Photo by Ashley Gongora

The portal is finally open. After more than a year of build-up, the immersive art sensation Meow Wolfopened its fourth location nationwide and first in Texas at Grapevine Mills mall on Friday, July 14.

Dubbed “The Real Unreal,” Meow Wolf Grapevine is (in simplest terms) a 30,000-square-foot walk-through attraction, designed and crafted by artists, that lets visitors ogle, explore, and interact with the installations to solve a mystery. Or not. You choose your own adventure on this trip.

Imagine entering a carnival fun house and falling down the Alice in Wonderland-style rabbit hole, into a Willy Wonka factory inside Hogwarts on the set of Stranger Things. But it's all art.

That’s Meow Wolf, and there’s nothing else like it in Dallas-Fort Worth.

There’s also nothing else like the ticket price, which has been the subject of much social media chatter around DFW since tickets went on sale in late spring. Adult admission is $50 ($45 for kids and military) - more than daily admission to Six Flags and a season pass to all 24 days of the State Fair of Texas.

It’s an investment, and investments need advisers to help yield the best return.

So, here’s some advice - essential background, tips, and things to know to get the most out of your experience at Meow Wolf “The Real Unreal.”

About the experience

Background and context: The concept of Meow Wolf started in 2008 in Santa Fe, New Mexico as an art collective by six self-described "misfit" artists who wanted to reintroduce art to the public in new and cool ways. The first Meow Wolf immersive exhibition opened there in 2016.

One of the founders, Matt King, was from Dallas-Fort Worth and is credited, in part, for bringing Meow Wolf to the Metroplex. Sadly, he passed away in 2022, but there are tributes to him throughout "The Real Unreal," including the name of the event space, the Neon Kingdom.

Meow Wolf locations - or "portals" - also exist in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Denver, with Houston on the way in 2024. Each has its own design and theme. Meow Wolf at Grapevine Mills, created by 40 Texas artists and 150 Meow Wolf artists and fabricators, is the result of a multimillion-dollar renovation of an old Bed Bath & Beyond store.

"When choosing Grapevine, we looked at many criteria and were motivated by the large, diverse population and the thriving arts community," organizers say. "An attraction to the nostalgia of hanging out in a mall inspired us to create an experience at Grapevine Mills."

Meow Wolf GrapevineThe Neon Kingdom is named for Meow Wolf's late co-founder Matt King, who was from DFW.Photo by Ashley Gongora

Why the weird name? “At the first meeting of the collective in 2008, everyone present put two words into a hat," the creators say. "We then picked two random words out of the hat and got 'Meow Wolf;' thus, this wild experiment was born!”

What you do there: Whatever you want, sorta. Guests enter “The Real Unreal” portal through the front door of a family home. Inside, there are more than 70 installations, rooms, portals, secret passageways, and wormholes to explore, layered with interactivity.

"The more you get curious, the more it pays off," they urge. "You will discover as much as you seek."

Go ahead and crawl inside the fireplace, shimmy into the washing machine, and step inside the refrigerator, and see where they all lead. There's no right or wrong path to take. It's meant to be a nonlinear adventure.

Meow Wolf GrapevineGo ahead, crawl into that washing machine and see where it takes you.Photo by Ashley Gongora

What it's about: At the entrance to the house, guests will get a story prompt. The story, written by LaShawn M. Wanak, centers on a blended family in Bolingbrook, Illinois, in an unspecified year. Their little boy, Jared, has gone missing from their house - to someplace real or imagined - and their quest to find him has unknowingly unlocked portals to a different existence. (Shades of Stranger Things, maybe, but spoiler alert: Monsters won't eat you.)

Meow WolfLead writer LaShawn M. Wanak talks about the storyline, which begins at the front door of this house.Photo by Ashley Gongora

How to work through the portal: There likely will be three kinds of visitors to Meow Wolf Grapevine: 1) those who want to follow the story and solve the mystery of Jared's whereabouts; 2) those who just want to immerse themselves in the cool experience; and 3) those who go there for the art.

Following the story will take the longest but could yield the most satisfying experience. Easter eggs and clues are given on things like iPads and signs. Keeping track of characters and following the story can get pretty complex. It's perfectly fine not to get invested in the story - taking in Meow Wolf merely as a colorful, crazy, sensory-overloaded experience can still be a fun and wild time.

A tiny warning for those who want to deep-dive into the art: It's kind of tough, at least as the exhibition gets started. Unlike at art museums - where a brochure, tour guide, wall signage, or app tells you about each work - no information is given on site here. To learn about the artists and their works - say, the cute little sea creature named "Skuttles" in the Glow-quarium - you use a touch-screen kiosk in the cafe. Organizers say the art information will be on the website soon, and an app is in the works. It's possible they'll hold special events with artists occasionally too, they say.

