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Photo courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife

If roasting s'mores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive through December 19. Visit December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 am December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm December 17.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
Follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 am-12 pm December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Visit the popular attraction during December to learn how the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am-2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 pm December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2-5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru, 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on December 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park, 6-8 pm December 10.

Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls

6 perfect weekend getaways to plan in Texas this fall

Post-Summer Plans

With the end of this brutal summer finally (hopefully?!) in sight, it is time to start planning for fall. Call it second summer, as in still plenty warm for enjoying the outdoors but no longer hot enough to melt pavement. Here are six places perfect for a much-needed autumn getaway. Take a few extra days off for a long weekend, then head to one (or more) as your just reward for surviving another scorching Texas summer.

Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
This LCRA park in Bastrop hugs the shore of a constant temperature lake for swimming, paddling (canoe, kayak, SUP, and Corcl rentals available), or fishing (with a boat ramp and pier). The park features almost 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, including one connecting to Lake Bastrop South Shore Park, and a sand volleyball court, too. Stay in one of five Airstream campers, two cabins, or six safari-style tents. All have grills for cooking and decks for enjoying views of the lake and the stars while sipping a cold one. Other dining and entertainment options in nearby Bastrop include a distillery and several breweries and taprooms. Neighbor's Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse, both on the banks of the Colorado River, serve food, craft beer and cocktails, and live music.

Lake Georgetown
At this Corps of Engineers reservoir, choose from four campgrounds with RV and tent camping options. Enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking (rentals available at Russell Park), and hiking. The crown jewel is the Good Water Trail, a 26-mile loop around the entire lake through a variety of terrain, with multiple trailheads offering the opportunity for shorter hikes. Dining options, wine bars, breweries, and other lodging options are nearby in Georgetown. Check out Barking Armadillo Brewing and, on the courthouse square, three wine tasting rooms, and multiple dining options.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park
Located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Matagorda Bay offers miles of uncrowded beaches for combing and wetlands for paddling. Rent beach chairs, wagons, and kayaks (guided tours available), play miniature golf, fish on the beach or pier, or birdwatch. In addition to Airstream rentals and camping and RV sites, visitors now can rent one of 10 new bungalows that sleep from six to eight people, with fully equipped kitchens, outdoor decks, gas grills, and fantastic views.

Port Aransas
Miles of beach, without summer crowds: What else do you need? Well, perhaps a place to stay, and you’ll find every option from fancy condos to kitschy cottages in this seaside town. Plenty of dining and entertainment options, too. Try the local seafood at places like La Playa Mexican Grill, Fins Grill & Icehouse, and Seafood and Spaghetti Works. Have a cold one at Bernie’s Beach House, the Port A Beer Hut, or Moby Dick’s. Rent bicycles, golf carts, surfboards, and kayaks at Island Surf Rentals (check out the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail). Or just sit on the beach.

Painted Sky Inn
Located on a tranquil inlet of Lake Buchanan, this waterfront property offers rooms for two to ten people with kitchens and lake views, as well as a tiny home and a vintage Airstream. Amenities include fire pits, barbecue grills, a fishing pier, and canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park (day pass reservations recommended), or tour several nearby wineries (Torr Na Lochs and Fall Creek, to name two) and breweries (Save the World Brewing and Double Horn Brewing), plus dining options in Burnet and Marble Falls.

Frio River
The aptly named Frio River is famous for swimming and tubing in the summer. The most popular way to enjoy the river is Garner State Park, but getting weekend reservations can be tough. Another option is Neal’s Lodges, a sprawling family-owned complex that includes 81 cabins, 10 lodges, 17 condos, 45 RV hook-ups, and 16 tent sites, plus a country store and dining room. See a bat emergence at nearby Frio Cave or a bit farther away in Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Saturdays are for fine dining at The Laurel Tree and diner fare at Lost Maples Café, both in Utopia, and Concan has several eateries, as well (some close after the summer season, so check websites).

Photo courtesy of Reprise Records

These are the 14 best things to do in Dallas this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

We told you before that September was packed full of big concerts, and this weekend is a prime example of that, as it features four concerts that made the list and two more that could have. There will also be a couple of big comedians in town, two Dallas Symphony concerts, ballet meets cirque, art openings and closings, and more.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Thursday, September 15

PARK(ing) Day Dallas
PARK(ing) Day Dallas is an annual event where artists, activists, and citizens turn metered parking spots along Main Street in downtown Dallas into temporary public spaces. The driving force behind this international movement is not only to have a fun event but also to portray the need and desire for public space in downtown areas such as Dallas. Nearby Pegasus Plaza will host live music and entertainment throughout the day.

