It’s a very interesting time for Dallas. A while back, somebody with a lot of money must have said, “We have cows and oil, but we don’t have a museum. We won’t be a world-class city if we don’t have world-class culture.” So now there’s a vibrant art scene. And downtown there’s a renaissance going on. The city is emerging as a creative, design-oriented hub where people care about not just how they look and how much money they have but also about being part of the international cultural conversation.
Art: The Rachofsky House was created as a private home for Howard Rachofsky. After getting married, he and his wife, Cindy, turned it and their important contemporary art collection into a gallery. At 8605 Preston Rd.; rachofskyhouse.org.
Hotel: I designed the interior of The Joule Dallas, whose owner, Tim Headington, is spearheading the downtown renaissance. The hotel is now undergoing an expansion; in January, it will feature another 31 rooms, three penthouses, a new restaurant by Charlie Palmer and an ESPA. Rooms start at $250; 1530 Main St.; 214-748-1300; thejouledallas.com.
Food: Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar, built in a former school, has the largest garden patio in the city. It’s a great place to experience local food and indoor/outdoor culture. I don’t know if it could exist anywhere but Dallas—it’s that kind of mixture and layout. At 2501 N. Harwood St.; 214-782-9807; saintanndallas.com.
Design: If someone wants to go to a Dallas store to see something unique, I send them to Urban Flower Grange Hall. It’s a cabinet of curiosities. At 4445 Travis St., ste. 101; urbanflowergrangehall.com.
Architecture: Santiago Calatrava’s Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, over the Trinity River, connects east and west Dallas. The landscape around it is pretty drab, but with the addition of this exuberant architectural shape, something mundane has been turned into a journey. It looks like a gateway to someplace interesting.
I’d also recommend these extraordinary places. Fearing’s (2121 McKinney Ave.; 214-922-4848; fearingsrestaurant.com), the restaurant my friend Dean Fearing runs, is like the man himself: bigger than life. How do chefs adapt their techniques into something innovative, smart and local? The folks behind Local (2936a Elm St.; 214-752-7500; localdallas.com) know. It’s great finding hip places like Oddfellows (316 W. 7th St.; 214-944-5958; oddfellowsdallas.com); they are wizards with coffee and food, like the open-face fried egg sandwich. I love the atmosphere at the sexy European-style cigar bar Absinthe Lounge & Cigar Bar (1409 S. Lamar, ste. 008; absinthelounge.net). Pritzker prize–winner Thom Mayne and Morphosis Architects designed the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (3535 Grand Ave.; 1318 S. 2nd Ave.; natureandscience.org); it’s scheduled to open next year, and it’s beautiful.