Meow Wolf GrapevineA touch-screen kiosk in the cafe teaches about the art and artists behind Meow Wolf.Photo by Ashley Gongora

Can’t-miss rooms and features: (Warning - skip this part if you don’t want any spoilers.) Whether you're following the story or just exploring for fun, do not miss stops in: BRRRMUDA, an intersection of refrigerator portals from various dimensions that's a dance party, too (look up, up, up, at the "disco ball'). The Mystical Forest with its magical light, musical fungus, and Baba Yaga's treehouse nestled in its branches. Lamp Shop Alley bustling with city antics and doors, one of which leads into a cool Video Arcade with lots of games to play. Glow-quarium is a neon wonderland where creatures abound, high and low. Technicolor Party Inside My Head is by local muralist Mariell Guzman, inspired by the chaos of natural things. And in the Lightning Collection Room, brace yourself for a lightning storm. (Scroll the photos above to see even more.)

Meow Wolf GrapevineCoolest dance party ever in the BRRRRMUDA.Photo by Ashley Gongora

What it’s NOT: While there’s a mystery to solve and various ways to get in and out of rooms, Meow Wolf is not an escape room. And while it’s the most Instagammy place on the planet, it's not a selfie museum - or any kind of museum. It’s not an amusement park with rides, shows, live animals, or playground equipment, either.

How it compares to the original Santa Fe Meow Wolf: Someone who's been to both says, "Those who have had the opportunity to visit the original Meow Wolf in Santa Fe will notice a lot of similarities. Both start by entering a seemingly idyllic suburban house, with the layout being nearly identical, right down to the portals to other areas. This is clearly by design, perhaps to make the stories of the two experiences more connected, but visitors who've been to both might find themselves disappointed that more was not done to differentiate the two. The areas beyond the house have a familiar feeling, as well, although the details of the various nooks and crannies offer new, enchanting, and often baffling visuals. Because both Santa Fe and Grapevine are exhausting, never-ending, detail-oriented experiences, there's still plenty to enjoy here without feeling like you're doing the same thing over again."

Know before you go

Where it is: The "Real Unreal" is located on the east side of the Grapevine Mills near Neiman Marcus Last Call, Rainforest Cafe, and next to the new Arhaus furniture store. There’s not much signage to direct drivers there from the street or parking lot, but the exterior is brightly colored and says “Meow Wolf.”

You can park right in front of it, but all Meow Wolf visitors must enter through the mall and go through security metal detectors. (Leave your weapons and vapes at home.) Use Entrance 2 next to Rainforest Cafe, hang a right, walk toward the big sign that says “Come Find Yourselfs,” and look for the bright pink arches.

How the ticketing works: All tickets are sold online only and timed, 40 minutes apart. The number of visitors in each 40-minute time slot will vary depending on the time of year and time slot, organizers say. For those who show up without tickets, QR codes outside and attendants will help facilitate ticket sales on site.

Meow Wolf GrapevineKids will enjoy pounding on these piano keys and seeing what happens.Photo by Ashley Gongora

Age and mobility considerations: The exhibitions are intended for adults and kids of all ages, and with many opportunities for hands-on exploration, Meow Wolf is a family-friendly destination. Parents of little ones, note that strollers are not allowed inside. There are public restrooms and changing rooms available.

Those with mobility issues should know that you can enjoy the experience without crawling through portals and climbing stairs. Three elevators help navigate the levels, as well as places to sit down inside. The entire experience is wheelchair accessible.

Service animals are allowed; emotional support animals are not. Heads up that strobe lights and loud noises are used in certain rooms.

What to wear: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for over an hour of walking, climbing stairs, and (if you choose) crawling, climbing, and ducking under things. Heels and short skirts would be ill-advised. (Basically, dress like a mall walker.)

While there aren’t security restrictions on purses and bags, it’s best to keep them small, light, and hands-free. Lockers are available for rent for shopping bags and personal items visitors don’t wish to carry inside.

How long it takes: This depends on the kind of experience you want (see "How to work through the portal," above) but in general, allow at least an hour-and-a-half for the full experience. Some of the rooms are vast, and some are quite small. If they get crowded, keep moving and come back, as there are various ways to move around all the different rooms.

Meow Wolf GrapevineEven the mannequins in the retail store are over the top.Photo by Ashley Gongora

Food, drinks, and merch: An on-site cafe serves snacks and non-alcoholic drinks from 15 local purveyors. Concessions include chicken pot pie ($12), empanadas ($6), chips & salsa ($5), ice cream bars and cups ($5-7), and a variety of pastries, including macarons and “cake-sicles” ($3 and up). The cafe is more like a snack bar, not a full-service restaurant. (Sorry, girls' night out groups, there’s no bar.) A retail store sells everything from Meow Wolf onesies to hats, T-shirts, and puzzles.

Event space: Neon Kingdom, the most colorful room in the whole exhibition, is a 300+ capacity event room with a raised stage area and dance floor. It will host special Meow Wolf events and will be available for private rentals and buyouts beginning in September. Organizers say they hope to see local bands, poetry slams, and other kinds of community events take place there.

