Best In Dallas: Dallas Contemporary’s Justine Ludwig Shares With Us Her Local Favs

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We love a good list, and a Best In Dallas list is even better! Today, Justine Ludwig, Dallas Contemporary‘s Director of Exhibitions/Senior Curator is sharing with us a few of her favorite places in Dallas. Read on for Justine’s local favs for Japanese cuisine, art, weekend getaways, and more!


Meet Justine, a creative mastermind. With an eye for fine art, this Dallas transplant has curated exhibitions at The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, the Tufts University Art Gallery in Massachusetts, and the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro. Currently on view at Dallas Contemporary are two shows curated by Justine herself, Laercio Redondo’s Past Projects for the Future and Pedro Reyes’ For Future Reference. Justine spends her free time exercising her creative muscles by writing for various publications across the world. Read on for Justine’s favorite Dallas gems!


Foodie Favorite: Mr Max Café Nippon

Known for its authentic Japanese food, Mr Max Irving is one of Justine’s favorite places to chow down. “I travel a lot and my fiancé and I treat ourselves to Mr Max whenever I return from a trip,” she told us. “It’s an intimate setting and the food is excellent. Everything from their Sashimi to their fried squid is great!” This low-key izakaya (aka informal Japanese gastropub) is quaint, but offers a wide array of delicious sushi, tapas and sake.



Cocktail Culture: Local Press + Brew

Local Press + Brew isn’t an ordinary coffee shop. It’s the first juice and coffee parlor in Dallas devoted to quality and local support. Sourcing and supporting local vendors is their thing and Justine adores that. “I am a teetotaler, but I still enjoy treating myself to special beverages,” she said. “I am a regular at Local Press + Brew and I swear by their charcoal lemonade, playfully called ‘the day after,’ to get me through especially busy workweeks.” Serving farm to bottle cold-pressed, organic juices served in adorable glas bottles, classic coffee and espresso, the shop and Justine are likeminded, they also feature artists inside.


 Bargain Hunter: High & Tight Barbershop

Don’t let this Deep Ellum barber shop’s manly exterior scare you! According to Justine, High & Tight will cut your hair just right. “I get my hair cut by Juke Higgins,” she told us. “It is the best haircut I have ever gotten. As a plus, Higgins is funny and full of stories. It’s like getting a haircut and a show for only $35.” A 1920’s-inspired barbershop focused on the gentlemen lifestyle and grooming, the hair destination’s ethos is based upon traditional styles and values. Come in for a hair cut and stay a while in its vintage barber chairs while sipping a vintage cocktail and listening to live music.


Décor Destination: Set & Co

With its one of a kind artisinal kitchen and home décor, Set & Co located in Oak Cliff  was picked by Justine for having the most beautiful selection of home supplies she’s ever seen.”I want everything they have,” she mentioned. “They source globally and addition to decor, they carry my favorite bath products from Santa Maria Novella in Italy and delicious jams from SQIRL in Los Angeles.”

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On The Move: Big Bend National Park

With its beautiful trails and gorgeous views, it’s no surprise that Justine chose Big Bend as her favorite road trip from Dallas! “For my nature fix I head out West,” the artistic adventurer told us. “I like going hiking and camping. Big Bend National Park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It is absolutely breathtaking.” Located in southwest Texas on the Chisos mountain range and a large swatch of the Chihuahuan Desert, this nature destination features over 800,000 miles of steep limestone cliffs, river canyons, desert and mountains. A little under nine hours away from downtown Dallas, it makes for a perfect weekend getaway.


I Heart Dallas: Dallas Contemporary

Dallas Contemporary is what brought Justine to Dallas, so it’s near and dear to her heart. “With the institution’s mix of local, national, and international exhibition programming, it truly reflects the diverse make up of the community,” she told us. “The curatorial team makes an effort to create shows that speak to Dallas. She also loves that Dallas is a style conscious city and how people embrace fashion as a form of self-expression. With two of her own exhibitions on view and a third by legendary fashion and lifestyle photographer Bruce Weber up at NorthPark Center’s Dallas Contemporary pop-up, Justine “feels lucky” to work at one of her most favorite places in the world.

Image 1 courtesy of Justine Ludwig. Image 2 courtesy of Serious Eats. Image 3 courtesy of SOHOSTORY. Image 4 courtest of High & Tight Barbershop. Image 5 courtesy of Set & Co. Image 6 courtesy of Christie’s. Image 7 courtesy of VOGUE (photograph by Bruce Weber of Kate Moss).

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