Steve Treviño: "America's Favorite Husband" Tour
Comedian Steve Treviño embodies the title of “America’s Favorite Husband.” He can “speak wife fluently,” he never calls “the guys” for help on a home project, and he knows better than to “make his own decisions” since decision-making is a privilege reserved solely for his wife alone — even if she did wreck his dream Silverado. He appeals to audiences by fitting right into their families. This identifiable approach affirms his status as one of the country’s fastest-rising comics. He'll perform at Majestic Theatre.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents "Holst’s The Planets"
The latest concert from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, featuring conductor Gemma New and pianist Olga Kern, includes What Keeps Me Awake, a probing and wandering soundscape by Puerto Rican-born Angélica Negrón; Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto-esque work, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; and Holst’s The Planets, which has inspired sci-fi movie music for generations. There will be three performances through Saturday at Meyerson Symphony Center.

Ben Platt in concert
Actor/singer Ben Platt is a true dual threat, having earned his bona fides in both disciplines starring in Broadway productions like The Book of Mormon and Dear Evan Hansen. He's also made his mark in movies like the Pitch Perfect series and on TV in Netflix's The Politician. But his focus in recent years has been on his burgeoning singing career, which includes two albums, including 2021's Reverie. He'll perform at Texas Trust CU Theatre at Grand Prairie.

Friday, September 16

Alice In Chains and Breaking Benjamin in concert
It will be rock music central at Dos Equis Pavilion on Friday night as iconic American rock bands Alice In Chains and Breaking Benjamin come together for the first time for a co-headlining tour, with special guest Bush thrown in to boot. Alice In Chains will be playing songs from classic albums like Dirt and Facelift, as well as fan favorites from their more recent releases. Breaking Benjamin is touring in support of their most recent work, 2020's Aurora, comprised of reimagined versions from their catalog.

Kathleen Madigan: Do You Have Any Ranch?
Comedian Kathleen Madigan's career is showing no signs of slowing down, as she tours 250 nights a year, rising from comedy clubs to marquee theaters with sold out shows. She's appeared on Jerry Seinfeld's Netflix show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and made the most of the pandemic by launching a podcast, Madigan's Pubcast. She'll perform at Majestic Theatre.

Texas Ballet Theater presents Cirque du Ballet
Texas Ballet Theater presents Cirque du Ballet, a world premiere featuring an array of characters and choreography under the big top. Audiences will see favorite moments from ballets like Cinderella, Dracula, Swan Lake, and more. There will be five performances through Sunday at Winspear Opera House. If you can't make these shows, it will also be at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, September 30-October 2.

Michael Bublé in concert
When you have a voice like crooner Michael Bublé, you can essentially have a limitless career. Despite specializing in a type of music that's more 1950s than 2020s, Bublé has succeeded thanks to his charm, good looks, and a singing style that few others can imitate. He hasn't had a single album land outside of the top 10 on the Billboard 200, including the recently-released Higher. He'll perform at American Airlines Center.

Saturday, September 17

Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents "Gershwin’s Magic Key"
As part of their Family Series, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will present "Gershwin's Magic Key," featuring more than 20 of George Gershwin’s most popular compositions, from classics like Porgy & Bess, American in Paris, Cuban Overture, and Rhapsody in Blue to popular hits from the American Songbook, including "I Got Rhythm," "Stairway to Paradise," "Someone to Watch Over Me," and "Fascinating Rhythm." The late-morning performance will be at Bass Performance Hall.

AT&T Performing Arts Center presents Latinidad Festival
AT&T Performing Arts Center will kick off Hispanic Heritage month with the inaugural Latinidad Festival. The event features a pop-up market, authentic cuisine of Latin America, a chance to connect with local organizations that provide important services and raise awareness for the Latinx community, cultural arts and craft activities, and live music and dance performances. The event takes place at Annette Strauss Square.

