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John Mata

Illustrator

John Mata designed our Liverpool and Hamburg guides, but the city he calls home is Dallas, Texas. Here he gives us his tips for the Big D and beyond.

Tell us about three favourite places where you live: one restaurant or bar, one shop and one thing to do.


I love the neighbourhood known as Deep Ellum, located just east of downtown Dallas, Texas.  It’s the perfect place to experience the best Dallas has to offer in a walkable area. There are so many restaurants and bars to choose from, but one of my favourites right now is Brick and Bones. They serve some of the best Mexican-style fried chicken in town, in a laid-back atmosphere. If you are lucky enough to be there when you see chicken chicharrones on the menu – be sure to get them!

Walk down a few blocks and step into one of my favourite bars, Twilite Lounge. The owners describe it as a “dive bar you can bring a date to” and I couldn’t agree more. The drinks are strong and the jukebox is always packed with good, carefully picked music.


Bishop Arts, a two-block former warehouse area in South Dallas, is home to lots of bars and restaurants and one unique design and letterpress studio, We Are 1976. This family-owned gift shop is part gallery and part creative workshop. They carry prints, cards and jewellery from local and international artists. On top of that, they give classes where you can learn to letterpress. Pro tip: Afterwards, go across the street and get a slice of pie (my favourite is the Smooth Operator) from Emporium Pies and thank me later.

Basically, if you come to Dallas, you come to drink and to eat! I didn’t even mention the amazing barbecue…

What’s your favourite city or place to visit?

My wife and I were fortunate enough to take a trip to Italy after I graduated from college, and we still think about it often. We travelled from Milan all the way to Pompeii, and stopped in all the major cities. The city that we fell in love with most was Ravenna. The art and history was already enough, but then add the best gelato we have ever tasted – it put the city over the top for us.


Another favourite city of ours is Marfa, Texas. The artist community is located deep in the Big Bend area of west Texas. It’s a hard place to explain, and an even harder place to get to, but when you get there, you just get it. The place is so quiet and wide open it’s the perfect place to get away from everything, including phone reception.

What’s a travel tip we should know?
Most airline seats, regardless of how old the plane is, have plugs under the seat. I wish someone had told me this earlier!

Published 11 September 2017

Our guides are printed in England on 100% recycled paper