Locals Share What Gives Dallas Its Distinct Flavor

Locals gathering at The Grove. Photo: Harwoodgrove.com

Locals gathering at The Grove. Photo: Harwoodgrove.com

Big cities mean tons of options, which unfortunately can be overwhelming when you’re hard pressed to find the best. To share what gives Dallas its distinct flavor, we’ve assembled an A-team of insiders: some of our favorite Krrb members and resident influencers with knowledge on where to go and what to pick up. Get ready to meet the team!

Rebecca Kristin

Rebecca Kristin is the founder of BECKLEY & Co., a talented team of stylists and photographers in the Dallas metroplex. For your daily dose of style inspiration, check out their Facebook and Instagram. (RK)

Stephanie Drenka

Stephanie Drenka is a Dallas photographer as well as a popular travel and style blogger on Instagram. Keep up with Stephanie’s whirlwind life on Facebook and Twitter. (SD)

Julie Grimmett is the crafter, foodie and knowledgeable Texan behind the blog Julie is Coco and Cocoa. To learn more about Julie and her family, head over to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! (JG)

Yvan Nguyen

Yvan Nguyen is the leading lady behind Simply Yvan, a look into Dallas and collegiate living. Follow Yvan on Instagram to see why she should be your local college (and concert) guru. (YN)

Free outdoor concerts at Levitt Pavillion. Photo: Star-telegram.com

Free outdoor concerts at The Levitt Pavillion. Photo: Star-telegram.com

In one sentence, explain the vibe of Dallas to an outsider.
RK: Dallas is a small town disguised as a big city. There is so much community in the events, exhibits, and even dining experiences.
SD: Dallas is still growing into its identity, but it’s a unique mix of Southern hospitality and big city sophistication.
JG: No matter your passion, there is something for everyone in Dallas/Fort Worth.
YN: Dallas is all about fine dining and shopping!

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We know certain foods are synonymous with different cities. What foods or recipes would you say best represent Dallas?
RK: Mambo Taxis. That’s probably an obvious one, but it is the definition of getting together with friends over some good Mexican food and just enjoying life. For those that don’t know, a Mambo Taxi is a frozen swirl of sangria and margarita.
SD: Tex-Mex and barbecue!
JG: There are three foods synonymous with Dallas: Tex-Mex, barbecue and steaks. This is where we pick restaurants based on which has the best chips and queso!
YN: Oh goodness, this one is hard. Dallas offers such a variety of food options from fine dining to hole-in-the-wall joints—that’s what I love about Dallas! There’s an endless amount to choose from. If I had to classify one food type, I would say New American.

Essential Dallas BBQ from Pecan Lodge. Photo: Dallas.eater.com

Essential Dallas BBQ from Pecan Lodge. Photo: Dallas.eater.com

And what about local restaurants?
RK: Pecan Lodge is some great Texas barbecue. I’m talking trays filled with huge servings of barbecued meat and homestyle Southern sides, plus there’s a permanent smokiness in the air that just makes your mouth water. Americano at the Joule Hotel has also become a Dallas staple in showcasing amazing Italian recipes in a vibrant setting.
SD: When I think of Dallas and Tex-Mex, my mind always pictures the original downtown Dallas location of El Fenix.
JG: I love Ellen’s Southern Kitchen in the West End. They serve Southern staples with a flair! In Fort Worth we head to Bird Cafe in Sundance Square.
YN: Some of my favorite local restaurants include: Pecan Lodge, Frank, Neighborhood Services, and Rise No. 1. Go check these all out, they will not disappoint!

Just like how jazz is such a central part of life in New Orleans, which music style would you say best represents your city?
RK: I was at a flea market-type event at Community Beer Co. in the Design District, and suddenly the entire band was barefoot; pants rolled up, playing guitar, banjo, trumpet, fiddle, tambourine and belting folksy-bluegrass in a tiny kiddie pool. That was pretty “Dallas.”
SD: Indie rock, with Southern country and blues influences.
JG: Fort Worth is all about country music with places like Billy Bob’s Texas. But we’ve got a little bit of everything! The Levitt Pavilion in Arlington features over 50 free concerts every year in a wide variety of genres from jazz to indie rock.

