explore happy trails, old west clichés—
dallas has emerged as a business,
fashion and cultural destination
My hometown of Austin has a venerated music and film scene and, every
other year, the best free entertainment going: the goofball Texas Legislature.
San Antonio is the center of Latino culture and home to the Alamo. Houston is
all about energy and the space race. Fort Worth has high art and the state’s
BY EVAN SMITH hat-and-cattle heritage. But what’s the unique selling proposition of Dallas?
The cliché is outsized opulence and high-society hijinks, but the reality is
PHOTOGRAPHY BY more nuanced. Yes, everything’s bigger in the nation’s ninth-largest city, but
CAROlYN BROWN there’s plenty to do on a small scale—and across a wide spectrum. When my
wife and I and our kids (a spunky 10 and 6) spend a day in Big D, here’s what
we like to do.
Tripping The arT fanTasTic
We begin at the Nasher Sculpture Center, in the downtown arts district.
This still-nascent indoor/outdoor museum exhibits some of the finest modern
and contemporary sculpture on the planet—by the likes of Brancusi, Cham-
berlain, de Kooning, Judd, Serra and Twombly—collected over a lifetime by
Dallas’ iconography has evolved the late world-class philanthropists Raymond and Patsy Nasher. The Renzo
beyond Stetsons and cowboy
boots. The Texas city now features
Piano–designed building contains a comfortable and inviting 10,000-square-
landmarks, like the geodesic Reunion foot gallery, but the real revelation is the one-and-a-half-acre garden out
Tower (left) and the revolving
Magnolia Petroleum Company
back—a wonderland for the eyes and imagination, with massive installations
trademark (top, middle), a red that you can walk through and among or just gaze at for hours. Rarely does an
neon pegasus that was restored in
1999. The indoor/outdoor Nasher
art space leave such a lasting impression; after making the full rounds the first
Sculpture Center exhibits some of time, I wanted to do it again. Immediately. And then come back the next week.
the world’s finest modern sculpture,
including Magdalena Abakanowicz’s
We’re more plain-old history buffs than tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorists,
Bronze Crowd (top, right). but we like to head next to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the vast
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The Renzo Piano–designed Nasher
explore Sculpture Center is the culmination of
a lifetime of collecting by the late
philanthropists Raymond and Patsy
Nasher. The museum’s one-and-a-half-
acre garden offers massive sculpture
the heart of texas installations that visitors can walk
among or just gaze at for hours.
Dallas is a city of givers.
The constellation of the stratospherically generous stretches
far and wide, but the brightest star these days is T. Boone Pickens,
the wildcatter, takeover artist and water baron of yore who
donated a total of more than $400 million in 2005 and 2006.
The beneficiaries of his benevolence ranged from the Dallas
Center for the Performing Arts to the American Civil Rights Coali-
tion in Sacramento, but his biggest gift went to the Oklahoma
State University Foundation in Stillwater—more than $165 million
to build various athletics facilities, including Boone Pickens Sta-
dium. (Pickens is a graduate of Oklahoma A&M University, which
later became OSU.)
This year, the 79-year-old is on pace to meet or beat his own
philanthropic precedent. On a single day in May, he gave $50
million each to two medical campuses in the University of Texas
system: Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and the M.D.
Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Speaking of cancer, the greatest cause célèbre
headquartered in Dallas is Susan G. Komen for the
Cure (formerly the Susan G. Komen Breast Can-
cer Foundation), which was established 25 years
ago following its 36-year-old namesake’s death by
her sister, Nancy Brinker. With 75,000 volunteers
and 122 affiliates in 47 states, Komen invests in
research, education and health services—some
$1 billion to date—making it the largest source of
nonprofit funds targeted to battling the disease.
Among its most successful events: the 5K run/
fitness walk known as the Race for the Cure, now
with 1.5 million participants in 120 separate races
across the globe. • E.S.
Dallas philanthropist T. Boone Pickens (top) and
breast cancer activist Nancy G. Brinker (bottom).
76 ritzcarlton.com PHOTOGRAPHY BY XXXXXXXX PHOTOGRAPHY BY XXXXXXXX ritzcarlton.com 77
The casual Twisted Root Burger The Spirit of Centennial marks the entrance to the Smithsonian-
explore Company features impressively
dressed-up versions of America’s
favorite food and Texas’ best
affiliated Women’s Museum, where the accomplishments and
achievements of American women come to life.
hand-cut fries. archive of photographs, artifacts and other
“interpretive materials” related to the vibrant life
and tragic death of President John F. Kennedy.
The museum is housed in the old Texas School
Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald
shot the president from a window on the south-
east corner of the sixth floor (hence the name).
The sniper’s perch has been carefully recreated
and preserved behind glass, so you can see a
precise approximation of what it looked like on
that fateful day in November of 1963. The exhib-
its are arranged chronologically, so you step off
the elevator into what is, quite literally, a more
innocent time—the groovy early ’60s—and then
experience events as they unfold. By the time
you’ve reached the moment at which a somber
Lyndon Johnson is sworn in on Air Force One,
you really feel like you’ve relived history.
