Last updated: August 16, 2019
Austin’s been our go to city for weekend mileage runs we couldn’t pass up the chance to visit Dallas after finding really good flight deals to DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth so off we went to earn more usable and status miles and to visit some BBQ joints, craft breweries, and other sites. Since we had so much on our first mileage run in 2018, we decided to come back in 2019 to try more BBQ joints, eat more tacos at Trompo, visit the Farmer’s Market, and try more craft beers!
We flew on Alaska Airlines from SEA – Seattle Tacoma to DFW – Dallas on the redeye. The upgrade space looked pretty open so we were almost sure we’d be upgraded at the eligibility window but this was not the case. Even as #1 and #2 on the list, we ended up in economy and noticed that standby passengers were upgraded as opposed to anyone on the upgrade list which was odd.
On the way back, we flew from DAL – Dallas Love Field to SEA – Seattle Tacoma and once again we experienced what appears to be a glitch with Alaska’s upgrade system. We were both assigned the same seat in premium economy and after checking in a second time, we were automatically upgraded. At the time of departure, there were 11 passengers on the upgrade list.
We had heard about glitches with Alaska’s upgrade system, but this was the first time we experienced it.
Arrival into DFW – The American Express Centurion Lounge:
In 2018, we got to use the American Express Centurion Lounge on arrival but since the rules changed in 2019, we were no longer able to visit this year. Nonetheless, below is some information about the AMEX Centurion Lounge based on our 2018 visit.
We arrived in terminal E and proceeded to take the Skylink train to the B and C gates where the American Express Centurion Lounge is located. Thankfully, we were able to use the lounge because we still had our boarding passes and no checked bags (if you stay in the secure side you can use the lounge because you don’t want to leave your bags at the carousel for a long time).
We love this lounge and it’s probably our favorite lounge in North America; it has a lot of space, 2 showers, good food and drinks, and a nice spa. We enjoyed the continental breakfast and at 06:30 the hot breakfast items are served. We signed up for showers when we arrived and it took about 30 minutes for us to be called. If you want a spa treatment, sign-up right away as the spa opens aat 09:00 and be prepared to tip (I got a manicure and left $10USD).
You could use Uber in Dallas but everything is so far that it’s probably better to rent a car. We rented a car with Hertz and rode the shuttle to the rental car centre and the ride took about 10-15 minutes.
They also have many bike shares but unless you are staying downtown and focusing on exploring there, it’s not that useful. That being said, we were in Dallas the day of the 6 Pack Trail biking event and if you want to visit 6 popular breweries, you may want to have a look at their site for the route map.
Where we stayed:
Our 1st trip: The Nylo
We’d stayed at The Aloft and Element, both SPG properties but Orbitz had a flash sale so we booked the Nylo Las Colinas, a boutique hotel chain for $65USD per night with free parking
The Nylo is a great concept; we found the service to be excellent, the property well maintained, and the rooms stylish and comfortable. It’s not as luxurious and low key as our favourite hotel, Texican Court but the room was very comfortable and clean. The bed was very comfortable but the square pillows weren’t the most optimal choice for a large king sized bed. We loved the industrial concrete finishing and the shower was really great with the rainforest head and lots of pressure. The rooms don’t have a mini-fridge but you can request one. If you plan on sitting outside, you need to purchase your food and drink from their restaurant and bar onsite. We did miss having easy access to outdoor space but the property has a nice pool area with seating area and games which we enjoyed in the morning and evening.
The Nylo is pet friendly and we also consider it a good hotel for families, couples, and solo travelers. Since we stayed here in 2018, Hilton has taken it over as part of its Tapestry Collection.
Our 2nd trip: Texican Court
Since we absolutely love Valencia Group “court” theme hotels, the primary purpose of our trip in August 2019 was to stay at Texican Court, the 3rd Valencia Group hotel we’ve stayed at. Texican Court is located in Irving Texas; it’s about a 15 minute drive from DFW – Dallas Fort Worth Airport and across the street from the Irving Convention Centre and Toyota Music Factory.
We stayed two nights in a Deluxe Room with a custom king bed on the ground floor facing the courtyard where the fire place is. As we entered the room, our first impressions were that it was really nice and stylish and similar to Lone Star Court. The bed was just as comfortable and luxurious as Lone Star Court’s which ensured we’d have a good night’s sleep and we did! We also found Texican Court a little quieter than Lone Star Court since our room was facing the courtyard away from the pool.
We also enjoyed all the outdoor space and how it was divided into about 3 areas: the pool area, the courtyard area where the fireplace is, and the fire pit area near Two Mules Cantina and the event spaces.
While we have mixed feelings about Dallas overall, we loved staying at Texican Court and would go out of our way to do this trip again for sure. If you’re looking for a fun place to stay and outdoor space is important to you, Texican Court is a hotel for you!
Things to Do:
We built our list of things to do in the style of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with a bit of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover; it was food and brewery centric. While in Dallas, we visited the farmer’s market, a couple of BBQ joints, a renowned taco restaurant, Syrian dessert cafe and a few breweries. It was on this trip, we visited our 10th BBQ of the top 50 listed by Texas Monthly!
The farmer’s market in downtown Dallas is a gem and the kind of place you can eat and drink your way through while wishing you lived there to visit and enjoy all it has to offer every Saturday. There are sweet and savory treats, bountiful produce, local Texan wine, health drinks, plants, restaurants, and household items that you can procure after you’re done with the outdoor yoga class.
We sampled Lao spicy jerky from Saap Kitchen and loved it but worried about crossing the border with it so we didn’t buy any…please go, try some, buy some and enjoy it for us! With preconceived notions of Dallas, this market changed our minds.
