Aloft Las Colinas was quiet on Friday night, maybe too quiet. I had to turn on my white noise in order to sleep. It’s a good idea to have white noise or a sound machine if you travel with pets because it can help drown out hotel noise that might otherwise cause dogs to bark. Plus, I just like it. I have a free app on my iPhone called Sleep Machine that’s perfect. In any case, after Oklahoma construction, Dallas traffic, and nearly starving to death, we slept well. Saturday morning we were ready for new adventures.
I’d done a bit more recon discovered some places I should have gone Friday night, ruled out the farmer’s market, and decided to start with the Katy Trail. From West End to Highland Park, the 3.5-mile Katy Trail connects some of Dallas’ most densely populated neighborhoods. It is beautifully maintained by the Friends of Katy Trail, and dotted with bars and restaurants. It sounded like a great place for a mid-morning stroll, and because I’d done my homework, I knew there would be brunching options.
I plugged Katy Trail Icehouse into my map. It was one of the places I wanted to go, and I figured there would be a trail entrance nearby. It was a quick easy drive from Las Colinas to Icehouse, where I was thrilled to discover valet parking. That pretty much made up for all the troubles of the previous day.
I was delighted to hand off my keys, letting someone else struggle with traffic and parking. I was doubly delighted to find that the outdoor dining area at Icehouse opened onto Katy Trail. It was about 10:30 and a few people were already enjoying a variety of morning beverages. We decided to cut through, do a bit of walking, and then come back.
It was a gorgeous morning and the Katy Trail was buzzing with activity- runners, walkers, bikers, dogs, a chicken.
This gentleman walks his hen often enough that he has a custom stroller with a caged basket. My Papa Jennings (great grandfather) had a pet rooster that followed him everywhere. I don’t recall ever knowing the bird’s name, but he’s in most of the family photos. I can’t say I’m educated enough about chickens to tell you if Princess was enjoying herself, but she looked pretty relaxed. I mean, she wasn’t fidgeting or squawking, and when Henri tried to sniff her, a quick peck on his nose fixed that. Something tells me that she’s used to nosey dogs. Chicken Daddy was very friendly and seemed happy with her companionship. Good for him. Everybody needs friends.
After visiting with Chicken Daddy, and doing some walking of our own, we stumbled upon Company Café. It’s actually right next door to Icehouse, but we’d initially gone the other direction. With a marquee that boasted, “We love dogs”, how could we not stop? That’s practically an invitation.
The outdoor area is an open-air covered slab with picnic tables and bar stools. I approached the outdoor host stand to inquire about seating. A group was just leaving, and we were seated quickly. The host also directed me to the ‘help yourself’ water station where styrofoam to go boxes with the lids removed could be used for dog water bowls. A waitress brought me some water and a menu.
Yay! Real food.
I immediately ordered The Champ, a cocktail of Dripping Springs Orange Vodka (from Texas) in a mimosa over ice, and began looking at the menu. Venison sausage, turkey sausage, uncured bacon. Yay, yay, yay!
I settled on the Uptown Tacos, venison sausage scrambled with eggs and cheddar, served with corn tortillas and salsa. It was the perfect size, and it was delicious. Henri thought so too.
After brunch, it was time for one more at Katy Trail Icehouse. It was packed, and I immediately noticed all the dogs…two Golden Retrievers, a Great Dane, an Aussie, a Boxer… LOTS of dogs here! We plopped down at an un-occupied picnic table- you Texans like your picnic tables, don’t you? -so we could observe all the happenings.
Since we’d just eaten, there wasn’t much room for food, but I did find a local beer to try. In fact, Icehouse has tons of local brews and spirits. According to their menu anything not brewed in Texas is an ‘import’ (insert eye roll). I didn’t notice any spirits from outside their borders.
I ordered the Revolver Blood and Honey Wheat.
It was a gorgeous mid-70 degree morning with as little humidity as you can expect in Texas, and by the time my beer arrived I’d struck up a conversation with the folks sitting next to us. As tufts of Cottonwood rained down like a Southern summer snow globe, we chatted with our new friends and enjoyed the laid back vibe. Turns out they were from Fayetteville, Arkansas. We shoulda called the Hogs!