Meow Wolf GrapevineThe Neon Kingdom event space will be ready for private rentals in September.Photo by Ashley Gongora

Meow Wolf Grapevine

Photo by Ashley Gongora

The neon Glow-quarium is one of the many memorable spaces.

For more information and tickets, visit the Meow Wolf Grapevine website.


Alex Bentley contributed to this story.

Photo by Jess Gallo

Take a first peek inside Meow Wolf before it opens in Grapevine next month

Opening the portal

The buzziest opening of summer is almost upon us: Meow Wolf will debut in Grapevine Mills on July 14. With just two weeks to go, we finally have an idea of what it might be like inside the "portal," thanks to five sneak-peek photos the organizers have revealed.

Themed "The Real Unreal," Meow Wolf Grapevine will be an immersive experience that will take participants on a "journey through a Technicolor wonderland that blends storytelling, technology, and immersive art," they say. Guests will experience different dimensions of perspective and creativity through more than 30 rooms.

The storyline of the journey, conceived by sci-fi and fantasy author LaShawn Wanak, goes like this: "Beginning in a house, the story centers on a mother and son, their chosen family, and the extraordinary events that open their house to a realm of expansive creativity."

Initial images capture details of the exhibition's intricate and otherworldly landscapes, although they're not fully explained. Meow Wolf likes to keep things mysterious. All were created by 38 Texas artists alongside dozens of Meow Wolf artists.

"We’re thrilled to reveal these first looks of our newest exhibition," says Dale Sheehan, Meow Wolf senior vice president and executive creative director, in a release. "It’s been in the works for four years and is an awe-inspiring self-guided experience for visitors to get lost in. 'The Real Unreal’s' narrative journey takes a leap through the spaces between universes, and is the first major step in connecting the Meow Wolf story universe."

Meow Wolf Grapevine, Real Unreal

Photo by Jess Gallo

Is it real? Or is it unreal?

Meow Wolf is a wildly popular, Santa Fe-based interactive adventure known for enchanting art lovers and amusement zealots with its mind-bending immersive experiences. The first-ever Texas portal (so called for Meow Wolf’s expertise in transporting visitors to fantastic realms of imagination), in Grapevine, has been in the works for more than a year.

The new Grapevine portal will be located in the Grapevine Mills shopping mall and encompass 40,000 square feet in the space formerly occupied by a big-box store. A Houston portal will follow, in 2024.

In addition to the exhibition, "The Real Unreal" portal will include a retail store, live event venue, and cafe featuring 15 food purveyors.

"The Real Unreal" will be open at 10 am daily beginning July 14. (Hours may vary.) Tickets are now available for pre-purchase starting at $50 for general admission ($45 for children). Pre-booking a time slot for entry is required.

Courtesy of Meow Wolf

Standing ovation for the 11 can't-miss arts events of summer 2023 in Dallas-Fort Worth

Summer arts planner

Arts calendars usually have more blank spaces throughout the summer. Musicians play festivals in far-flung places (or take much-needed vacations), museums focus on family-friendly camps and programs to entertain kiddos, and most performing arts organizations gear up for their season debuts in the fall. But this summer, one of the most highly anticipated art events of the year kicks off mid-July. Also, a local museum hops on the biggest concert tour of the year; the best teenage pianists on the planet compete note-for-note; and pop-up concerts and dance festivals remind us that great performances can be staged anywhere.

Here are the 11 can't-miss arts events of summer 2023 in Dallas-Fort Worth. (Find even more arts events, including touring musicals and gallery offerings, in the calendar on our site).

Visual Arts
Note: Several DFW museums currently are showing big exhibitions that will remain open into the summer. Find out more about a few of them here.

Meow Wolf: The Real Unreal
Opening July 14 at Grapevine Mills

The buzziest art event of the summer is Meow Wolf, an immersive experience that's been a sensation since it opened in Santa Fe. The first Texas edition (or "portal," as they call it), dubbed "The Real Unreal," promises to take guests on a journey through a Technicolor wonderland that blends more than 30 rooms' worth of storytelling, technology, and immersive art - much of it created by local artists. (Read more about what to expect in this story.) In addition to the exhibition, The Real Unreal will also include a cafe featuring 15 food purveyors, retail store, and venue for live events. Meow Wolf will be open at 10 am daily beginning July 14. (Hours may vary.) Tickets are now available for pre-purchase starting at $50 for general admission ($45 for children). Pre-booking a time slot for entry is required.

"Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection"
June 3-September 24 at Arlington Museum of Art
Fresh off her sold-out three-night "Eras Tour" stand at AT&T Stadium this spring, the nearby Arlington Museum of Art dedicates an entire summer exhibition to Taylor Swift. In collaboration with the HELP Center for LGBT Health & Wellness, "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection" will feature items from Swift’s private collection. Visitors will be able to experience her journey as an artist and view outfits, photographs, and concert videos from the “eras” of her life and career. Highlights of the collection are eight iconic costumes from four of Swift’s albums. Tickets run $5-$20.

