grandeur and humility.
At Merit Coffee, the outstanding coffee almost took a backseat to the pastries, which were outstanding, as were the mini breakfast burritos. Dotted all along these quasi hip, quasi rundown, quasi bougie blocks were tequila bars, refined Italian food, barbecue and plenty of venues.
I spent far more time than I expected to in ‘Dated, Faded, Worn’, and then upon exit found that I’d entered a nest of impossible to miss vintage, boutiques and hipster food even including Ichigoh Ramen Lounge, which was a revelation.
Really, I’d say just wander!
Speaking to Dallasites, Deep Ellum is an “on again, off again” neighborhood. It’s full of promise and was quickly joining areas like Bishop Arts in becoming a more modern and eclectic take on city life, just before the pandemic slowed that progress.
Like the sad tales from many great cities, many places closed, never to return. It’s without a doubt got some rough edges still, which almost adds to the charm, but I really loved taking a city not widely regarded for being a “walking city” and finding a neighborhood where I could comfortably amble out of my hotel and walk a lovely grid of blocks with all the amusement in the world.
If you find yourself in Dallas and want more than Ubering around or a few nondescript city blocks, this was fun and inviting. Here’s hoping Deep Ellum returns to its “on again” form, as America gets back to business.