The last time I was in Dallas was more than a decade ago. I was there briefly for work, rarely leaving the conference hotel and I left the city without knowing much about it. While on a recent trip around the country in partnership with The Ritz-Carlton though, I made sure that this time would be different. This time I wanted to experience the best of Dallas and as my home base, The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas could not have been a better choice.
Dallas is big, really big (home to more than 1.3 million people) and because of its size knowing which neighborhoods to visit and stay in is crucial. The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas couldn’t be in a better part of town, calling the posh Uptown District home. One of the most pedestrian-friendly areas not only in Dallas, but anywhere in Texas, it’s a newer community full of great restaurants, amazing shops and lots of people out and about either enjoying the cafes or the many activities found nearby. Before I arrived I was a little worried that its location wouldn’t be the best for my sightseeing goals, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everything I wanted to see and do was a very short and easy Uber ride away, meaning I could enjoy the best sights in Dallas while staying at the best hotel in Dallas; a true winning combination.
Fun Texas Influence
The hallmark of any great luxury hotel I think is how well they bring the local culture inside their doors and share these experiences with guests. Most properties in The Ritz-Carlton family feature afternoon food or drink presentations as a complimentary added-bonus to guests, but at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas they offer something truly unique. The first hotel in the world to feature a professional Guacamologist™, every day at 6pm sharp guests (and locals) congregate in the lobby to watch the master chef whip up what is thought to be the best guacamole in the state, if not the country, entirely from scratch from the freshest of local ingredients. Next to the chef is an incredible tequila vault and servers share the differences between each iconic brand, while mixing up batches of mini-margaritas to accompany the expertly crafted guacamole. It’s one of the most interesting and just plain fun presentations I’ve seen at any hotel in the world and the fact that it’s a complimentary service offered every day of the year is simply amazing. But that’s not where the local culinary highlights of Dallas in the hotel end, as I learned over a delicious lunch at the hotel’s signature restaurant Fearing’s.
Celebrity chef and author of the Texas Food Bible, Dean Fearing is a Texas institution and his acclaimed restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas is routinely named as the best in town. The layout of the restaurant itself is what intrigued me first, there are seven stylish dining venues within the restaurant, offering the perfect atmosphere to fit your mood, whatever it may be. While it’s a globally inspired menu, there’s no doubt that it has Texas roots, as evidenced by the courses I enjoyed over a long lunch. Starting out with a classic Tortilla Soup, this is the perfect introduction to the complex flavors of Tex-Mex food whether it’s your first time enjoying it, or if you’re a local.
The most unique aspect of my delicious meal though was the Dr. Pepper braised short ribs. As you may or may not know, Dr. Pepper first started in Waco, Texas and while many restaurants pay homage to the local soda, I can’t believe there’s anything better tasting or as refined as this dish. I also have a fierce sweet tooth and while part of me wanted to sample everything on the menu, I was immediately drawn to another locally inspired classic – banana pudding with homemade vanilla wafers. This isn’t your average Turkey Day dessert though, as with all of Fearing’s dishes, this too has been reimagined and when served with fresh (and still hot) beignets, it’s one of the best desserts I’ve enjoyed in a long time.
Service and Elegance
As soon as I walked into the immaculate and lavish lobby of The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, I was deeply impressed. There’s no such thing as a bad property in The Ritz-Carlton family, but this one is different. Whether it’s the perfectly polished finishings, the incredibly hospitable front of house staff or the expansive flower display (changed weekly), it all just works and it all signaled that this is not your average luxury hotel. That feeling persists throughout the property, from the refined but dangerously comfortable guest rooms to the Club Level Lounge, where once again Texas flair can be found on proud display. The hotel manages all of this without being cold or stuffy, which is something I personally appreciate. As a great example, in the Club Level Lounge you’ll find everything you would expect, from the many food presentations offered throughout the day to amazing wine options. But there’s also a candy bar; a whimsical addition that signals the folks at the hotel don’t take themselves too seriously. I love that, I love the personality it effuses and it instantly made me connect with the hotel in a way I hadn’t previously.
Whether it’s the margarita salt scrub service offered at the spa, or that daily guacamole ritual, my second time visiting Dallas truly felt as if I experienced the best that the city has to offer. This isn’t a bland or corporate hotel, this is a fun and immersive experience that provides the stellar service and quality one expects from any The Ritz-Carlton hotel, but with warm Texas hospitality and that unique Dallas sense of style that has made the city so very famous around the world. Add in amazing food and an upscale location, and I know that from now on The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas absolutely will be my go-to hotel whenever I find myself in the Big D.
The guacamole at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas is so exceptional that they offer the recipe to anyone who wants to make it at home. I thought I’d share it with you all today so you can have your own private The Ritz-Carlton memory in the comfort of your own kitchen.
- 4 Ripe Avocados
- 1 ½ Jalapenos (diced)
- 3 Roma Tomatoes (diced)
- ½ Small Red Onion (diced)
- 1 Bunch of Cilantro (chopped)
- ½ Lime
- 2 Tbsp Sour Cream
- Roasted Garlic Head
- Salt & Pepper
- Tortilla Chips
How to Make this Recipe
- Step One: In large bowl mash the Avocados.
- Step Two: Mix in Jalapenos, Roma Tomatoes, Red Onion and Cilantro.
- Step Three: Squeeze Lime over the mixture and add Sour Cream and Salt and Pepper to taste.
- Step Four: Stir all the ingredients together and add Roasted Garlic a few cloves at a time until desired flavor.