5 Great BBQ Joints in DFW

July 16th, 2015


Let’s just all acknowledge that being in Texas gives one a hankerin’ for really good barbecue. Fortunately, it also gives one access to really good barbecue. In fact, it may be harder to choose which BBQ joint to pick from the bevy of low-lying fruit.

Well, don’t say we’re not here to help. Check out a few of these top-notch BBQ places in the DFW area.


1. Off the Bone BBQoff the bone

Don’t confuse the Off the Bone in Fort Worth with the one in Dallas. They’re not part of the same family. The important distinction is that you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the know who’d argue that the Fort Worth Off the Bone deserves a spot on any best-of-‘cue list. The place might not look like anyone’s idea of high-end décor (there’s actually a chain link fence), but there’s no mistaking the pecan-and-oak scent of a world-class cast-iron BBQ pit that turns out what really might be the best BBQ you’ll ever eat in North Texas. The loving care and 20-hour slow-cook time doesn’t hurt either.


Smokey’s Barbecue2. Smokey’s Barbecue

You might not have heard of Smokey’s yet, given that it’s in the backyard of Off the Bone and is a youngin’ on the Fort Worth BBQ scene. But the proprietor, Eddie Dean, was a longtime (and legendary) Dallas caterer who has known his way around a BBQ pit for a long, long time now. Smokey’s features two pits, so not every bite always tastes exactly the same. Which should give you a good idea the number of ways that ‘cue can be delicious. And no need to be fancy about it ‒‒ much of the food here is meant to be eaten with your fingers, so have at it.


3. Bartley's Bar-B-QueBartley's Bar-B-Que

In Grapevine, Bartley’s remains one of the more traditional and historic oak-smoke Texas BBQ joints going. And with good reason. The deliciousness is as much a function of the oak as it is a function of the right cuts ‒‒ none too fat, none too lean, all just perfect for sauce so good you might just start gnawing on your fingers. By the way, the rolls are almost as good as the BBQ.


Randy’s Bar-B-Que4. Randy’s Bar-B-Que

Don’t like sauce? No worries, Randy’s in the south-of-Dallas suburb of Red Oak has you covered, as it were. Rather than rely on sauce, Randy’s smokes up nothing but absolute top-shelf angus beef brisket and pot roast in a hickory smoke. The sticky, sweet taste sensation that some might think is sauce is actually part of the cooking process.  And don’t forget the ribs, because they’re sweet and savory and fantastic.


5. Meshack's Bar-B-Que ShackMeshack's Bar-B-Que Shack

Ever look down while you walk and see pecans everywhere? That’s because we grow them in abundance here. And while they’re tasty on their own, the wood from pecan trees makes for one memorable ‘cue. Meshack’s in Garland uses nothing but pecan smoke to get a Whoa! flavor into its meats as well as its baked beans. And, by the way, if you thought Meshack’s was closed, it was. It’s reopened, with the same loving care it grew up with before the family shuttered the place in the 1990s.

4 Great Coffee Bars in DFW

June 26th, 2015


Coffee. That’s usually all you have to say if you want to hear anyone say “Uh, yes, please.”Houndstooth Coffee

But where to get a great cup in a great atmosphere? Well, coffee joints are not just a 90s holdover, they’re still dynamite places to get in touch with your inner caffeine addict and get a mini-vacation without going too far away.

1. Houndstooth Coffee

This Henderson café is Dallas’ version of the popular Austin spot known for boasting “craft coffee.” The term refers to the fact that baristas here are not mere college students wafting through, they are trained artisans who actually do take a lot of pride in crafting a precise, tailored cup of joe. And by “cup of joe,” we mean just about any coffee drink, hot or cold, that you can throw at them.

2. Oddfellows

OddfellowsIf you like (or can pretend to like) hipsters, this Oak Cliff haunt is definitely worth dropping into. Oddfellows sees itself as a main supporter of the coffee culture Dallas is trying so hard to forge, and the café offers public tastings to help get the word out. They’re also pretty manic about quality. They only use beans from world-renowned roasters and an espresso machine that is so rare, there are only three others like it in use in the United States. And yes, it makes a big difference in the flavor.