In conjunction with this exhibition, the museum also will present "Girl in a Country Song: Women of Country Music," featuring intimate portraits of such female country music legends as Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, Tanya Tucker, LeAnn Rimes, and others. They'll also open "Hometown Harmonies," which includes personal memorabilia from three women whose musical careers began on the stages of Arlington: Mickey Guyton, Kirstin Maldonado, and Maren Morris.

Classical Music

Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition
June 8-17 at SMU's Caruth Auditorium and the Meyerson Symphony Center
The Cliburn will present the third Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival, featuring 24 of the best 13- to 17-year-old pianists on the planet. Through four rounds of competition, including a final round with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the elite young artists will showcase their virtuosity and musicality. Preliminary, Quarterfinal, and Semifinal Round performances (solo recitals) will take place at Caruth Auditorium. The Final Round concert moves to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, where three finalists will play a full concerto with the DSO, conducted by Valentina Peleggi. Admission is free-$25 for preliminary rounds; $38-$98 for final round. The entire event will be webcast here.

Outdoor symphonic concerts (ongoing)
Summer symphonic concerts lighten up a bit, with more pop-style fare in fun outdoor settings. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents a series of Parks Concerts, which are family-friendly, free, and staged at parks across the city. Remaining performances are June 1 at Exall Park; June 6 at Campbell Green Park; June 8 at Kidd Springs Park; and June 13 at Paul Quinn College. The DSO's popular Concert Truck is also zipping around town, presenting free pop-up concerts in more than 30 locations through June 11. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's annual Concerts in the Garden series at Fort Worth Botanic Garden runs on weekends through June 11, and each performance ends with a new sparkly extra, a drone show.

Meow Wolf Grapevine lobby
Courtesy of Meow Wolf

Rendering of the Meow Wolf Grapevine lobby, coming July 14.

Mimir Chamber Music Festival
July 5-14
at TCU and Kimbell Art Museum
While the big chamber music presenters prep for their fall seasons, summer chamber music cravings are fulfilled by this renowned festival, now in its 26th year. Acclaimed professional musicians are joined by emerging artists for a series of concerts that span more than a week. Among the big names joining the roster this year are Japanese pianist Rieko Aizawa, two-time Grammy nominated violinist Jesse Mills, and the rare billing of both Canadian pianist Lucille Chung and her husband, DFW fan-favorite pianist Alessio Bax. More information is here, and tickets will go on sale in June.


Titas/Unbound presents Ballet BC
June 9 at Winspear Opera House
Bold, innovative and uniquely great, Ballet British Columbia is an internationally acclaimed Canadian contemporary dance company. It is rare to find a company where just everything works; vision, dancers, repertory, say press materials. The program includes Crystal Pite’s The Statement, as well as Garden by Medhi Walerski and Bedroom Folk by Sharon Eyal & Gai Behar. Tickets are $12-$135.

Ballet Concerto: Summer Dance Concert
June 22-25 at The Shops at Clearfork
Now, remarkably, in its 41st year, the annual summer showcase isn't slowing down. Three ballets are planned for each night of performances. Spanish dance king Luis Montero will return to restage his Andalusian Suite, which was world premiered at Ballet Concerto’s 1997 Summer Dance Concert. The programs will also Irish Suite with choreography by Dennis Spaight (restaged by Associate Artistic Director Webster Dean) and Dream On with choreography by Elise Lavallee. Performances begin at 8:30 pm and are free to attend on the lawn, or $75 and up for reserved table seating. Make a night of it by pre-ordering food from nearby Rise or B&B Butchers and pick it up at the event tent on the lawn. More information here.

Modern Dance Festival at The Modern
July 22-23, 29-30 at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Presented by Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth in collaboration with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the 17th edition of the festival will celebrate the exhibition Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting and CD/FW’s “Thirty-Something” anniversary. A series of live performances of dance and music will be inspired by the exhibition and dedicated to the memory of Jerry Bywaters Cochran, who founded the modern dance program at TCU and was a pioneer for modern dance in North Texas. Performances take place at 2 pm in the Grand Lobby and are free to watch.


Next to Normal
June 1-July 2 at Theatre Three
The Goodman family is just a “normal” family: Dad's an architect, mom packs lunches and makes birthday cakes, and their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens. Under the surface, their family is anything but. Next to Normal is an emotionally charged Tony-Award winning musical that explores a family’s raw and emotional journey with a mother struggling with chronic bipolar disorder as they navigate a world of therapists and medication. Tickets are $37-$40.