Alan Jackson in concert
Country superstar Alan Jackson has released 18 albums in his career, including 2021's Where Have You Gone. At this concert at American Airlines Center, fans will hear the enduring hits such as his debut single “Here in The Real World," signature songs “Chattahoochee,” “Drive,” and “Gone Country,” party anthems “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and “Good Time,” and more.

Sammy Hagar & The Circle in concert
More rock royalty will be at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving when Sammy Hagar & The Circle take the stage. A supergroup comprised of Hagar, who used to front Van Halen, original Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, drummer Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham), and guitarist Vic Johnson, the band has released three albums, including the new Crazy Times. As if that's not enough, George Thorogood ("Bad to the Bone") will be the special guest.

Sunday, September 18

Art openings and closings
It's a big day of comings and going for art exhibitions in Dallas. Closing will be Immersive Monet & The Impressionists at Lighthouse Dallas, an exploration of vibrant colors that features everything from Monet’s celebrated water lilies to Degas’ graceful dancers and more; "Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity" at the Dallas Museum of Art, a major exhibition that traces the inspirations from and adaptations of Islamic art and design by Louis Cartier and the designers of the great French jewelry Maison for the creation of jewelry and objects from the early 20th century to the present day; and "Lynda Benglis" at Nasher Sculpture Center, which highlights three bodies of work by Benglis in media as diverse as traditional bronze and decorative glitter. Opening will be "Movement: The Legacy of Kineticism" at the Dallas Museum of Art, which features 80 works drawn from the Museum’s collection that showcase the work of artists from three historical eras who utilize optical effects or mechanical or manipulable parts to engage the viewer physically or perceptually.

Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert
The Red Hot Chili Peppers rose to fame in the early 1990s, but unlike other acts, they haven't stayed tied to that decade. All of their albums have landed in the top 5 on the Billboard 200, with their latest — Unlimited Love, released in April — coming in at No. 1 in multiple countries. And they have another album, Return of the Dream Canteen, due next month. They'll play at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

Michael Bublé will perform at American Airlines Center on September 16.

Photo courtesy of Reprise Records
Michael Bublé will perform at American Airlines Center on September 16.

Texas tourist hot spot unearths astounding $104 million in visitor spending, says report

Mission possible

Back in the 1700s, no one could have imagined that a handful of Central Texas missions would someday be a massive economic force.

A new report from the National Park Service shows visitors to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park spent $104 million in the park’s vicinity last year. That’s the first time the yearly spending figure has exceeded $100 million.

Even more impressive: San Antonio Missions accounts for than more than one-fourth of the estimated $371 million in spending last year at the state’s 14 national parks. That makes the San Antonio site the biggest money producer among the 14 parks.

Overall, the $104 million in spending by last year’s 1.3 million visitors to San Antonio Missions generated an economic impact of $165 million, the National Park Service says.

Statewide, national parks attracted 5.9 million visitors in 2021 and triggered an economic impact of $579 million.

The 475-acre San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas, comprises four of San Antonio’s five Spanish Colonial missions. The fifth mission is the state-run Alamo. Congress established the national park in 1978.

San Antonio’s five missions date back to the 1700s.

Around the U.S. last year, 297 million visitors spent $20.5 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park, generating an economic impact of $42.5 billion.

“Nature is essential to the health, well-being, and prosperity of every family and community in America, as well as to the local economies of gateway communities that support our national parks,” says Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, whose agency oversees the national parks.

“As we continue to welcome families to our parks and public lands across the country,” Haaland adds, “the Interior Department is committed to making investments in our lands and waters that will support tens of thousands of jobs, safeguard the environment, and help ensure that national parks and public lands are ready to meet the challenges of climate change and increased visitation.”

Photo by Nieco Payton

Galveston Island State Park reopens for beachside fun after major makeover

Beachy getaway

A popular Galveston destination now boasts a whole new look, thanks to a highly anticipated major makeover. Galveston Island State Park reopened the beachside of the park on June 27 following an extensive renovation.

Beachgoers can look forward to a new park headquarters building, two new restrooms, new roads, 95 new campsites, two new changing areas and rinse-off showers, 20 new shade shelters in the day-use area, and a seasonal equestrian day-use area, according to a press release.

Hikers can enjoy more than five miles of hiking trails, a newly remodeled nature center on the bayside, two observation towers, two boardwalks, three kayak launch locations on the bayside, a new vendor area, and three new group-use pavilions on the beachside.

