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Photo courtesy of Sabal

Editor's note: What was Dallas reading in 2022? We are so glad you asked. News of specially designed swimwear was a perfect fit for readers, and not just during bathing suit season. Lists of best Christmas lights and top State Fair discounts came in handy. A Deep Ellum Tex-Mex restaurant closed, and doors to a Fixer Upper castle in Waco opened. Here's a look back at the 10 most-read CultureMap stories from the year. By the way, you can also look back at the topdining, arts & entertainment, travel, society, and real estate stories; most memorable theater experiences; and best and worstmovies in their own lists, too.

1. Dallas designer launches uplifting swimwear for women with itty bitty fit issue. Highland Park native and TCU grad Hartley Lynn launched SABAL, a new brand of swimwear for women with smaller chests, on August 22. Designed for AA to C cups, SABAL swimsuits are specially designed to retain their shape and feel in and out of the water. Before starting SABAL, Lynn considered “going under the knife” for enhancement, she says, but she decided she didn’t want to alter her natural body. She simply wanted swimsuits that would make her feel good about herself.

2. Dallas' most VIP couple leads all-star gala for Perot Museum 10th anniversary. The 10th anniversary of a Dallas landmark deserves a star-studded party and a few fireworks, too — and that's exactly what the Perot Museum of Nature and Science did to celebrate its milestone birthday. Dallas' most VIP couple led the festivities. Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki co-chaired the 10th anniversary Night at the Museum Gala on Saturday, November 12.

3. Where to see the most spectacular Christmas lights dazzling Dallas-Fort Worth in 2022. In early November, it already time for Dallas-Fort Worth to light up, merry and bright, for the 2022 holidays — from towering trees that twinkle and shine to dazzling drive-thru displays and immersive walk-thru experiences. This was our guide to the biggest, brightest, most spectacular Christmas light displays in the area (many of which are on through at least New Year's Eve). We also broke out the top homes and neighborhoods for lights in a separate list.

4. Affluent Dallas suburb makes bank as richest Texas county, report says. Based on its geographic size, Rockwall County is the smallest county in Texas, at just 149 square miles. But don’t let its size fool you when it comes to wealth. Rockwall County also is the richest county in the state. In May, data analysis website Stacker compiled a list of the wealthiest counties in Texas based on median household income, and Rockwall County came out on top at $100,920.

5. Surprising place northeast of Dallas could be ‘the next Austin,’ says Bloomberg. For years, cities around the country have competed for the banner of “the next Austin.” In hopes of replicating Austin’s astounding success as a much-admired economic hub, fans have touted their cities as the next incarnation of Austin. Bloomberg Opinion columnist Conor Sen made the case for the mountainous Northwest Arkansas region to be the Austin-in-waiting.

6. How to get every possible discount at the 2022 State Fair of Texas. The 2022 edition of the State Fair of Texas started its 24-day run at Fair Park on September 30, with music, games, and food. But first, we were here for discounts. There were a multitude of discount ticket options deals being offered by the State Fair and other entities, meaning there's no reason you ever had to pay full price.

7. Texas will host CMT Music Awards for the first time ever in 2023. Big news for country music fans: During Carrie Underwood's sold-out show in Austin on November 2, CMT Music Awards co-host Kelsea Ballerini came on stage to announce that the CMT Music Awards will come to the city's new Moody Center in 2023. Airing Sunday, April 2, 2023, the fan-voted awards ceremony will be hosted in Texas for the first time ever.

8. 7 spectacular surprises inside Chip and Joanna Gaines' new Fixer Upper castle in Waco. For the first time ever, Texas’ king and queen of renovation, Chip and Joanna Gaines, unlocked the doors and let the public into one of their famed fixer-uppers before it was featured on their Magnolia Network show. We went to Waco for a tour and discovered seven surprises behind the castle walls.

9. Longtime Mexican restaurant in Deep Ellum closes, breastaurant on the way. A longtime Mexican restaurant in Deep Ellum closed in late November: Maracas Cocina Mexicana, which had been in business at 2914 Main St. in one form or another since 1992, closed on November 25, to be replaced with another concept whose identity was still to be (officially) announced.

