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A drinking man’s guide to Dallas

To put it mildly, finding an open bar in the Dallas/Fort Worth area would be a fairly simple task for even the most unadventuresome out-of-towner; this area is all but reeking with mile upon mile of nameless, sagging concrete-block structures that are at least capable of providing a thirst-quenching Lone Star or a warm shot of generic brand whiskey. And even if you’d just as soon bypass the scores of basic bars-those that are by nature dark, dingy, and dangerous-you’re still confronted with a Pandora’s box of possibilities in the endless search for the driest martini, the tangiest margarita, or the smoothest bourbon. And since for most of us it’s not only what we drink but where we drink it that’s important, there’s also the atmosphere that a potential bar evokes to consider. So, it is in the true “spirit” of club scouting that we have assembled the following bar listing; a totally subjective compilation of our own experiences in some of Dallas’ more memorable drinking establishments.

Andrew’s. Folksingers and specialty drinks in an exposed brick/wood ambiance-for those who like this sort of place, as Miss Jean Brodie would say, this is the sort of place they like. As for the food, stick to basic burgers and salads. Anything fancier, including the once fabled crab sandwich, is a mistake. (3301 McKinney. 521-6535. Daily 11:15 am-2 am. Happy hour Mon-Fri until 7. AE, DC, MC, V.)

Bagatelle. One of the best places for jazz listening, it’s also a dimly lighted club with comfortable seating and music that doesn’t interfere with conversation. Thursday through Saturday nights feature the Paul Guerrero Jazz Quartet and Debra Smith 9-1:30. (4925 Greenville. 692-8224. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-1 am, Fri & Sat till 2 am. Sun 10:30 am-2:30 pm & 6 pm-10 pm. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4:30-7. All credit cards.)

Balboa Cafe. This cafe calls itself Dallas’ second tern bar. meaning it’s like the San Francisco Rose -lots of glass, greenery, and couches. The sandwiches are fair, and there’s a reasonably good selection of imported beer. But the place is noisy and service is sometimes slow. (3604 Oak Lawn. 521-1068. Daily 11 am-2 am. MC, V, AE.) Balboa Cafe Greenville is even cozier and has a little more stylish clientele. (7015 Greenville. 369-7027. Daily 11 am-2 am, Happy hour Mon-Fri 4-7, Sun-Thur mid-night-2 am. MC, V. AE.)

Bar Tejas. Yet another entry in the emergence of the lower Greenville Avenue phenomenon, with a Moroccan tile exterior and a classic interior reminiscent of Havana in the Thirties. The menu, however, has an Italian accent, featuring fried ravioli and the best lentil soup around. The personality of Tom Garrison’s enterprise is especially effective on an overcast afternoon. Classical music featured on Sundays. (2100 Greenville. 828-2131 Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am, Sun noon-2 am. Happy hour daily 4-7. AE.)

Belle Starr. Using the 19th-century lady outlaw as its motif, this c/w dance hall (formerly the Bovarian Steakhouse) has become a popular hangout for cowboys and cowgirls with its spacious dance floor and comfortable furnishings. The Roy Clayton Band entertains Tuesday through Saturday. Free dance lessons Sunday 4-8 pm. Cover on weekends. (7724 N Central near Southwestern. 750-4787. Tue-Sat 7 pm-2 am, Sun 4 pm-2 am. Closed Mon. AE, MC, DC, V.)

Biff’s. Biff’s belongs in the middle of an eight-foot snowbank with a fire blazing in its fireplace, icicles clinging to the windowsills, and red-faced people bustling about in fur-lined parkas and aprés-ski boots. But even if you aren’t at home on the slopes, you’ll love Biff’s. Ignore the mingling singles at the bar and concentrate on Biff’s burgers, nachos, and good, stiff drinks. (7402 Greenville. 696-1952. Daily 11:30am-2am. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4-7. AE, MC, V.)

Cactus Bar and Grill. An old West cattle drive-inspired atmosphere draws lots of would-be cowboys craving Texas-size burgers and fries, but the primary attention-getter is a happy hour twist called “Beat the Clock.” On Tuesdays, between 3 and 7, drink prices increase 10¢ an hour, starting at 30¢. (5412 E Mockingbird. 821-0621. Mon-Wed 11 am-10 pm, Thur-Sat 11 am-11 pm, Sun 4-10 pm. Happy hour daily 3- 7. All credit cards.)

