1. Where to Stay
See the newest star of Texas at months-old Ritz Carlton (from $329), which has replaced the Mansion on Turtle Creek as the go-to spot for Dallas’s social set thanks, in part, to former Mansion chef Dean Fearing’s crossing enemy lines. Premium rooms (suites, really) are twice the size of deluxe rooms for just $30 more.
Take an exhilarating plunge in the sixteenth-floor outdoor infinity pool—it gives the illusion of spilling into the downtown skyline—at the W Victory Park (from $289). The year-old hotel maintains its minimalist W-ness while giving a nod to the Lone Star State with its Mega Texas Room, where everything—from the beds to the bath sheets—is oversize.
Stick with the program by booking the themed Texas suite—all leather, rustic cowhide, and dark wood—at Uptown’s Za Za (from $295). Raid the “butler’s pantry” (there’s one on every floor) for homemade gooey brownies or chocolate-chip cookies.
On the edge of upscale Park Cities, the Mockingbird Hilton—a big draw in the sixties—has been reincarnated as the tastefully understated Hotel Palomar (from $249). Get a lift to nearby Forty-Five Ten (an 8,000-square-foot “boutique” where Oprah and Laura Bush stock up on Givenchy) in the hotel’s complimentary Mercedes.
2. Where to Eat
Skip the Nobu, Il Mulino, and Craft outposts—been there, done that—and check out the local talent. If the Ritz is Dallas’s new must-see hotel, Fearing’s is its most essential restaurant. Get there early to ogle the bronzed oil execs and huge-haired socialites at the Rattlesnake Bar, and book a table in Dean’s Kitchen, the most casual and lively of the five dining rooms
Also request a seat at the tapas-seviche bar—you’re literally inches from the action—at Stephen Pyles’s eponymous downtown restaurant. The place is impressively sculptural, filled with undulating wood ceilings, copper and birch branch installations, and pop-up artwork.
Faux deer heads share space with Murano chandeliers, plush banquettes, and damask wall panels at Tillman’s Roadhouse, located in the gritty Bishop Arts District. Go on the weekend, when the resident D.J. spins eighties and country favorites, and sample London-born bartender Lucy Brennan’s blood-orange margaritas.
For a more formal affair, trek out to Bijoux, located in Inwood Village, just off the Dallas North Tollway. It’s hard to believe that the subdued space—where Scott Gottlich puts his Le Bernardin training to use on the perpetually changing prix fixe—was once a pink and turquoise Cheeburger Cheeburger.
3. What to Do
Located in posh Park Cities, NorthPark Center is like the Time Warner Center on steroids. An ongoing $235 million expansion has introduced new shops from Valentino, Bottega Veneta, and Oscar de la Renta, plus major art acquisitions from Mark di Suvero and Claes Oldenburg that have turned a conventional (if massive) shopping mall into glittery cultural destination. Nearby, 76-year-old Highland Park Village has gotten new life with the recent arrival of Noble Boutique, a more affordable version of its outrageously expensive sister, William Noble Rare Jewels, known for its over-the-top diamonds, estate jewels, and custom-designed pieces.
The talk of Uptown is Victory Park, a new residential and retail development that’s part South Beach (blond-streaked valets in blue shorts and white tennies), part Times Square (eleven massive LED billboards). Less flashy is the center’s home-décor boutique Haven , where ex–New Yorkers Jon Tutolo and John Bassignani peddle one-of-a-kind and small-production items like Samuel Moyer’s recycled-wood daybed and former model Dayna Decker’s wood wick candles that crackle like a fire when lit. A few doors down, Noka’s single-plantation cacao truffles are only available here and in Tokyo.
4. Insider’s Tip
Hidden amid antique shops, bookstores, and bridal boutiques in an Uptown duplex, Linus Lounge sells hard-to-find—even in New York—designer footwear. The brainchild of shoe aficionado Kristen Radakovich, who learned the craft at London’s Prescott and Mackay fashion school, the atelier is stocked with Gil Carvalho’s architectural stilettos, boyish boots by Scorah Pattullo, and pretty pumps by Rupert Sanderson, formerly a designer for Sergio Rossi and Bruno Magli. Unless you happen to drop by during Radakovich’s twice-yearly seasonal showcases (typically held in April and October), you’ll need an appointment to shop.
5. An Oddball Day
While Fort Worth’s burgeoning art scene has garnered national attention as of late—see the impressive American art collection at the Philip Johnson–designed Amon Carter Museum—there’s a reason the city is still known as Cowtown. Just 30 miles west of Dallas, Fort Worth is the place to pick up handmade boots, sold in the historic Stockyyards, at M.L. Leddy’s. Go for calfskin ($600) if you’re looking for something conservative, blue-and-black ostriches ($1,500) if you’re more rock and roll. Then swagger a few blocks north to the Best Hat Store for the Stetson ($130) you’ve always (secretly) wanted. Backtrack south on Main Street to local celeb-chef Tim Love’s Love Shack for a Dirty Love burger ($4.85)—a perfectly proportioned brisket-and-tenderloin patty, topped with apple-smoked bacon and a fried quail egg. End your Fort Worth wanderings next door at the White Elephant Saloon —you’ll fit right in with your new ten-gallon—before heading back to civilization.
6. Related Links
D magazine’s shopping page reports on upcoming trunk shows and sales, new and noteworthy store openings, and what to buy in Dallas if money is no object.
Get the skinny on who attended Neiman’s 100th-anniversary gala, the verdict on open-toe boots, and the 411 on secret sales at the Dallas Morning News’ shopping blog.
DailyCandy’s Dallas edition is another good source for news on independent boutiques, rising designers, and bargain buys.