3. Murray Street Coffee Shop

If you’re not into hipster and coffee culture and you just want a simple, inviting atmosphere with a simple-yet-delicious cup of coffee, Murray Street Coffee Shop in downtown Dallas may just be the perfect spot for you. The atmosphere is half the experience at this two-floor haunt. Beautiful coffee house décor mixes well with a clientele that somehow understands the concept of leaving people in peace.


4. Global Peace Factory

Global Peace FactorySpeaking of peace, this Frisco café is one of the more socially friendly joints in the region. With 2 percent of every cup going to charity, Global Peace Factory is trying to deliver on what its name implies. And if the “the more you order the more you help” stuff doesn’t work on you, the addictively delicious blends of some of the best baristas in Texas will surely have you combing your wallet for enough to buy another round.

Go Cowboys! But Don’t Forget the Cowgirls in Fort Worth

May 14th, 2015

Did you know that Fort Worth is the home of The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame? This museum honors and celebrates women, past and present, “whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire.”


The thing is, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is unique. It’s the only museum in the world that specifically honors women of the American West. But, true to Texas style, the museum goes big. It includes interactive exhibits, more than 4000 artifacts of the Old West, a traveling exhibit gallery, two theaters, a gift shop, a research library, and archives featuring information on more than 750 pioneering women ‒‒ and not just in the Frontier days.


Hall of Fame honorees includes pioneer women like Lizzie Johnson Williams, who broke the gender barrier in cattle ranching, but it also includes writers like Frances Kavanaugh, one of the only women screenwriters to write western movie scripts back in the days of Lash LaRue and Hoot Gibson; entertainers like Shirley Lucas Jauregui, a regular in cinema and fashion in the 1940s; and some famous names such as Sacagawea, Georgia O’Keeffe, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Annie Oakley, and U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.


Also be sure to check out the artifacts, ranging from belt buckles and bandannas to vintage photos, rare books, saddles, costumes, and more. The museum is housed in the heart of Fort Worth’s Cultural District, near the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum, the Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Science and History, and the Will Rogers Memorial Center.

It’s Summer. Time for Baseball and the Presidents

May 11th, 2015

Put your politics aside and admit that all kinds of presidents have made for some really memorable moments in our great National Pastime of baseball.

And okay, so not many of us can quite recall the day William Howard Taft threw out the first ceremonial baseball from his seat at National Park in 1914, but plenty of us can recall first pitches by Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and, most memorably, George W. Bush, whose perfect strike in the 2001 World Series made us wonder if his dream of being a big leaguer was really that far-fetched after all.

But while W never quite made it to the Bigs, his name is attached to the greatest presidential moments in baseball history. The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Southern Methodist University is home the “Baseball: America’s Presidents, America’s Pastime” exhibit, which opened recently and will run through October 4.

The exhibit features a ton of memorable moments and quite a few that you might have missed or which have gotten lost in the stands over time. And the history predates the presidency itself, with a display showcasing how George Washington played an ancestral version of the game at Valley Forge.

Did you know, by the way, that many presidents have graced baseball cards? Well, maybe not the same Topps cards with the stick of gum in them, but certainly baseball-inspired cards of the likes of Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy, complete with stats and how each man is connected to the game.

And even if there were presidents who skipped the first-pitch tradition during wartime ‒‒ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for example ‒‒ there are still legendary artifacts to connect them, such as FDR’s famous “green light” letter that told pro baseball to play on during World War II.

First ladies are also part of the game, from Nancy Reagan’s first pitch to promote her “Just Say No” campaign to Michelle Obama’s tie-in to baseball as a way to get American children exercising.

Check it out, but remember ‒‒ the exhibit ends when the season does.

A Few Great Mobile Apps for Dallas -Fort Worth

May 8th, 2015


Whether you’re app-happy or suffer from app-fatigue, there are some apps you just gotta have. The best apps are those that answer the daunting question: What do you want to do tonight?

Well, if you want some good answers on what to do in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth area, check out these great mobile apps:

Dallas Go TimeHappy Hours

Ducking out of work a little early? We won’t tell your bosses, but we can’t promise they won’t find you at the same happy hour they’re going to. Happy Hours, gives an exhaustive list of food and drink specials going on in most large U.S. cities, and that definitely includes Dallas and Fort Worth. Click through for a photo of the bar or restaurant and get details about the menu, hours, specials, and what people have to say. Vote up your favorite spots so more people can find a good time.