Miss Saigon with Lou Diamond Phillips
June 3-11 at Casa Manana
A tragedy of passion and beauty, Miss Saigon is one of the most stunning theatrical spectacles of all time. The musical takes audiences on emotional journey. In the turmoil of the Vietnam War, Chris, an American soldier, and Kim, a Vietnamese girl, fall in love and marry but are distressingly separated when Saigon falls. As years pass, Chris remarries and attempts to move on with his life. Kim, however, gives birth to Chris’ son and waits faithfully for Chris’ return. When circumstances bring Chris back to Vietnam, he learns the truth. (This show is suitable for mature audiences.) Legendary actor Lou Diamond Phillips returns to Texas to star as The Engineer. Tickets start at $59.

Uptown Players presents Chicken & Biscuits
July 28-Aug 13 at Kalita Humphreys Theater
Written by Douglas Lyons, Chicken & Biscuits follows rivaling sisters, Baneatta and Beverly, as they try to bury their father without killing each other. This proves difficult, when Beverly shows up to the chapel with all her “blessings” on display. Baneatta’s husband tries to mediate the family drama while preparing Bernard’s eulogy. Baneatta’s son intentionally brings his neurotic white Jewish boyfriend along, knowing Baneatta disapproves. All while Beverly’s nosy daughter keeps asking questions no one wants to answer. But when a family secret reveals itself at the altar, the two sisters are faced with a truth that could either heal, or break them. The show recently had a run on Broadway and now closes Uptown Players' season. Tickets are $35-$60.

Photo by Herring Herring

Summer concert preview leads this week's 5 most popular Dallas stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. These are the 16 must-see concerts for summer 2023 in Dallas-Fort Worth. Musical acts go on tour all year-round but there's no concert season like summer concert season: Outdoor arenas and sheds open their doors, and major tours head out on the road, seizing on the more favorable weather to put on a big show. Here are the 16 most-anticipated concerts of the summer.

2. New restaurant nabs Blue Goose Cantina space on Dallas' Greenville Ave. A new tenant has landed in the highly desirable former Blue Goose Cantina space on Dallas' Greenville Avenue: Called Goodwin's, it's a restaurant collaboration starring chef Jeff Bekavac, and it will open at 2905 Greenville Ave. in 2024.

3. Where to eat in Dallas right now: 6 of the hottest newest patios in town. For the May edition of Where to eat in Dallas right now, our monthly column offering recommendations on the best dining options, we revisit a classic theme: patios. The patios on this list are either new or else underdog patios that deserve a look this month.

4. Meow Wolf unveils trippy theme and opening date for new portal in Grapevine. The most anticipated arts event of summer in Dallas-Fort Worth now has an opening date: Meow Wolf will open Friday, July 14 at Grapevine Mills with the intriguing theme "The Real Unreal." Tickets are now on sale.

5. Big Dallas freeway closure at 635 and Greenville Avenue coming up. There's a major freeway closure coming up in North Dallas this weekend on I-635: All lanes along eastbound and westbound I-635 at Greenville Avenue will be closed beginning Saturday evening, May 20 through Sunday morning, May 21.

Courtesy of Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf unveils trippy theme and opening date for new portal in Grapevine

Mesmerizing Texas

The most anticipated arts event of summer in Dallas-Fort Worth now has an opening date: Meow Wolf will open Friday, July 14 at Grapevine Mills with the intriguing theme "The Real Unreal." Tickets are now on sale.

According to a May 16 release, the immersive experience at the DFW "portal" will take participants on a "journey through a Technicolor wonderland that blends storytelling, technology, and immersive art." Guests will experience different dimensions of perspective and creativity through more than 30 rooms.

They further describe the journey like this: "A missing boy, a chosen family, and Hapulusgarrulus Lophoaquaflori all lie at the center of 'The Real Unreal’s' story, conceived by author LaShawn Wanak. It all begins with a blended family who has unknowingly unlocked portals to a different existence. As participants investigate these portals to the unknown, they will explore rooms that are both unfamiliar yet accessible through unforgettable psychedelic art."

Meow Wolf Grapevine will feature the work of 150 artists and fabricators, including 38 from Texas, who have created the artistic installations for 70 "unique and captivating experiences," they say. The local collaborating artists - muralists, sculptors, photographers, video game designers, and more - include Dan Lam, Emmanuelle John, Mariell Guzman, Lance McGoldrick, XaLaVier Nelson Jr., Riley Holloway, and Nico Salazar (Future Fantasy Delight).

In addition to the exhibition, "The Real Unreal" portal will include a retail store, live event venue, and cafe featuring 15 food purveyors.

Meow Wolf is a wildly popular, Santa Fe-based interactive adventure known for enchanting art lovers and amusement zealots with its mind-bending immersive experiences. The first-ever Texas portal (so called for Meow Wolf’s expertise in transporting visitors to fantastic realms of imagination), in Grapevine, has been in the works for more than a year.

