The Best Bars in Dallas

We pub-crawled in North Dallas, scoured the dives on Lower Greenville, and sipped wine at the Mansion. And our livers lived to talk about it.

DIVES

Adair’s
The ambience screams dive: walls covered in graffiti and beer signs, dirty floors, booths covered in duct tape, and cheap beer. The good news here is they feature live music seven nights a week and there’s never a cover—just a plastic jug on stage for tipping the band.
2624 Commerce St. 214-939-9900.
Happy hour: daily, 4-8 pm. $1.50 drafts, $2 cans, $3 wells, $5.50 pitchers
Daily specials: none
Best night: Fri

Bar of Soap
There’s something reassuring about a place where you can grab a beer, wash your unmentionables, and play a fierce game of Ms. Pac-Man. Don’t dress up—the women in pleather and men in Converse will get a good laugh at your expense.
3615 Parry Ave. @ First St. 214-823-6617.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 3-9 pm; Sat & Sun, noon-9 pm. $1.50 drafts, $2.50 wells
DAILY SPECIALS: none
Best night: Thu (after 10:30 pm)

The Cavern
Don’t linger downstairs, though that’s where you’ll find live music. Instead, mosey up the narrow staircase and sink into one of the couches in the back. It’s dark up there, but the mood is mellow, and you can carry on a conversation.
1914 Lower Greenville Ave. 214-841-9091.
Happy hour: none
DAILY SPECIALS: Sun & Mon, $1 off anything; Tue, $2 wells and domestics; Thu, $2.50 Long Island iced teas
Best nights: Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon & Tue

The Elbow Room
Near Baylor Hospital, this little bar is often filled with doctors in scrubs (off-duty, we hope).
3010 Gaston Ave. 214-828-9488.
Happy hour: Sun, 4-11 pm. $1 domestic drafts; Mon-Fri, 4-8 pm. $2 domestic bottles
Daily specials: none
Best nights: Wed, Fri & Sat

Lakewood Landing
This self-proclaimed “upscale dive” is big enough to accommodate a crowd, but small enough to feel like a real neighborhood bar. Snag the booth across from the jukebox and play DJ for the night.
5818 Live Oak St. @ Skillman St. 214-823-2410.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 3-7 pm. $3 imported pints, $2.50 domestic pints, $2 domestic bottles, $1 off wine, 50¢ off anything else
Daily specials: Mon, live entertainment (think Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra) at 10 pm
Best night: Fri

The Loon Bar & Grill
By day, the suits break for a bite—including a great burger—to accompany their three-martini lunches. By night, the Loon’s college crowd, professional types, and the occasional Dallas Maverick dribble in to enjoy the extended happy hour and stiff drinks.
3531 McKinney Ave. 214-559-3059.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 11 am-7 pm. 50¢ off wells, calls, and premiums
Daily specials: none
Best nights: Fri & Sat

Louie’s
The drinks are stiff and the bar is dark. If you’ve got a problem with that, too bad. Louie’s isn’t going to change, because it hasn’t for years. It’s still a hangout for media-types, and it still serves great pizza. Note: they only take cash and American Express. As the kids say, “That’s old-school.”
1839 N. Henderson Ave. 214-826-0505.
Happy hour: none
Daily specials: none
Best night: Fri

Ship’s Lounge
The selection of beverages is limited at best. But the anchor that greets you at the door, a jukebox that belts out Dean Martin and Roy Orbison, and $1.50 drafts are what keep us coming back.
1613 Greenville Ave. @ Ross Ave. 214-823-0315.
Happy hour: daily, 10 am-2 pm. $1 drafts
Daily specials: Wed, free hot dogs
Best night: Fri

The Slip Inn
The Slip Inn, which sits on a rather seedy corner of McMillan and Henderson, is worth discovering. On Monday night, you might just be the only one in the bar. But that’s okay—the bartender will gladly join you for a round of pool. (The morning hours are not a misprint.)
1806 McMillan Ave. 214-370-5988.
Happy hour: Mon-Sat, 7 am-8 pm; Sun, noon-8 pm. $1.75 domestics, $3.50 wells
Daily specials: none
Best nights: Thu, Fri & Sat

