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Postcard from Dallas: Exploration during the Final Four

I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to cover Stanford and South Carolina in the Women’s Final Four. My first priority was learning how to report on a sporting event of that magnitude and producing competent and interesting content for NCAA.com and the Sports Capital Journalism Program site. My second priority was taking advantage of the fact that I was in a new city and sought to justify spending money on my first love, food. Why not exploit this biological necessity to explore a new city and get a sense of the local palate?

Balance is important, and I was concerned with enjoying the entire experience of covering an event, work and otherwise. For me that meant trying new restaurants – the heartbeat, or more appropriately, the stomach, of the city. I have come to rely fairly heavily on Yelp to get a sense of the quality of food, and Dallas was no exception. After speaking with the concierge for recommendations, we were able to secure a list of local favorites that were cross-referenced on Yelp. We tried a variety of places for breakfast and dinner, all of which were very good.

Becky and I tasted traditional Texas barbecue (don’t ask me what makes it different). The concierge recommended Lockhart Smokehouse. After discovering the restaurant’s hours of operation were compatible with our work schedules, we made a point to try it Thursday evening, the day before the semifinal games. The atmosphere was unassuming enough. The walls were covered with an eclectic mix of license plates and aluminum prints, and neon beer signs lit up a bar near the back. A small corridor to the right led to the order counter, behind which the staff would grab customer selections from the smoker and weigh them accordingly. The food was wrapped in heavy paper to be taken back to an open table where barbecue was available for application, if desired.

We ordered ribs, brisket, macaroni and cheese, potato salad and coleslaw to share, and needed to be rolled out of the establishment. Jokes aside, we devoured every morsel of food and repeatedly exclaimed how happy we were. An unexpected surprise was the restaurant’s location in a trendy part of town, the Bishop Arts District. There were all sorts of bars, restaurants, boutiques and galleries. The neighborhood had a distinctly bohemian vibe – a bookstore serving wine and beer was next door to a modern furniture store, while Edison-style string lights lined draped across the streets. We were so charmed that we returned to a sports bar in the area two nights later to catch the Men’s Final Four games.

Although we didn’t have much free time, we explored enough that I feel I can make recommendations to others traveling there. I didn’t know much about Dallas before this trip, but now I only have positive memories. It’s refreshing to know that when I say I had a great time in Dallas, I know I’m talking about more than just the Final Four.

–Jessica Hunt, @JessiRHunt

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