One of the hottest scenes in Dallas these days is the area surrounding Katy Trail, the 3.5 mile multi-use path that runs along a scenic greenbelt through the heart of the city. Once an abandoned railroad track, the Katy Trail is now the place to exercise, relax, and to see and be seen.
You could, of course, always access the Katy Trail by parking at one of the several adjoining parks—but in a lot of ways, that would defeat the point. The trail provides a vital thoroughfare that allows pedestrians, cyclists, and runners to safely navigate the city without braving traffic. Pedestrian bridges offer a safe route over major roadways, and lamps illuminate the path from before dawn until well into the evening. In an area where parking is at a premium, the value of walkability cannot be overstated.
Fortunately, there are plenty of housing options along the scenic trail, predominately high-rise condos and luxury apartments. Many offer gorgeous window views or balconies overlooking the trail itself, and some even open directly onto one of the trailheads.
If you choose to live in one of these buildings, a prime benefit is the easy commute. Not only is the trail located in the central Dallas neighborhoods of Uptown and Oak Lawn, but for many bike riders, the trail itself becomes a part of their commute. The south end of the trail connects to the DART rail’s Victory Station, only half a mile from downtown, and the north end terminates near the Mockingbird Station (soon to be connected directly by a pedestrian bridge). And of course, many of employers are located within a few blocks of the trail, from the high-rise office buildings of the International Center at one end to the sprawling campus of Southern Methodist University at the other.
By avoiding a long-haul commute, you’ll have plenty of free time on your hands to enjoy the luxurious Katy Trail lifestyle, which boasts some of Dallas’s finest restaurants, trendiest bars, and quality entertainment. All of the businesses mentioned below are within an easy walk of the Katy Trail, although for a night on the town you may want to consider grabbing a ride with Uber (fortunately, drivers are plentiful and wait times short).
A few favorite restaurants offer views of the trail itself while dining. One of these is Toulouse Café and Bar, a classic French brasserie where you can lounge on the covered patio and watch passersby as you savor your meal. Toulouse is equally well-known for its weekend brunch (try the famous eggs Benedict) and its excellent lunch and dinner menus (the lobster bisque comes highly recommended), so plan on going at least twice. Next door, you’ll find equally cozy patio seating (although not directly overlooking the trail) at Toulouse’s sister-restaurant, Taverna, an upscale neighborhood Italian joint. Of note for those with gluten sensitivities, Taverna is one of the few restaurants in Dallas to offer a separate gluten-free menu at brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Overlooking the trail further down, you’ll find Texas de Brazil, a Brazilian-style churrascaria that offers sixteen cuts of all-you-can eat beef, pork, and lamb, plus a salad bar to thrill any vegetarian. Or, for a more traditional take on beef, go a few blocks away to Nick and Sam’s, a posh New-York-style steakhouse that one of the best steaks in Dallas—and one of the best chances to discreetly observe local celebrities as you dine.
For an entirely different dining experience, go to the Katy Trail Ice House, an Austin style beer garden where you can step straight from the trail onto the restaurant’s patio.The Ice House boasts 50 beers on tap, killer Central-Texas-style barbeque, and a picnic tables crammed with young locals. Or, for a more late-night bar vibe, check out the Quarter Bar, a French-Quarter-themed place with its own private courtyard and some of the best happy hour specials in Dallas.
Canine lovers should be sure to check out Pooch Patio, one of Dallas’s more unusual dining establishments—a dog-friendly café/bar/grooming salon/pet boutique/doggy daycare all-in-one (did I cover everything)? Here you can sit on the patio and sip an espresso or a glass of wine while your dog socializes with well-behaved peers. It’s a few minutes’ walk from the trial, but your dog won’t mind.
Two local landmarks bear special mentioning. The first is the historic Kalita Humphreys Theater, one of only three surviving theaters in the country designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The resident Uptown Players have an excellent track record, but even if you’re not a theatre aficionado, don’t pass up the chance to spend an evening in this gorgeous 1950s edifice. The second is the wildly colorful Museum of Geometric and MADI Art. Aficionados of abstract art will be in their element here, but the museum succeeds in their effort to appeal to patrons of every background.
The Katy Trail area is, unquestionably, a unique Dallas neighborhood—one where the vibrant surroundings make boredom impossible. The beauty of living here lies in making that uniqueness a part of your everyday life.