10. Bachelor favorite marries billionaire's son in lavish Dallas wedding. A Bachelor runner-up in 2020 won her happily ever after two years later in Dallas: Madison Prewett married Dallas native Grant Troutt in a glamorous, reality TV star-studded celebration at his folks' estate on Saturday, October 29.

Sabal swimwear
Photo courtesy of Sabal

SABAL launched with two bikini top styles and two bottom piece styles, plus one style of one-pieces.

Chimichurri

State Fair of Texas adds serious gourmet treats from Dallas restaurants

State Fair News

The 2022 State Fair of Texas is about to commence, with opening day on September 30, and discounts galore.

On the foodie front, for the first time, they've added seven new food stands from some notable Dallas restaurants.

These are above and beyond the usual concessionaires, and also have nothing to do with the Big Tex awards (which this year include a Fried Charcuterie Board and a sweet called Peanut Butter Paradise).

No, these are serious gourmet goodies that range from irresistible empanadas to gourmet soft-serve ice cream to Neapolitan pizza topped with BBQ.

These are the seven brand-new vendors joining the lineup at the 2022 State Fair of Texas:

Empanadas and fries from Chimichurri & Milagro Taco Cantina
Award-winning chef Jesus Carmona’s new stand will be serving dishes from his two Dallas restaurants, Chimichurri and Milagro Taco Cantina. He'll be doing two types of empanadas, plus a campeona taco, a burrito Texano, and mole fries, drizzled with mole sauce, crema fresca, and cotija cheese. Carmona was nominated for Rising Star Chef in CultureMap’s 2018 Tastemaker Awards and appeared on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri.

Candy pickles from Di-Licious Candies Pickles Factory
Known as the “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” of pickles, the family-owned and -operated Di-Licious Candies Pickles Factory is the “first original candy pickle factory in the entire world” and has more than 250 flavors of candy pickles. Featured dishes include their signature chamoy candy pickle along with candy pickles in a cup, Rainbow Brite candy pickle sundae, and cotton candy pickle roll crunch.

Pumpkin spice cheesecake on a stick from Drizzle Cheesecakes
Olympic athlete Stephen El Gidi and his partner Walid founded Drizzle Cheesecakes in 2018. Their business has made appearances across North America from southwestern Ontario to our neighbors at Six Flags Over Texas’ Holiday in the Park. Drizzle’s New York-style cheesecake on a stick is dipped in magic-shell Belgian chocolate and rolled in a variety of toppings including crushed Oreos, red velvet cake, strawberry crumble, and more. Their stand will feature specialty flavors developed just for the State Fair of Texas including pumpkin spice cheesecake.

Loaded queso fries by Enjoy Foods
Founded in 2012, Enjoy Foods started out as a gourmet kitchen store in Rockwall from owners Dwaina Morris and her husband They'll be serving loaded queso fries, loaded queso nachos, fried chicken tacos, root beer floats, brownie sundaes, daiquiris, and fried jalapeños. One extra-unique item is their adult-infused jumbo Texas pickle infused with daiquiri mix.

Gourmet soft-serve ice cream by Once Upon a Cone
Once Upon a Cone has been soft-serving delicious ice cream treats all over Texas for the past 12 years. They do premium vanilla, chocolate, and swirled soft-serve ice cream along with specialty sundaes, shakes, floats, and malts. Their dipped cones are available in chocolate, cherry, butterscotch, and birthday cake flavors.

Nashville hot chicken by Palmer’s Hot Chicken Dallas
The Nashville Hot Chicken restaurant concept from Dallas native Palmer Fortune and his partner and chef Mills Garwood will serve the Motherclucker sandwich, a fried chicken sandwich with pimento cheese and pickles; jumbo tenders; banana pudding; and tots, plain or smothered in pimento cheese queso). Plus their Frosé wine slushy made with pureed strawberries, hibiscus, and lime.

