The first Texas property opened by the super-cool, gay-friendly Kimpton Hotels group
, the posh Hotel Palomar Dallas
(5300 E. Mockingbird Ln.
, 214-520-7969) lies just opposite the campus of Southern Methodist University and across the street from the snazzy Mockingbird Station retail-entertainment complex, in the trendy University Park Area. It's about a 10- to 15-minute drive north of "the Strip" in Oak Lawn. Draws include the trendy Central 214 restaurant (helmed by TV celebrity chef Blythe Beck), the retro-groovy Trader Vic's lounge, and full-service Exhale Spa. The Palomar, which occupies what had been a bland mid-range change hotel, has a stylish vibe, its 198 rooms done with clean lines and bold geometric patterns, chocolate-and-ivory tones, and such high-end amenities as 32-inch flatscreen Plasma TVs and minibars stocked with cleverly chosen treats. The hotel, which opened in 2007, is pet-friendly. It's in a great location is you want to be near Highland Park Village, Knox-Henderson, and NorthPark Center Mall, but a bit less convenient to downtown.
Hotel Palomar has earned a bit more notoriety in 2009 as the hotel's hip restaurant, Central 214, is run by chef Blythe Beck, the larger-than-life, brassy, and endearingly colorful star of the former reality show, The Naughty Kitchen, which aired for a couple of months on Oxygen Network. If you saw the show, you likely picked up the restaurant's significant gay vibe (yes, door whore Curtis and Sam the bartender, I'm talking about you). Of course, in her inimitably no-bullshit way, Blythe has a great time thumbing her nose at the city's snooty elite, but the bottom line is: she's an exceptional chef, and the restaurant here is turning out some fantastic food.