The new Grapevine portal will be located in the Grapevine Mills shopping mall and encompass 40,000 square feet in the space formerly occupied by a big-box store. A Houston portal will follow, in 2024.

Meow Wolf got its start in 2008 as a DIY collective of Santa Fe artists, growing into a full-fledged immersive-art affair with the opening of the permanent Santa Fe location in 2016. In 2021, the company branched out with two additional permanent portals in Denver and Las Vegas. Each location hosts a unique art exhibition.

“It’s an exciting moment to share the opening date of our next exhibition. 'The Real Unreal' ... takes a bold step forward in our evolution of art and storytelling,” says Jose Tolosa, CEO of Meow Wolf, in the release. “As we pursue sustainable and thoughtful expansion, we are beyond excited to bring our unique brand of wonder unveiling this next chapter of the Meow Wolf universe and look forward to having new participants experience Meow Wolf.”

"The Real Unreal" will be open at 10 am daily beginning July 14. (Hours may vary.) Tickets are now available for pre-purchase starting at $50 for general admission ($45 for children). Pre-booking a time slot for entry is required.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

New brunches and fall dishes put some yum in this Dallas restaurant news

News You Can Eat

Fall weather may not be here yet but Dallas restaurants are happily paying no mind, gifting us with ramen, pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin souffles, and beer cheese fondues. It'll be cold soon enough. There are also some restaurant openings here, some new brunches, and a meal deal for seniors.

Here's what's happening in Dallas restaurant news.

Fish City Grill has opened a location in Prosper at 1150 S. Preston Rd., just north of U.S. Highway 380 in The Gates of Prosper. It features seafood and cocktails, with specials on the restaurant’s trademark Chalkboard which are unique to each location and change twice each day. (Visit fishcitygrill.com/locations to view the Chalkboard cameras.) This is the chain's 23rd location.

White Rhino Coffee has opened a location in Frisco at 8075 FM 423 #100. This is the 10th location for the chain first founded in 2007 by Chris Parvin in Cedar Hill.

Captain D’s has opened a new location at 522 E. Belt Line Rd. in Cedar Hill, owned and operated by Golden Chick franchisee Joseph Omobogie. It's the 21st Captain D’s in Texas and a momentous step for Omobogie, who has 14 Golden Chick locations, as he ventures into new culinary territory. Captain D's serves fried catfish, fried shrimp, and chicken tenders.

True Food Kitchen has unveiled what a release calls "its biggest menu innovation of 15 years" with a reimagined brunch and cocktail program in addition to new seasonal dishes. Brunch highlights include Cinnamon Toastini, Berry Cerealtini, huevos rancheros, Hawaiian Fried Rice, and a tasting tower. New cocktails include Dazzling Eyes with Don Q rum, coconut, carrot juice, and Thai basil; and True Story with gin, chareau aloe, cucumber, snap pea, pineapple, and lemon.

Stirr recently launched a new autumn menu, with brunch, lunch, main and cocktail offerings including Pumpkin Spice pancakes, Chicken & Waffles, Wagyu Italian Beef Sandwich, Fried Chicken Cobb, Baby Back Ribs, Chicken Parm, Cajun Chicken Frites, Steakhouse Salad, Blackened Redfish, Lobster Ravioli, Beer Cheese Fondue, and a Count of Monte Cristo sandwich, which is so trendy right now.

McRae’s American Bistro is introducing a new weekend brunch on Sunday October 1, with deviled eggs, jalapeno pimento cheese, frittata muffaletta, chicken & waffles, chipotle eggs benedict, Lakewood latke, croque madame, corned beef hash & eggs, and more. More being cocktails, including a bloody Mary bar, espresso martini, sangria, wines, and beer. It'll run Saturday-Sunday from 11 am-3 pm.

BarNone has launched a new Whiskey Club. Members get a monthly e-newsletter, access to distillery and brewery tours, access to BarNone's master distiller meet & greets, entry into year-end Pappy Van Winkle 10 year and BTAC (George Stagg, William Larue Weller, Sazerac 18, Thomas Handy and Eagle Rare 17 year) giveaway, free whiskey rating forms, access to allocated whiskeys, ryes, scotches, and world whiskeys, and BarNone Whiskey Club private barrels. BarNone has also expanded its whiskey offerings to 173 varieties with selections from Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Texas, UK, Japan, and Ireland. Entry is free, sign up online.

Loro Asian Smokehouse & Bar has a new Miso-Chili Tonkotsu Ramen with charred bok choy, scallions, sun noodle, sesame, ajitama egg, and choice of brisket or prawns, for $18, served Tuesday-Wednesday starting at 4 pm.

Monarch has a new dessert for the fall: Pumpkin Spice Latte Souffle featuring pumpkin spice, coffee crème anglaise, and sweet cream ice cream, available through the end of October.