Neapolitan-style burnt ends pizza by Texapolitan Pizza
Stephan Nedwetzky of Pit Commander Barbecue is using barbecue as the topping on his favorite type of pizza, Neapolitan. Each pizza is made from 00 flour imported from Italy and needs only 90 seconds in the 900-1,000-degree stone oven to reach thin, crispy perfection. Four personal-sized pizza pies will include margherita, pepperoni, cheese, and smoked pork belly burnt ends. That one consists of red sauce, mozzarella, smoked pork belly burnt ends, jalapeños, cotija cheese, and Pit Commander Barbecue Sweet Heat BBQ sauce.

Photo courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

These are the 15 best things to do in Dallas this weekend

WEEKEND EVENT PLANNER

It's a huge weekend around Dallas, starting with the return of the biggest event of the year, the State Fair of Texas. Joining that extravaganza will be seven concerts featuring well-known singers and bands, a couple of local theater productions, an arts festival, 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 29

Diana Krall in concert
Canadian pianist and jazz singer Diana Krall has managed to have a type of crossover appeal that not many in her chosen genre have experienced. Breaking out with 2001's The Look of Love, the majority of her albums have reached the top 10 or higher on the Billboard 200, and through the years she's worked with everyone from Ray Charles to Tony Bennett to Willie Nelson. She'll play at Texas Trust CU Theatre at Grand Prairie.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents Don Quixote
The latest concert from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra centers on Strauss’ Don Quixote, with cellist Jan Vogler playing the central role of Cervantes’s beloved Don. Other instruments represent various characters throughout, including the brass taking a turn as a herd of sheep. The concert, taking place at Meyerson Symphony Center on Thursday and Sunday only, will also include Tchaikovsky's emotionally charged Fifth Symphony.

Friday, September 30

State Fair of Texas
The 24-day, four-weekend extravaganza that is the State Fair of Texas is back. The great thing about the fair is its predictable greatness, from the butter sculptures to the nightly fireworks to the oodles of fried food. There will also be a number of concerts featuring big-name musicians, including Trace Adkins, Ashanti, Lucinda Williams, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, and more. The fair takes place at Fair Park through October 23. Here are all the discounts and here are the fried foods to check out.

Cara Mia Theatre presents Latinidades Theatre Fest: On the Eve of Abolition
A multimedia performance, On the Eve of Abolition is set in the year 2047 in the transnational liberated territories of what used to be known as the U.S. and Mexico, after a movement of abolitionists have created the conditions to end the prison-industrial complex. Papel Machete’s play, part of Cara Mia's Latinidades festival, is a work-in-progress production. There will be three performances through Sunday at Latino Cultural Center.

TITAS/Dance Unbound presents Gibney Company
Gina Gibney is a powerhouse in the New York dance scene with a dance center critical to the dance world. Gibney Company is a commission-based repertory company that has emerged in the touring world with an extraordinary company of dancers with a roster of world-famous choreographers making new works for the company Gibney Company will make their Texas debut with performances on Friday and Saturday at Moody Performance Hall.

Theatre Arlington presentsThe Cake
Della makes cakes, not judgment calls - those she leaves to her husband, Tim. But when the girl she helped raise comes back home to North Carolina to get married, and the fiancé is actually a fiancée, Della’s life gets turned upside down. She can’t really make a cake for such a wedding, can she? For the first time in her life, Della has to think for herself. The Cake will play at Theatre Arlington through October 16.

Weird Al Yankovic in concert with Emo Phillips
Comedy musicians are supposed to be flashes in the pan, giving people a chuckle with their novelty songs and then fading into pop culture history. They are not supposed to have 40-year careers like Weird Al Yankovic, who has been so beloved by fans and artists alike that he scored his first No. 1 album in 2014 with Mandatory Fun. He'll play at Majestic Theatre as part of The Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, with Emo Phillips as the opening act.

Elton John in concert
The "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" tour for Elton John has wound up being a lot longer than he intended. Starting way back in 2018, the tour was originally supposed to wrap up in 2021. But the pandemic took most of 2020 and all of 2021 off the board, and now the tour will last through at least July 2023. This concert at Globe Life Park in Arlington will be John's fifth appearance in Dallas-Fort Worth on the tour after four previous concerts at American Airlines Center.