Dallas Observer Appdallas observer app

One of the best sources of things to do in DFW is the Dallas Observer, an alt newsweekly with a killer calendar listing of events and happenings going on every day of the year. But easier than going out for a copy or brining up the whole website is the Dallas Observer App, which tells you what to see and do, where to get the best tacos ever, and who’s playing at what venues around the city. The app also features reviews of shows and nightlife and some dazzling photo slideshows alongside its famous listings.


D Recommends

d recommedations appNot to be outdone by its weekly competitor, The Dallas Morning News publishes its own events and happenings listings through its D Magazine. The D Recommends app features much of the same type of info on listings Dallas’ goings-on as the Dallas Observer app, but also offers exclusive coupons at select restaurants and bars and some powerful filters to help you find what you're looking for, whether that be brunch or if a restaurant offers a good vegetarian option.

Indulge Yourself with a Spa Day in Dallas - Fort Worth

April 17th, 2015

Dallas has long been synonymous with wealth. Heck, we had a whole show about wealthy Texans with the city’s name as the title. Well, enjoy some of that wealth and live like the rich, even if you’re not necessarily J.R. Ewing-level loaded. Here are a few fabulous spas for a day of indulgence.

ESPA at the Joule, Dallas

One of DFW’s premiere hotels hosts one of the region’s premiere spa brands as well.

This is the first ESPA-branded spa in Texas, set on two floors of the glittering Joule hotel. The subterranean level of the spa taps its geothermal inspiration with European heat experiences. There’s also the multi-functional treatment room where guests can retreat for a full day of pampering.


Mylinda Renay Salon Spa & Boutique, Arlington

While the kids are off playing at Six Flags, why not head just up the street to Mylinda Renay Salon Spa & Boutique, a unique environment for relaxation, beauty, and shopping in the heart of Arlington’s Entertainment District? From relaxing massages and skin treatments to dazzling new hairstyles, Mylinda Renay will surpass your expectations. The salon also offers a complete line of gifts, jewelry, and handbags.


V Spa is at the Hilton Anatole, DallasV Spa is at the Hilton Anatole, Dallas

The Anatole has long been a top hotel destination in DFW, so it’s no surprise that the spa within is its own five-star enterprise. V Spa is a sublime experience built to relax, pamper, and refresh. From facials to pedicures and a range of services for all budgets, V Spa will make sure you leave feeling way better than when you arrived.


Cooper Spa, DallasCooper Spa, Dallas

Speaking of pampering, Cooper Spa, on Preston Road in Dallas, makes pampering an art. With attention to restoring and rejuvenating the body and mind, Cooper is in one of the oldest fitness, nutrition, and wellness centers in the Metroplex. People have been extolling the virtues of Cooper for 40 years now ‒‒ there has to be something to that.


Mokara Spa, Fort WorthMokara Spa, Fort Worth

Who says Dallas gets all the luxury? In Fort Worth, guests of and visitors to the beautiful Omni Fort Worth Hotel have indulged their spa wishes at Mokara for years. You don’t have to check into the Omni to enjoy a soothing facial, a relaxing massage, or an invigorating pedicure in one of the most relaxing settings in town.


Ritz-Carlton Spa, DallasRitz-Carlton Spa, Dallas

Of course, if a luxury spa is what you’re after, why not go for the gold standard of luxury, the Ritz-Carlton.? The hotel’s Uptown spa, which opened in 2007, raised the bar for Dallas luxury, leaving many others scurrying in its wake. The spa is opulent, gleaming, and lavish, and isn’t that what you want if you’re looking to fully indulge yourself? And no, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to enter the spa

A Few Lesser Known Museums in DFW

April 8th, 2015


DFW’s collection of top-shelf museums doesn’t end with the Dallas Museum of Art and Dealey Plaza. In fact, the Metroplex is home to dozens of museums of all sizes for all kinds of tastes. So why not veer off the beaten path and check out some museums you might not have known were right here all along?

International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame, Arlington

Right near Six Flags and the home of the Cowboys sits the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame, which charts the sport from its beginnings to the biggest names in the game. Did you know, by the way, that bowling (a.k.a. kegling) is more than 5,000 years old? From ancient Egyptians and British monarchs to American taverns and the microchip, the long and fascinating history of bowling is on full display.

