Asher on Aspen: Dining in Dallas
Asher on Aspen
I know they say not to ‘judge a book by its cover,’ but I admittedly tend to do this with restaurants. Before I even take a bite of whatever is being served, I judge the ambiance to determine whether it makes me feel good. Is there pleasant music playing? Is there unique decor? Is there enough room to spread out? Is there an amusing vibe? Not only do I search for great food, but I also search for an aesthetic.
The one disadvantage to living in a small town in the mountains is the lack of options when it comes to dining out. Though Aspen has many excellent and delicious restaurants, there just aren’t as many choices as there are in a big city. On a recent trip to Dallas, I had the luxury of frequenting some terrific establishments, and I was pleasantly surprised and enthralled with the booming restaurant scene.
Our trip started with a visit to The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Here, they present the Cool Thursday Concert Series where a new band is showcased each week. Similar to the Snowmass Concert Series, patrons brought their own chairs, blankets and picnic spreads. This just happened to be the last one of the season and we were fortunate enough to see the Emerald City Band—a well-known wedding act in Dallas. They entertained the crowd with classic rock hits and some amusing dance moves. The spectacle overlooked White Rock Lake which provided a stunning view before the sun went down. My friend and I nibbled on a charcuterie board while sipping wine and bopping along to the music.
The next night, we dined at a new establishment called Joe Leo Fine Tex-Mex to celebrate my friend’s birthday. Once we walked in, I immediately knew I was going to be a fan. Live greenery and canopy lights hung from the ceiling while tequila bottles and vintage sombreros lined the walls. A live mariachi band played proudly in the distance, and it was hard to keep from dancing along. We sat on the open-air patio and ate enchiladas and margaritas until we couldn’t imagine eating one more bite. Our server even surprised the birthday girl with some sweet Mexican corn cake served with heaps of honey.
Before we knew it, it was time for the next event of the evening. We ventured from East Dallas to Fort Worth to attend the Lee Brice concert at Billy Bob’s Texas. This establishment is the world’s largest honky tonk and country music venue that has housed all the greats throughout the years. Brice put on an entertaining performance that we all enjoyed while practicing our swing dance moves. Between the rodeo, the guitar bar, the boot-shining station, and multiple dance floors, along with the main event on the concert stage, there was a lot happening and I felt like we could have stayed there for hours just to see everything.
To soak up the ranch waters we consumed the night before, we opted for Chinese food the next day for lunch. We decided to visit Wok Star, a fun and lively eatery that was in The Hill neighborhood. The food was exceptional, and the ambiance was even better. Next, we ventured to Hudson House, an upscale Nantucket-looking dining room and bar known for its oysters, martinis, and cheeseburgers. The patrons looked to be straight out of a Vineyard Vines ad with their pastel-colored polos and flower-filled sundresses. An Etta James song played over the loudspeaker, and it matched the lush vibe perfectly.
The last day of our trip we checked out some iconic eateries and bars in the Lower Greenville area. First, I got to meet up with an old family friend at HG Supply Co. This trendy place was one of the first Dallas restaurants to embrace the paleo diet before it became a trend. It had great cocktails and a booming rooftop bar. To continue the afternoon fun, we crossed the street and made our way to the Truck Yard. Its extremely funky exterior is what drew us in, but the live music and beer garden in the back is what made me want to stay all afternoon. For dinner, we took a break from the Tex-Mex and indulged in an upscale Italian restaurant called Terilla’s.
I was more than impressed with my taste of the Dallas culinary scene. The restaurants all boasted above average ambiance and cuisine, and I will certainly be returning. I am no local, but I feel as though we may have stumbled upon some pretty quintessential Dallas staples. With the Aspen airport now offering a direct flight to Dallas, I think I’ll be back to the Lone Star State sooner rather than later.