Depending on where you live and what you like to eat, there truly is something for everyone here in Dallas. Say you’re a vegetarian, for example… check out the Texas State Veggie Fair. But what if you’re the polar opposite of a vegetarian? Well, perhaps Smoked Dallas or Meat Fight is more your speed. Let this guide help you decide which fall food fests are worth your effort, money and valuable calendar space.
Date: September 15-18
Ticket Price: Free admission Thursday, $10 every other day. Various packages available starting at $35.
Location: Addison Circle
Details: The concept of Oktoberfest is nothing new, but this year, the folks at the City of Addison have brought out some new foods to liven up the festival. Reindeer bratwurst, Reuben crepes and Kobe beef bacon-topped German potato pancakes are all new this year. Add to that beer, pretzels, carnival rides, folk dancing and all the traditional German shitz you can handle.
Protips: Park for free at the northwest corner of the Tollway and Arapaho Road. Food and beverage vendors only accept tickets, known as "Tasty Bucks", while vendors in the marketplace accept cash, credit or Tasty Bucks.
Chefs for Farmers
Date: September 23-26
Ticket Price: $75-200
Location: Lee Park
Details: Another weekend-long celebration of food, Chefs For Farmers honors the food we love most and the farmers who help get it to our bellies. What began as a farm-to-farm table dinner five years ago, is now a full-blown festival with over 60 chefs, 35 farmers and artisans and more than 50 wineries, breweries and distilleries.
Protips: The Main Event is on Sunday from 2-6 p.m., but don't miss the Street Food Night Market on Saturday night in the Design District ($75), or the Crème De La Femme Dinner on Friday night, ($200) featuring an all-female chef lineup, supporting The Family Place.
Date: September 24
Ticket Price: $10 for kids; $28 for just the concert, $48 for GA tasting and the concert, $90 for VIP tickets. $5 Parking is available at nearby Elm Street Garage.
Location: Main Street Garden
Details: The philosophy behind Smoked is pretty simple: it's all about barbecue and music. From 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., 15 barbecue joints and chefs will be handing out their smoky wares to folks with tasting tickets. Vegetarians need not worry; there will be side dishes from Cafe Momentum and desserts by Haute Patisserie. There's also something called the Trailer Park Olympics, which features events like a Toilet Seat Toss and Mechanical Bull Rides.
Protips: Be sure to bring cash for drinks of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety, and if you want to purchase any meat after 5:00 when the samplers quit sampling and moving on to selling their meats to the public.
Date: September 23-25
Ticket Price: Admission is free, but food, drinks and certain extra events cost tickets, available for purchase online or at the festival.
Location: Historic Downtown McKinney
Details: In its ninth year, McKinney Oktoberfest is another weekend-long beer and food filled festival for the whole family. From weenie dog races to brat eating competitions, Texas' largest chicken dance to a kid-friendly carnival, the McKinney Oktoberfest schedule is packed. There's even the Crepe Myrtle Trails Run, which features a fun run, 5K and 10K on September 24.
Dîner En Blanc
Date: Friday, September 30
Ticket Price: $37 + $8 membership fee per person
Details: There are two things to know about Dallas' Dîner En Blanc. For one, it's already sold out, so if you don't have a ticket, you're probably not going. The other is that everyone in attendance wears white from head-to-toe. All guests bring picnic dinners, including white tables and white chairs, complete with white linens, plates and decor. And some folks go all out with their all-white, costume-like getups and incredible tablescapes.
Protips: At the end of the night, everyone cleans up and wherever DIB took place —which remains a secret until the night of — it will appear as if nothing ever occurred there. It's all in the name of grand spectacle and tradition – an international event making its second appearance here in Dallas in its 30-year history.
The State Fair of Texas
Date: September 30-October 23
Ticket Price: $12 for single day admission, $39.95 for a season pass, with several group packages and discount options available. Paid parking is available in various official and unofficial lots in and around Fair Park, or you can DART right to Fair Park Station.
Location: Fair Park
Details: The State Fair of Texas is the granddaddy of food festivals. Of course, it's not technically a food festival, but so much of The Fair revolves around food that it might as well be. From blue ribbon-winning foods to beer gardens to chef demonstrations to deep fried everything, there's no way talk about the Fair without thinking about its food. Then there's the Big Tex Choice Awards.
Protips: This year, Best Taste and Most Creative went to Fried Jell-O and State Fair Cookie Fries, respectively. You know you want to taste them, and there's only one place to do that.
Park & Palate
Date: October 21 & 22
Ticket Price: $75 for tickets to the Grand Taste from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday.
Location: Klyde Warren Park
Details: This year, Park & Palate will also be marking its second year here in Dallas. Featuring wine, beer and spirits on one side and food samples from 30 of the state's most exciting chefs on the other, Klyde Warren Park will transform into a gourmand's wonderland for a couple of days in October.
Throughout Sunday's Grand Taste event, several chefs will offer up cooking demonstrations to the crowd, while other guests glide from tent to tent sampling each chef's wares. Bellies will be filled, cocktails will be drunk, and winners will be crowned in a few coveted categories.
Protips: VIP tickets, as well as tickets to the Down to the Roots event on Friday night, are sold out. Valet parking for $20 per car, with several metered and paid parking options available around the area.
Date: Sunday, November 13
Ticket Price: $100 GA, $200 VIP, available October 4 via Prekindle.
Location: Four Corners Brewery
Details: Meat Fight brings together equal parts fun, food and philanthropy, with all three in huge quantities. Since 2010, the meat bonanza has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the National MS Society. Teams of chefs compete in several meaty categories, while all in attendance sample the goods, drink local beer and bid on high-flying auction items.
Protips: Tickets sell out in minutes, so stay close to your computer on October 4 if you want in.
Texas State Veggie Fair
Date: October 22
Ticket Price: Free
Location: Reverchon Park
Details: The Texas State Veggie Fair bills itself as a free event "celebrating plant-based lifestyle options of every kind." Those who consider themselves veggie-friendly or even veg-curious can expect to discover a park full of vegetarian and vegan food vendors, plant-based merchants, chef demos, live music and performances of all kinds, as well as plenty of kids and dogs. Food, drinks and products will be available, with some accepting cash and some credit.
Protips: Parking is free in the area, but pretty limited, so if possible walk, bike or take the Katy Trail to the Fair.
Date: Saturday, November 12
Ticket Price: $35 for general admission, with tasting packages starting at $39. Bring cash to purchase food and beers.
Location: Fair Park
Details: Untapped Fest celebrates two equally great things: craft beer and good music. And it's big. As in, five fests in five cities in Texas, big. Big as in, over 400 beers from over 100 breweries big. TV On The Radio rounds out a lineup of live music including Gogol Bordello, Kaleo, Bishop Briggs, Adia Victoria and Bassh. Untapped's food vendors are nothing to sneeze at either, featuring local favorites such as One90 Smoked Meats, Glazed Donut Works, East Hampton Sandwich Co., Rodeo Goat and more.
Protips: The event is dog- and kid-friendly; children under 10 get in free (no beer under 21 though, kids). The organizers also strongly recommend you use a ride-sharing service like Uber or ride DART to Fair Park because... well, all the beers. Good call.
Main photo by Robert Bostick