National Scouting Museum, Irving

Scouting may have come a long way since Norman Rockwell turned his iconic illustrations into the mythic history of scouting, but however far it has come, scouting has a home in DFW. The National Scouting Museum in Irving boasts a 53,000-square-foot exhibition space featuring all manner of artifacts, art, and information on the dedicated pioneers of scouting in the United States. There are also displays of Boy Scout activities and a knock-your-socks-off virtual reality simulation of a sizzling bike ride through the mountains.

Texas Civil War Museum, Fort Worth

You didn’t think Texas had some Civil War history worth preserving? Well, check out the Texas Civil War Museum, which opened its 15,000-square-foot exhibition space in 2006. The museum is fittingly Texas-sized, the largest Civil War museum west of the Mississippi River. It features exhibits on loan from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Texas Division, galleries that display clothes and equipment from the war, and a 75-seat movie theater that plays "Our Homes, Our Rights: Texas in the Civil War.”

Sid Richardson Museum, Fort Worth

Who is Sid Richardson, you ask? Well, was a longtime oilman who turned his vast fortune into a philanthropic enterprise, part of which is this eponymous museum of Western-themed art in Sundance Square. One of the best collections of Old West art in Texas, the Sid Richard is often overshadowed by the Amon Carter Museum. But it shouldn’t be. Come see works from legendary artists like artists, Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.

The 5 Best Brew Pubs in DFW

April 6th, 2015


When a hankering for a great beer (and a burger, perhaps) sets in, there’s little that can stop it. So why not indulge? Here are some of the best places for a great a beer in DFW, no matter what your taste.

The Ginger Man, Uptown

The 1955 novel by J.P. Dunleavy, ‘The Ginger man’ was actually once banned in the U.S. for its depiction of an American enjoying the unspoiled reverie of Dublin after WWII. Reveries including beer. The novel’s namesake bar in Uptown serves more than 100 specialty beers on draft and in bottles. There are a few other locations in Texas, but none as close to DFW as this one. It’s definitely closer than Ireland.


The Old Monk, HendersonThe Old Monk, Henderson

With more than 100 different beers in the house, including an ever-changing selection of new- and limited-release labels on tap at all times, the Old Monk is an iconic Henderson pub. The décor alone (come on, there’s an actual altar at the front entrance) will immediately put you in the mood for a chill hangout and a good pint to be savored.


Jack Mac’s, North DallasJack Mac’s, North Dallas

Venture to the nether lands of Dallas, where the only beers on tap are brewed right here in Texas. Jack Mac’s Swill&Grill in North Dallas features 14 rotating taps of Texas craft brews that don’t stick around long.  And yes, they’re all pretty good (but did you expect otherwise?)


Trinity Hall, MockingbirdTrinity Hall, Mockingbird

One of Dallas’ definitively Irish taverns, Trinity Hall’s dark wood, easygoing vibe, and multi-page menu of beers from just about every place you have ever heard or (seriously, there are more than 200 labels in the house) is a favorite of all ages legal enough to drink. Enjoy the bar trivia and soccer matches, or take in a pint while sitting on the deck. Just go.


Little Red Wasp Kitchen + Bar , Fort WorthLittle Red Wasp Kitchen + Bar , Fort Worth

You’re wondering about the name, right? Everybody does. The place was named after the childhood nickname of the owner’s wife. Now that you know that, get to Downtown Fort Worth and grab a pint at the Little Red Wasp. With a multitude of draft and bottled beers, and a menu of sandwiches that compliment every brew in the house, there may actually be no better brew pub in the region.

Five Hot New DFW Real Estate Projects for 2015

March 19th, 2015

With a whole new year ahead of us, it’s time to look at some of the biggest and best property projects on tap for 2015.vip realty dallas

1. The Toyota Effect

If it sounds like we’re overselling the magnitude of Toyota bringing its North American headquarters to Plano, we’re not. Quite simply, the importance of Toyota coming here can’t be overstated. For the company itself, Plano and northern DFW will be home for about 4,000 executives and workers in the company. For northern DFW, the presence of these 4,000 new, wealthy residents from New York and California will generate income to businesses that are scrambling to set up roots before the full crush of employees gets here. Vendors, suppliers, developers, and amenities are coming along with Toyota, to help support company operations and meet the demands of new residents.