Xpo Lounge
The Xpo hums with the artistic-hip vibe that rocked Deep Ellum before the yuppies came. In the courtyard, the mood shifts from ambient to trippy. If you’re hungry, order a pizza from Hungreez down the street.
408 Exposition St. 214-823-2329.
Happy hour: Sun & Mon, all day. $2 wells and domestics
Daily specials: Last Fri of each month 7-10 pm is Hillbilly Happy Hour with live entertainment
Best night: Thu

Cuba Libre
Downstairs, everyone dines. Upstairs in the Libre Lounge, everyone shines, as the lounge pulsates with the sounds of South America and pretty young things slurp mojitos and prickly pear margaritas. Sandals and linen anything are fashion musts.
2822 N. Henderson Ave. 214-827-2820.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm
Daily specials: Tue after 7 pm, $3 frozen drinks, wells, and domestics
Best nights: Tue & Thu

Fishbowl
People come for dinner and stay for drinks or come by late and nibble on Asian-inspired appetizers and slurp Blazing Bangkoks. Grab a seat on the enclosed patio, order a plate of sushi and a cup of sake, and make a night of it.
3214 Knox St. 214-521-2695.
Happy hour: none
Daily specials: Thu, 5-8 pm. $1 sake and sushi
Best night: Thu

Greenville Bar & Grill
One of Dallas’ oldest bars got a face lift—now the regulars munch upscale bar food among white tablecloths and flickering candles. But the owners are bar people (Primo’s veterans), so the cocktails are strong and the clientele is loyal.
2821 Greenville Ave. 469-334-0001.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 3-7 pm. 75¢ beer, $1 off drinks
Daily specials: none
Best night: Sat

Jeroboam
The bar at this sleek brasserie is a glossy romper room for business types and downtown habitués, where kindred spirits sip wine from Jeroboam’s list of all-French vintages. The restored interior captures the original graciousness of the Kirby building.
1509 Main St. 214-748-7226.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm. half-price appetizers, wine, and champagne by the glass, $6 martinis
Daily specials: none
Best nights: Thu & Fri

The Mansion On Turtle Creek
The country club-like atmosphere, stellar service, older clientele, and inflated prices ($38 for two glasses of house wine and two well drinks) are what you’d expect. But twenty- and thirtysomethings should add this dark, cozy piano bar to their regular rotation.
2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 214-559-2100.
Happy hour: none
Daily specials: Mon-Sat, live piano music at 5:30 pm; Thu, Fri & Sat, live three-piece band at 8:30 pm
Best night: Sat

Primo’s
Even though the ambience along McKinney Avenue has suffered considerably since construction began, the patio is still packed with people sipping margaritas any day of the week after work or on Saturday afternoons. Primo’s is also where many big-name chefs gather after-hours.
3309 McKinney Ave. 214-220-0510.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm. 75¢ off beer, $1 off wine
Daily specials: Tue, $2.50 regular margaritas
Best nights: Tue & Thu

Samba Room
Inside, pretty patrons stand shoulder to shoulder in the bar or at tables topped with Latin-inspired fare. If the weather cooperates, sink into one of the sumptuous couches on the patio with a caipirinha and people-watch from Travis Walk.
4514 Travis St., Ste. 132. 214-522-4137.
Happy hour: Sun-Thu, 4-7 pm. $4 mojitos, sangria, and Cuba libres; six half-price appetizers
Daily specials: none
Best night: Thu

Sambuca
Always a reliable source for good jazz, upscale ambience, and high-dollar cocktails. The Deep Ellum location, as you might expect, feelsmore urban than its sister in Addison, which is bigger and more over-the-top in its décor.
2618 Elm St. 214-744-0820;
15207 Addison Rd., Addison. 972-385-8455.