Cafe Dallas. The decor of the interior is rather stylish and the sound system is possibly one of the best in town, but that’s not why the line weaves out the door and around the corner. Someone somewhere declared this place the singles bar of Dallas. Bouncers resembling Dallas Cowboys hopefuls guard the doors, filtering out those undesirables who don’t satisfy the fluctuating dress code. Once inside, you can either lose yourself amidst the uncategori-zable crowd or escape to the elevated backgam-mon/pente area. (5500 Greenville. 987-0066. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 am. Sat & Sun 7 pm-2 am. Breakfast is served from 2:30 am-5 am, Sat & Sun. AE, MC, V.)

Cardinal Puff’s. The atmosphere here is as calming as a 15-minute sauna. The wooden deck outside is perfect for sipping margaritas and basking in the sunshine (when the weather permits), and the cozy fireplace nestled among the plants inside is just as soothing. (4615 Greenville. 369-1969. Daily 4 pm-2 am. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4-7. MC, V.)

Chelsea Corner. A low-key, collegiate version of Andrew’s, with woodsy decor, folksingers, and specialty drinks. There are, however, quiet corners to escape to. (4830 McKinney. 522-3501. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 am. Sat & Sun noon-2 am. Happy hour Mon-Fri 11:30-7. AE, MC, V.)

Cowboy. This is no place for the closet claustrophobic-hundreds of rhinestone cowboys lookin’ for love swarm here like bees to honey. Consequently, breathing room (much less dancing room) is almost impossible to find, and mingling-desired or otherwise-is inevitable. Expect long lines outside, too. (5208 Greenville. 369-6969. Nightly 7 pm-2 am. MC, V, AE, DC.)

Cowgirl. With a decor that hovers between high tech and cowboy kitsch, Cowgirl caters mostly to hotel guests, but on weekends locals arrive to dance to disc jockey country and disco music, or play at one of the numerous backgammon tables. (Regent Hotel at Mockingbird and Stemmons. 630-7000. Mon-Fri 4 pm-2 am, Sat 7 pm-2 am. Closed Sun. Private club with $5 yearly membership fee except tor hotel guests. All credit cards.)

The Den. Located in the Stoneleigh Hotel, this is the essence of a bar: very small, very dark, and very red. (2927 Maple Ave. 742-7111. Mon-Fri 11 am-mid-night. Happy hour all day Mon-Fri. All credit cards.)

Eight-O. Prime grazing land for semi-sophisticates and would-be Bohemians. The clientele ranges from chic to occasionally rowdy, and regulars insist the all-purpose jukebox is the best in Dallas. Menu items include chick-on-a-stick and highly rated hamburgers. (The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh, Suite 145. 741-0817. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2 am, Sun 11:30 am-2 am. Happy hour daily 4-8. MC, AE, V.)

élan. Still the classiest of the Dallas discos-where chic sophisticates boogie and play backgammon with members of their own set. Two dance floors are set in a posh, modern decor and are backed up with a top-notch sound system. Surprisingly good food and a Sunday brunch. Happy hour buffet features a lavish spread. Daily lunch buffet open to the public, but membership required at night. (5111 Greenville. 692-9855. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 am, Sat 7 pm-2 am. Happy hour Mon-Fri 2-7 Sun brunch 11-2. AE, DC, MC. V.)

Four Seasons Ballroom. Big-band music for ballroom dancing. A strict dress code is enforced- dresses for the ladies and coats and ties for the gentlemen. Only setups, beer, and soft drinks are served, except on Fridays when food is available. Cover varies, but free dance lessons. (4930 Military Pkwy. 349-0390 or 381-9072. Wed 8:45-12:15 am & Fri 9-12:30 am.)

Qordo’s. Dark, with jukebox selectors at the red leatherette booths. Gordo’s is at its best during football season, when it’s a comfortable and low-key place to have pizza or burgers and watch the game. (4528 Cole. 521-3813. Sunnoon-10 pm. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4-6. MC, V, AE.)

