Monday, March 23, 2015

Dallas Highlights

A few weeks ago Dan and I took a mini-vacation, sans kid, to Dallas. I grew up in a suburb of Dallas and my parents still live there today, but I haven't spent too much time downtown. This experience almost felt like Dan and I traveled to a new city.

We dropped Zahara off at my parents and prepared for my first time away from her (other than this 18 hour date). Our agenda: eat, sleep and drink. We had three nights to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. I realize that sentence sounds ridiculous if you don't have kids. If you do though, you know exactly what I mean. I felt like Mel Gibson in Braveheart...FREEDOM!!!

Here are some highlights from our trip. As a sidenote, Dallas has a ton of wonderful museums and sights. We didn't see any of them.

Best Drinks:
We went to two fantastic cocktail bars. My favorite was the Midnight Rambler. This "craft cocktail salon" is nestled inside the trendy Joule hotel. The charm to places like these is that the bartenders (known as mixologists) can create custom drinks based on your preferences, using ingredients like egg whites, homemade bitters and exotic liquors. The Midnight Rambler has an extensive menu categorized by drink profile--I preferred sour while Dan enjoyed aromatic.

Midnight Rambler

I definitely recommend sitting at the bar and getting to know the mixologist. Ours, Zach, was incredibly professional and passionate about his craft. He is a trained lawyer who gave up law to pursue his passion. I started with a drink off the menu (the Savory Hunter*, which I highly recommend!), and then Zach custom made drinks based on my preferences. He had as much fun experimenting as I did. I discovered I love drinks with cucumber and a clear alcohol (vodka or gin).

Another fun cocktail bar was the small, difficult to find Parliament. I loved the dark, speakeasy atmosphere, but I wasn't as successful with my drinks here. I think it just came down to personal taste differences with the bartender. Dan loved it though, and it was fantastic people-watching.


Best Food:
By far the best meal we had in Dallas was at Mesomaya. I grew up with Mexican food, and this was as good as it gets. We ordered cheese enchiladas and a roasted beet salad. First of all, who would think of beet salad as a traditional Mexican meal? But it worked! The beets were sweet, the cotija cheese was salty, and the lime dressing was perfectly acidic. The cheese enchiladas were fresh and not at all greasy. Dan enjoyed his avocado margarita. I could eat here every day.

Mesomaya avocado margarita

Best Spa:
Ok, so we only went to one, but I can't imagine a better spa experience than the Ritz Carlton. Sure, it's pricey, but you get what you pay for. It was such a luxurious, relaxing experience. The Ritz has all of the features you'd expect from a high-end spa; a whirlpool, a steam room, a sauna, a relaxation room. Upon arrival you are given a mimosa, along with a terrycloth robe and slippers. They also have a huge bowl of gummy bears! The facility is segregated by gender, so Dan and I spent most of our time apart but shared a couples massage. It was glorious.

Best Hangout Spot:
The weather was not great. It was cold, rainy and very windy. We tried to make the best of it and headed out to the Farmer's Market. I have fond memories of this place as a kid, but it's currently under construction and was a big let-down. On the way back to our hotel, we just wanted to sit, read and drink tea. The Weekend at the Joule was the perfect spot. It's in the lobby of the hotel (just a floor up from the Midnight Rambler) and is filled with artfully placed couches and chairs. We sat for more than three hours drinking chai tea, chatting with hotel guests and generally enjoying a baby-free lifestyle. It was amazing. And be sure to check out the unique book store, the Taschen. The 3D "Big Book of Breasts" was quite interesting.

Since my parents live in Dallas, this is definitely something we can do again. Any favorite spots we missed? Let me know!

* The Savory Hunter: lemongrass and kafir infused gin, lime, coconut, cilantro, thai chili

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