Deep ellum location
Happy hour: none
Daily specials: nightly, live jazz
Best nights: Thu & Fri
Addison location
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4:30-7 pm. $2.50 domestics, $3 microbrews, $3 wells, $3.25 imports, $4 house martinis, $4.50 house wine, $5 house champagne
Daily specials: nightly, live jazz; Sun, all bottles of wine (including champagne) under $100 are half-off
Best nights: Thu, Fri & Sat

Terilli’s
This is an institution, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better martini to go with those Italchos. You’ll probably have to fight for a stool at the small bar, but it’s worth it to hear some reliable jazz any night of the week except Monday. The bartenders work a crowd better than any others in town.
2815 Greenville Ave. @Goodwin Ave. 214-827-3993.
Happy hour: daily, 4-7 pm. $1 off wells, calls, and domestics; $2 house martinis
Daily specials: none
Best nights: Thu, Fri & Sat

PUBS

Blarney Stone
Were it not for Kenny Loggins on the jukebox, the stepping-stone floor and rustic décor are enough to make you think you’re actually sipping a Guinness on the other side of the Pond. And speaking of ponds, what’s a gigantic aquarium doing in a place like this? We’re accustomed to drinking like fish, not with them. No matter.
2116 Greenville Ave. 214-821-7099.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm
Daily specials: Wed, $2 imports
Best night: “Every night’s a party night.”

Flying Saucer
The Fort Worth location is bigger and better than Big D’s. But North Dallas denizens, starved for a cool place for a cold beer, flock to the Addison outpost for one of more than 100 types of beer on tap, along with some decent—and different—bar food.
14999 Montfort Dr. @ Belt Line Rd., Addison. 972-991-7093;
111 E. Fourth St., Fort Worth. 817-336-7470;
770 Road to Six Flags, Arlington. 817-226-7468.

Happy hour: Mon-Thu, 4-7 pm; Fri, 4-8 pm. 50¢ off drafts, $1 off pitchers at all locations.
Daily specials: Fire Sale changes daily: $2.50 selected drafts
Best nights: Mon & Wed

Gingerman
Do you like beer? Do you hate being pinned down to only 20 or 30 choices? Then you should go to the Gingerman, where taps line an entire wall of this converted two-story house in the Uptown area. The beer and wine bar gets crowded around happy hour, especially the tree-topped patios.
2718 Boll St. 214-754-8771.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm. 50¢ off drafts, $1 off pitchers
Daily specials: Tue, pint night
Best nights: Fri & Sun

The Londoner
Against a backdrop of Texas twangs, the Londoner is an impressively authentic British pub. The British bartender pulls Guinness, Bass, Boddington’s, and eight other English ales. With soccer on the telly, T-Rex on the jukebox, and darts and pool to the side, the Londoner is one fun pub.
14930 Midway Rd. @ Beltway Rd., Addison. 972-458-2444.
Happy hour: Sun & Mon, all day; Tue-Fri, 4-7 pm. $2 domestics, $3 imports, house wine, and wells, $3.50 premiums
Daily specials: none
Best night: Fri

The Old Monk
Sure, this dimly lit bar has all the trappings of a European pub, including draft beer from Ireland, England, Belgium, and Germany. But the food is the standout here, with arguably the best fish and chips in town. The best calamari, too.
2847 Henderson Ave. 214-821-1880.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm. 50¢ off calls, $1 off drafts
Daily specials: none
Best night: any night

The Tipperary Inn
Owner Martin Lombard, an Irish native, remodeled and shipped everything—from the bar to the booths—directly from the Emerald Isle to bring an authentic Irish touch to the Lakewood landscape. Midnight Martinis and Celtic Ritas offer cocktail alternatives to Guinness and Harp.
5815 Live Oak St. @ Skillman St. 214-823-7167.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm.
Daily specials: nightly, shot, late-night munchies, beer, and liquor specials from 10:30 pm-2 am
Best nights: Fri & Sat

