Food News

West End Restaurants Lead Neighborhood Festival To Prove Its Relevance

Taylor Adams
This weekend's first-ever Dallas Fest brought hungry Dallasites to the West End of downtown, a neighborhood still attempting to outgrow its old reputation as unsafe and uncool.
West End hosted its first Dallas Fest on Saturday, welcoming vendors to sell art, setting up bands to set the mood and encouraging Dallasites to discover what West End is all about.

Because West End is, indeed, a thing.

The 12-hour event aimed to promote “all things Dallas.” While the festival, spread out through a few streets of West End, felt a little sparse, it was a chance to bring people to the west side of Downtown.

For a first-time festival — led by Tutta’s Jeremy Scott, Dallas Fest chairman and creator — it went fairly well. With good weather, energetic music and decent beer, what more could you want?

“I feel like yesterday was a huge success,” Scott said Sunday. “Everyone that was a part of this event took a chance on an idea, and for that I’m so grateful.”

VIP passes got attendees two free drinks (beer or wine) at vendors’ booths. One worthy stop was Pegasus Brewing, which offered refreshing brews perfect for such an outdoor event.

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West End bars and restaurants served cocktails at this weekend's fest, too.
Taylor Adams
The same pass provided a free entree at Tutta’s, Three Eleven, RJ’s or Ellen’s.

Three Eleven offered a Cinco de Mayo menu, which had a $10 elotes that could feed a bird — if that bird wanted mediocre elotes.

But the cocktail program is pretty worthy. While Three Eleven seems to love its smoky drinks, some are overpowering. But it knows how to make a straightforward Manhattan, and that’s worth a return visit.

That VIP pass’ free entree would surely be of use at Ellen’s — if you were able to get. Owner Joe Groves got so much attention this weekend for his statements about NRA conference attendees.

And it was definitely wise to use it at Tutta’s, where yes, pizza with smoked meat is an attraction. But the wings are surprisingly good. It was when trying these wings that one thing became clear about this event: It was an opportunity for people — whether they visit West End once a month or once a decade — to learn more about the neighborhood and to find reasons to return.

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The owner of Tutta's Pizza organized the festival.
Taylor Adams
“It’s not Deep Ellum,” one person said that day about the vendors, music and crowds.

Well, no kidding. And people shouldn’t head to the West End expecting Deep Ellum, just like they shouldn’t head to Lower Greenville expecting Bishop Arts. Dallas communities are unique enough to be worthy of your presence and your well-earned dollars. It’s events like these that remind you of that.

So for that reason, this first Dallas Fest was a win.

“We will be doing Dallas Fest in 2019 and tweaking it to be even better than this year,” Scott said. “More artists, more exhibitors, more fun.”