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The Best Sights and Bites in The Lone Star State

I’m a Texan, born and raised, but I didn’t see my home state’s appeal until I left the country for college. Now, at every opportunity, I urge my Japanese friends to come visit. Sure, Tokyo has all the perks of a metropolis—like the lastest food trends and tourist attactions—but Texas has good old fashioned Southern charm and comfort. Here are some of the must-eat bites and must-see sights in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex that I would share with friends from outside the country. 

Start the day with a proper diner breakfast

Mimosa brunches and avocado toast might be all the rage now, but you can never beat a classic diner breakfast. Here’s how you know a diner is good—the servers walk around with a pot of steaming coffee in hand and the place is crowded with older customers that look like they’ve been patronizing the joint since the 80s. There are countless restaurants like this all over the States but it’s a breakfast experience quite unlike any you might have in Japan. My go-to is usually a stack of pancakes with bottomless coffee, but if you’re looking for a true southern breakfast experience you should try the biscuits and gravy. 

My favorites in north Texas are Allen Cafe in Allen and Poor Richard’s Cafe in Plano. 

Get the “Old West” experience at the Fort Worth Stockyards

When I tell people in Japan that I’m from Texas, they like to ask about cowboys and horses. Unfortunately, most of Texas has modernized with the times, but you can still get the “Old West” experience you see in movies at the Fort Worth Stockyards

Native Texans don’t visit often, but it’s a go-to spot for tourists looking to live out their cowboy fantasies. You can watch a gunfight show or a rodeo, and twice a day you can see a herd of longhorn cattle parade down the street. 

Grab a coffee in a historic downtown area

Lots of towns in Texas have a historic downtown area with charming old buildings and brick streets. The storefronts usually have cute little boutiques and independent coffee shops. On the weekends, I love grabbing myself a coffee at Fourteen Eighteen Coffeehouse in downtown Plano or at Filtered in downtown McKinney before taking a walk around the block. These downtowns can also be a great place to catch up with friends over lunch or dinner. 

Stuff your face with real-deal Tex-Mex

Look, I’ve had a handfull of tacos in Tokyo, but none of them even come close to the tacos you can get in Texas. Tex-Mex is a regional cuisine from Tejanos (Texans of Mexican descent) which uses a whole lot more cheese than traditional Mexican food. 

You can get some incredibly delicious breakfast tacos from Luna’s Tortillas or you could get tacos with a modern twist at Urban Taco. Whether you’re looking for fajitas, queso, or enchiladas, you’ll be able to find your Tex-Mex fix in Dallas. 

Enjoy the afternoon in Deep Ellum

Deep Ellum is undoubtably the coolest neighborhood in Dallas. The area is alive with art and music and even more great food. As you might be able to guess by this article, you’ll likely be struggling to button your jeans by the time you leave Texas. 

Take a walk around Deep Ellum and snap some cute photos in front of the iconic murals for the ‘gram. Stop by a bar like HIDE for happy hour or maybe check out some of the live music venues in the neighborhood. 

Chow down on Texas style barbecue

Texas is a meat-lover’s paradise, so grab a tray and get in line at Hutchin’s BBQ. While there are other options available, brisket is the true star in Texas barbecue. You can choose between moist and lean brisket, with the moist being more fatty and juicy. 

Popular sides include mashed potatoes and mac ‘n’ cheese, but my favorite is the fried okra. You can also grab free slices of plain white bread to help soak up the mess on your plate, sort of like a tasty napkin situation. 

One of the great things about Texas that didn’t make it on this list—because it’s neither a sight nor a bite—is the people. You can bet that you’ll be welcomed with open arms and southern hospitality when you come to town. Once this global health crisis is over, why not consider hopping on a plane to Dallas to experience some of the best food and fun you can have?

Sarah Ishikawa is currently serving as Editor in Chief and Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at ICU Japan. She is a senior studying English and American literature. On her days off you'll probably find her at a museum, coffee shop, or just at home getting things done.
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