DRESS TO IMPRESS

Lime Bar
Beautiful people alert: you need a lot of attitude to stand up to the lime-green interior of this trendy Oak Lawn hot spot, and the colorful clientele here have it in Stella McCartney-steeped spades. Pudgy tummies need not apply.
4006 Cedar Springs Rd. @ Throckmorton St. 214-528-0187.
Happy hour: daily, 5-9 pm. $2 wine, wells, and domestics
Daily specials: none
Best nights: Wed, Thu, Sat & Sun

Steel
Looking for local sports celebrities? They love to belly up to the sake bar at this hip, high-dollar, and deafeningly loud Indochine restaurant. Specialty rice wine and expertly crafted sushi make this tiny Oak Lawn haunt a well-heeled hit.
The Centrum, 3102 Oak Lawn Ave. @ Welborn St. 214-219-9908.
Happy hour: none
Daily specials: none
Best night: Fri

Umlaut
This downtown subterranean club is the latest oh-so-chic creation by the Entertainment Collaborative (Jeroboam and The Green Room). The sleek, modern interior is cool, but local and touring DJs keep things hot, churning the beautiful crowd into a Gucci-soaked frenzy. Don’t say we didn’t warn you: it’s $10 to get in after 10 pm and a $5 valet.
1602-B Main St. 214-742-2368.
Happy hour: none
Daily specials: Wed, $3 wells, calls, domestics, house wine, and imports
Best night: Sat

GAY BARS

After Dark
If you prefer Tony Bennett to the Backstreet Boys, shun the disco ball and dance tunes of Oak Lawn’s trendier bars for the intimate, sophisticated atmosphere of After Dark. Slip into a cozy booth or gather around the baby grand as performers croon old jazz and blues standards. This is where the grown-ups go to sip gimlets and gossip.
4026 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-219-1099.
Happy hour: daily, 4-9 pm. $2.50 wells
Daily specials: Tue, $3 martinis; Fri, complimentary hor d’oeurves at 6 pm
Best night: Sat

JR’s
This friendly gay bar might be bigger than Southfork: two stories of bubbly dance tunes, “you go, girl” chants, and vodka-fueled frenzy. Overlooking Cedar Springs (the main drag), the balcony makes it possible to find Mr. Right Now before he ever makes it through the door.
3923 Cedar Springs Rd. @ Throckmorton St. 214-559-0650.
Happy hour: Mon-Thu, Sat & Sun, 11 am-7 pm; Fri, 11 am-8 pm
Daily specials: Fri & Sat, 9-9:30 pm. $1.50 wells
Best night: Sat

Sue Ellen’s
A small dance floor, pool tables, and—surprise!—air hockey keep the gals (and guys) coming back to this fun lesbian bar. Friday and Saturday nights, Melissa Etheridge wannabes take to the outdoor patio for live music when the weather permits.
3903 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-559-0650.
Happy hour: Mon-Thu, 5-10 pm; Fri, 5-8 pm; Sat, noon-7 pm
Daily specials: Fri & Sat, 9:30-10 pm. $1.50 wells
Best night: Sat

SPORTS BARS

Frankie’s Sports Bar & Grill
Like your typical sports bar, it has TVs, a pool table, and a few Golden Tees (if you have to ask, you’ll never know). But unlike a sports bar, here you can feast on barbeque duck quesadillas or yellowfin sashimi. Never fear: you can also get nachos with that beer.
3227 McKinney Ave. @ Hall St. 214-999-8932.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm. $1 off anything
Daily specials: Sat, live music
Best nights: Thu & Fri

McKinney Avenue Tavern
With enough TVs (on the patio, too!) to catch even the most obscure sporting events and three Golden Tees, the MAT appeals to the most serious sports enthusiasts. The food is typical bar fare, but your waitress will be happy to call down to Rocco’s and have a pizza delivered to your table.
2822 McKinney Ave. 214-969-1984.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 11 am-7 pm. $2 drafts, $7 pitchers
Daily specials: Mon-Fri, lunch specials
Best night: Fri (or any night the big game is on)