The Grape. Few wine bar/bistros can match The Grape for atmosphere-a kind of hole-in-the-wall chic-or for food. The wine list gets longer and more ambitious all the time. (2808 Greenville at Goodwin. 823-0133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 am-2 pm. Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11 pm, Fri & Sat 6 pm-1 am. AE. MC, V.)

Greenville Avenue Country Club. The old Vagabond Club resurrected, with the backyard swimming pool still the main attraction. The GACC has the usual chicken-fried menu and good drinks for East Dallas loyalists. Swimming encouraged. (3619 Greenville. 826-5650. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am. Sun noon-2 am. Happy hour 4-7. Sun brunch noon-2. AE. MC, V.)

Greeivllle Bar & Grill. “Dallas’ oldest bar” has a browsing rack adjacent to the bar, live music on special party nights, and silver dollar-sized Formica tables. Hal Baker and the Gloomchasers deliver the hottest Dixieland jazz in town every Sunday and Thursday night ($2 cover). (2821 Greenville. 823-6691. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2 am, Sun noon-2 am. Kitchen open till 1 am daily, closes at midnight on Sun. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4-7. AE.)

The Hop. This small, friendly pub has the best munchies in Fort Worth-fried okra and eggplant, for example. The crowd is a happy amalgamation of college students and families. Live music most nights starting around 9. Willis Alan Ramsey and Steve Fromholz are among those who play here with some regularity. Cover after 9 when there is live music. (2905 W Berry, Fort Worth. (817) 923-7281. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am, Sun 4 pm-1 am. Happy hour daily 2-7, all day Wed. MC, V, AE, DC.)

Joe Miller’s. The media people bar, and a great gathering spot for regulars. The smallness and plainness of the bar are offset by Miller’s personality, as well as by his stiff drinks. (3531 McKinney. 521-2261. Mon-Fri noon-2 am. AE, MC, V.)

Knox Street Pub. An apparent favorite of young professionals, this nostalgic pub features excellent food and a terrific jukebox. (3230 Knox. 526-9476. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am. Happy hour 4-7pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards.)

Likawood Yacht Club. In this neighborhood bar, scores of press photos decorate the walls from eye level all the way up to the incredibly high ceiling. Home-cooked potato chips, really comfortable chairs, a well-stocked jukebox, and an interesting clientele. (2009 Abrams. 824-1390. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 am. Sat & Sun noon-2 am. AE, MC, V.)

Les Saisons. A captivating cityscape of downtown Dallas makes this bar special. You can gather around the cozy fireplace, sip an icy drink, and have enough quiet to carry on a conversation. Cheery, classy decor-like a French garden room. (165 Turtle Creek Village. 528-1102. Daily 11:30 am-11:30 pm. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4-7. All credit cards.)

The Library. This bar/restaurant in the spruced-up old Melrose Hotel achieves the understated tasteful-ness for which most motif bars strive. The small bar area is richy appointed in brass, leather, and, of course, books; it’s comfortable, blessedly quiet, the drinks are excellent, and the service is unobtrusive. (3015 Oak Lawn. 521-5151. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-mid-night, Sat 5:30 pm-midnight. Closed Sun. All credit cards.)

Lillie Langtry’s Saloon. Antlers on the wall, portraits of actress Langtry, and an informal clientele are aspects of this small, rustic club. More important are the entertainers, who have recently included talented locals like John DeFoore and Tim Holiday (who call themselves Stumpbroke) and guitarist Delbert Pullen. Nachos and sandwiches served. No cover. (6932 Greenville. 368-6367. Daily noon-2 am. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4-8, Sat & Sun 2-8 pm. AE, MC, V.)

Longhorn Ballroom. Built by Bob Wills in 1950 and later leased by Jack Ruby, the historic Longhorn is Dallas’ definitive c/w dance hall. Here, real and affected cowboys two-step on a roller rink-sized dance floor framed by cactus pillars. Owner Dewey Groom fronts the Longhorn Band nightly and on weekends warms up for big-name acts. Free c/w dance lessons Wednesday and Thursday nights. Cover varies. Setups available. (216 Corinth at Industrial. 428-3128. Wed & Thur 7 pm-midnight, Fri & Sat 7 pm-2 am. Sun 3 pm-midnight. All credit cards.)

