I hit Dallas three or four times a year for trade shows (we exhibit the Stephanie Johnson line in the lovely Codarus showroom in the World Trade Center), and to check in with some of our favorite clients.  I’m embarrassed to admit that after a decade of travel here I never saw much outside my hotel room.  Fortunately, this trip changed all that.

STAY

A creature of habit, I’ve been staying at the Crescent Court for years.  It’s nice to find a spot you can return to trip after trip and call home, and it doesn’t hurt that Stanley Korshak is next door and Nobu is in house.

I did venture out this trip and check out both the Ritz-Carlton and the newly renovated Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.  Both are winners.  The Mansion is cozy with a fireplace burning in the intimate lobby and the Mansion Bar is the place to unwind after a long day.  The Ritz is bigger with an expansive lobby filled with contemporary art and a hot restaurant to boot.

Any of these three properties will have you tucked in with a smile at night.

EAT

Ok, so I frequent Nobu Next Door in my TriBeCa neighborhood so who needs Nobu when I’m in Dallas?  For starters, it’s in my hotel, and secondly, Dallas Nobu is the home of the Matteo Roll.  What’s the Matteo Roll?  Glad you asked.  Nothing short of perfection:  this $25 cut roll features spicy tuna and asparagus wrapped in soy paper topped with more spicy tuna, guacamole, chili oil and topped with dry miso.

Another Uptown favorite is Fearing’s.  Dean Fearing is swathed in Texas charm and makes a mean tortilla soup.  Anything he cooks up is sublime in a gorgeous setting.  The staff here is as AMAZING as the food.

When in Texas, eat Tex-Mex.  Beauty blogger extraordinaire Karla Sugar, aka ‘The Swatcher,’ brought me to Chuy’s and I was instantly entranced.  The weather was warm enough for us to dine in a booth outside in ‘the garage’, sipping margaritas (Sugar ordered ‘the dot’, a frozen lime margarita with a shot of strawberry in the middle), and feasting on chipotle enchiladas.  Insiders know to ask for the creamy jalapeño sauce.  It’s not on the menu, it’s free, and I had two.  Sugar also explained that you get a free appetizer if you bring a framed photo of your dog.  That explains that!

For breakfast try The Dream Cafe after a walk along the Katy Trail and order the popover or Cloud Cakes.  A newcomer directly on the trail, try Company Cafe for outside picnic tables and farm to table fare.  The Ice House sits next door and has games, fire pits, and a backyard BBQ feel.

Shinsei is a must stop for sushi.  Anywhere that hands me the check tucked into a Nancy Drew novel has my vote.  And if you’ve overstuffed yourself on Texas BBQ and are looking to detox, don’t forget the Gem Juice Bar inside DUO.  They feature juice squeezed to order, smoothies and house made cashew milk.  YUM.

DO

Dallas has great modern art.  I was privileged to have a private tour of the Rachofsky House, a private home designed by Richard Meier.  It’s one beautiful white cube sitting on 3 acres of the most beautiful lawn I’ve seen maybe ever.  The views from inside are stunning from every vantage point and the private collection rotates annually.  I was struck most by the work of Janine Antoni, which included a bust of the artist made entirely from chocolate and another of the artist made from soap (Lick & Lather).  Very special.

Lucky for me the Dallas Museum of Art had the Jean Paul Gaultier show, a retrospective of the designer’s work that included pieces he did for Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and Gaga.  A sensation.  Catch it if you can.

I really enjoyed getting out in the morning and walking the Katy Trail, a paved path that runs 3.5 miles from SMU to downtown, crossing bridges and connecting to nature.

SHOP

I discovered that my TriBeCa neighbor Lela Rose is a Dallas native and had just opened her first Dallas outpost days before I arrived.  A small shop in Highland Village with to-die-for dresses in gorgeous prints with perfect detail, I got to walk away with a tiny recipe book and biscotti that Ms. Rose made herself in her kitchen back home.  (Lela, when are you having me over?)

Of course no shopping trip to the Big D is complete without a visit to the original home of Neiman Marcus downtown.  Go at holiday time when the store is transformed into a space odyssey with tubes the kids can shoot through and their restaurant The Zodiac rolls out the most extraordinary holiday buffet.

Stanley Korshak is also a Dallas institute.  Go there to stock up on all your Stephanie Johnson this season and make sure to tell Mary that I sent you.