2. Where 75 Meets 121

North of Plano sits McKinney, which was not only dubbed the most desirable place to live in the U.S. in 2014 by Time Magazine, but is also the hub of some major new development where routes 75 and 121 connect. Anchored by the much-awaited opening of the Nebraska Furniture Mart, a massive (almost 2 million square feet) warehouse and showroom that is expecting about 10 million visitors a year once it open in March, the 121 corridor into McKinney is growing under the major highway development transforming the interchange area and the development of Legacy West, a town center/residential turning 240 acres of once-overlooked Texas into a hotbed of residential and commercial activity.

3. Trammel Crow

Apart from the pending sale of the $60 million former Trammel Crow estate in Highland Park, the company is partnering with Metropolitan Life Insurance to develop an eagerly awaited mixed-use project in Uptown. The companies are finalizing plans to build a two-towered commercial-residential complex overlooking  the arts district from its perch at the Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Pearl Street. Plans call for a 30-story residential tower and a 20-story office building across from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

4. The Airports

You would think that once an airport is in place, it’s mostly just maintenance. But no, 2015 could see a flurry of activity from DFW Airport and Love Field, each trying to reinvent itself to meet the growing business epicenter that is the new DFW. The expansion of light rail service from DFW International to Downtown Dallas will continue in 2015 and will open the door for several construction jobs, as well as increase the mobility of those living on the heretofore neglected southwestern side of the Metroplex. And at Love Field, news that the Southwest Airlines monopoly will meet the competition of Virgin Airlines will be something to watch unfold as the aging airport will get a facelift to meet a flood of new executive travelers.

5. Deep Ellum

Deep Ellum hasn’t been doing so well since its heyday a decade or so ago. Businesses struggle to stay afloat as neighboring Uptown flourishes. But with Interstate 345 coming down and a bevy of developers looking to cash in on the growth happening less than two miles away, expect big things. This year, new development could generate upwards of $4 billion in investments here, and small projects are expected to be the first step toward closing the link between Downtown and Deep Ellum.

Five Great Wine Bars in DFW

March 18th, 2015

A great glass of wine is a wonderful thing. So is a night out. And when you want to enjoy a glass without having to put up with the bar scene to do it, one of DFW’s great wine bars could be the answer you’re looking for.


Mercy Wine Bar, Addison

Mercy is about the complete wine experience, where novices can learn and would-be sommeliers can indulge their palates. There’s always something new to try at Mercy, where warm and cozy are the watchwords. And you know they’re serious about good times because the name comes from Roy Orbison’s famous exclamation in the song Oh, Pretty Woman.

Cru, Dallas and Allen

With locations in Uptown and at Watters Creek in Allen, Cru manages to combine high-end wine with a non-snooty, welcoming atmosphere sure to turn any new oenophile into a seasoned connoisseur. With an intimate atmosphere that resembles a cigar bar and yet an openness that lets you feel like you can sit in a quiet corner and not be bothered, Cru is a great choice for a first-timer on the wine scene.


Winslow's Wine Café, Fort Worth

Winslow’s Wine Café manages an interesting feat ‒‒ a friendly, neighborhood feel where wine snobs and wine newbies get along without worry. Intimate and relaxing, this is a great social stop for anyone hoping for a generally cool crowd who just happens to love good wines.


Veritas, Dallas 

Veritas Wine Room is an East Dallas treasure. A diamond in the rough and earthy vibe of the Knox-Henderson bar scene. Veritas offers some great extravagances alongside is varietals ‒‒ artisanal Texas cheeses and chocolates, gourmet nibbles, and select craft beers for those not up for a glass of the grape. You’ll very much love the comfy atmosphere and sophisticated vibe here.



Into The Glass, Grapevine 

Into the Glass Wine Bar & Texas Café in Grapevine has a motto that best sums up the entire experience here: Don’t overthink it, just drink it. Yes, you can be a wine snob, but ITG wants you first and foremost to just enjoy what you’re drinking. Wine, after all, is a sipping, social drink. So have a little fun when you uncork the next bottle.