Friday, January 2, 2015

Meet Arlington: Oregon and Ohio State fans, here's where you're really going

Stop it right now. The NCAA football championship game will not be played in Dallas. The Cotton Bowl wasn't even played there. Dallas is over as a football venue. Oregon Ducks and Buckeyes of THE Ohio State University, you'll be deciding who's best on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas, because that's where AT&T Stadium, better known as Jerry's World, is.
And where is Arlington? Think of Dallas and Fort Worth as the eye pieces of glasses. Arlington is the nose --- a really big nose. (Note: I used this analogy back in 2010 in the Austin American-Statesman, so here's an acknowledgement that the newspaper is my source material for the facial resemblance.) Arlington is smack between Dallas and Fort Worth, due south of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Arlington is 100 square miles of what I'd normally call suburbia, because that's what it feels like, but Arlington isn't really a suburb. It's been its own nose for a long time, and back in the 30s and 40s was a prime gambling destination. A place called Top O' the Hill, now part of a very Bible-intensive college. These are not the '30s and '40s, though, and this ain't Pasadena.
A few things to know:
1. It takes 30 minutes from either Dallas or Fort Worth to get to Arlington if there's no traffic. But there will be traffic.
2. You might consider actually staying in Arlington. There's a full-fledged Holiday Inn, along with a good Hyatt Place. Some of these hotels have a trolley that will run you over to the stadium. If you're staying in Dallas, the highest end would be the Mansion on Turtle Creek or the Crescent Court. The Joule, downtown on Main Street, is a good stay with a first-rate ESPA-brand spa. Less expensive and one of my personal faves is the Adolphus, also downtown. And Hyatt Regency, the hotel next to Reunion Tower, is always good, as is the nearby Omni, which you literally cannot miss because of its Vegas-like LED display. In Fort Worth: The Omni, the Worthington Renaissance or a lovely boutique called the Ashton. 
3. Arlington food: Olenjack's Grill on Road to Six Flags near the stadium is solid. Love the Dim Sum at Kowloon at Center Street and Pioneer Parkway. My favorite off-the-beaten-path spot is Russian: Taste of Europe, 1901 W. Pioneer Parkway -- cabbage rolls, crepes with red caviar and really borscht if you're a beet person (which does not imply anything about your team). After, you can buy some of those stackable dolls.
4. Arlington has no public transpo to speak of. You need a car. What is does have is the International Bowling Museum. It's on Six Flags Drive not far from AT&T Stadium. In case you get bored.

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