Madison’s. Slick, popular North Dallas bar with trendy clientele and tasteful setting. Excellent copy bands do precision versions of Steely Dan, et al. (8141 Walnut Hill Ln. 361 0644. Daily 5 pm-2 am. Happy hour Mon-Fri 5-7. AE, MC, V.)

The Mirage. For non-hotel guests, the setting of this comfortable lobby piano bar is what makes it worth a trip: The Atrium II of Loews Anatole, with its 100-foot-long banners draping from 14 stories, is spectacular. Judy Moore plays pop tunes on the baby grand nightly 6-11:30. (Loews Anatole, 2201 Stemmons. 748-1200. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am, Sun noon-2 am. All credit cards.)

NFL. One of the friendliest bars in town, the NFL (Nick Farrelley’s Lounge) is a hangout for Irish people. Come here in a rowdy mood-especially on Friday nights when Irish Texans tune up with old Irish folk songs. Dancing, darts, and shuffleboard are available for the restless. $2 cover Fridays. (3520 Oak Lawn. 559-4890. Mon-Fri 4 pm-2 am. Sat 6 pm-2 am. C/osed Sun. No credit cards)

Nick’s Uptown. An enormous smoke-filled room dotted with tables, a raised stage in one corner, and a bar running almost the length of the room on the opposite side. The club offers a good cross section of music; it is one of the few spots in Dallas to hear well-known Austin bands on a regular basis. Nick’s also books musicians like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Delbert McClinton. (3606 Greenville. 827 4802. Mon-Sun 8 pm-2 am. AE, MC. V.)

Papagayo. No wet T-shirt contests here, just pure, stylish big-city disco. Cavernous showplace with awesome sound and light show. Packed dance floor doesn’t allow Travolta imitators their usual gymnastics, which is probably just as well. Live music Tuesday through Thursday. $3 cover on weekends. (8796 N Central. 692-5412. Tue-Thur 8 pm-2 am. Fri & Sat till 4 am. AE, MC, V.)

Papillon. Seating above the dance floor lets you ignore the Beautiful People if you wish: usually quiet, with touch-dancing music late in the evening. (7940 N Central. 691-7455. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 am. Sat 5:30 pm-2 am, Sun 6 pm-2 am. All credit cards.)

Plaf’s. An atrium bar with high ceilings and huge plants. The menu offers basic salads, quiche, and hamburgers. (4527 Travis at Knox. 526-3730. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2 am, Sun noon-midnight. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4-7 & 11 pm till last call. Kitchen open till 1:30 Fri & Sat. DC, MC, V, AE.)

Playboy Club. Take your pick of three rooms attended by-what else-cottontailed bunnies: a disco, a subdued lounge with quiet music Thursday through Saturday, and a dinner/show room with comedy and music acts. Private membership required. (6116 N Central. 363-3800. Bullet daily 11:30-2:30. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 am, 6 pm-2 am Sat. Closed Sun. AE, V, MC.)

Poor David’s Pub. Small, dark, and informal, PD’s has a variety of entertainers like ex-Bees Knees guitarist Anson Funderburgh and his Rockets, a talented, no-nonsense blues band. Good sandwiches available. Cover varies. (2900 McKinney. 821-9891 Mon-Fri 1 pm-2 am, Sat 7 pm-2 am. Happy hour Mon-Fri till 7. Closed Sun. Kitchen open till 1 am. No credit cards.)

Popsicle Toes. Taking its name from a Michael Franks tune, this club’s not long on atmosphere or comfort, but presents a diversity of local jazz. The house band is the funk/jazz unit Buster Brown (Tuesday through Saturday), and on Sunday there’s big-band jazz with the Dallas Jazz Orchestra. Cover varies, no cover on Tuesdays. (5627 Dyer. 368-9706. Tue-Sun 8 pm-2 am. Closed Mon. TGIF Fri 4:30-7:30. MC, V.)

The Quiet Man. One of the few surviving Sixties quiet places, the small beer garden is a great place to talk-except during rush hour on Knox Street. (3120 Knox. 526-6180. Tue-Thur noon-midnight, Fri & Sat noon-2 am, Sun & Mon 4 pm-midnight. No credit cards.)

