Editor's note: What was Dallas reading in 2021? We are so glad you asked. In another year dominated by "bad news" headlines around the world, it was a lowly bird that captured CultureMap readers' attention most. Just like robin sightings brought a little joy during a harsh winter, so did later news of a big celebrity wedding with Dallas ties, a spectacular Christmas light display competing on TV, and the arrival of a famous Youtuber who made waves in the local food scene. These are the stories that readers devoured this year. Find out our most popular dining, arts, entertainment, travel, society, and real estate stories; most memorable theater experiences; and best and worst movies in their own lists, too.
1. Dallas-Fort Worth is seeing flocks of robins all over their backyards. Amid wintry weather, power outages, water issues, and bursting pipes last February, Dallas-Fort Worth was enjoying at least one ray of sunshine, in the form of a massive influx of American robins. Robins regularly migrate to the South every winter, but in 2021, they became a spectacular presence, with swarms of robins swooping in and hanging out, everywhere from the courtyards of inner-city lofts to the postage-stamp front yards of the suburbs. Come on back this year, little guys!
2. Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton ring up top Dallas planner, baker, DJ for glamorous wedding. Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton finally tied the knot on Saturday, July 3, and from all the details divulged on social media, this American royal wedding was B-A-N-A-N-A-S. The couple relied on some of Dallas' top wedding vendors to pull off the opulent affair, from a renowned event planner to a TV-famous cake artist and a favorite party DJ.
3. Famous food blogger moves to Dallas, calls out brisket at revered BBQ spot. Mike Chen is the host of Strictly Dumpling, a YouTube channel that has amassed 3.7 million subscribers since it launched in 2013. This famous online food reviewer has moved to Dallas to cover its booming restaurant scene. Since his relocation to North Texas in early March, he'd already posted raves about our ramen, Vietnamese food, and sushi. But uh-oh: He was unimpressed with the city's No. 1 most recommended BBQ spot.
4. Tom Landry home for sale near Dallas' Preston Hollow is an oasis of nature. A former home of legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry and his wife, Alicia, located near the moneyed intersection of Bluffview and Preston Hollow, went on the market in June for $2,999,000 (and later sold). The house was built in 1952 and is at the end of a small, heavily wooded, secluded cul de sac off Inwood Road. It has 5,408 square feet, and is one-and-a-half stories, with a lower level that looks out over an intensely verdant backdrop that features a creek with a footbridge, wildlife, and loads of privacy.
5. Frisco family charged up for $50,000 battle on ABC's Great Christmas Light Fight. A Frisco family well-known locally for their "extreme," 70,000-light holiday displays got to shine in the national spotlight on December 2 as competitors on the hit ABC reality series The Great Christmas Light Fight. While the Burkman family didn't win the $50,000 grand prize, they won hearts with their charitable efforts. The lights switched on for the public to enjoy through Christmas.
6. Surprising Dallas suburb named top U.S. city for homebuyers under 35, says study. For some young professionals of Dallas, buying a home in a quiet neighborhood in the 'burbs is proving to be more appealing than a ritzy high-rise within city limits. A study released January 14 by personal finance website SmartAsset ranked the top 50 U.S. cities where homebuyers under age 35 were most commonplace. Just one DFW city made it into the top 10 (drumroll, please): Mesquite.
7. Gas Monkey Bar & Grill in Dallas rebrands, farewell Richard Rawlings. The restaurant and live music spot formerly known as Gas Monkey Bar & Grill in Northwest Dallas announced in September it was rebranding. New name: Amplified, and former co-founder Richard Rawlings was no longer involved. Rawlings then announced he was back with Gas Monkey round two: He's partnered with Refined Hospitality Concepts to reopen Gas Monkey Dallas, at the Mercer Boardwalk development on LBJ Freeway near Luna Road.
8. Major freeway will shut down on east side of Dallas this weekend. There was a major freeway closure taking place one weekend in May, on the east side of Dallas: All lanes of I-30, both eastbound and westbound, would be closed on Saturday May 8, at Galloway Avenue, out by Mesquite. In addition to the mainlanes on I-30, full closures of the Galloway Avenue overpass at I-30 and certain I-30/I-635 direct connectors would also be required.
9. Dallas-Fort Worth no longer a top-25 place to live, declares U.S. News & World Report. Dallas-Fort Worth tumbled out of the top 25 on U.S. News & World Report’s closely watched annual list of the best places to live in the U.S. U.S. News' 2021 Best Places to Live ranking, released July 13, put DFW at No. 37 among the country’s biggest metro areas. That's 13 spots lower than the area’s No. 24 ranking in 2020.
10. President of Uncle Julio's found dead at downtown Dallas hotel. Harper Caron, who was president of the Dallas-based Uncle Julio's Tex-Mex chain, died in a downtown Dallas hotel; he was 45. Police officers were called to the Statler Dallas on Saturday, August 7 where they found Caron at about 5 am. A New Orleans native, Caron worked for Uncle Julio's for 25 years, moving up the ranks to become president in September 2019.