Like any city, Dallas has a distinct character with idiosyncratic quirks and crazy little conventions. There are things you do — and there are things you don’t do — in the unwritten rulebook.
The born-and-bred Dallasite knows these things intuitively. If you’re a newbie to the scene, you’ll learn soon enough. So, without further ado, here are some of the guidelines of the Dallas game.
Important: Rules were made to be broken. These rules are no different. Take them with a grain of salt. No part of Dallas was offended (too much) in the making of this list.
Schedule anything during Dallas Cowboys game days
Event planners know this rule like the back of their hand. Because — unless it’s a football-watching party — that brunch, birthday party, barbecue, fill-in-the-blank-other get-together is going to be a hard sell, especially to the male set.
Post a photo with the B & G letters.
Sure, the B & G letters that serve as a clever (and marketable) representation of “Big D” and “Big Things Happen Here” are all over town. And, some of them are fun — especially the custom sets for special occasions. But, you probably shouldn’t Instagram it, or you may pull a bit of a tourist move. Find a cool mural in Deep Ellum to insert yourself into, instead.
Call the city “Big D.”
We know that this nickname is catchy. Heck, they are even those B and G letters all around town that we just talked about. That said, you won’t really find many Dallas-born dwellers saying “Big D.” It’s more of a marketing cliché than what we really think of the city that we call home. We already know “big things happen here.” But, we know “good things happen here,” too. And, so much more than that. Dallas is Dallas — in all its bold and big glory.
Go to Fort Worth.
It may only be 35 miles away, but Fort Worth might as well be a different planet. You just don’t really go there — unless one of the museums happens to have some especially artsy-cool exhibit or visiting star artist. It’s usually The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth that will be the lure to go west — for a few hours only.
Okay, some people do brave public transportation and find ways to make the Dallas Area Rapid Transit work for them. But, as a general rule, unless you’re working somewhere (or going somewhere) right next to a station, then it is going to be more trouble than it is worth. Plus, 9.9 times out of 10, you’ll be driving to and from that station from home — so you still have to use your car.
Walk around downtown.
We will be the first to admit that the downtown scene has improved by leaps and bounds — much in thanks to Headington Companies’ luxe vision quest to transform the urban core with a cool-kid overhaul of Main Street featuring The Joule, CBD Provisions, Forty Five Ten, The Commissary, and more. And, with The Statler back in action and some other hip places nearby, there are now a few reasons to "go downtown." But, there's no need to really walk anywhere once you arrive at one of these destinations and valet.
Deny the beauty of the skyline.
What Dallas may lack in some areas, it makes up for in a glossy skyline that comes alive at dusk until dawn with brightly illuminated buildings and an interesting mix of shapes and colors. From certain vantage points, the view even gets reflected in the Trinity River.
Skip the Tex-Mex.
Dallasites are made of tortillas and tamales with margaritas running through their veins — and the sheer number of Tex-Mex hotspots in Dallas is testament to that fact. But, what could you expect when the granddaddy of all Tex-Mex destinations, El Fenix, was birthed here in 1918.
Or, pass on the guac and chips.
If you’re not making a meal of guacamole and chips (or, at the very least, salsa and chips), do you really live in Dallas? Like, really? If you’re not partaking in the chip party, people may think something is wrong with you. Fair warning.
Have snow days in the winter.
If you’re new in town and counting on a few good “bonus” days off from work during the winter, don’t hold your breath. Once in a blue moon, a snowflake will touch down and the city will shut down. This is very rare. You will use your free day off to scrape together every square inch of powder around to make a mini snowman, though.
Ask for ranch dressing at Cane Rosso.
The Neapolitan pizzeria is famous for its playful (but kinda serious) sign that a side order of ranch dressing will cost you $1,000. To this place — and their beautiful pies — it’s kind of like asking for some ketchup to go with that steak. Blasphemous! Cane Rosso does have a honey barbecue sauce that gets thrown around a bit, though. So, all is not lost for dressing lovers.
Run out of ranch dressing.
Aside from Cane Rosso, you probably don’t want to run out of ranch dressing, as it’s used as a dip for almost anything — from French fries, to fried chicken, wings, burgers, and, yes, pizza.
Diss Blue Bell ice cream.
Despite the listeria nightmare from a few years ago, Blue Bell is still pretty beloved. It’s made in nearby Brenham and tastes kind of like home.
Wear a pair of cowboy boots.
Save those boots you bought to kick up your heels at the Fort Worth Stockyards and Rodeo (if you ever go there), or for the occasional two-stepping with friends at Cowboys Red River. Boots are simply not worn on a daily basis.
Ask what a taqueria is.
It’s time to get schooled on carne asada, tacos al pastor, carnitas, barbacoa, taquitos, and all the rest. Because, here, every day is #TacoTuesday. Good thing for you, it’s a tasty education.
Skip the State Fair of Texas.
Whether you’re a fan of the fried food extravaganza — or are just going for a Big Tex sighting, the Midway games, the Ferris wheel, or the kitschy parade of floats — the State Fair of Texas is an annual tradition that people love and love to hate. Regardless, the lovers and haters all go, eat something fried, and post about it. A lot.
Call it a corn dog.
Speaking of the State Fair, it’s a corny dog. And a Fletcher’s one at that. Don’t say corn dog.
Or, call it pop.
Pop is possibly a granddad, but certainly not a drink. And, what the heck is “soda”? It’s “coke,” but what most people really mean is Dr Pepper because it was invented in Waco and is the unofficial carbonated fave.
Cheer for another team (aside from the Cowboys).
Even if you’re a recent transplant with mad love for another team, there will be no place for that come Sunday game days — unless you want to be highly unpopular and estranged from your friends. It doesn’t matter how good or not-so-good ’dem ’Boys are playing, America’s Team is the team, like it or not.
Go north of 635.
Yes, Plano and Frisco are becoming more tempting, what with The Star, Legacy West, and more. But, the Dallas bubble is hard to pop.
Go for a run outside during the summer.
Well, some people do. We don’t understand their breed. We especially don’t understand those who lace up their shoes during the heat of the day in the summer. The mornings and evenings are sufficiently hot, after all.
Ride a bike.
Despite the mess of rental bikes at every turn, bike culture is still not a huge thing here. Sure, the city has made measurable improvements to its bike friendliness with dedicated lanes on some roads. But, the most biking action you’re going to see is at the spin studio.
Wear casual clothes.
The two dress codes here are: 1) designer athleisure for that yoga and Pilates sesh; and 2) stilettos — with jeans, with a romper, with an LBD, with a black-tie gown. There is no in-between, casual jeans and T-shirt wardrobe.
Even if there’s street parking or a garage close by (there’s usually not), the valet stand is the first stop — or Uber. Why risk a loop around the block searching for parking when you can just valet.
Confuse Uptown for Knox-Henderson or Deep Ellum.
Dallas has very distinct neighborhoods — and each ’hood has a vibe and a culture all its own. Uptown and Knox-Henderson and Deep Ellum all couldn’t be more different, despite being a couple miles apart. And, don’t even think about equating Lakewood, East Dallas, Bishop Arts District, and Oak Cliff with each other or any of the above.