Texas road trip: Dallas & Austin

DALLAS highlights

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  1. Walk around Deep Ellum: a neighborhood that is quirky and has lots of wall murals everywhere.

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2) Get a donut from Glazed Donut Works 

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3) Get BBQ from Pecan LodgeGet here when it opens! Beef rib is where it’s at. One of the best BBQs I’ve ever had. Also got brisket but man, that giant beef rib is SO worth it! We got there at opening time and there was already a congregation of hungry people waiting around.

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BEEF RIB.

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*A little out of the way, but if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by 9 Rabbits Bakery.

On the way to Austin, there is a stop in between that’s called Czech Stop. Open 24/7, they sell kolaches which are these:

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AUSTIN highlights

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1)  Hamilton Pool Preserve such a cool place with a waterfall and places to sit and chill. $15 per car (cash). Plenty of parking. The day we went there, the water had high levels of bacteria so we were not allowed to go in. Would’ve loved to dive right in!

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2) Salt Lick BBQ was one of the highly recommended bbq places but kinda out of the way. We still made it though! They also helped us take pictures in front of the meats that were being smoked.

3) Next, we have LA BARBECUE (Fave of the trip!!!) — I preordered via email and they didn’t have a weight minimum like Franklin’s, so it was pretty easy. We got there at opening time and there was already a huge line wrapped around a few times, but I walked right up to the window to pick up my meats. #winning

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Again, BEEF RIB IS WHERE IT’S AT.

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4) Barton Creek Greenbelt – turns out there’s some hiking in Austin.

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5) Go for sunrise at the Austin 360 Bridge aka Pennybacker Bridge A short 5-10 minute hike up to the overlook.

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6) Check out the graffiti walls at Hope Outdoor Gallery

Travelogue: Dallas, TX (Day 4 of 4)

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It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and we ventured down the block in search of caffeine. We found Sip Stir Cafe, which is a total gem in this neighborhood.

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They brew their coffee for 8 hours — it’s good enough to drink black. The staff is friendly and will tell you about their brewing process if you ask!

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It was a lazy Sunday, I got the best pedicure ever from Nail Bar and then had an intense craving for Pho.

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There were many Vietnamese places in Richardson, but we ended up at Pho Pasteur.

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I had to get my egg-yolk-condensed-milk-soda and the #14 pho, which has “everything”. It was good, but I always reminisce about the best pho I’ve ever had — Pho Saigon in Houston.

It was a perfect weekend getaway. I got my brisket and fried chicken, the best pedicure, the best coffee, and I got to go running on the Katy Trail. I ended my trip with a visit to NorthPark Center, a shopping mall. In between all the food and sightseeing, I enjoyed spending time with V on his couch watching TV (which I never do in NY) and just relaxing in this slower pace city.

Travelogue: Dallas, TX (Day 3)

 

 

 

 

Continuing from Day 2, or rather Night 2, we indulged in a rather expensive dinner at Pappas Bros — worth it, since it was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. More importantly, best service ever. I’ve noticed that at every restaurant in Dallas, your water gets refilled after every 5 sips, and the waitresses all have this genuine vibe that makes it easy for you to tip over 20%. (Believe me, in New York, not that many waiters/waitresses truly deserve their tips.)

But anyway, our waitress Christina and I got to talking, and she highly recommended that we visit the Bishop Arts District. “You have to go there! There are all these restaurants, little coffee shops and cafes, thrift shops, you would love it!” So after visiting the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, we headed over to the BAD for brunch.

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It was definitely a hip, chilled vibe. Sort of like New York’s West Village, with good eats and cafes and little shoppes. What I liked most were the murals.

Arts District

Bishop Arts District

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We passed by Tillman’s Roadhouse, which in retrospect we regretted choosing Hattie’s over them. Hattie’s was standard American fare, nothing extraordinary albeit a solid meal. Tillman’s will now be forever known as “the place we didn’t eat at”.

 

 

Coffee

Espumoso Caffe was one of those cafes where you can curl up with a cushion by the large windows and people-watch.

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I stumbled upon a little shoppe called Society, which sells amazingly scented candles, stationary, and other knick knacks. Even if you’re not into candles, go inside and check out the decor. Apparently, they also offer interior design services, which explains how they’ve managed to utilize this small space to create such an artistic and inspiring environment.