Railhead. It’s a shame this bar is so shoddy because the entertainment is often good: primarily comics and popular music copy artists. But no cover means huge crowds. Stick to basic drinks or brews: The house wine is truly bad, and the bar can’t seem to handle anything tricky. (6919 Twin Hills. 369-8700. Daily 5 pm-1 am. Happy hour Mon-Fri 5-7. Two shows nightly. All credit cards.)

San Francisco Rose. A bright, laid-back place, adorned with greenery, a tew couches, and wing-back chairs. Salads, sandwiches, and soups are all pretty ordinary. (3024 Greenville. 826-2020. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am, Sun noon-2 am. AE, MC, V.)

St. Martin’s. Small, candle-lit, and soothing-as wine bars should be (and too many aren’t). St. Martin’s has made a conscious effort to put a ceiling on wine prices to encourage experimentation. If the result is a wine list composed of lesser vintages, the food alone is still worth a visit: The ham and Swiss sandwich is a perfect foil for a glass of red. (3020 Greenville. 826-0940. Sun & Mon 5-11 pm, Tue-Thur 11-11. Fri & Sat 11 am-1 am. All credit cards.)

6051 Club. 6051 Club is really just an oversized living room furnished with the kind of tables and chairs your grandmother called her “dinette set.” Some of Dallas’ foremost jazz musicians gather on the crowded stage to play their renditions of classics mixed with their own material. Only one drawback: If you arrive after the first set on weekends, it’s standing room only in the bar. (6051 Forest Ln. 661-3393. Mon-Fri 4 pm- 2 am, Sat & Sun 8 pm-2 am. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4-6:30. MC, V.)

Strictly Ta-Bu. Eclectic describes this comfortable bar/restaurant. The consistently decent jazz ranges from fusion to Forties swing, the crowd is a mix of mature professionals and high school seniors, and the decor vintage art moderno. A separate eating area offers outstanding but small pizzas along with other Italian dishes. Cover on weekends. (4111 Lomo Alto. 522-8101. Mon-Thur 11 am-2:30 pm & 5 pm-midnight, Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5 pm-1 am & 6 pm-1 am, Sun 6 pm-midnight, MC, V.)

Texas Tea House. A get-down country place, with dancing to the Will Barnes Band in the beer garden outside. Mixed drinks available. (3402 Kings Rd. 526-9171. Tue-Sat 8 pm-2 am. No credit cards.)

Top of the Dome. The only bar in town with several views of the Dallas skyline. Nightly entertainment. Annoying $1.50 charge for elevator ride has been dropped for club-goers. (Reunion Tower, 300 Reunion. 651-1234. Mon-Sat 2 pm-1:30 am. Sun 11:30 am-1:30 am. All credit cards.)

Venetian Room. A fancy and expensive mock-up of the Doge’s Palace, this supper club attracts couples who appreciate the semi-formal dress requirements and who like to fox-trot to an orchestra before the show. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard. 748-5454. Mon-Sat 7 pm-1 am. Shows Mon-Thur 8:30 & 11, Fri & Sat 9 & 11. AE, DC, MC, V.)

Whiskey River. A rowdy honky-tonk of a place. Top-notch entertainment ranging from c/w to Sixties rock and roll seldom fails to keep the crowds goin’ and the long necks flowin’. Cover varies. (5421 Greenville. 369-9221. Nightly 8 pm-2 am. AE, MC. V.)

The White Elephant. Located in the revived Stockyards District in Fort Worth, this place looks. like what all non-Texans think real Texas bars should look like-lots of rough wood, a long bar, and a clientele occasionally decked out in western attire. Entertainment varies. (106 E Exchange. Fort Worth. (817) 624-1887. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am. Closed Sun. MC, AE, V.)

The Wine Press. The Wine Press serves an array ofboth California and imported wines. The blackboardoffers daily by-the-glass selections, occasionallystudded with gems. And unlike many wine bars, TheWine Press also serves a full range of cocktails.(4217 Oak Lawn. 522-8720. Daily 11 am-2 am. Noreservations. MC, V, AE.)

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