Tiff’s Treats has new filled cookies including PB&J (peanut butter cookie with raspberry jam) and decadent Double Chocolate Salted Caramel (Double Chocolate cookie filled with dulce de leche and sprinkled with sea salt). They're available in a combo package where you get a dozen filled and a dozen classic for $43.

Melting Pot, the fondue restaurant, has launched an Oktober FondueFest limited-time 3-course menu with Bavarian Beer Cheese Fondue paired with dippers like bratwurst, braised short rib, and pretzels, with choice of salad and decadent Black Forest Chocolate Fondue. German-inspired sips include the new Black Forest Fashioned and St-Germain Spritz cocktail along with seasonal Sam Adams Octoberfest. Served Monday-Thursday through October 26.

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille has a 3-course senior menu for 65+ before 6 pm, available daily for $39. First course offers choices from wedge, Caesar, field green, pear & candied pecan salad, French onion soup, or lobster bisque. Second course offers choices from pork chop, filet mignon, salmon, chicken oscar, vegan skillet chopped steak, or fried shrimp. Third course is side dish or dessert from a choice of cheesecake, chocolate crunch tower, crème brûlée, whipped potatoes, creamed spinach, or chargrilled vegetables.

Pappasito's celebrates its 40th anniversary through October at all four DFW locations including two at DFW Airport, plus locations in Arlington and Fort Worth with a $40 special on beef fajitas or beef & chicken fajita platters, with guacamole, rice, frijoles a la charra, and tortillas serving 2-3 people, available on Wednesdays starting at 4 pm.

McDonald’s of North Texas is adding two new limited-edition sauces to the menu starting October 9: McDonald’s Sweet & Spicy Jam, a jammy red pepper dipping sauce with apple cider vinegar, Szechuan peppercorn, and cayenne pepper; Mambo Sauce, a tomato-based sweet, spicy, and vinegary sauce inspired by the regional Washington, D.C. area sauce staple.

Luckys the Oak Lawn diner is celebrating the State Fair of Texas with two limited-edition menu items: two corn dogs with fries, for $11, and Cotton Candy Pilsner from Texas Ale Project for $5.50, served through October 22.

Target has a new free Drive Up service for Starbucks menu items where customers can place an order and have it delivered straight to their car. The service has been popular in other markets and now it's in Dallas. The three top-selling items for Drive Up with Starbucks are Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, Birthday Cake Pop, and Iced Caramel Macchiato. You place your order, park in the Drive Up area, and tap “I’m here” in the Target app. A Target staffer delivers the Starbucks order, along with whatever else in your Drive Up purchase. By October, all 1,700-plus Target stores that have a Starbucks Café and offer Drive Up will have the Drive Up with Starbucks service.

Dunkin’ has launched the Texas Dunkin’ Community Cruiser, a mobile coffee truck that delivers free samples of hot and iced coffee directly to local community events. The Texas Dunkin’ Community Cruiser follows in the footsteps of several successful Cruiser programs built throughout the country over the last 10 years.

Norma's Cafe will provide six meals to the North Texas Food Bank for every holiday dinner purchased from now until November 18. The original Oak Cliff location at 1123 W. Davis St. will be open on Thanksgiving Day, November 23 from 11 am-1 pm to feed the homeless.

Salata, the salad chain, has launched of bottled salad dressings in its five most popular flavors: Buttermilk Ranch, Chipotle Ranch, Herb Vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Ginger Lime Vinaigrette. They come in 12.5-oz bottles and are available at select H-E-B locations for $6.48.

Farrah Fawcett Foundation honors cancer-crusading 'angel' Katie Couric at 2023 Dallas benefit

Starry night

Hollywood icons and angels descended on Dallas for the second year, for the 2023 Farrah Fawcett Foundation Tex-Mex Fiesta.

Held at The Rustic on September 28, the star-studded benefit included a red carpet, Tex-Mex buffet dinner, award presentations, live auction, and margaritas that flowed all night long - all to raise money for the fight against cancer. Proceeds went to The American Cancer Society/Cattle Baron's Ball and Stand Up To Cancer.

Co-chairs Alana Stewart, Jaclyn Smith, and Linda Gray - the late Farrah Fawcett's bestie, Charlie's Angels co-star, and last year's Angel Award winner, respectively - welcomed guests. Then actor and famously tanned man George Hamilton took over to emcee the presentations with his signature charm, wit, and sweet banter with ex-wife Stewart.

Dr. Lawrence Piro, Fawcett’s former oncologist and Chief Medical Advisor for the Farrah Fawcett Foundation, underscored the importance of the evening’s fundraising efforts. Fawcett passed away from rectal cancer in 2009, at the age of 62. The foundation that bears her name and raises money for cancer-related causes is her greatest legacy, her friends agreed on stage.

A live auction led by Samantha Robinson of Heritage Auctions raised thousands of dollars with one-of-a-kind items like lunch with George Hamilton the following day at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek (sold for $10,000) and a "Hollywood Experience" including lunch with "The Fonz" Henry Winkler (sold for $14,000).

