Newcomer’s Guide to Dallas

A Glossary of Dallas Terms

Key names and phrases to help you talk like a local.

Arlington (ahr-ling-tuh n) n. Where Dallas’ sports teams play.

ATTPAC (at-pak) n. Shorthand for AT&T Performing Arts Center, which, when it opened in 2009, completed the city’s 30-year dream of a downtown Arts District. It’s the largest such district in the nation, which city boosters claim is a good thing, but it sure makes the area feel empty most of the time.

The Bequest (thuh bih-kwest) n. A gift of art by three prominent art collector families—the Rachofskys, Hoffmans, and Roses—that will be made upon their death. It simultaneously ensured that the Dallas Museum of Art will have a renowned contemporary collection at some point in the future and that the museum remains something of a plaything for the collectors while they are still alive.

Chicken-fried chicken (chik-uh n-frahyd chik-uh n) n. No, it’s not just fried chicken. It’s the “vegetarian” answer to chicken-fried steak.

The Cog (thuh kawg) n. Nickname of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), the organization that oversees regional planning. It is the domain of longtime transportation director Michael Morris, who is North Texas’ shadowy bureaucratic ruler.

Dallasite (dal-uh sahyt) n. A person who lives in the city of Dallas. Or a person who lives in Sachse or Wylie and is traveling abroad and doesn’t wish to explain what or where Sachse or Wylie is.

Dallas Bryant (dal-uh s brahy-uh nt) n. Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant’s pet capuchin monkey.

Dallas Midtown (dal-uh s mid-toun) n. The under-construction $4 billion development in North Dallas, about 10 miles north of Uptown.

Dalworthington Gardens (dal-wurth-ing-tuh n gahr-denz) n. Taking its name from a portmanteau combining Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington, this small suburb is where “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott lived.

Death Star (deth stahr) n. The nickname for the enormous, oddly situated stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play poorly with the sun in their eyes. Also known as AT&T Stay-jum, as per owner Jerry Jones’ Arkansas pronunciation.

Deep Ellum (deep el-uh m) n. An entertainment district near downtown whose popularity is cyclical (everything is great right now) and whose name comes from the pronunciation of “Deep Elm” by its former, mostly black habitués.

Enchilada (en-chuh-lah-duh) n. The cornerstone of a Mexican combination plate, it consists of various ingredients—often cheddar cheese and white onions—wrapped in a tortilla. But it is not a burrito. You eat it on a plate with a knife and fork.

Gang of Five (gang uhv fahyv) n. The group of chefs—Stephan Pyles, Dean Fearing, Robert Del Grande, Anne Greer McCann, and Avner Samuel—that created Southwestern cuisine in the 1980s.

The Hilltop (thuh hil-top) n. Nickname for SMU’s campus, based on its location on what we in Dallas consider a hill.

I see you, Big German (ahy see yoo big jur-muh n) phr. Celebratory exclamation to be said aloud or scream-typed into Twitter when Dirk Nowitzki does something amazing, which is often.

Jim Schutze (jim shoot s) n. A laconic, bearded gadfly who works for the Dallas Observer. He’s a conspiracy theorist who is 100 percent correct 50 percent of the time.

JTONTFJTGM (jey-tee-oh-en-tee-ef-jey-tee-jee-em) abbrev. Stands for the most common opinion among Cowboys fans on how to fix the team’s problems: “Jerry the owner needs to fire Jerry the GM.”

Juggler Under the Overpass (juhg-ler uhn-der thee oh-ver-pas) n. Any unrealistic, fanciful watercolor or computer-generated image used to sell a bad civic project. In other words, a lie. The term sprang from a promotional rendering for the Trinity River Project that showed a happy playground under an elevated highway. Said playground featured, yes, a juggler.

Klyde Warren Park (klahyd wawr-uh n pahrk) n. A $51 million deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway opened in 2012 and named after pipeline billionaire Kelcy Warren’s 10-year-old (at the time) son.

Large Marge (lahrj mahrj) n. The official nickname of the Santiago Calatrava-designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the first of the city’s signature bridges over the Trinity River.

Metroplex (me-truh-pleks) n. In the early ’70s, marketers came up with this name to sell the area to the nation, replacing what had previously been known as Dallas-Fort Worth. It is a deplorable mix of Greek (“metropolis”) and French-by-way-of-Latin (“complex”). It is to be avoided, despite how many businesses use it in their names. North Texas will do just fine.

Mid Cities (mid sit-ee s) n. Collective name for the Tarrant County suburbs (including Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Hurst, Euless, and Bedford) between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Mixmaster (miks mas-ter) n. Name affectionately given to the thicket of overpasses you might take as you navigate the two of five freeways on your daily commute.

NorthPark (nawrth-park) n. Dallas’ best museum.

Pony up (poh-nee uhp) phr. The long-abandoned marketing slogan for the SMU football team as they tried to rekindle interest in the eternally not-great program, before head coach June Jones up and left to be offensive coordinator for Kapolei High in Oahu.

Robert Wilonsky (rob-ert wuh-lawn-skee) n. A proud Dallas native and former Thomas Jefferson High cheerleader who is the Dallas Morning News’ most obsessive chronicler of inclement weather. He also has a show on The Ticket.

Southwestern cuisine (south-west-ern kwi-zeen) n. A culinary peace treaty between cowboys, Native Americans, and Mexicans, drawn up in the 1980s by Dallas’ Gang of Five.

Texas-OU weekend (tek-suh s oh-yoo week-end) n. The second weekend of the State Fair in October. No matter what happens in the annual rivalry game at the Cotton Bowl, the streets run red and burnt orange with drunken college students.

Strong mayor (strawng mair) n. Dallas doesn’t have one. We are run by a city manager, who, for 30 years, has been a mediocre, lifelong city employee. Most major cities have strong mayors.

Taqueria (tah-kuh-ree-uh) n.  If you think a taco is a tortilla wrapped around fish, think again. In Dallas, you’re more likely to find meat that comes out of a cow’s head.

Underground Dallas (uhn-der-ground dal-uh s) n. The handful of subterranean connections between buildings in downtown Dallas—called “the tunnels” by most who use them. They represent an incomplete implementation of a harebrained circa-1970s plan to separate vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and are blamed, somewhat unfairly, for ruining downtown.

University of Dallas (yoo-nuh-vur-si-tee uhv dal-uh s) n. A fine college that even people who have lived in Dallas for decades can’t find and have never seen.

Valet (va-ley) n. You are not allowed to park your own car in Dallas. Whether you are dining at The Mansion or running into a 7-Eleven for a gallon of milk, these helpful people will take your keys. Tips appreciated.

Wylie H. Dallas (wahy-lee aych dal-uh s) n. The online persona of an anonymous person who comments on and covers city news in his Facebook feed and in the comments sections of every blog in town. If you want to know who it is, though, just ask Dallas Plan Commission member Bobby Abtahi.

 

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