The American Library Association's Midwinter Conference is being held in Dallas this year, and I am very excited. The children's book world rarely ventures into my backyard, and though I'm not attending, I wanted to lend a local perspective to all our literary minded visitors.
To preface- Dallas gets a bad rap. We're not quite as cool as Austin, but I have grown to appreciate Dallas as a city with lots to do, full of kind, intelligent people. The main downside is that you'll need a car to get around most places. Some areas are more pedestrian friendly than others, but I've yet to do much without a car in this city. So provided you've rented a car for the conference and have some extra time, I hope these spots help you enjoy the city during your visit.
ALA is being held downtown, which isn't known for having the most character. It's an area more geared towards businesses and can be a bit spartan, but here are a few places close to the convention center to have on your radar:
- The Iron Cactus- Close by, pretty good Mexican food (not my favorite in the city by far, but you probably don't want to drive all the way up to Chuy's)
- Dallas Farmer's Market- A set of permanent buildings, open all week, year round. Building 2 has a number of permanent vendors set up selling lunch fare. A favorite of mine.
- City Tavern- After being on your feet for 8 hours carrying around tons of ARCs, you will have earned a post conference beer. Plus they're open late.
- (A handful of others, gleaned from friends- Roma Express- Quick, pretty good Italian food. Sol Irlandes- more Mexican! The Bistro at the Adolphus- a hotel restaurant, but reportedly a good one)
If ALA is anything like conferences I've been to, I'm going to guess that you have very little free time, and even less free energy. So if you have time for ONE fun activity downtown, might I suggest visiting the Dallas Museum of Art? The current exhibit there is Jean Paul Gaultier's body of couture fashion designs, it's really phenomenal (I've been twice already!). The DMA is a good size museum, in that you can see a lot and not feel exhausted in the end. This Friday is Late Night at the DMA, so it's open 'til midnight. The DMA's restaurants are surprisingly good as well.
Venturing slightly away from Downtown, to my stomping grounds, Deep Ellum-
I have worked in Deep Ellum for about three years, and am grateful to have a treasure trove of good restaurants at my disposal. It's a very easy 5 minute drive out of downtown, there's no getting on highways. So, if you want a good place to eat and aren't pressed for time by the convention, I recommend giving it a visit, if for no reason other than our 50-foot robot statues!
- Twisted Root- Famous for burgers. Closest to downtown, it's right on Commerce Street. They make everything from scratch, down to the ketchup and mustard. Try the root beer, they make that too. Lines are a little crazy if you arrive at 12 on the dot, but they have it down to a system, so it's not that bad.
- Cane Rosso- If the line at Twisted Root IS too long (or you don't want a burger), Il Cane Rosso across the street is a fast and delicious wood-fired pizza place.
- Uncle Uber's Sammich Shop- Down the street from both of those, Uncle Uber's opened within the past few months, and has become a favorite at our studio. Veggie Banh mi, heck yes. Also, a perfect to-go spot if you just want to drive into Deep Ellum, get your food, and get back to the convention.
- BuzzBrews- Across from Uncle Uber's, BuzzBrews is a great lunch spot. Good coffee, good if you could eat breakfast all day like I could. This place is just cozy.
- Angry Dog, St. Pete's Dancing Marlin, and Baker's Ribs are also on Commerce, and are also all good options.
- Also in the Deep Ellum area and worth a mention- Pepe's and Mito's for very tasty Mexican food, Serious Pizza for fast to-go slices, All Good and Cafe Brazil for more brunchy fare and good coffee.
I hope everyone coming to Dallas has a splendid time, and that some of these suggestions prove useful. Best of luck and have a great conference!