Saturday, October 1

Cottonwood Art Festival
Cottonwood Art Festival is a semi-annual event that features works from the nation's top visual artists. Jurors select over 240 artists to exhibit their museum-quality work, with the artists competing in 14 categories. The festival, taking place on Saturday and Sunday at Cottonwood Park in Richardson, also features a variety of local bands.

Leanne Morgan: The Big Panty Tour
Leanne Morgan’s style of comedy combines her southern charm and hilarious storytelling about her own life. As a stay-at-home, mother of three with a husband, people are always accusing her of spying on them because she seems to be living the same life that they do. The fact that everyone can relate to her comedy has made her a hit even among the strangest of audiences. She'll perform three times on Saturday and Sunday at Majestic Theatre

Gorillaz in concert
The band Gorillaz has had one of the strangest careers in the history of music, as they've been very successful with few people actually seeing their faces. That's because all of their videos, including ones for hits like "Clint Eastwood" and "Feel Good Inc.," have featured animated figures standing in for the members of the band. It's always a question of what fans will see on stage when they perform live, but you can find out when they play at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving.

The Beach Boys in concert
Few bands are more synonymous with the 1960s than The Beach Boys. Sunny pop songs like "Barbara Ann" and "Surfin' USA" hid the fact that they could get pretty deep with their music, as evidenced by the now-legendary album Pet Sounds. Due to age and other factors, the touring version of the band only features one original member, Mike Love, but that inimitable Beach Boys feeling will be in the air when they play at Texas Trust CU Theatre at Grand Prairie.

Sunday, October 2

Nasher Sculpture Center presents "Nasher Public: Celia Eberle" closing day

Sunday will be the final day to view Celia Eberle’s Nasher Public installation at Nasher Sculpture Center, which addresses issues of power, propaganda, and the threat of manipulation through her installation of Waiting for Robot (2022), a giant robotic hand puppeteering a number of tiny dancing sculptures to a soundtrack of original techno music. Evoking cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and classic children’s puppet shows, Eberle’s installation questions who is pulling the strings on our perceived reality.

Smashing Pumpkins in concert with Jane's Addiction
Alt-rock band The Smashing Pumpkins were at their peak in the mid-'90s when they were releasing songs like "Today," "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," and "1979." Through the years, with lead singer Billy Corgan at the helm, they've shown a tendency to take risks other bands don't, with mixed success. Their latest gamble will be Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Acts, which will be released gradually over the course of six months starting in November. They'll play at American Airlines Center with support from Jane's Addiction.

The Flaming Lips in concert
There's no show quite like a Flaming Lips show. The famously flamboyant Oklahoma group goes all out, no matter the venue, bringing a glitz and glamour to their performances that often overshadows the music itself. They'll bring their unique energy to South Side Ballroom, a relatively intimate venue that will likely allow them to involve the audience in the show to a great degree.

Big Tex and State Fair of Texas at sunset
Photo courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas starts its 24-day run at Fair Park on September 30.

Photo courtesy of Fletcher's

Fletcher's Original Corny Dogs to operate food truck in downtown Dallas

State Fair News

State Fair of Texas classic Fletcher's Original Corny Dogs will be selling its corny dogs in downtown Dallas on a regular basis.

According to a release, they'll set up a food truck at Klyde Warren Park (KWP) later this fall.

The park is known for hosting food trucks regularly on the downtown side of the park in Food Truck Lane. But Fletcher's won't be with those food trucks. Fletcher's will get its own berth opposite Food Truck Lane, in a special location on the East Lawn, by a soon-to-be-revealed new fountain called the Nancy Best Fountain.

They're calling it a "permanent" installation, but it's still a food truck with wheels and such, so theoretically it could drive away any time it liked.

Fletcher's is designing a new truck for this, but in the interim will make appearances at KWP events with one of their two mobile trailers, which they use for events outside of the State Fair of Texas.

At the park, they'll serve all six varieties of Corny Dogs, plus seasoned curly fries and lemonade.

Fletcher's CEO Aaron Fletcher says in a statement that they've been searching for a partnership exactly like this.

"What better place than our hometown of Dallas and what better place than beautiful Klyde Warren Park?" he says.

