It's no secret that Dallas, Texas, has undergone a not-so-subtle dining, drinking, and culture boom in the recent past. Over the last few years, a whole new wave of bars and restaurants have sprouted around town, complementing the first-class museum and gallery scene that's already recognized as one of the world's best. Expert bartenders Christy Pope and Chad Solomon, two New York City transplants who ventured to the Texan metropolis as elite beverage consultants in 2013, are more than just beneficiaries of this transformation—they're part and parcel of the upward trajectory, thanks to their work behind the bar at Midnight Rambler (1530 Main St.; 214-216-4601), which opened to much acclaim in the basement of the Joule Hotel in 2014. Here, the power couple share what they love most about their adopted hometown, including where to find the best ramen, to-go daiquiris, edgy homewares, and more. (For more travel suggestions, see the DEPARTURES Guide to Dallas.)
What neighborhood in Dallas do you live in, and how long have you lived there? What brought you to Dallas, and why did you choose this hood? Chad Solomon: We live in the historic Winnetka Heights neighborhood in North Oak Cliff. We came to Dallas in 2013 to open Midnight Rambler, the craft cocktail bar we created. We chose Oak Cliff because we like the topography of the area—rolling hills and an abundance of old-growth cedar, oak, and pecan trees. Also, Oak Cliff is a neighborhood, historically and presently, that attracts a more artsy and bohemian culture.
Where would you put up friends visiting town? Christy Pope: We put our visiting friends and family at The Joule Hotel. It’s both convenient because our bar, Midnight Rambler, is in the basement of the hotel, but also because The Joule is the most cutting edge and soulful hotel in Dallas. It’s modern, artistic, and lively, with great restaurants, coffee, and shopping to entertain our guests (1530 Main St.; 214-748-1300; thejouledallas.com).
Where is the best place to find your hometown’s signature dish? CS: I dont think there is a signature dish to the city. But here are some of the outstanding dishes we recommend to visitors: Cabrito & Masa from Smoke (901 Fort Worth Ave.; 214-393-4141; smokerestaurant.com); Pig Head Carnitas (take some friends, it's a lot of food, but truly delicious) from CBD Provisions (1530 Main St.; 214-261-4500; cbdprovisions.com); smoked brisket and sausage from Pecan Lodge, listed No. 2 on the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ Joints list (2702 Main St.; 214-748-8900; pecanlodge.com); and perfect Mexico City-style street tacos from Taqueria El Si Hay (601 W. Davis St.; 214-941-4042). Go early, they sell out!
CP: I like the daily ramen special at Ten (1818 Sylvan Ave.). This standing Ramen bar by Teiichi Sakurai is true to its Japanese roots and delivers its best fare in the daily specials, wich change weekly. Also, head to Offsite Kitchen for The Burger "Locals Only" style (331 Singleton Blvd #100; 214-741-2226; oskdallas.com). Cooked on a flat-top with jalapenos, bacon, mustard—no mayo. So good, you may want two!
What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? CP: Chicken Scratch at the Foundry in Oak Cliff. We love that you can eat outside, see live music, and it feels very authentic Texas (2303 Pittman St.; 214-749-1112; cs-tf.com).
CS: Woodshed in Fort Worth. Al fresco dining on the Trinity River (3201 Riverfront Dr.; 817-877-4545; woodshedsmokehouse.com).
Where can you find the best cocktails? Beer list? Wine list? CP & CS: For cocktails, Midnight Rambler. The best beer bar is Strangeways (2429 N. Fitzhugh Ave.; 214-823-7800). Best beer list, Meddlesome Moth (1621 Oak Lawn Ave.; 214-628-7900; mothinthe.net). And best wine, Veritas (2323 N. Henderson Ave. #103; 214-841-9463; veritaswinedallas.com).
Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? CP: Tei-An. This is one of the best restaurants that I have been to in any city, and it's great that it happens to be in Dallas. It's authentic Japanese cuisine; so fresh, elegant, and always an experience to savor (1722 Routh St. #110; 214-220-2828; tei-an.com).
CS: Lucia. A tiny, Italian-inspired, chef-driven neighborhood spot by chef Dave Uyger that is always a treat to enjoy—if you’re able to get in (408 W. Eighth St. #101; 214-948-4998; luciadallas.com).
What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon in town? CS: Hiking in Cedar Hill State Park.
What is your Sunday morning routine in your neighborhood? CP: We make a mean cup of coffee at our place using Victrola beans we buy from Weekend Coffee (1511 Commerce St.; 214-261-4545; ahhweekend.com). Nothing beats a seat on our back patio overlooking our herb garden.
Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? CP: Weekend Coffee or Davis Street Coffee (819 W. Davis St.; 214-941-0381; davisstreetespresso.com).
CS: Houndstooth Coffee (1900 N. Henderson Ave.; 972-863-9080; houndstoothcoffee.com).
What’s your favorite view in town (that tourists might not know about)? CP: On the Sylvan Bridge overlooking the Trinity River and Downtown Dallas. I also recommend a walk over the Trinity River for visitors by taking the pedestrian bridge at Trinity Groves.
CS: View of Downtown from the patio at The Belmont Hotel—this is also a great place to catch Fourth of July fireworks (901 Fort Worth Ave.; 214-393-2300; belmontdallas.com).
What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? CS: The Plum Valley and Talaia trails at Cedar Hill State Park.
CP: Also, our daughter, Coco, likes the Duck Pond Trail at Cedar Hill State Park.
What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions? CP: "Daiquiris To Go" on Riverfront. We take all our visitors to this in-the-know drive-thru Daiquiri joint, which is a Texas version of the Louisiana-style Daiquiri houses. (543 S. Riverfront; 214-741-0600).
CS: Stetson Outlet—it has a huge selection of hats in many styles and at affordable prices (601 Marion Dr.; 972-494-7120). We also like the Historic Stockyards in Fort Worth, ending with drinks, live music, and dancing at The White Elephant Saloon (106 E. Exchange Ave.; 817-624-8273; whiteelephantsaloon.com).
What’s your favorite shop or boutique? CP: Tenoversix for edgy and chic wares for both your closet and home (1511 Commerce St; 214-261-4540; shop.tenover6.com). Gypsy Wagon for a bohemian-meets-Texas flair—again for both your closet and home (2928 N. Henderson Ave.; 214-370-8010; the-gypsy-wagon.com).
CS: Stag Provisions for Men (4539 Travis St.; 214-599-2143; stagprovisions.com).
Photos: Laura Sant; Courtesy Pecan Lodge; Courtesy The Joule Hotel