Park reservations may now be made online at the TPWD website or by calling the Texas State Park Reservation Center at 512-389-8900. Visitors can make overnight reservations up to five months in advance; day passes can be reserved up to 30 days in advance.

Dubbed the Galveston Island State Park Beach Redevelopment project, this redevelopment comes via $10.6 million in Deepwater Horizon Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) Phase III Early Restoration funds from the Texas Trustees. The Texas Trustees is made up of organizations including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas General Land Office, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The project broke ground in summer 2018.

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is very excited to be able to reopen such a popular park on the Texas coast,” said Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks, in a statement. “I am extremely thankful for the hard work of our state parks team, TPWD partner divisions, numerous volunteers, as well as our partnership with the NRDA Trustees Implementation Group. The commitment and dedication of countless individuals and stakeholders made this redevelopment project a reality. Thanks to our ability to leverage grant funds along with sporting goods sales tax, the people of Texas will benefit from this enhanced outdoor opportunity for years to come.”

Galveston State Park has a whole new look.

Photo by Nieco Payton
Galveston State Park has a whole new look.
Photo courtesy of Better Block Foundation

Trailblazing MLK Food Park will set up shop at Dallas' Fair Park

Park News

A trail-blazing Dallas food park that debuted in April returns for another round, this time in a new location: The MLK Food Park returns to the South Dallas area at its new location in Fair Park, where it will be set up on select Sundays this summer, starting June 26.

The MLK Food Park features local food and beverage trucks serving non-vegan and vegan food, handmade and crafted goods, dessert trucks, live music and entertainment, kid-friendly games and activities, and informational booths from local community organizers.

The MLK Food Park began as a collaborative effort between Better Block and DRBTS (Do Right by The Streets) in hopes of bringing South Dallas residents together to gather, fellowship, and nourish their bodies while supporting local black-owned food trucks and vendors.

The first one took place in April, with a goal of transforming a vacant lot into a gathering space with public art, greenspace, flowerbeds, and children’s play area, and to create an incubator-like setting highlighting local entrepreneurs and southern Dallas food artisans, food truck, and trailer purveyors.

DRBTS, an urban planning and place creation design group that puts communities of color first, and Better Block partnered with Fair Park First to make use of green space within Fair Park.

"We were presented with an opportunity to utilize space inside Fair Park with more green space, accessibility to needed infrastructure sources such as utilities, and the opportunity to operate in a semi-permanent space," says DRBTS' executive director Desiree Powell. "This is a foundational step towards creating a permanent space for the MLK Food Park and expanding the vision to offer a safe space in South Dallas."

With the new Community Park coming to Fair Park in 2024, the MLK Food Park provides another placemaking opportunity that supports South Dallas businesses and creates new connections with the community, says Alyssa Arnold, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Fair Park First.

The MLK Food Park at Fair Park will take place across the Leonhardt Lagoon throughout the summer starting Sunday, June 26. The following dates will include July 10, July 24, and July 31 from 11 am – 4 pm. The event is free and open to the public.

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Stunning Latin restaurant El Carlos Elegante makes Dallas Design District debut

Opening News

The latest super-chic restaurant from Dallas-based Duro Hospitality has arrived. Called El Carlos Elegante, it's their Mexican-inspired restaurant in the Dallas Design District, at 1400 N. Rivertfront Blvd., just a taco fling from its sibling restaurant The Charles.

According to a press release, El Carlos aims to capture the essence of Latin culture, in food, cocktails, and interior design.

Diners can expect large cuts of Argentinian-style wood-fired meats and fish, crudo, house-made tortillas, traditional masa-based dishes, seasonal craft cocktails, and a standout Mezcal program, including no-additive natural Mezcals for true enthusiasts, as well as a global list of wines and champagnes.

Menu highlights include:

  • Surf & Turf One-Hitter: A5 Wagyu, Ostera Caviar, Crispy Shell
  • Beef Aguachile: Charred Onion, Soy, Fresno
  • Mole Negro Masa: Ricotta Tamale
  • Chorizo Molotes: Refried Beans, Salsa Roja
  • Mayan Hummus: Sikil Pak, Baby Carrots, Pepitas
  • Pork al Pastor: Pork Blade Chop, Pineapple, Adobo
  • Osso Bucco Carnitas: Veal Shank, Costeño Rojo
  • Whole Fish: Mint Mojo, Fennel, Herbs

Duro Hospitality Group has become one of the hottest entities in Dallas restaurants right now, with a portfolio that includes The Charles, Bar Charles, Sister, Café Duro, and Casa Duro.

