In late 2014, when Dallas became a flashpoint in the Ebola epidemic, Mayor Mike Rawlings awkwardly noted that the arrival of Ebola showed what an “international city” Dallas had become. It was an odd tone to strike at the time, but Rawlings was not wrong. In my neighborhood, there are Eritrean and Vietnamese churches. The city has one of the largest Sudanese populations in the country, part of a large and thriving immigrant community. Last year, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott pledged to keep Syrian refugees out of the state, Rawlings refused, saying it was “the spirit of Dallas” to welcome them, and it is. But I’m not just talking about refugees. On a recent weekend morning, for example, I went to the grand opening of a new coffee shop and cafe in the Dallas Farmers Market started by one transplant from southern Italy and designed by another from northern Italy.
You can feel that multiculturalism most, perhaps, in the food, especially the Chinese and Korean and Thai from the northern suburbs’ deeply rooted Asian communities and the best tacos in the state (yes, better than Austin’s) scattered mostly in the south. You want something fancier? We’ve got that, too. Dallas not just a barbecue town -- although we have one of the best barbecue joints in the country, Pecan Lodge, if that’s what you’re after. It’s a city of fantastic, inventive chefs: Matt McCallister at FT33, Teiichi Sakurai at Tei-An, David Uygur at Lucia, Omar Flores at Casa Rubia, and Misti Norris at Small Brewpub -- and those are just the ones nominated for James Beard Awards this year.
Not that we need awards to prove ourselves to anyone. The city’s younger generation is no longer terrified about how the rest of country and world thinks about us, but it maintains the can-do spirit born during those lean post-assassination years. We still try shit. That’s what Dallas has always done.
And that’s why I live here, tambourine lady.
Zac Crain is a senior editor at D Magazine, the author of Black Tooth Grin: The High Life, Good Times, and Tragic End of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, and a former elementary school janitor. Follow him on Twitter at @zaccrain