For lunch, it’s worth the short drive over to
The 277-acre Fair Park is a Deep Ellum, an eclectic neighborhood with a
recreational complex best rich cultural history. Tucked among the assorted
known as the site of the largest
state fair in the United States. tattoo shops and dive bars is a terrific place to
“Big Tex” has been welcoming eat: the Twisted Root Burger Company, whose
guests since 1952.
menu features plain and impressively dressed-up
versions of (per the name) America’s favorite
food, plus the best hand-cut fries I can ever
remember eating. The place is informal in the
manner of a restaurant/bar, and the vibe is
casual; when you order at the counter, you’re
given a card with the name of an obscure TV
or movie character (I was “Art Vandelay” from
Seinfeld), which they shout out when your order
is ready. A fancy feast it isn’t. But fun? Definitely.
Because all we want to do after a big meal
is walk it off, our preferred afternoon stop—our
only stop, actually—is Fair Park. The 277-acre
recreational complex is best known as the site midnighT cowboy
of the largest state fair in the United States, the After a late jaunt to the Uptown neighborhood—one of the
State Fair of Texas, which begins on the last voguish shopping and entertainment villages popping up in
Friday in September and runs for 24 days, until urban areas all across the country, with high-end boutiques,
the third Sunday in October. movie theaters and chic eateries situated around and under
But the rest of the year there’s so much to handsomely built condominium and loft buildings—we could
see, including the Cotton Bowl, a truly legendary hardly do better than head back to the arts district to have
football stadium where the famous Red River a drink at the bar of Stephan Pyles’ eponymous restaurant
Shootout, between the University of Texas and (soda pop for the kids!) followed by a long, lingering dinner.
the University of Oklahoma, comes off each fall; So many chefs became duller than their favorite knives when
the Hall of State, a limestone memorial to the they achieve celebrity, but not Pyles, a fifth-generation Texan
heroes of Texas history; the Smithsonian-affiliated and founding father of Southwestern cuisine who has hung
Women’s Museum, where the accomplishments his apron in too many big-time kitchens of his own creation to
and achievements of American women come to count (three of the most famous are Routh Street Café, Star
life; and the Dallas World Aquarium and the city’s Canyon and AquaKnox). The fare here is global, influenced
fine Museum of Nature & Science, two must-dos by Spain, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and it’s all
for the young and young at heart. good—the product of a master foodie at the top of his game.
RitzCarlton_2708066 1 8/6/07 2:10:46
78 ritzcarlton.com ABOVE PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF TWISTED ROOT BURGER COMPANY 79
W h i le Da l las may conjure up i mages
of cowboy hats and rodeos, the Texas
metropolis has a generous streak that
stretches to the dinner table. Located in
the state known for its “go big, or go home”
attitude, the city can only be expected to
employ a similar demeanor when helping
those in need.
In September, The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
hosted The Opening, a Culinary Arts Expe-
rience, to benefit Chefs for Humanity. The
organization, headed by Food Network’s
Iron Chef Cat Cora, provides meal assis-
tance to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
With special appearances by Cora,
chef Dean Fearing and Bon Appétit editor-
in-chief Barbara Fairchild, The Opening
offered guests a backstage tour of Fearing’s
kitchen, cookbook signings, classes and
gala dinner to
f o r H u m a n i t y.
chefs also shared
A Dallas shopping institution, Neiman Marcus.
At this point, all that’s left to do—and no trip to Dallas
ing was just one
would be complete without it—is make a pilgrimage to the
downtown Neiman Marcus, one of the most famous links in more way to
one of the most famous chains in the world. Opened all the have fun while
way back in 1907 (yes, somebody’s having a birthday), this giving back to
particular store is so elegant and extravagant, so architec- the community.
turally significant, so full of life—and gloriously fashionable
W h a t ’s m o r e ,
duds—that just stepping inside is a rite of passage in the lives
it’s yet another
of Texans and a transformative experience for one and all, on
par with eating at Chez Panisse in Berkeley or sipping a cock- reason why Dal-
tail at the Oak Bar of the old Plaza Hotel in New York. I defy las is ear ning
you to get out of there without putting your credit card on the a philanthropic
The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
counter; balloons should have come down the millionth time reputation as- with Chef Dean Fearing,
our fashion-forward daughter asked us to buy her this or that. Bon Appétit editor-in-
sociated with chief Barbara Fairchild
In a city of big things, no retail establishment—no establish- and Iron Chef‘s Cat Cora
ment, period—is bigger. • host The Opening, a
ers and shakers. Culinary Arts Experi-
ence to benefit Chefs
• AMANDA CHAN for Humanity.
ABOVE PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF NEIMAN MARCUS ritzcarlton.com 81