The annual Red River Rivalry between the Sooners and the Longhorns is as intense as any in college football. Contested once again at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, this year’s 104th edition pits two of the sport’s great quarterbacks, Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, the defending Heisman Trophy winner, and Texas’ Colt McCoy, who some felt was even more deserving of the award in 2008. No matter which side of the River you’re on, here’s where to play, eat and drink in the Big D.
The closest good course to the Cotton Bowl, advises Robert Rodriguez, vice president of Dallas-based AVIDGOLFER magazine, is Tenison Highlands (214-670-1402, tenisonpark.com; $35-$56), a 1920s Golden Ager that was stretched to 7,078 yards following a 2000 redesign by D.A. Weibring. Its sister layout, the shorter, tighter Tenison Glen ($17-$35), is a worthy value alternative. Back in the swinging ’60s, when the courses were known as Tenison Park West and East, respectively, Lee Trevino held court, playing money matches and winning wagers while wielding a Dr. Pepper bottle in lieu of a golf club.
Formerly a private club, the municipally owned Cedar Crest Golf Course (214-670-7615, golfcedarcrest.com; $22-$40) on the south side of town oozes serious golf history. The rolling, tree-lined, 6,532-yard, par-71 track played host to the 1927 PGA Championship, where Walter Hagen completed a four-peat, his fifth PGA title overall. Cedar Crest boasts an A.W. Tillinghast design that was also supplemented by Weibring a few years back.
A half hour north of downtown — but a world away — is The Tribute (972-370-5465, thetributegolflinks.com; $99-$129). This replica-style course by architect Tripp Davis in a town called The Colony pays homage to some of the British Isles’ most legendary holes, including remarkable facsimiles of Nos. 1, 17 and 18 on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
If you’re looking to play where the pros play, shoot for the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas (972-717-0700, fourseasons.com/dallas; $195), site of the PGA Tour’s HP Byron Nelson Championship. Jay Morrish’s 7,166-yard layout offers a fistful of memorable holes, including the short, watery par-4 14th, but the most dramatic hole is the par-3 17th that Weibring (him again!) transformed into a genuine thriller. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh are among those who have won here.
Everyone from oil barons to Dallas-based food-and-golf writer Michael Hiller agree that Dallas is a haven for steak fanatics, and that the best place to indulge is Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (214-366-2000, pappasbros.com) on Lombardy Lane, near Texas Stadium. Highlights include a 36,000-bottle wine cellar, two master sommeliers and steaks that are dry-aged in-house.
A bit closer to the Cotton Bowl, but hardly a drop-down in quality, in Bob’s Steak and Chop House (214-528-9446, bobs-steakandchop.com), off Lemmon Ave. at Wycliff. Celebrities galore flock to the clubby setting at Bob’s original location for the 28-ounce porterhouse slab and the 22-ounce “Cote de Boeuf,” a bone-in ribeye. A giant glazed carrot serves as the perfect topper.
Sticking with the meat theme, we dish out two burger favorites. The first, The Grape Restaurant (214-828-1981, thegraperestaurant.com), isn’t far from the Cotton Bowl, but it’s hardly your typical burger joint. Don’t let the “neighborhood wine bistro” moniker fool you: The 10-ounce patty, topped with homemade peppered bacon and a slice of white cheddar, might be the city’s best burger — but it’s only available at The Grape’s Sunday Brunch.
If you want a great hamburger at other hours, check out Twisted Root Burger Co. (214-741-7668, twistedrootburgerco.com). Situated in a trendy/alternative part of Dallas called Deep Ellum, Twisted Root offers versions of gourmet and light burgers, including ostrich, buffalo and venison, but beef connoisseurs will savor the chuck and brisket combo in their classic burger. Save some room for the root beer float, which may be the best in Dallas.
If you don’t have a ticket, McKinney Avenue Tavern (214-969-1984, mckinneyavenuetavern.com) is the next best place to watch the game, especially if you’re single or in college. The MAT, as locals call this Uptown emporium, sports more than 20 TVs, including a 10-foot HD projection screen and plenty of patrons sporting team jerseys.
Not far from the MAT on McKinney Avenue is Frankie’s (214-999-8932, frankiesbar.com), another superb, semi-upscale Uptown hangout that pours 20 local and international beers on tap. It also offers leather sofas and a pool table.
Golfers and CEOs alike will warm to the Boardroom (214-740-0555, dolcegroup.com/theboardroom) in Victory Park. This place is more about martinis and rum-and-Coke-glazed ribs than beer and wings. Older alums looking to avoid beer-spilling headbangers will gladly schedule meetings at this Boardroom.
While some say that the best sports bar in Texas is actually the new Cowboys Stadium (with a 60-yard HD screen and lots of liquor), a better bet on most days is Hully and Mo’s (214-954-0203, hullyandmo.com). Named for owners (and NHL legends) Brett Hull and Mike Modano, this Uptown hotspot features TVs set into Texas Hill Country limestone, an open theater kitchen and hall-of-fame caliber memorabilia adorning the walls.
Have suggestions of your own? Share your local knowledge in the comments field below.