Moose & Vinny’s
Owners Robert “Moose” Helms Jr. and Vince “Vinny” Gillman transformed the old Skillman Street Pub into a place where mullets and Marlboro Reds run free. It’s also one of the friendliest sports bars we’ve ever been to, with darts and pool tournaments, live music, and even karaoke.
9220 Skillman St. 214-342-2337.
Happy hour: daily, 11 am-7 pm. 50¢ off bottles, $1 off liquor, wine, and drafts
Daily specials: Sun, $1.50 domestic drafts; Thu, $1.50 drink specials; Fri & Sat, shot specials
Best night: Sun (during football season)

TAKE A DATE

The Balcony Club
Perched atop tthe Lakewood Theater, the Balcony Club presents the perfect opportunity to sip ice-cold martinis and listen to steaming jazz licks. Careful going up—and back down—the rickety stairs and mind the band when you walk in the door or you might end up in the drum kit.
1825 Abrams Rd., Ste. B. 214-826-8104.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 5-8 pm. $1 off cocktails, beer, and wine
Daily specials: none
Best nights: Fri & Sat

Cosmo’s
Funky, iridescent lights dangle from the ceiling, casting cozy shadows on the crowd as they sip house specialties (including cosmopolitans, of course), nosh on pizza, and listen to tunes from one of the best jukeboxes in Dallas.
1212 Skillman St. @ Live Oak St. 214-826-4200.
Happy hour: none
Daily specials: none
Best nights: Mon, Tue, Fri & Sat

The Library Bar in the Melrose Hotel
The Library has maintained the sophistication of the original hotel, with enough new cool to entice twenty- and thirtysomething upscale types to sip classic cocktails weekly. Named Best Place to Sip and Sup by the Wall Street Journal. We agree.
3015 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-521-5151.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 5-7 pm
Daily specials: Mon-Sat, live music
Best nights: Fri & Sat

The Lounge at the Inwood Theater
Martini-lovers all over town rejoiced when the owners of this upscale watering hole secured a new lease at Landmark’s tired theater. Keep your fingers crossed for a seat in the back where you can watch the latest art-house flick.
5458 W. Lovers Ln. @ Inwood Rd. 214-350-7834.
Happy hour: none
Daily specials: none
Best nights: Fri & Sat

The Meridian Room
The upscale libations are reminiscent of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel (sidecars, old-fashioneds, aviations). If you’re looking for a quiet bar in which to discuss politics or literature on a Saturday night, this is the place.
3611 Parry Ave. 214-826-8383.
Happy hour: daily, 5-9 pm
Daily specials: Sun, half-price cocktails
Best night: Sun

Mick’s
As Terilli’s hipper next-door neighbor, Mick’s artfully mixes a trendy SoHo air with a Lower Greenville sensibility. The atmosphere is sufficiently dark, the booths sufficiently comfy, and the room sufficiently intimate for a decent conversation. Good news: the kitchen serves till 2 am and there’s a DJ seven nights a week.
2825 Greenville Ave. 214-827-0039.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm
Daily specials: Sun, $2 anythings; Mon, service industry night, $2 anythings; Thu, $1 wells and domestics
Best night: Sun

The Quarter
The Bayou has washed all the way up to McKinney Avenue with this simple, fad-free bar full of Crescent City charm. Enjoy daily happy hours and a tasty appetizer list from next-door neighbor and sibling Bread Winner’s Cafe and Bakery, including yummy salmon and white cheddar quesadillas. Every spot in the courtyard is the best seat in the house.
3301 McKinney Ave. @ Hall St. 214-754-4940.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri, 4-7 pm
Daily specials: Tue, $2 drafts and frozen drinks; Wed, half-price appetizers
Best nights: Tue, Thu & Fri

A BAR FOR EVERY OCCASION

Whether alone or with a group, just got paid orfeeling frugal, there’s a place for you and yours.

