The Best New Bars in Dallas 2012

It’s been a good year for Dallas nightlife. A few bars closed, but many great new spots opened in their stead. Union Bear, The Foundry, and The Dram now top our list of favorite places to be, and scene-y hotspots like SISU and Concrete Cowboy are entertaining the masses every Friday and Saturday night. It wasn’t easy narrowing down our Best New Bars in Dallas 2012 list to only ten, but we did it. Check it out.

The Mason Bar. photography by Jason Acton

Neighborhood: Uptown
Opened in: January
Why it makes the list: We patiently waited for something good to fill the old Angela’s Bistro 51 space and were pleasantly surprised with this neighborhood bar, produced by Brandt Wood and chef David Anthony Temple (Chef DAT). The spacious setup accommodates all kinds of patrons, so you can pop in for intimate cocktails for two or bring the gang and celebrate… whatever. A bar that stretches across the room accommodates heavy crowds, and the addition of a downstairs den called Hi/Lo is perfect for private parties.

Sundown. photography by Jason Acton

Neighborhood: Lower Greenville
Opened in: January
Why it makes the list:We know plenty of people who come here before or after concerts at the Granada Theater right next door, but we think the best time to visit is right after work. Sit at one of the tall tables, order a Jefferson Airplane, and go to your happy place. The regular and reverse happy hours are a steal, the service is friendly, and there’s free live music every night. It’s also one of the only places in town that seems to understand that being vegan, veggie, and/or gluten free doesn’t mean you enjoy eating cardboard.

Union Bear. photography by Jason Acton

Neighborhood: Uptown
Opened in: February
Why it makes the list: This mostly underground watering hole, stocked with a rotating list of 40 beers and a full bar, has everything we could have possibly wanted and at least one thing we didn’t know we needed until it was sweating in a copper mug right in front of us: a frozen Moscow mule (ginger beer, vodka, lime). As a bonus, since the place in run by the same guys behind Eno’s in Oak Cliff, the better-than-bar-food menu provides snacks for when the drunk munchies cometh and signature pizzas to soak up the remnants of a boozy IPA.

The Foundry. photography by William Neal

Neighborhood: North Oak Cliff
Opened in: February
Why it makes the list: If we weren’t so worried about actually getting drinks, this would be one of our favorite places in the history of Dallas. (The bar’s packed deep on the weekends.) Still, the laid-back outdoor vibe gives us plenty of room to stretch out, listen to live music, and snag some rosemary off next-door neighbor Chicken Scratch’s bushes. Feel free to bring the whole gang. It’s great for large gatherings.

The Dram. photography by Jason Acton

Neighborhood: Henderson
Opened in: February
Why it makes the list:The Dram filled a niche we didn’t know we were missing: a smooth cocktail lounge. Sure, there was the Joule’s PM, but it closed its doors. The Dram brought sexy back with its dim lighting over plush velvet booths and extensive whiskey and and champagne cocktail menus. The music is ambience-producing, but not overpowering. And the crowd? Surprisingly professional, well-dressed, and not at all obnoxious.

Ku De Ta. photography by William Neal

Neighborhood: Old East Dallas
Opened in: May
Why it makes the list: We have long summers. A new poolside lounge just makes sense. And in true, pretentious Dallas fashion, it’s a members-only thing. (Although civilians are welcome to sip a cocktail by the pool at approved times.) We appreciate the heated saltwater pool, plenty of seating that isn’t roped off for VIPs, bartenders that are both friendly and attentive, and, naturally, the good looking (and shirtless) crowd that shows up every weekend.

Ten Bells. photography by Jason Acton

Neighborhood: North Oak Cliff
Opened in: July
Why it makes the list: It’s about as big as the basement of a doublewide trailer, if such things existed. What it lacks in size, though, it makes up for in heavy-handed drinks, revolving local brews on tap, and a smart, funny staff. If you happen to sit at the bar and meet the owner, he’ll ask for your name and remember it. The patio is pet friendly, and on nice nights, a DJ’s outside spinning good tunes.

Kung Fu Saloon. photography by Jason Acton

Neighborhood: Uptown
Opened in: September
Why it makes the list: There’s a lot to love about a bar with games. Like giant Jenga. And cheeseburger egg rolls. And private karaoke rooms. It’s no wonder it’s always packed with patrons lining the patio full of TVs and inside manning the 20 vintage arcade games. Plus, there are 24 beers on draft. Chase down a bite after work with a cold one, or bring a stash of quarters to play Donkey Kong and Stargate while you sip a ninja-inspired cocktail (like the Crain Kick, with sake dropped in a Blue Moon, topped with vanilla vodka).

SISU. photography by William Neal

Neighborhood: Uptown
Opened in: September
Why it makes the list: As much as we love the concept of a poolside lounge, its actual existence in a city like Dallas usually draws in a less than stellar crowd. (Jersey Shore types, for example.) But so far, we’ve been surprised. Not only is SISU a hot brunch spot with decent food, it’s a venue for fashion events and the home of DJ WishFM (aka Wade Hampton), who draws a stylish crowd.

Concrete Cowboy. photography by William Neal

Neighborhood: Uptown
Opened in: September
Why it makes the list: It’s not easy to take a sports bar and turn it into a packed nightclub, but Concrete Cowboy does this every weekend. Housed in the former Penguin Dueling Piano Bar space on Cedar Springs, this hybrid watering hole is perfect for game watching (on the massive projection screen TVs on the wall or the flatscreens lining the bar) or dancing on tables when the sun goes down. Seriously.