Duro's Benji Homsey says in a statement that on this one, they "colored outside of the lines."

"Each one of our concepts possesses unique personalities, and El Carlos represents a new character in our portfolio, whose story is told throughout the design of the space as well as represented on the menu," Homsey says. "The entire experience at El Carlos is unlike any other in Dallas, and we hope everyone loves it just as much as we do."

El Carlos Elegante The space is designed to feel multi-generational and cozy.El Carlos Elegante

Rendered by Corbin and Ross See of Sees Design, the inspiration for the restaurant's design came from the idea of a Mexican hacienda handed down through multiple generations. Decorative elements include midcentury modern pieces, unexpected color combinations, eclectic textiles, and furniture sourced almost exclusively from Mexico.

A front courtyard contains an oversized fireplace and retractable roof, while the interior features a second fireplace, plus colorful custom wallpapers, ironwork, and a tableau of El Carlos "Family Portraits."

A private dining room houses a custom Pierre Frey mural and opens to the back courtyard, which also includes a retractable roof.

Ross See says they started with four walls and built from there: front and back courtyards, fireplaces, and fountains. Corbin See says their vision was similar to Sister in some regards.

"We wanted it to feel multigenerational and cozy," Corbin says. "The space has a residential feel, and we aimed for the pieces to feel collected and added over time. The dishes, for example, aren’t all matching. It’s an eclectic mix so it feels replaced over time."

Check it out at dinner: El Carlos is open Sunday-Thursday from 5-10 pm and Friday–Saturday from 5-11 pm.

These are the 10 best food & drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

Tacos and margaritas come with a motorcoach-led Christmas light tour this week, but tickets are going fast. Also on the menu is a whiskey pairing dinner, release of a popular bourbon barrel-aged beer, the launch of holiday afternoon tea service at a five-star hotel, and one of those silly but festive Christmas-themed bar crawls. But don’t sleep on the mezcal pairing dinner happening Monday.

Monday, November 28

Meet and Greet with Pastry Chef Molly Wilkinson at Bisous Bisous Pâtisserie
Mentioned on NBC Today as "Instagram's answer to Julia Child," Molly Wilkinson is a Dallas native and pastry chef currently based in Versailles who's been published in the Wall Street Journal and other media. She was one of the very first employees at Bisous Bisous, the award-winning bakery known for its macarons, cruffins, croissants, tarts, eclairs, and custom cakes. Wilkinson will be selling and signing her 2021 cookbook, called French Pastry Made Simple, from 5-7 pm.

The Pinky Cole Experience: Eat Plants B*tch Tour at Echo Lounge
Aisha "Pinky" Cole is the celebrated owner and operator of Slutty Vegan, a plant-based burger restaurant chain based in Atlanta, with a big following among non-vegans as well as vegans. She's launched an extremely limited five-city tour in celebration of her first cookbook, called Eat Plants, B*tch, which includes a stop at Echo Lounge (owned by the very vegan-friendly Mark Cuban). The show includes celebrity moderators, DJs, chefs, and Slutty Vegan food trucks. Tickets are $70. Doors are at 6 pm and the all-ages show begins at 7 pm.

Tuesday, November 29

Central Market Feast of Sharing at Fair Park
Central Market/H-E-B brings back its annual Feast of Sharing after a two-year hiatus. This free holiday celebration typically serves 10-15,000 residents with a traditional holiday meal paired alongside a celebration with live music, kids' zone, and Santa & Mrs. Claus. The event takes place in the Automobile Building at Fair Park, at 1010 1st. Ave. It runs from 3-7 pm and is open to all.

WhistlePig Pairing Dinner at Whiskey Cake Plano
Indulge in blue cheese fondue with tortellini, cream of mushroom soup with crispy pancetta, pot roast with gristmill polenta, and more during this five-course whiskey pairing dinner featuring WhistlePig whiskey. Save room for bacon cannoli with butter pecan filling. Dinner is $100, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 7 pm.