 

PLATINUM CARD DEBIT CARD
Flying Solo The Green Room doesn’t offer any happy hours or drink specials, but the hip downtown ambience makes up for it. The walls are lined with local rock-band memorabilia and cushy antique couches and chairs. If the bar is too dimly lit for you, trek up to the outdoor patio that overlooks downtown. 2715 Elm St. 214-748-7666. It’s a coffeehouse. It’s a bar. Whatever it is, New Amsterdam is cool. This Exposition Park tenant attracts a pseudo-intellectual set who would rather sit under funky, colorful fixtures and play chess than fight the crowds at some of Dallas’ trendier spots. 831 Exposition Ave. @ Parry St. 214-824-5301.
On a Date Lower Greenville is going upscale. Sink into soft chairs and even softer lighting at Moosh, where the atmosphere is perfect for lounging over cocktails, especially if you can get a booth in the back corner. On Wednesday nights, DJs spin soulful jazz. 2818 Greenville Ave. 214-824-7752. Do you like to dance? Monica’s Aca y Alla in Deep Ellum shakes things up—from salsa on Sunday nights to Latin jazz and flamenco Thursday through Saturday. On Wednesday, margaritas are just 50¢ with the purchase of an entrée. 2914 Main St. 214-748-7140.
Foreign Flare One of the many new faces in the West Village is Cru, which fancies itself a European wine bar. More than 40 wines by the glass tease your palate, as well as a slew of Italian, French, and American cheeses. Sit at one of the cozy tables and reap the benefits of the grape. 3699 McKinney Ave., Ste. 107. 214-526-9463. Bali Bar’s Feng Shui waterfalls and Moroccan stained-glass chandeliers aid in aligning your chakras. But the real fun starts after 10 pm when DJs spin discs for the label-conscious holding court on plush, red velvet lounges. Tuesdays are live jazz after 10 pm. 5027 W. Lovers Ln. 214-956-7700.
After Work Almost the entire interior of Trinity Hall pub was shipped in from Ireland, and the authenticity transports you, despite the mod surroundings of Mockingbird Station. Pints can get pricey, but the food is good and the relatively big bar feels intimate. Mockingbird Station, 5321 E. Mockingbird Ln. @ Central Expy., Ste. 250. 214-887-3600. The Grapevine Bar is the perfect place for hanging out after a nine-to-fiver. Regulars take advantage of $2 anythings from open till close Monday and Tuesday and till 7 pm Thursday and Friday. After grabbing a drink, head to the rooftop deck to watch the sun go down. 3902 Maple Ave. 214-522-8466.
People Watching Euphoria Lounge attracts a mix of card-carrying AARP members and downtown denizens hopping from one Main Street hot spot to the next. Upstairs, primary-colored chairs are arranged to form common areas, and sushi chefs serve up unagi and sashimi. 1400 Main St. 214-658-1400. Because it’s on the same stretch of Lower Greenville as Zubar and Whisky Bar, the Billiard Bar’s raised patio is the best spot to watch tube-top-clad women and their escorts strolling (stumbling?) down Lower Greenville. 1920 Greenville Ave. 214-826-7665.

 

Sonoma Grill & Wine Bar

Sunny and vibrant, Sonoma Grill makes me long for the lush hills of Napa. This charming and inexpensive cafe is obviously inspired by the vineyards (and menus) of the Golden State’s wine country. The grill’s New American cuisine is a harmonious blend of Californian, Asian, French, and Italian influences, from ruby-rare seared tuna to rack of lamb with blue cheese to an array of pastas and cracker-crust crispy pizzas. Best of all, however, is the wine list: an oenophile’s dream of Sonoma and Napa choices, with nice by-the-glass and half-bottle selections. With enough Zinfandel, you might mistake Flower Mound for Northern California. On second thought, you really shouldn’t drink that much. 380 Parker Square, Flower Mound. 972-899-8989. $$. —T.J.

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