Country music star Brett Eldredge got the crowd on its feet with a quick set of his hits, and DJ 13lackbeard kept the party beats lively. Actress Dyan Cannon gave a heartfelt tribute, and Patrick Foley - Fawcett’s long time friend, make-up artist, and Neiman Marcus’ resident make-up artist - was recognized for his support of the Foundation.

But the emotional highlight of the evening was the presentation of the foundation's 2023 Angel Award to Katie Couric. The trailblazing journalist famously underwent a colonoscopy on air after her husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer at age 42 in 1998. In September 2022, Couric revealed her own breast cancer diagnosis.

In her acceptance speech, Couric spoke poignantly about all the things the cancer took away from her two daughters, who were just 2 and 6 years old when their dad passed.

"I know what it's like to lose someone you love way before their time," she said. "In two words: It sucks ... devastating, life-shattering, horrific. No adjective sufficiently describes what that period of my life was like."

She encouraged people not to "get squeamish" about "cancers that occur below the belt" (referring specifically to rectal and colon cancers).

"I've always said, 'Don't die of embarrassment,'" she said. "You know, if we're lucky, we all have colons, we all have anuses, it's just part of our biology, so let's get real about that, people."

After Couric's colonoscopy on The Today Show, the number of people who got screened increased 20 percent, she said.

"But that statistic means so much more," she said. "It means that so many people got to watch their child score a goal at a soccer game, so many people got to watch their child graduate with honors, so many people got to watch their child walk down the aisle."

She said she often wonders what Farrah and Jay would be doing today.

"Honestly, I get so sad and so mad when I think about everything [her daughters] have missed," she said. "We couldn't save them, but we can use every ounce of our energy to spare others from a similar fate."

Among the patrons there to support the event were actress Donna Mills, designer Cynthia Rowley, John Tatum, Jim Foley, Christine Romeo, Jeffrey Lane, and hundreds of generous Dallasites.

Farrah Fawcett Foundation Tex-Mex Fiesta 2023

Photo courtesy of Farrah Fawcett Foundation

Jaclyn Smith, Alana Stewart, Katie Couric, Linda Gray

Ferah Smokehouse & Cantina to bring Wylie 2 top cuisines: BBQ & Tex-Mex

BBQ News

A Mediterranean concept in Dallas-Fort Worth that dabbles in Texan is about to get a new sibling with an even stronger Texan focus. Called Ferah Smokehouse and Cantina, it's an offshoot of Ferah Tex-Med Kitchen, and will open in Wylie in early 2024.

Ferah is from husband-and-wife Burak and Stephanie Ozcan, known for the innovative fusion of Mediterranean and Texas cuisines they've created at Ferah Tex-Med Kitchen, which debuted in 2019.

The Smokehouse, located on the west side of Wylie at 960 S. Westgate Way, represents a chance to dig more deeply in to Texas cuisine, namely smoked meats and Tex-Mex, with signatures like brisket enchiladas.

“It gives us an opportunity to make this space our own and give homage to Texas," Stephanie says. "I'm a born-and-bred Texan, and Burak has been in Texas since 2009. He has a passion for Texas and the cuisine that we offer."

A native of Turkey, where he attended the world-famous Mengen Anatolian Culinary School, Burak has worked in gourmet kitchens around the world, including a stint as sous chef at Samar By Stephan Pyles, and has worked at numerous hotel restaurants both in Dallas and Istanbul, including Westin, Renaissance, and Marriott.

The couple opened the first Ferah Tex-Med in Garland in June 2019, months before the onset of pandemic; Southlake followed in 2022.

During the pandemic, they witnessed ardent support from communities like Wylie, which further fueled their choice of location. They also live in Sachse, nearby.

For the new smokehouse, they've partnered with husband-and-wife Jeremy and Heidi Berlin, who will lend their business expertise in operating the restaurant. Jeremy previously worked in the hotel industry, and Heidi runs a hair styling and design business.

The structure where they're opening is a 3500-square-foot barn-like space that was built in 2019 adjacent to the Seventy8 And Westgate Apartments development. Getting it restaurant-ready will require a complete interior buildout.

Stephanie says the interior will feature a full bar, semi-private dining space, and covered patio.

"I’ve designed a groovy Southwestern interior featuring cognac-toned leather, with terracotta, black and gold accents," she says. "Our goal is to provide an elevated yet comfortable ambiance for our foodies."

They'll be sharing behind-the-scenes updates of the buildout and design journey on their Instagram.

As a prelude to opening, they've tested out some of the Smokehouse dishes with customers at Ferah Tex-Med, including brisket enchiladas served on a cast-iron skillet, and a charcuterie-like "butcherblock" featuring assorted smoked meats.

"Barbecue and Tex-Mex are the two favorite cuisines of people in Texas," Stephanie says. "We wanted to try something that was familiar to people but approach it in a new way."