Hometown hero Leon Bridges. Photo: Sarahmichiko.com

Local hero Leon Bridges. Photo: Sarahmichiko.com

Are you fans of any local bands or musicians?
RK: True to Dallas’s small-town-nature, I got to see Leon Bridges (pre-SXSW) and Wesley Geiger play for a local jewelry designer at her grand opening, and since then I have been an avid fan. More folksy-bluegrass music makes me want to wear turquoise and a Stetson.
SD: Leon Bridges from our neighbor Fort Worth.
JG: My sister is a local musician! She performs in local musical theater productions and other local events and we love going to watch and support her.

If you had to describe one design style or local designer as best representing Dallas, what or who would it be?
RK: There’s just an appreciation for local art altogether; it’s great seeing local artists highlighted in coffee shops and stores all around Dallas.
SD: Lucy Dang is my favorite local designer. She’s from Dallas originally, lived and worked in New York for a while before came back here to start her business. Dallas has transplants from all different parts of the country, and I think Lucy does a great job of staying true to Southern fashion while mixing it with inspiration from other cities.
JG: I’m a big fan of custom furniture and accessory maker Wayne Works. He creates original designs and his pieces are all handcrafted, plus I love the modern look.
YN: I have been obsessing over ASKARI created by Shirin Askari and think her designs represent Dallas well. Her pieces are chic, gorgeous silhouettes with bright colors and artistic prints.

Open-air shopping at the Southlake Town Square. Photo: Dallasnews.com

Open-air shopping at the Southlake Town Square. Photo: Dallasnews.com

Which stores or shopping destinations would you say summarize the fashion and style of Dallas locals?
RK: For me, Gypsy Wagon for that Southwestern vibe and great home decor, and Lion and Witch always has unique pieces at a great price point that you don’t find in every other boutique around Dallas.
SD: Highland Park Village for the aspirational and luxury shoppers and Galleria Dallas for a mix of high and low brands. There are also Southern retailers like Belk.
JG: You can’t miss the flagship Neiman Marcus store in downtown Dallas. NorthPark Center and The Galleria Dallas are my favorite shopping malls. The Southlake Town Square is a great open-air shopping area. I have an affinity for handmade items so I love browsing the handmade craft shows that Etsy Dallas and North Texas M.A.D.E put on.
YN: NorthPark Mall is the first thing that comes to mind whenever I need anything! They will always have what I’m looking for and more! Another favorite destination is Highland Park Village. I love walking around here and people watching when the weather is great. Not only does this area offer many shops, there’s a ton of delicious restaurants around that you must try.

And lastly, where do locals gather to hangout and enjoy the best of Dallas?
RK: Happiest Hour in the Harwood District has quickly grown to become the latest watering hole. It has a great dining area downstairs, but mostly the view of Downtown from the rooftop patio is why I love it. The entire Harwood District, though, is where I can start for coffee at Magnolias Sous Le Pont, grab lunch at Marie Gabrielle or Mercat Bistro, and then meet up with friends at Happiest Hour or play some bocce ball over some beers at The Grove.
SD: Bishop Arts District and Trinity Groves are two up-and-coming retail areas with great atmosphere, food and views of the city.
JG: Sundance Square Plaza has become one of my favorite places. You’re surrounded by restaurants, shopping and entertainment. It’s packed every weekend with people enjoying the fountains and a night out.
YN: I would have to say the Harwood District. This area has quickly become one of my favorites in Dallas. There’s such a variety of events and restaurants around to choose from in Harwood District—not to mention how beautiful it is! Bishop Arts and Lower Greenville are also great locations to hangout and enjoy the best of Dallas.

Everything is bigger and better in Dallas! Don’t take my word for it, see what residents say are the best local makers, as well as great AirBnb options in the city and where to go locally to get your DIY on. And you don’t want to miss an opportunity to shop from local sellers in Dallas.