Last year, my friend Richard was transferred to Dallas, Texas. Even though I’d never been to Dallas, I had a strong opinion about what my liberal-minded vegan was stepping into. Best intentions aside, I finally arrived over a year later on his doorstep to see how he was faring in his adopted city. I chose Columbus Day weekend to discover Richard’s new homeland.
Dallas is a surprise! Despite hearing the “Dallas” television theme song in my head, the ride from the airport wasn’t a vast collection of ranches. I didn’t see one horse or cowboy hat. In my head, I pictured more of a desert motif. The area is pretty green with plenty of trees, oaks next to cactus. In the near distance was the skyline of a metropolitan city. Modern skyscrapers gleaming against the cloudy day. And between the actual city and us were all these neighborhoods of shops and restaurants.
Richard lives in a trendy area called SoHip (South of Highland Park). He has a three story town home with a roof deck. The contemporary townhouse complex is nestled in a neighborhood of beautiful single family homes and other multiple living dwellings. A few blocks in any direction boasts stores, restaurants, bars, Starbucks and pet stores. Dallas is incredibly pet friendly. Dogs are allowed on restaurant patios. Gourmet shoppes cater unique treats and baubles specifically for pets.
Rosie Malone is new to Richard’s household. The pit bull-box terrier mix has been living here for two months. She is an excited, tongue-licking gal. She greeted me at the airport with lots of sloppy kisses and was very welcoming in sharing the house with another woman. She’s pretty happy-go-lucky! Rich, on the other hand, has new single parent syndrome. He schedules Rosie’s day for optimal activity. He worries about her getting along at day care with the other dogs. And he frets about her carrying the daunting pit bull stigma. On Monday, Rosie interviews for a better day care. Rich is agonizing over it like it’s an application to Harvard. If Rosie isn’t accepted, it’ll affect her future. I’m not a big pet person but I do love Rosie. She is full of personality! She is not so much camera-shy as just not willing to have her picture taken. Every time I tried to capture that sweet face, she’d look away.
We ate Saturday brunch at Sundown at Granada. The chef has a soft spot for vegans but still caters to the carnivores too. I had the Sundown egg benedict that came with brisket… yummy! I accompanied it with a cucumber martini. We were the only ones sitting on the patio. It was brisk in the 60s and Dallas was waiting out the overcast day, indoors. The big rival game of University of Oklahoma against Texas Longhorns had folks glued to their televisions. The game was playing in Dallas so merchants decorated their shops with orange/white balloons (Texas) and red/white balloons (Oklahoma). Our restaurant was right next to a theatre showing the game on its big screen. We watched fans on both sides stumble out.
We tooled around Rich’s neighborhood until dinner. Rosie and I both got in some steps. Bobby G joined us for dinner. Bob, another Chicagoan, took a job in Dallas about 6 months before Rich. The entire weekend was like a Chicago reunion. Rich and Bob took me to Meso Maya. As our server described it, ‘this isn’t my mama’s cooking. It’s my grandma’s.‘ Although the flavors had a very savory, slow cooked, old world taste, the presentation was today’s gourmet. I ordered Budin Azteca Camaron. This cheesy flour tortilla dish with shrimp was amazing. The tortilla was served like a wedge of famous au gratin potatoes. The shrimp encircled the thinly layered stack of cheese and tortillas. So good!
We left there to go to Parliament for a nightcap. The swanky bar has craft cocktails. It’s fairly small with guests spilling out onto the patio. The perfect mix of sophistication and casual, our server was welcoming and efficient. She helped me stalk and secure a table. Dale, another recent Chicago transplant, arrived with his friend Antonio. Parliament had a great ambiance. The music was high energy but not too loud. We were able to converse without screaming. My Dallas trip was already off to a great start.