As a preview, Fletcher's will be at Klyde Warren Park on Friday August 26 from 11 am-7 pm.

State Fair of Texas

State Fair of Texas reveals winners in 2022 Big Tex fried food awards

State Fair News

The 2022 batch of fried foods has arrived: The State Fair of Texas has chosen the finalists for its annual Big Tex Choice Awards, with 10 state fair vendors who will compete for acclaim with their various kooky concoctions.

This year's competition drew 51 entries from 36 concessionaires. Entries are evaluated on uniqueness, creativity, presentation, and taste.

The finalists will participate in a competition on August 28 when a panel of judges gives three awards, for Best Taste – Savory, Best Taste – Sweet, and Most Creative.

UPDATE 8-28-2022: The winners are as follows:

  • Best Taste – Savory: Fried Charcuterie Board
  • Best Taste – Sweet: Peanut Butter Paradise
  • Most Creative: Cha-Cha Chata

The finalists are:

SAVORY

Chicharron Explosion Nachos, Glen & Sherri Kusak
Fried pork rinds with Cajun-style seasonings topped with beef fajita meat, queso, and BBQ chopped beef.

Deep Fried BLT, Tom Grace
A 12-inch rectangular tortilla filled with bacon and cheddar cheese is fried, then used as sandwich bread to hold lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Served with garlic parmesan potato chips.

Deep Fried Lasagna Roll, Parish Family
Lasagna made with ricotta, parmesan, provolone, mozzarella, and meat sauce is rolled, dipped in cheddar-herb batter, fried, then garnished with marinara, mozzarella, and basil. Served with zucchini fries.

Fried Charcuterie Board, Tami Nevins-Mayes & Josey Mayes
Mozzarella, salami, and green apple wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried, topped with goat cheese and hot honey.

Holy Biscuit, Isaac Rousso
Biscuit topped with brisket, street corn queso, bacon, honey, and fried pickles.

SWEET

Cha-Cha Chata, Garza Family
Horchata milkshake with caramel, cinnamon, whipped topping, crushed candy, cinnamon galletas de gragega, and fried arroz con leche bites.

Deep Fried Rocky Road with Blue Bell Ice Cream, Cody & Lauren Hays
Rocky Road fudge coated with batter and fried, drizzled with chocolate syrup, sweetened condensed milk, mini marshmallows, and cinnamon glazed nuts, served with a cup of Blue Bell Ice Cream vanilla ice cream.

La Bluebonnet, Milton & Grace Whitley
Citrus juice, blueberries, and sugary base poured over ice.

Peanut Butter Paradise, Chris Easter & Nicole Sternes
Honey bun injected with caramel, topped with peanut butter, Reese's Pieces, Crushed Butterfinger, peanut butter cups, and more caramel.

The Ultimate Brookie Monster, Juan & Brent Reaves
A "brookie" consisting of a brownie with chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, and marshmallows baked inside, then battered and fried. Served with vanilla ice cream, then topped with cheesecake crumbles and strawberry sauce.

The 2022 State Fair of Texas will open on Friday September 30 and run through Sunday October 23. Here's how to get every possible discount.

Courtesy photo

How to get every possible discount at the 2022 State Fair of Texas

Deals for Days

The 2022 edition of the State Fair of Texas starts its 24-day run at Fair Park on September 30, with music, games, and food.

But what we're here for is discounts.

There are a multitude of discount ticket options deals being offered by the State Fair and other entities, meaning there's no reason you should ever pay full price.

TICKET OPTIONS
General admission ticket prices are tiered depending on the day of the week you go:

  • Monday-Thursday: $15 for adults, $10 for kids 3-12 and seniors 60 and over
  • Friday: $20 for adults, $15 for kids 3-12 and seniors 60 and over
  • Saturday-Sunday: $25 for adults, $18 for kids 3-12 and seniors 60 and over

Visitors must choose which specific date they want to attend, and tickets are good only for the date chosen and cannot be used on another day. Be careful with purchases; tickets are not eligible for reschedule, refund, or transfer.

General admission tickets go on sale September 12, and can be purchased online or at the gate.

