The city of Dallas encompasses an ever-growing culture of food, nightlife, entertainment, and ideas. Yet, it’s become an inescapable bubble as we become locked in weekend routines, new restaurant openings, and favorite dining destinations. Venture a mere 30 minutes outside your metropolis comfort zone and you will arrive in a historic land that brings to life old traditions alongside novel festivities. Through the center of Downtown Grapevine runs Main Street, a walkable, preserved area home to winery tasting rooms, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, the Palace Arts Center, the Grapevine Glockenspiel Clock Tower, one-of-a-kind shops, live entertainment venues, restaurants and art galleries. Escape for a day to enjoy the holiday offerings or make it a staycation at the Gaylord after drinking your way through the headquarters of Texas’ wine industry.
Each stop in Grapevine has a unique story with an equally unique taste. Get to know some of the iconic faces that add to the fruits of the vine.
Dr. Sue’s Chocolate
The Story: Dr. Sue grew up on a farm in West Texas helping mom whip up candies in the kitchen, which they delivered to neighbors around the town. As she grew older, she took on her mom’s love for dinner parties (where she would serve her cherry pecan bark for dessert). After her daughter flew the nest for college, she took time off medicine to take classes in Chicago to become a chocolatier. She saw the positive feedback of her confectionary creations and molded her mission with the idea of using chocolate as vehicle to get people to take an interest in reading labels. “People glaze over when it comes to healthy eating, but they love chocolate talk. It’s a palette for flavors, creativity, and science that provided the perfect opportunity to make people aware of what’s in their food.” The shop partners with Promise of Peace Community Garden, Real School Gardens of Fort Worth, farmers markets, and food banks to promote Dr. Sue’s initiative.
Favorite Part of Grapevine: “Grapevine is so welcoming and the people are so nice. Holidays are amazing. It’s like you step into a wonderland with the music, lights, shopping, and Santa. We are going to have a hot chocolate tasting in honor of the holidays with a flight of three different flavors.”
Fun Fact: Dr. Sue still manages to work full time as a physician. Her chocolates are a hobby that she does not personally benefit from, but instead donates the proceeds to organizations that promote health and wellness. Using local artisan such as the Texas Honey Guild, Dr. Sue takes a stand against high fructose corn syrup, GMOs, and other harmful ingredients commonly found on grocery shelves.
Must Orders: The Toasted Almond Sea Salt and Peppermint Bark are my personal favorites, but Dr. Sue suggests the Ginger Fig with a glass of bubbly and the perfect pairing to her chocolate dipping sauce is a handful of barbecue potato chips.
Can’t Miss: Take one of Dr. Sue’s chocolate making classes that teaches groups of 5 to 10 individuals. The part starts at 7 p.m. with the personalization of your own dark chocolate bark, truffles, and dipping sauce. The best part: It’s BYOB.
Cross Timbers Winery Tasting Room
The Story: You could call Don Bigbie the cowboy of wine making. He hails from the little town of Spanish Fort and began wine making more than 46 years ago. Set in the historic Dorris Brock home, one of the oldest structures in Grapevine, Cross Timbers Winery features Texas grown and produced wines as well as a Mexican winery. Surrounded by centuries-old Oak and Pecan trees, the outdoor facilities features a relaxed setting to enjoy wine tastings, host a birthday celebration, or sip Chardonnay with the girls. Cross Timbers also features a selection of wines from Casa Madero, the oldest winery in the Western Hemisphere, located in Parras de la Fuente, Mexico, one of Grapevine’s Sister Cities. Between the tasting room, gazebo, patio and large barn, the winery hosts over 100 weddings and 300 corporate events a year.
Favorite Part of Grapevine: “The willingness of the community to work together. When it comes the mayoral election, people do not focus on whether candidates are Democrat or Republican. People care whether the candidates are dedicated to the cause and bettering the community. That’s something Grapevine does and does well.”
Fun Fact: Known for being one of the most haunted structures in Grapevine, Don has countless photos of the land’s “orb” sightings. Multiple ghost hunters have explored the mysterious findings, but no one can figure out what it is. One of my favorite spirit stories begins when Larry Stone, a schoolteacher, decided to move the house’s fireplace in 1956. When he rebuilt the fireplace he didn’t know the structure required a smoke ledge. Fast forward to modern day, two ladies come in to the winery and immediately know someone died in the house. They walk to the exact spot where Pattie Weatherman passed away and said, “She wants the fireplace to work.” However, Don is the only one to know that the fireplace doesn’t work.
Must Orders: The Texas Blush, a continual winner of the People’s Choice Award at the annual GrapeFest.
Main Street Bistro & Bakery
The Story: Also known as “Main Street Bread Baking Company,” the restaurant specializes in hand crafted breads, pastries, and gourmet cuisine using traditional methods from France and Europe. Chef Fabien grew up the youngest of 10 children in Vosges, France, near Alsace. He spent his weekends and summers in the family’s’ small village bakery. There, he learned the art of French pastries, beating butter into croissants, and proofing bread perfectly before it baked. In early 2000, Fabien and his soon to be wife, Yasmine decided to open a French bakery, intended for wholesale only, in Dallas. However, when they came to purchase a bread oven from the previous tenant of the now Grapevine location, they fell in love with the charm and community Grapevine Texas offered. Their intentions were to only sell wholesale breads with Air France as their first wholesale account. The first day, the line was out the door, and it hasn’t stopped since.
Favorite Part of Grapevine: “Main Street reminded us of a quaint street in France…we never left. Our intentions were to only sell wholesale breads. Air France was our first wholesale account. Fabien insisted on having a little counter to sell our two breakfast items and pastries. The first day, the line was out the door, and it hasn’t stopped since.”
Fun Fact: Exective Pastry Chef Pierre Thilliez came from Nice, France, but the couple had never actually met him before. He answered an ad in the Nice newspaper and Yasmine’s mother lived in Nice at the time, so she met him first. Yasmine’s mother fell in love with his charisma and beautiful pastry creations. The next week, Pierre was on a plane to America.
Must Orders: The Croi-Doughnuts Brûlée paird with an Almond Croissant and a warm Cappuccino.
Can’t Miss: The bistro will host a five-course menu on new years eve with live music and a fortuneteller.
The Story: Tolbert’s has been a mainstay in Dallas for more than 27 years, reopening in Historic Downtown Grapevine, Texas in 2006. Frank X. Tolbert Sr. began the Tollbert’s legacy with his son in 1976 with Kathleen coming on the following year to help manage the restaurant. The current location opened on iconic Main Street as the restaurant’s seventh location after moving from various sites and partners. The broad menu includes Southwestern classics, but is known by chili connoisseurs for their classic bowl done up Texas-style with no beans. Expect live bands, local regulars, and a lively atmosphere.
Favorite Part of Grapevine: “Grapevine is where our family is. My Husband’s parents live here and my sons went to Grapevine High. I’ve been here so long and love the community.”
Fun Fact: Frank Sr. was a Texas Journalist for the Dallas Morning News, historian and storyteller. The family co-founded the Terilingua Chili Cookoff, which is held the first Saturday in November, in the Bend Area of Texas. After writing his book A Bowl of Red, Frank Sr. formulated Tolbert’s famous chili recipe alongside his son and paved way for the start of the international chili competition in Terilingua.
Must Orders: Choose from the extensive craft beer selection, start off with a plate of Donkey Tails (all-beef hot dogs stuffed with cheese, wrapped in tortillas, and lightly fried), and slurp down a Bowl of Red with extra cheese on top.