With Virgin Hotels Dallas opening later this year in the heart of the Design District, we’re getting to know our neighbors and we wanted to introduce you. Situated along a bend of the Trinity River just north of downtown, our hip new neighborhood was originally developed as an industrial area in the 1950s. Taking advantage of the vast warehouses, interior designers soon set up their showrooms and studios here.
In recent years, the Design District has transformed into a flourishing destination for gallery hopping, fine dining, quirky bars and boutiques. From the art galleries on Dragon Street to the antique shops along Slocum and vintage thrift shops lining Howell Street, here’s your insider’s guide to discovering Dallas’ Design District.
See & Do:
Dallas Contemporary is a provocative exhibition space situated inside a former metal fabrication plant that lends itself to large format installations and experimental work. This fall, they’ll mount exhibitions by Alicja Kwade whose work was recently commissioned for The Met’s Roof Garden, as well as works by portrait painter John Currin and Brooklyn-based artist Jessica Vaughn. As a not-for-profit charity, admission is always free.
The Goss-Michael Foundation is a private collection dedicated to British contemporary art founded by late pop icon George Michael and his partner Kenny Goss in 2007. Here, you’ll find works by modern masters including Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Sir Michael Craig-Martin. This fall, Marc Quin’s “History & Chaos” exhibit will run through September 20 and new paintings by South Africa-based artist Ryan Hewett will be on display through their artist-in-residence program.
Get some fresh and explore the Design District air along the Trinity Strand Trail, a 2.5 mile concrete hike-and-bike path that spans the original Trinity River watercourse. With plans for an additional six miles, the trail connects you to Design District hot spots with views of fascinating mural and public art along the way.
When Oak opened in 2011, it swiftly became one of the neighborhood’s original fine dining institutions and it’s still going strong today. Their elegant contemporary cuisine spans an impressive raw bar with everything from Ossetra caviar to pastrami-cured salmon, as well as braised wagyu shortribs and tandoori branzino made with mangos and green apple. All of this pairs perfectly with either their global wine list or creative cocktail menu.
At lunchtime, swing by Slow Bone BBQ for some of the best smoked meats in Dallas, including brisket, BBQ chicken, sausage and pulled pork. They’re also known for serving some of the best fried chicken in town. Opt for one of their plates, which includes your choice of sides, including jalapeno mac ‘n cheese, brussel sprouts and cauliflower au gratin and mustard coleslaw, along with hushpuppies or cornbread. It’s the ultimate Texas barbecue experience.
For a one-of-a-kind night out, hit up Bishop Cidercade, a hybrid arcade-cider house with over 170 arcade games—ranging from old school ‘70s classics to new school favorites like Mario Kart—along with over 30 housemade ciders on tap. After all, can you think of a more fun pairing than a blood orange craft cider and a side of pinball or Skee-Ball?
For another combo of recreation and nightlife, hit up Bowlounge, a vintage 12-lane bowling alley with a full bar and food menu open late. Grab your crew, reserve a lane and choose from their extensive whiskey, bourbon and tap beer selection. Tasty snacks include fried pickles, corn doggies and a wing bar with a dozen different flavors.
Get in touch with the Design District’s roots at Ceylon et Cie, a 10,000 square-foot warehouse curated by interior designer Michelle Nussbaumer. Think, mid-century modern desks, Murano glass lamps, French antiques and African tribal bowls, along with her own custom furniture pieces. The White Elephant Antiques Warehouse is another treasure trove of collectibles with over 60 vendors peddling their wares. You’ll also find high-end contemporary furniture by a wide range of international designers at Roche Bobois.
Writer: Shayne Benowitz