Premium tickets are $24 and allow you to come on any day. Two-pack and four-pack combos for premium tickets with food and ride coupons are also available. As a bonus, CultureMap is giving you $15 off a ticket & coupon two-pack when you use the promo code 22mapCOMBO.

Premium tickets go on sale August 1, and are available online only.

DISCOUNTS
Below are the many ways we've found for you to save money on tickets to State Fair of Texas.

The season pass
If you plan on going to the fair more than two times, individual season passes are the only way to go. Prices are $50 at BigTex.com and include one single-day, Bring-a-Friend ticket; a State Fair reusable bag; a 10 percent off coupon for State Fair merchandise; and more. The upfront cost, which can be done in advance or at the gate, pays for itself on the third visit.

If you want to buy food/ride tickets without waiting in line once you get there, you can also buy the $150 Season Pass 2-Pack Combo, which includes two season passes and 50 food/ride tickets (worth $50). As a bonus, CultureMap is giving you $30 off the combo when you use the promo code 22mapPASS.

Food/ride tickets remain at $1 per coupon. As always, if you have old coupons, don't worry; all coupons, even ones from the bygone 50-cent price, will be honored.

Go after 5 pm
If you can wait until after 5 pm to head out to the fair, you can save a good chunk of change as everyone pays child’s prices once the clock strikes five. The deal is good any day of the fair. No promo codes are needed — the discount is automatically applied at the gate and online.

Opening day deals
The half-price deal on opening day continues: Anyone who brings two jars of peanut butter to donate to the North Texas Food Bank will receive $10 admission at the gate.

Military/First Responders Appreciation
All active military, retired military, and veterans, as well as active and retired public law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency services agencies, can save $5 off on weekdays (Monday-Friday) and $7 off on weekends (Saturday-Sunday) when they present valid documentation of service at the gate or online. Spouses of service men and women with a valid Military Spouse ID and accompanying children under the age of 18 also receive discounted admission. First responders receive up to three discounted admission tickets for their family members.

McDonald's coupons
The next time you eat at Mickey D's, make sure to check your tray liner or bag for State Fair coupons. You'll find ones for $5 off on weekdays (Monday-Friday) and $7 off on weekends (Saturday-Sunday.) All coupons are only good for tickets purchased at the gate and cannot be combined with any other offer.

Dr Pepper Value Days
Visitors can purchase their admission ticket online for a reduced price of only $10 on Dr Pepper Value Days, every Tuesday and Thursday. Fairgoers must be a Big Tex Insider to receive the promotion code; you can sign up now at BigTex.com/Insider. (Or - psst - you can use the code 22Culture to get the same deal on Tuesdays only; general admission tickets go on sale on September 12.)

North Texas Food Bank Wednesdays
One of the best deals continues to be North Texas Food Bank Wednesdays. By bringing five canned food items, fairgoers will receive admission for only $5. All canned donations go to the North Texas Food Bank, which helps feed members of the community.

Senior steal
Guests age 60 and over had it made in the shade in past years, as they were able get a discount ticket every day. That deal is now gone, but they'll still have Senior Days every Thursday, when they can get in for just $5.

Thrifty Thursdays
Guests can save while snacking during Thrifty Thursdays, where participating food vendors offer one of their signature menu items at a reduced price, ranging from mini versions to regular-size items.

Fletcher's Corny Dog Fridays
In celebration of their 80th Anniversary, Fletcher's Original Corny Dogs will give away 80 Corny Dogs to the first 80 customers in line every Friday (starting Opening Day) throughout the run of the State Fair at all seven of Fletcher's locations. The Fletcher's stand in Big Tex Circle is their most visited stand, so for the best chance at a free corny dog, go to any of their other Fair locations.

Discounts on Midway rides
Designated as Thrilling Tuesdays, that day of the week is a great time to go to the fair. Not only can you get your $10 Dr Pepper (or CultureMap) ticket, you can save more inside, when most rides are offered at a reduced price.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

DFW's dismal ranking among best places to live leads this week's 5 most-read headlines

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. Dallas-Fort Worth no longer a top 100 place to live, declares U.S. News & World Report. Dallas-Fort Worth has fallen from grace in a closely watched annual report of the best places to live in the U.S. The Metroplex appears at a dismal No. 113 (out of 150) in U.S. News & World Report's Best Places to Live ranking for 2023-2024. Last year, DFW landed at No. 32; it was No. 37 in 2021. Here's (sort of) why it plummeted in the rankings.