Friday, December 2

Lakewood Brewing Co. Bourbon Barrel-Aged Temptress X Release Party
Lakewood Brewing will release the 2022 edition of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Temptress during an exclusive VIP Party. The brew is the 10th iteration of Lakewood’s annual barreling project. Tickets are $65 and include an eight-beer sample card, box of the brew, limited-edition glass and knit beanie, and private brewery access with samples of past editions. There’ll also be live music, and the event begins at 6 pm.

Tacos, Margarita, and Christmas Lights Tour
See the radiant Christmas lights of Park Cities and other posh Dallas neighborhoods during this motorcoach tour that starts with tacos and a marg. Guests will get a taco dinner and margarita at Desperados Mexican Restaurant then board the bus to a secret dessert stop before embarking on the light tour. Tickets are $86 and the event will run from 6:30-10 pm.

Saturday, December 3

Holiday Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas
The Las Colinas hotel and golf resort will begin its weekend holiday tea service starting Saturday. Guests can enjoy fine hot teas paired with sweet and savory bites at the hotel restaurant LAW while overlooking the resort pool and manicured grounds. Reservations are $50, plus tax and gratuity, and tea service will run on Saturdays and Sundays through December 18, and on Thursday and Friday, December 22-23. Also, Santa will make appearances during breakfast on Saturdays through December 17 and Sunday, December 11 from 8-11 am.

Fifth Annual 12 Bars of Christmas Crawl
Holiday onsies, Santa suits, ugly sweaters, and elf costumes are encouraged for this Christmas-themed bar crawl, which will guide participants to Dallas bars for drink specials and holiday cheer. The $18 ticket ($16 each for a group of four or more) includes a color-changing Santa stadium cup, Christmas light necklace for the first 50 at registration, Santa hat while supplies last, and a wristband good for free entry and drink specials at participating bars. Start at Playground Uptown – registration is from 12-2 pm and all specials run through 8 pm.

Monday, December 5

Del Maguey Mezcal Dinner at Te Deseo
The downtown Dallas Mexican restaurant will showcase mezcal during this prix-fixe dinner from chef Ryan York. Dinner will be paired with Del Maguey mezcal cocktails. Dinner is $140 and will run from 6-9 pm.

Repeal Day Prohibition Party at Bourbon & Banter
The Statler’s underground speakeasy celebrates the day the 21st Amendment was ratified – December 5, 1933 – with a big party. Guests are encouraged to don flapper garb and zoot suits to enjoy traditional Prohibition-era cocktails (Pisco Sours, Harvey Wallbangers, Sidecars) for $10 all night, plus Osadia Tequila specials from 7-9 pm. The party starts at 4 pm; reserve here.

Restaurant proud of its wood-fired grill debuts in McKinney's buzzy Hub 121

Patio News

There's a new restaurant opening at Hub 121, the buzzy development in McKinney at the intersection of Alma Drive and SH121: Called Fork and Fire, it's a restaurant boasting a wood-fired grill from chef Jason Graman, and according to a release, it opened in mid-November at 7540 TX-121 #150.

This is actually the second location. The first opened in Plano on The Boardwalk in Granite Park, originally under the name B. Frank & Relish before rebranding to Fork and Fire in 2019.

The new location in McKinney is bigger than the popular Plano original, with more space for intimate dining, an expanded bar area, lots of natural light, and a patio that overlooks Hub 121’s amphitheater.

“We looked at all the best parts of our original location and bumped them up a notch,” said owner Jason Graman. “It’s an elevated dining experience, which is why we’re excited to be part of the exploding new scene at Hub 121.”

The building blocks of the menu include an Argentine-style woodfired grill, with bread they bake in-house daily and use of locally grown produce.

Other building blocks mentioned in the release are all about animal products as follows:

  • Akaushi beef, Wagyu cattle and raised in Texas
  • Faroe Island salmon. Situated north of Scotland in the Northeast Atlantic, this is obviously not locally grown.
  • House-made pastrami. AKA Jason’s “8145 Pastrami” featuring brisket that's brined, seasoned, smoked, and steamed.

The bar specializes in bourbon, whiskey, and tequila, with more than 50 varieties of tequila, 24 wines on tap, and 23 beers on tap.

Graman is a native of Brooklyn who has been in the restaurant business for more than 28 years, both in Dallas and previously in Los Angeles.