Family Thing That’s Actually Fun to DoArlington: Splitsville Luxury Lanes and Dinner Lounge
Reservations? Three-pepper calamari? No kids after 8 p.m.? You get all that at Splitsville, but, seriously, what family is going to be out after 8 p.m. with the kids? Before it turns into a club with balls and pins, you can wear the tykes out, then eat there or nearby at the Studio Movie Grill (food, lounge chairs, movies). The Arlington Highlands (which houses these places, as well as many other shopping and dining options) is home to 25 restaurant and entertainment venues that will be hosting special events and promotions throughout the week and day of the Super Bowl, so you can make it a one-stop party-central spot for the family. 401 Curtis Mathes Way, (817) 465-2695, www.splitsvillelanes.com
Where the Locals Eat**Arlington: Mijo’s Mexican Restaurant
Just like eating Maine lobster outside of Maine, you should never eat Tex-Mex outside of Texas. And Mijo’s is a locally owned neighborhood institution that does Tex-Mex right. Yes, it’s in a nondescript strip shopping center. You want a big faux-Mex palace, stop at El Wherever. Here you get enchiladas, tacos, chalupas, the whole mix, in the manner we eat it every day. 2304 W. Park Row Dr., (817) 226-3001; and 5809 W. I-20, (817) 483-7200
Fort Worth: Bonnell’s Restaurant
The Texas-inspired menu at this local favorite is so mouth-watering that it hooks patrons (including me) just by listing the ingredients: Oysters Texasfeller (with spinach, tasso and hollandaise), elk mini tacos (with roasted green chile cheese grits), pecan-crusted Texas redfish, pepper-crusted buffalo tenderloin — hooked yet? It’s high-end food served the way we eat in Texas: by the 5-pound plateful. 4259 Bryant Irvin Rd., (817) 738-5489
It’s really hard to say whether Bolsa is most known for its food or its drinks. So, let’s just call them both “a healthy part of dinner” and say that if you visit only one restaurant during your Dallas excursion, make it this one. They promote local food and local music; they have two of the four best bartenders in the city (Lucky and Jason; say hi for me); the patio is gorgeous and heated; and it’s right near the Bishop Arts District in the heart of historic Oak Cliff, one of the hippest areas in town. 614 W. Davis St., (214) 943-1883, www.bolsadallas.com
**Because we love to eat, we, the AW editors, also suggest:
6130 Luther Ln., (214) 890-1103, http://www.kentrathbun.com/blueplate/dallas/
Eat at the bar and try the ice-cold martinis with blue cheese–stuffed olives to whet the appetite.
Dallas, worth the parking hassle: NEIGHBORHOOD SERVICES BAR & GRILL
10720 Preston Rd., Ste. 1101; (214) 368-1101; www.neighborhoodservicesdallas.com
We don’t want you to go to chef Nick Badovinus’ similarly named tavern on Henderson Avenue, because we want to be able to get a seat at the bar (we like to drink too).
Fort Worth, best fresh, local fare with a Southern influence: ELLERBE FINE FOODS
1501 W. Magnolia Ave., (817) 926-3663, www.ellerbefinefoods.com
In a former 1920s service station and run by two Louisiana expats, Ellerbe was named one of the 10 best new restaurants in America by Bon Appétit — and who are we to argue?