Bishop Arts District – Lockhart BBQ:
We visited the Bishops Arts District to have lunch at Lockhart BBQ and decided to walk around as well. There are lots of lovely shops, cafes, and bars here, including the opportunity shop with beautiful fair trade attire and jewelry from India.
Lockhart BBQ has a great selection of craft beer to go with the BBQ. We had coleslaw, brisket, a Kreuz Market jalapeño cheddar sausage and felt very satisfied. The one downfall about this place is the lack of outdoor space and we found the presentation a little tricky as we prefer the meat to be placed in a tray.
Big Dash Ice Cream and Pastries:
We love Middle Eastern desserts and went out of our way to visit Bid Dash. Big Dash is a cafe and dessert restaurant operated by some very friendly Syrian people and it attracts a diverse crowd of people. We love “dondurma” which is Turkish ice cream and heard their Syrian ice cream topped with pistachios was similar, hence we chose to visit (Syrian and Turkish ice cream is less sweet and has a gummy texture compared to the ones we are used to).
It was very busy when we arrived so the owner was very nice and offered to bring us a table so we could sit outside in the shade. There isn’t really a menu and it was a little busy so we were a little shy to ask many questions and just pointed and ordered this pudding like dessert in the display case. Maybe next time we will be less shy and order ice cream? It’s always good to leave somewhere with unfinished business! Visit Big Dash for Turkish coffee, sweets and their signature Syrian ice cream.
Trompo is a no-frills taco restaurant that was named as one of America’s Best New Restaurants in 2016 by Bon Appetit. At $1.85USD per taco, you can’t go wrong and the tacos are so delicious, you won’t even notice you’re standing while you’re eating them or need to add their delicious salsas but we recommend that you do.
Their tortillas are also freshly made from water, masa harina, and lime and never more and 1-2 days old. We had trompo tacos, the specialty with Topo Chico sparkling water and highly recommend a visit to this no-frills taco shop…your taste buds will thank you and you may never look at tacos the same again.
Fort Worth – Heim BBQ
Heim BBQ in Fort Worth was the 10th BBQ restaurant we visited from Texas Monthly’s top 50 list. We arrived right at 11 and there was a line of 20 people in front of us. The line moved fast so we ordered our food, grabbed a pager and 2 beers from the bar and found seats outside. Within 10 minutes, our food was ready.
We ordered their famous bacon burnt ends (1/4 pound), 1 black pepper sausages, 1/4 pound turkey, 1 small green chili Mac and cheese and 1 small slaw with a Rahr and sons pale ale. They have a nice and spacious patio with no shade so be mindful of that on sunny days. We really enjoyed the BBQ here and would visit again because we need to try to their brisket to fully rate this place.
There are many craft breweries in Dallas worth a visit. We love visiting craft breweries because we love beer and the congenial and friendly atmosphere they offer. While visiting Dallas’ craft breweries, we met very friendly people, played games, and drank food beer. We were hoping to find session IPAs and lighter beers but the beer trend here seems to be go heavy or go home and many beers clocked in above 7%.
Deep Ellum: Deep Ellum has a really nice patio and while we were there on Saturday afternoon, they had live music for free which made it a fun place to enjoy some lighter beers. We really enjoyed the Dallas Blonde, Neato bandito Mexican-style lager, and the Play Date Sour Blonde Ale. It was nice to enjoy lighter beers due to how warm it was.
BrainDead Brewing: Also in the Deep Ellum neighbourhood is BrainDead Brewing. BrainDead is also a full-service restaurant and the service was friendly and attentive even if we just sat out on the patio to enjoy a couple of beers. It was a fun and mixed crowd with a birthday party inside being serenaded by the mariachi band they hired and people playing trivia outside. We loved the “Right in my Wheelhouse” Tropical-Style Pilsner and it might even be our favorite beer out of all the ones we tried.
Celestial Beerworks: Celestial Beerworks has some fun branding, a nice patio and decent beers. Since it was warm and we’re tired of hazy beers, we had their Convection Pilsner and ended up buying some to take home. We were interested in their IPAs but they were mostly New England style and high in ABV.
Noble Rey: As one of the first craft breweries, Noble Rey is a community institution. They have 2 locations, one in and one at the market. We visitors the location because of outdoor seating and enjoyed the Sex in a Canoe lager.
Texas Ale Project: Texas Ale Project was one of the friendliest breweries we visited in Dallas and had a nice selection of delicious beers. We visited this brewery to hang out with a friend we made from the bike tour and ended up making other friends while there too; we played some corn toss with 2 other patrons and talked to a staff member who offered to takes us on a tour and told us they bought their tanks from PEI after we told her we were from Canada!
Grapevine Craft Brewery: Grapevine was our last stop before we headed to the airport and we enjoyed the Pilsner and IPA they had. It’s a very pet and family friendly patio with lots of shade and games.
Four Corners: Four Corners just moved into a new space with a large production facility. The staff are every friendly and they do have lighter beers here to enjoy onsite or purchase in cans to take away. They have a kitchen onsite and some of the food items sounded interesting. They have a large outdoor space that’s pet friendly but there isn’t a lot of shade so we sat on the benches by the wall.
Sure, Dallas is not Austin and it may be the least walkable place we have ever visited but it has that Texas hospitality you hope to experience while being a lot more culturally diverse than you may imagine. We’re so happy we visited and had a great time even if we’re still baffled by some aspects of Texas! If there is only one neighbourhood to visit, make it Deep Ellum as it is very walkable and has lots of fun shops, restaurants, bars and breweries!
Have you visited Dallas? Are there any other places we should have visited?
- Review: Texican Court in Irving Texas
- Hotel Review: Cavalry Court in College Station
- Hotel Review: Lone Star Court in Austin
- BBQ in Austin: Micklethwait Craft Meats
- Beer and Pizza in Austin’s Hill Country: Stanley’s Farm House Pizza