2. Sliders restaurant from Detroit shimmies onto Dallas' Greenville Ave. A slider concept from the Great Lakes State is expanding to Texas, and that includes a high-profile location in Dallas: Called Savvy Sliders, it's a young fast-casual concept founded in Flint, Michigan, and it will open its first Dallas restaurant at 4818 Greenville Ave., in the space recently vacated by vegan chicken restaurant Project Pollo.

3. New lagoon-waterpark with lazy river dives into Dallas-Fort Worth. A long-awaited waterpark in Cedar Hill is debuting Memorial Day weekend with two of Texas' favorite splashy attractions: a lagoon and lazy river. The Lagoon at Virginia Weaver Park will open Saturday, May 27 after more than a year in development.

4. Happy Hippie Brewing to bring peace, love, and beer to new HQ in Richardson. A craft beer brewery is opening a splendid new facility in Richardson: Happy Hippie Brewing Company, a small brewery specializing in Belgian-style beers, is opening an an 11,000-square-foot brewery and taproom at 500 Lockwood Dr., in the Lockwood area within the city's evolving CORE District.

5. Asian restaurant Howard Wang's shutters location in Uptown Dallas. A Chinese restaurant in Uptown Dallas closed: Howard Wang's Uptown Grill, one in a family-owned chain, closed its location at 3223 Lemmon Ave. #103, with the final day of service on May 21. The restaurant had been at that location for 12 years.

21 North Texas museums offer free admission to military families this summer

Giving Back

Nearly two dozen Dallas-Fort Worth museums are honoring active duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20-September 4, 2023.

Established by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Blue Star Museums program annually provides military families free access to 2,000 museums nationwide throughout the summer. The program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

Free admission is extended to personnel currently serving in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard (including those in the Reserve), and all National Guardsman. Members of the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps are also included in the program.

Those who qualify can use their military ID to bring up to five family members - including relatives of those currently deployed. More information about qualifications can be found here.

There is no limit on the number of participating museums that qualifying families may visit. Admission for non-active military veterans, however, is not included.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the initiative was created to help "improve the quality of life for active duty military families" with a specific focus on children. The site states 2 million have had a parent deployed since 2001.

"Blue Star Museums was created to show support for military families who have faced multiple deployments and the challenges of reintegration," the organizers say. "This program offers these families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together."

In Dallas-Fort Worth, participating institutions include well-known art, science, and history museums, as well as smaller museums outside the city limits. Here's a look at all the museums in North Texas that are participating in the Blue Star Museums initiative this year.

In Dallas:

In Fort Worth:

In Garland:

In Irving:

In Mesquite:

In Cleburne:

In Krum:

In Sanger:

More information about Blue Star Museums and a full list of participants can be found on arts.gov.

These are the 7 best most intriguing hot dogs in Dallas right now

Hot Dog News

Editor's Note: In prior stories, CultureMap contributor Lila Levy has sussed out the top bagels in Dallas, and tried pretty much every lavender latte in town. Now she's ready to offer her take on that summertime classic: hot dogs.

Portillo's hot dogs
Portillo's
portillo's hot dogs

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Hot dogs are the quintessential summer food and an item that nearly everyone loves. They're simple, flavorful, easy to make at home, and affordable if you dine out.

Some cities like Chicago have a long-standing tradition with hot dogs, and while Dallas is not Windy-City-level quiet yet, we've seen an influx of some exciting new hot dog concepts come to town, joining a few locals who've been dishing out memorable hot dogs all along.

