Hey, y’all! I’m a former Iowan and lifetime Badger fan who has lived in Dallas since October 2012. Knowing how overwhelming the DFW Metroplex (all the cities within the Dallas-Fort Worth area) can be, I wanted to pass along a few tips and suggestions in hopes it will provide you with a better stay while you are here for the Cotton Bowl.
A couple of critically important notes before we get into the meat and potatoes:
- YOU CAN NOT BUY ALCOHOL BEFORE NOON ON SUNDAYS. I can’t tell you how many times this has slipped my mind and I’ve walked up to the counter only to be Mutombo’d. With the game being on Monday, I’m guessing those of you coming early will need to keep this in mind.
- Fort Worth vs. Dallas: Yes, the game is in Arlington, between the two cities. However, some of you may be staying in either location. If you don’t already know, Dallas and Fort Worth are complete opposites. Fort Worth has the country vibe—what you’d expect of Texas. Dallas, on the other hand, is very white-collar and some might say it has a “pretentious” reputation. I will say I enjoy both cities and believe you will enjoy whichever one you are staying in for the game.
- If there is inclement winter weather (read: any winter weather) be careful. North Texas is not equipped to handle ANY snow or ice. You’ve been warned.
Let’s get to it.
Uber and Lyft are your best bets should you not have a vehicle at your disposal. Public transportation here is not great. You might also check with your hotel about shuttles to/from the game.
There’s a bunch, so I will try and hit some I believe are worthwhile.
Sixth Floor Museum (Dallas): JFK Museum, Grassy Knoll, etc.
Topgolf (Dallas, Allen, The Colony): If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. These are awesome. Who doesn’t want to hit golf balls at targets? Think driving range/bar/club. Think it’s too cold? They have heaters! P.S. I do not believe the Fort Worth location will be open yet.
Fort Worth Stockyards: Y’all want to get country? Check out this part of Fort Worth where you can shop, eat and play. You want to catch a concert? Eli Young Band is playing on New Year’s Eve at Billy Bob’s.
Cowboys Red River (Dallas): Maybe you want to get your two-step on. To get the real-deal experience, this is your place.
Dallas Stars (Dallas): If you are in town on New Year’s Eve, the Stars take on the Florida Panthers at the American Airlines Center.
Globe Life Park (Arlington): This is where the Texas Rangers play, right next to AT&T Stadium. Obviously there’s no baseball going on, but maybe you want to take a tour.
Perot Museum (Dallas): New and cool interactive museum located in downtown Dallas. Great option if you have kids and you would probably enjoy it as well.
Bonus: Dallas and Fort Worth zoos; Six Flags (hey, it could be 70 degrees!); Dallas Aquarium; Kylde Warren Park; TruckYard; The Rustic
Food & Drink
There are so many places to include here. I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible.
Tex-Mex: Chuy’s; Mi Cocina; Gloria’s; Mr. Mesero; Pepe & Mito’s; Joe T Garcia’s
BBQ: Lockhart (They give you the meat in butcher paper. It’s legit.); Hard Eight BBQ (If you’re coming off the plane at DFW and need your fix, this is your spot. You pick the meat right off the smoker.); Pecan Lodge (Arguably the most popular location. Warning: there may be a lengthy line. Pro Tip! Just a couple of you? Try to snag a spot at the bar. You can order from there. A group of you? Go in and hop to the Express Line. It will look like no one is in line. Here you have to order “The Trough.”)
Tacos: Torchy’s; Velvet Taco; El Come Taco; R Taco; Fuzzy’s Taco Shop; Taco Heads
Burgers: Twisted Root; Uncle Uber’s; Maple & Motor; Liberty Burger; Grub Burger Bar; Rodeo Goat
Pizza: Cane Rosso (Best items are off-menu. Ask about the Honey Bastard and the dessert pizzas.); Serious Pizza; Greenville Avenue Pizza Company; Pizza Snob
Breweries: Deep Ellum Brewing; Texas Ale Project; Rahr & Sons; Bishop Cider Co. (Just cider.); Peticolas Brewing Company; Lakewood Brewing Company; Community Beer Company
Miscellaneous: Pluckers (Giant wings and GREAT place to watch games.); Hypnotic Donuts; Babe’s Chicken Dinner House (Family-style restaurant.); Snappy Salads (I had to give one healthy option, right?)
Cotton Bowl events
Battle of the Bands on New Year’s Day is at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas. The park is only a few years old, a very cool location as the park was built on an overpass of a major highway. There will be several food trucks and would be worth your time to check out.
The Party on the Plaza with Pat Green performing post-game would also be worth attending. Pat Green is a hot ticket in these parts known for his “Texas Country” style of music. Hopefully, this will be of some help to everyone making the trek down from Winterfell. If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
Also! My college buddies and I have recently started up a podcast, Flyover Sports. We talk Midwest sports and laugh it up about pop culture. We recently had B5Q legend Drew Hamm on to share his Badger expertise. We’d appreciate you giving us a listen and leaving a review!