Dallas Transformed?

I used to live in Dallas. I hated it.

Let me back up. I loved our friends. I loved being close to some of our family.

But for the most part, I just wanted to get out. I wanted to live in New York City. And now I do. But we just spent a great week in Dallas for Thanksgiving.

I was explaining this to my National Geographic editor and she referenced a Charles Dickens quote "One always begins to forgive a place as soon as it's left behind." How true for many places - the things you hated or didn't love start to fade away and - at least for me - the positive aspects rise to the top.

Dallas has transformed itself quite a bit over the years since we moved. Projects in the works have been completed, like the downtown arts district, museums, the George W. Bush Presidential Library, new restaurants, and sleek apartment buildings.

To me, there is no breathtaking natural beauty. There is beauty to be found, but you have to search for it. And some people really love the Texas landscape. I am not one of them.

But I had a great time.

If you're going to Dallas, may I suggest some of my favorite places? I am amazed at how many of these places now have locations in the suburbs. I love original locations best. Special thanks to my friend Wendy (she is a beautiful, funny writer!) for giving me a list of what she's loving in Dallas now before I went.

DALLAS

Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village - Don't even think about it. Order the sunset fajitas, covered with a delicious layer of fried onions and a secret "sunset-style" sauce. Also leave a few hours to wander in Highland Park Village (a beautiful, Spanish/Mediterranean-style shopping center with great restaurants) and stop at my favorite Starbucks in the world. I also love Patrizio for decent Italian and delicious baby bellinis - but more for the dozens of times I've been there.

Oddfellows - Great for breakfast in the Bishop Arts area. We tried too many things. Perfect cappuccinos. Andy got these chicken and waffles. I naturally reached over and nabbed a bite. When we lived in Dallas, I also really enjoyed going to Hattie's nearby.

rise no. 1 - Absolutely perfect for girl's night out. The sweet (Bread Pudding!) & savory (Southwest Chicken + Jambon & Gruyere=yum) souffles are amazing, as are the wine flights, and the general French-inspired ambiance. Aside from Mi Cocina, this is my must-go place while in Dallas.

So excited about souffles - that's my friend Wendy!Bread Winners - I love both the Uptown and Inwood Village locations. Brunch is good, but I love lunch best, with great salads & sandwiches.

Carbone's - Our friend is the pastry chef here and Wendy raved about this place so we had to go. It's great Italian - don't miss the homemade ricotta & arancini, and any of their fresh pastas. The tiramisu is perfect.

Paciugo - Dallas' go-to gelato spot. I'm partial to their Highland Park Village theatre location & a cup of stracciatella (chocolate chip). Editor's Note: I am amazed, after clicking on their website, how much Paciugo has grown. They opened in Dallas in 2000 and there are now 44 locations, including one at Laguardia airport!! Who knew?! Paciugo will still always mean Dallas to me.

eatZi's - The greatest prepared & take-out food store - it's so dreamy and European (except for the giant Texas-sized samples). The original Oak Lawn location is my favorite. You will LOVE eatZi's.

Central Market - A gigantic foodie paradise and grocery store. I used to spend hours in the Lovers Lane location wandering. Their bulk bin section is insane (stock up on chocolate-covered almonds!). They have awesome cooking classes too.

Don't miss a day trip over to Fort Worth either - It's a pretty adorable pocket-sized city with a fun downtown and main center, Sundance Square. I had lunch at Reata Restaurant this trip, very Fort Worth and fun.

For shopping - Northpark and the Galleria are great malls. Forty Five Ten is the original shopping hotspot in Dallas. Kind of weird, but I also love Weir's Furniture in the Knox-Henderson area. I missed Weir's when we were buying stuff for our new place in NYC.

Rocco came on our trip too!