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One Day In...

How to Spend a Day in Mesquite

Over the past 65 years, Mesquite has held the title of the “Rodeo Capital of Texas.” Though rodeo fans have been flocking to the town for decades, the town has more to offer.
| |Photo Illustration by Michelle Thompson
Mesquite Texas
Michelle Thompson

When I first moved to Dallas in the mid-2000s, most area residents who had lived here for any length of time would, after learning my last name, inevitably ask if I was related to “Donnie.” I am not. Don Gay, the famous Mesquite native, is the eight-time PRCA bull riding world champion (he holds the current record) and a ProRodeo Hall of Famer. His late father Neal, whose name graces street signs outside the Mesquite Arena, founded the Mesquite Rodeo in 1958. The “Rodeo Capital of Texas” still draws crowds of Western fans 65 years later, but the city 20 minutes east of Dallas has a bit more to show you while you are here.

Dia De Los Tacos

1927 Faithon P. Lucas Sr. Blvd., Ste. 115 | 469-399-1245

Breakfast tacos are served all day at this order-at-the-counter taqueria in a strip mall. Flavorful orange and green salsas enhance plates of carnitas or fajitas wrapped in soft tortillas. Keep an eye on their social media channels for the occasional pop-up dinner. 

Opal Lawrence Historical Park

701 E. Kearney St.

Don’t skip the nature trail that surrounds the late-19th-century homestead, passing through native trees, Texas lilac, bluebonnets, and wisteria. Original outbuildings include a brick-lined root cellar, smokehouse, livestock barn, and chicken coops. 

Mesquite BBQ

145 E. Davis St. | 972-285-6573

Dating back to 1959, the oldest restaurant in Mesquite cooks its meat in a custom-built rotisserie smoker. Don’t be thrown by the name, though; it refers to the location rather than the flavor of the smoke. Owner Dustin Palmer uses sweet hickory wood for his slow-smoked brisket, ribs, and sausage.

Mesquite Art Center

1527 N. Galloway Ave.  | 972-216-8132

The cultural hub of the city offers exhibitions by local and international artists and seasonal performances by the Mesquite Arts Theatre and Mesquite Symphony Orchestra, as well as educational children’s workshops and events. 

Xquinkles Fruteria y Neveria

1200 E. Davis St. | 972-850-9188

Cool off with the churro banana splits or traditional Mexican frozen treats that make this a popular summer hangout. Thirsty? Sip on a Mangonada with chunks of fresh mango, chamoy, and a tamarind candy straw.

Mesquite Championship Rodeo

1818 Rodeo Dr. | mesquiterodeo.com

Put on your boots for bronc riding and barrel racing every Saturday evening through August inside the air-conditioned Mesquite Arena. Children can try their hand at the dirt-flying action by participating in the kids-only mutton bustin’ competition or calf scramble during intermission. 

This story originally appeared in the July issue of D Magazine with the headline, “One Day In…Mesquite.” Write to [email protected]


John Gay
Before John Gay became the production director for D Magazine in 2016, he spent nine years Photoshopping the pretty pictures…