 

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When my friend asked me what my favorite moment in Dallas was, I couldn’t pinpoint a specific incident. But it might have been when our waitress at Stephan Pyles said to us, “I’m VERY impressed with the amount of food y’all have consumed tonight, just lettin’ you know!”

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We started off with complementary bread & amuse bouche.

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Tasting of any 3 ceviches $32: we chose 1) salmon veracruzano, 2) sea scallops amarillo, and 3) red snapper. The red snapper was my favorite, as it was accompanied with — guess what — pop rocks!

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A hot item on their menu, which you know is popular by the star next to it: the Tamale Tart. It’s a tart that resembles custard, with huge pieces of crab meat on top.

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I couldn’t help but get the strawberry lemonade (vodka and strawberry jam?! sounds good to me), which was tasty but nothing outstanding.

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Another item that stuck out was the pork belly with clams (one fried and one steamed) — this is pork belly done right; fatty and juicy, tender and perfect.

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Our entrees. His: sous vide beef tenderloin with crisp beef short rib. Mine: maple leaf farms duck breast. Clearly, I won.

 

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The meal ended with complementary petit fours.

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Travelogue: Dallas, TX (Day 2)

A hot summer day spent at the gardens. The Dallas Arboretum.

Admissions: $15 for adults. Parking: $10.

Arboretum pond

Ponds, water lilies, bridges, reflective pool. It’s not a huge botanical garden but enough to spend an hour or two there. Some people just sit on the benches and chitchat like it wasn’t a normal working day. I like that.

Bride  Arboretum flowers

Seems like a lot of brides get their photoshoots done here.

Gift Shop

We ended the tour around the garden at the gift shop, which sells a whole bunch of random things. I bought seeds to bring home: basil, artichokes, onions, beets!

Next up, for lunch, we headed over to Stampede 66. Note: Valet parking is $5 for lunch.

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Stampede 66 is a Stephan Pyles restaurant, known for their modern Texas twist in New American cuisine. Their menu consists of lots of small bites.

Deviled Eggs

We started off with their pickled and deviled eggs, with tiny bacon strips!

Jalapeno Jar Fried Oyster Taco

The “faux” gras mousse with jalapeno jelly — This was made with chicken liver. Comes in a jar, with toast points oiled to perfection. I might even like this better than real foie.  I wanted to take the jar home…

Fried oyster taco — $3 for one, the oyster was lightly breaded and fried, which was on point and complementary to the soft taco.

I made the mistake of ordering the pork tamales; not that it wasn’t good, but we were too stuffed to consume anything else. But to be honest, it was rather ordinary.

Fried Chicken

Honey-fried chicken with mable’s buttermilk biscuits and mashed potato tots. One of the best fried chicken I’ve ever tasted. And I’ve had a lot of fried chicken.

It was a perfect lunch on a sunny day after a stroll at the garden. 

Sunshine

Travelogue: Dallas, TX (Day 1)

4 days in Dallas.

I have very fond memories of Texas. My first trip was to Houston 2 years ago for a wedding, and it was filled with good food, good company and sunshine. This trip to Dallas did not disappoint. I really do think that one does not have to travel for an extended amount of time to find enjoyment and adventures.

My goal this trip was to find good eats with V. Of course, barbecue comes to mind.

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Rudy’s BBQ is a huge smokehouse with your typical benches and a huge tray to hold our brisket, ribs and sausages. I’ve also developed a liking to sweet tea.

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This is what I came to Texas for: Brisket.

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Next door was Cabela’s, where you can get your everyday hunting supplies and outdoor camping gear… SO Texas!

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For dinner, we went to Victor Tangos. After all, it’s named after him.

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Little did I know, this would be the first of many alcoholic drinks we would consume for consecutive days.

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Victor Tangos was good for roasted bone marrow. Their famous mini chicken n waffles didn’t wow me one bit. The ahi tuna tacos were rather ordinary but still tasty and worth getting. Image

Panna cotta with real vanilla bean bits on the bottom.

Next, we went for a wine bar around his neighborhood.

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Cork. Modern, computerized, efficient and still personal. They have different stations categorized by types. You can taste test and then get a glass.

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Of course, I got my chardonnay and white wine cheese plate. Oh brie, how I love thee.