With a vibrant atmosphere, nationally renowned restaurants, picturesque parks and upscale shopping destinations, the Dallas area is filled with attractions for every age and personality. But to truly experience all the Lone Star State has to offer, you need to get out of the city. The best part? You don’t have to travel far, either. The greener side of Texas is just 15 minutes east of Downtown Dallas in the nearby town of Mesquite.
Named for the Mesquite trees in the region, this idyllic town is the perfect road-trip destination in Dallas County, with quirky local attractions, excellent restaurants and a relaxed character that invites you to stop and stay awhile. And regardless of whether you’re in town with a group of friends, a loved one or the entire family, it’s easy to keep everyone entertained.
Plenty of Activities
Mesquite is perhaps best known as the “Rodeo Capital of Texas,” as declared by the State Legislature in 1993. The Mesquite Championship Rodeo has been thrilling spectators since its opening in 1958, and while it may be old-school fun, the air-conditioned arena is filled with modern amenities, including luxury suites and high-definition video boards. Taking in a rodeo is a must-do when you’re in the vicinity, so pull on your boots and come to experience a barrel-racing, mutton-busting, bull-riding good time. (If you don’t have boots or any other country apparel, take a trip to the Boot Barn in Mesquite, the top-selling location in the state.) There’s even barbeque on-site to make the experience complete.
For a unique rodeo experience, take advantage of the shark tank, in which visitors can purchase tickets to watch the bull riding event in the middle of the arena in a closed cage. Those inside the shark tank are eye level with the bull and get to see the excitement from the best seats in the house. It is an adrenaline rush as the bull becomes excitingly close to ramming into the tank.
For a different kind of thrill, head to the Devil’s Bowl Speedway. The D-shaped, half-mile-long dirt track gives spectators an up-close view to the action. The back straightaway is 15 feet higher than the front, giving the grandstands an excellent view of the entire race. Four different classifications of cars race the track, and special championship events are held during the racing season from March through October.
If you have little ones in tow, you won’t want to miss Celebration Station. This indoor and outdoor amusement park includes bumper boats, go-karts, bungee jumping, mini-golf, an arcade and so much more. It’s just one of the destinations that make Mesquite is very popular among families.
Take a trip to the Downtown Mesquite Farmers Market, held every Saturday from April through November in Downtown Mesquite. In November, check out the Holidays on Front Street, with Christmas-themed activities and vendors.
Mesquite is also known for its arts and culture scene, with a full calendar of community events, concerts and art exhibits. Attend a performance of the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra, which has been a local favorite for more than 30 years. The Mesquite Arts Center features theatrical performances, visual art installations and children’s programs. Catch a show at the Mesquite Arts Theater, which has been putting on comedies, mysteries, musicals and improv sketches since 1983. Concerts are also performed at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo Arena, featuring national touring acts like the Charlie Daniels Band, Keith Sweat and The Temptations.
A Variety of Restaurants
After a day of adventuring, you have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. Of course, this is Texas, so you have a number of options for Tex-Mex, including large operations like the 9,000-square-foot Cafe Del Rio and smaller taquerías like Tortas La Hechicera. You can enjoy a meal on the patio at Dos Panchas, located on Broad Street in downtown Mesquite, or take a trip to El Fenix, which was founded in 1918 and was instrumental in the creation of Tex-Mex cuisine in the first place.
For barbecue, Mesquite BBQ is a longtime favorite. Since 1959 the mom-and-pop restaurant has loaded up plates with pulled pork, smoked sausage, BBQ Frito pies and all the helpings you can eat. Relative newcomer Slabs BBQ opened in 2002, and the smell of carefully smoked meats wafts out the store’s front door every time it’s opened.
For Asian cuisine, Kaze Sushi & Hibachi is the go-to spot for both sushi and grilled Japanese specialties. Come with a group and enjoy the show as your food is prepared in front of you. At Genghis Grill, pick your protein, veggies, sauce and seasoning, add rice or noodles, and the cook will prepare it for you on the large, circular grill.
Believe it or not, Mesquite has two Jamaican restaurants: Reggae Wings & Tings, located in North Town East, and the Jamaican Cook Shop, on Military Parkway. Both are good options whether you’re in the mood for jerk chicken or willing to explore some more unique dishes like curry goat, ackee, salt fish or oxtails. For Mediterranean food, Atheneos Greek Village Cafe has a wide range of traditional Greek dishes, while Yia Yia's House of Gyros is known as the place to go for its signature specialty.
For seafood, the Catfish Cove Restaurant is known for delicious fried catfish and shrimp, hushpuppies and salad bar, while Joe’s Crab Shack is a sit-down option that has just about anything you could want, from king crab legs to steamers.
Don’t Forget About the Shopping