Whoever first quipped that “everything’s bigger in Texas” still couldn’t have imagined the Red River Showdown. Each year, the University of Texas Longhorns square off against the University of Oklahoma Sooners in one of the most eagerly anticipated college football games of the year. The rivalry is so intense that the game must be played on neutral territory: Dallas’ Cotton Bowl Stadium. Add to the festivities the backdrop of the State Fair of Texas, and it’s easy to see why this is a game even those who root for other teams (or who would normally root against either of them) tune in to watch.
This year, kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14. If you don’t have tickets — or if you’d rather avoid the crowds around Fair Park – you’re in luck! Downtown Dallas offers much in the way of rivalry revelry, regardless of whether your wardrobe trends towards burnt orange or crimson.
So, where are the best seats in town for the Big 12’s big show?
Start in the State Thomas Landmark District just next-door to Downtown’s Central Arts District. The Nodding Donkey (2900 Thomas Ave.) opens at 10:30 a.m. on football Saturdays. While the menu sports traditional tailgating fare like burgers and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, creative brunch dishes such as the Brisket & Scramble Tacos and the Backyard Benedict also star on The Donkey’s roster. And, if you don’t like the outcome unfolding on any of their 17 big-screen TVs, you can always head outside to the patio. There, you’ll find a selection of lawn games to help you blow off steam.
Frankie’s (1303 Main St.), which bills itself as “Downtown’s Living Room,” also is a good option for laid-back fun. The scratch kitchen serves up original and fresh menu items which pair nicely with the 20 Texas craft beers on tap. Frankie’s 44 high-def, big-screen TVs also mean that, no matter where your party tables, you’ll be close to the gridiron action. And did we mention their speakeasy? In addition to the requisite TVs, The Underground provides its guests with opportunities to lounge as well as play (billiards, darts, etc.) in style.
Just east of Frankie’s in the Main Street District, The Press Box Grill (1623 Main St.) is a neighborhood pub located in the historic Wilson Building, once the tallest skyscraper in Dallas (and at a mere 12 stories). With TVs scattered throughout the establishment, 36 beers on tap and even more by the bottle, a bar stocked with Texas-made liquors and an expansive menu offering everything from Southwest Eggrolls to Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, The Press Box is a fine place to enjoy a meal while enjoying the game.
Feeling fancy? Head to The Owners Box in the Omni Dallas Hotel (555 S. Lamar St.). In addition to a 16-foot screen, there are more than 70 TVs arranged from wall to wall. Private game-watching tables include sound isolating technology, allowing patrons to focus on the referee’s explanation for that horrible — or brilliant — call. The menu features classic sports-bar fare such as nachos and quesadillas, a good selection of beers and wines and a score of football-themed cocktails, like the Half-Time Cosmo and the Red Zone Margarita.
For those with an interest in counter-programming, Downtown Dallas has options. For example, you might browse local artisanal wares and support area small businesses by spending a leisurely afternoon at The Boho Market. It’ll be taking over the Dallas Farmer’s Market (1010 S. Pearl Expy.) starting at 10 a.m. Or check out Indie Author Day at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Branch of the Dallas Public Library (1515 Young St.). Dallas’ most enterprising storytellers will be on hand to share their imaginative insights and expertise. Finally, stay in the fall spirit by visiting the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 N. Harwood St.), where Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins” will be on display all month. This unforgettable “infinity room” installation has already proven incredibly popular with visitors, so, if you have a rare appreciation for jack-o-lanterns, it’s best to purchase your tickets in advance.
Where will you be celebrating the thrill of victory or relieving the agony of defeat on Oct. 14? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter, to learn more about how you can make the most of all there is to discover in Downtown Dallas.