Here's the 7 most interesting hot dogs you can find in Dallas-Fort Worth:

Portillo’s in the Colony, Chicago-style hot dog, $4.50
Chicago-based fast casual brand known for its hot dogs and other favorite Chicago fare, has expanded to Texas, with its first restaurant in The Colony, which opened in January 2023. Chicago-style hot dogs are my favorite kind, and Portillo's does it right. Their basic hot dog comes with "everything": mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, sliced tomato, pickle, and sport peppers on a steamed poppy seed bun. I loved the condiments, especially the peppers and relish. My companion thought the bun was too soft, but it was fine for me. Their hot dogs have a snappy casing with a robust tangy flavor.

Hunky'sHunky Dog, $4.25
Cedar Springs pioneer has been serving hamburgers, fries, and malts, since 1984. They're known for their burgers but they also do a trio of hot dogs including the classic "Hunky Dog," a hefty quarter-pounder with relish, onions, and mustard. I've been here before and know it's best to ask for the hot dog to be grilled extra, to give it that additional "burnt hot dog" cookout flavor. At $4.25, it's a bargain and their presentation is cool: They split the hot dog down the middle and place the onions and relish on top, and they toast the edges of their bun.

Fletcher's Original Corny DogsMake Mine Texan, $10
No story on hot dogs is complete without Fletcher's, famed purveyor of the classic corny dog. You used to have to wait for the State Fair of Texas to get them, but now that they have a food truck, you can find them camped at venues such as the Dallas Arboretum, and they're also at Klyde Warren Park Tuesdays-Sundays. They've expanded their lineup of flavors so I ordered their most recent invention: Called Make Mine Texan, it's a hot dog made of beef and brisket, with smoke seasoning that adds a heartier Texas flavor.

Dog Haus in RichardsonTooo Chi, $8
California hot dog chain takes a gourmet approach with jumbo hot dogs, veggie dogs, vegan sausages, and 40+ toppings including some you might not expect, such as arugula. I ordered the Tooo Chi, their version of the Chicago hot dog, which they brag is a hormone- and antibiotic-free beef hot dog, with tomato, pickle, neon-green pickle relish, mustard, diced onions, sport peppers, and celery salt. Their cooking added a nice char that emphasized the grilled flavor. It made me nostalgic to the days when my parents would grill hot dogs in the summer outside. Their point of distinction is their bread: sweet rich King's Hawaiian rolls, which they butter and grill, for a nice contrast of soft roll and crisp edges.

Angry DogAngry Dog, $8.95
Deep Ellum staple had hot dogs on the menu long before hot dogs became the foodie sensation they are today, and they offer a simple plain hot dog on a bun as a nod to those humble days. But everyone gets the signature Angry Dog: a kosher dog, split in half and grilled, placed on a toasted open-faced bun, then topped with chili, grilled red onions, mustard, and shredded cheddar cheese. It's more of a chili casserole than a hot dog, a knife-and-fork kind of deal where the bun gets soggy underneath the mountain of toppings, and you almost lose track of the hot dog. But unbeatable for a hangover cure or a big cheat meal.

Globe Life Field, Ballpark hot dog, $7
In recent years, the Texas Rangers' food service division has been jazzing up its ballpark menu, introducing new items, some of them crazy like the Boomstick 2-foot-long hot dog. I stick to the basic ballpark hot dog, with the only option being that you can get grilled onions at no additional charge. It's a standard six-inch hot dog, with self-serve mustard, ketchup, and relish, on a soft, nondescript bun, with a nice snap, the prototypical hot dog you eat while cheering on the hometown team.

Frank Seoul, Potato hot dog, $5.49
Korean hot dogs, also known as Korean corn dogs, are a Korean street food that started showing up in Dallas a few years ago, via Korean-born chains such as Two Hands and K-Town. Frank Seoul was one of the first and has locations in Carrollton and Frisco. Their specialty is hot dogs coated in a batter and deep-fried, like a corny dog but with a batter made from flour or rice flour, and additional ingredients such as the coating of diced potatoes in the potato hot dog that I ordered. They have a wild variety like a "cream cheese dog" — literally cream cheese on a stick &mdash and prices are all $6 or less.

This is not the place for a hot dog purist. The hot dog itself was lackluster, but the "shell" of crispy fried potatoes was magnificent, like a wonderful hash brown, and great on its own, didn't need the mustard I added a bit.