Honestly, I could have stayed at Katy Trail Icehouse all afternoon, and I’m officially putting my girls on notice for a return trip with brunch and day drinking. On this particular day, however, I’d already had a vodka mimosa and a beer. Since Henri has yet to learn to drive, I figured that was plenty. We needed to get back to Las Colinas for naps before going to the ballpark later that evening.
*One final note about Icehouse. It’s the only place we went, besides Mutt’s, that had a bathroom accessible to the dog, though if yours is much bigger than Henri, he might not fit in the stall. It’s worth noting because everywhere else if I’d needed to go it would’ve required that I leave Henri with a stranger while I went inside. This is a BIG deal.
For those of you interested in a strictly Dallas weekend, there is an Aloft Dallas Downtown (same dog-friendly policies). It’s only about 10 minutes to Katy Trail Icehouse and the Company Café, and just a little less than that to Mutt’s Cantina (mentioned in Henri does Dallas Part 1). A 20 minute walk (1 mile) will get you to Lee Harvey’s, also on the girl trip/ day drinking agenda. I was advised by the front desk that it is typically a safe walk, though you do need to be aware of panhandlers. Being from Little Rock, Arkansas my suggestion in those types of situations is walk to your destination in the light of day, and cab it back if it’s after dark.
Around four o’clock we headed from Las Colinas to Arlington. I was finally starting to get the hang of this Dallas driving thing. I don’t want to live there, but I can manage for a weekend. The first thing we did after parking the car at Globe Life was take a picture in front of AT&T Stadium.
Hey Jerry! How ‘bout Dog Night with the Cowboys?
After Bark at the Park, we headed over to Maverick’s Sports Grill in Arlington to watch the much anticipated, highly over-rated, I-can’t-believe-I-spent-money-on-that Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight. On a tip from a friend, I called Maverick’s trying to run down a dog-friendly spot close to the ballpark that would be showing the fight. The hostess who answered the phone wasn’t quite sure about the dog policy, which was how I ended up speaking with the owner, Richard. Dogs are allowed on their patio with prior approval, but he prefers that patrons with dogs call ahead and ask to speak with him. This is simply to verify that dogs are indeed well behaved and that owners understand the leash rules.
For this particular event I assumed it would be crowded, and I knew Henri would be tired. I requested a table that would be on a corner or out of the way for Henri’s sake, but still within line of sight for mine. Since I was coming from the baseball game, and likely wouldn’t be there early, Richard held us a spot. You can’t ask for better service than that!
I soon discovered the rest of the staff was just as friendly. The front doorman escorted us around back to the patio entrance and our seat. The waitress was prompt with my order and brought Henri water and scratchies. Actually, I’m pretty sure Henri got scratchies from her every time she came outside.
At least a couple of the people sharing our table were either employees or friends of employees, and everyone was great. That’s how I know their fried pickles are so fabulous. Someone at our table had ordered them, and offered to share. I wasn’t really hungry after ballpark food, but who am I to turn down fried pickles? The Smoked Brisket Nachos are pretty good too!
As tired as we were, and as boring as the fight turned out to be, I’m glad we found Maverick’s. If you need a sports bar in Arlington, go see them.
Our drive back to Las Colinas was either easy or I was just to tired to get bent. When we returned to the hotel, the bar was pretty busy and I garnered at least one uncomfortable cat call walking to my room. Once through the hallway door, however, the sounds were long gone, and it was another good night’s sleep.
My favorite thing about Aloft is noon checkout. I think we were on the road by 10:30, but the option to sleep late is a great one. If you want to grab a quick bite to eat before hitting the road, visit the dog-friendly patio at Le Peep Las Colinas for breakfast or lunch. I was really tempted to head south to Austin for a few days, but decided it’d have to wait. There’s a lot there we want to do in Austin, and I’m saving that trip so as not to miss the next Smokeout at Bangers.