Tuesday, May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024
80° F Dallas, TX

Best of Big D: Nightlife 2013

Where to party after dark in Dallas.
Photography by Sean McGinity

Photography by Sean McGinity

Best Beer Bar
Craft & Growler

Dubbed a beer filling
station, this Exposition Park haunt is equal parts bar and retail space.
Owned by husband and wife attorneys Kevin Afghani and Catherine
Kinslow, C&G offers 30 beers on draft, including several locally
handcrafted brews. Even better: here you can take your beer home with
you by purchasing one of C&G’s reusable bottles (a growler). That
means, if you discover a new favorite ale from a small batch brewery
that doesn’t sell its beer by the bottle, no worries. Grab a growler,
fill it up, and take your new best friend home with you.

Pick: The Ginger Man

Best Cocktails


This dim, wood-paneled bar is reservations-only. Finding the entrance is tricky. They get cranky about last-minute party crashers. Still, cocktails are first-rate. A personal bartender stops by your table and asks what you like. No menus. Classics, twists on classics, and one-offs, such as a smoky Mezcal smash, are mixed according to the taste and spirit preference. It feels special and a little fancy, just like you.

Readers’ Pick: Black Swan Saloon

Best Place to Eat After Midnight

Owner Khanh Nguyen’s Vietnamese comfort food is creative and original—two things you don’t often see with Asian cuisine in Dallas. He does everything from a traditional beef pho (comes in veggie, too) to a banh mi sandwich with Spam. It’s the kind of late-night food you’ll crave at all hours of the day, not just after Cinderella’s bedtime. Shoot, we’d eat DaLat’s pork meatball shooters for breakfast if we could.

Readers’ Pick: Cafe Brazil

Best Karaoke   
The Round-Up Saloon

We tip our stetsons to The Round-Up’s Cowboy Karaoke for being everything a great karaoke bar should be. Performed nightly in its front bar known as The Parlor, The Round-Up’s songbook is deep, its elevated stage is definitely spotlight worthy, and its regular patrons are a friendly mix of amateur warblers and American Idol worthy songbirds. Better yet: these guys and gals take their song choices seriously, singing everything from Garth Brooks (naturally) to Elvis Costello, with a heavy dose of showtunes thrown in. Drunk frat boys, you can find your LMFAO elsewhere.

Readers’ Pick: The Goat

Best Live Music Venue
Nasher Sculpture Center

We admit that it’s unconventional to honor a venue as Dallas’ best spot for live music when it ultimately only hosts four shows each year. But the Soundings series is just that good. Booking some of the world’s best musicians and ambitious classical and contemporary music you won’t hear anywhere else—all in an unparalleled, intimate setting—the programmers continually rethink how to use the Nasher’s galleries to create inspiring and surprising nights of great music like nothing else in Dallas.

Readers’ Pick: Granada Theater

Best Place to Dance
It’ll Do Club

Credit owner Brooke Humphries of Barcadia and Beauty Bar fame for taking this 1940s-era dance club teetering on the far eastern edge of Deep Ellum and transforming it into the best place to dance in Dallas. And that’s the focus: dancing. It’s a no-frills space thumping with house music spun by local DJ Red Eye as well as a host of visiting DJs and musical acts. (Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears dropped by earlier this year.) It’ll Do is also where you’ll find the city’s most eclectic crowd—gay, straight, drag queens, preppies—spinning, thrusting, and having a vodka-fueled good time void of drama and pretense. To quote Funkadelic, it’s one nation under a groove.

Readers’ Pick: The Slip Inn   

Best Bar With a View
Soda Bar at NYLO Dallas

Ever since this bar opened in August, we’ve been flocking to its beautifully restored rooftop location. We love sitting around the infinity pool, where we can sip on a beer from Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and get the best view of the city. We also love that when it gets windy, or even if it’s just less than ideal outside, we can go inside and gather around the bar with the doors flung wide open. No matter where we choose to imbibe at this rooftop bar, we’re guaranteed the best seat in town. (For more on why we love this bar, turn to page 190.)

Readers’ Pick: Bar Belmont

Best Hotel Bar
The Library Bar at the Warwick

We head to the library Bar for some of the best people-watching in town. There are young professionals, hotel guests, and the regulars all congregating in a warm, inviting space surrounded by books. We instantly feel more sophisticated when we’ve got a cucumber martini in our left hand, and with the right hand, we’re flipping through Those Who Came Forward. If reading and drinking isn’t your thing, stick around for the entertainment. Aubree-Anna’s vocals are as fresh as that martini.

Readers’ Pick: Dragonfly at ZaZa

Kung Fu Saloon: Billy Surface; all others: courtesy vendors

Best Bar With Games
Kung Fu Saloon

Kung Fu saloon has all the makings of the perfect children’s birthday party. It has old-school arcade classics like Cruisin’ USA, tunes from the Top 100, and arcade fare. But here’s the best part: it’s a 21-and-up bar in Uptown. Which means all that plus booze. Here, hipsters mingle with the typical Uptown patrons, challenging them to a game of skee ball or life-size Jenga. The free arcade games are equipped with the perfect accessory: a cup holder so you won’t spill your specialty cocktail or one of the 24 beers on tap while you’re beating your friends at Mortal.

Readers’ Pick:

Best Patio
Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar

We’ll be honest. we haven’t been blown away by Saint Ann’s food. But that doesn’t we mean we don’t keep going back. This 86-year-old building (which used to be a school) has the largest garden patio in Dallas, and we’re in love with it. The twinkle lights, mature trees, and even the brick on the side of the building all make us feel like we’re in a truly unique space surrounded by history and great views of Dallas.

Readers’ Pick: Katy Trail Ice House

Best Dive Bar   
The Goat

The $2 domestic bottles during happy hour, the 7 am opening time, the curvilinear vinyl bar bumper patched with duct tape, the Erotic Photo Hunt game, the surprisingly good karaoke on Sunday nights, the one time we saw a dog perched on a barstool next to its owner—these are just a few of the reasons we love The Goat.

Readers’ Pick: The Loon Bar & Grill

Best Sports Bar
Ojos Locos Sports Cantina

Dallas doesn’t have a decent Irish/British soccer pub. Either the sightlines are bad or the service is terrible or they aren’t open at the odd hours when prime games are televised. Luckily, Dallas has a great Hispanic soccer bar. Ojos Locos is essentially a Mexican Hooters. It opened for the 2010 World Cup, and its 50 TVs have been tuned to the beautiful game ever since. Cold beer, good grub, and “chicas coquetas y bonitas”—it’s what a real fútbol pub should be.

Readers’ Pick: The Nodding Donkey

Best Gay Bar
Dallas Woody’s Sports & Video Bar

This is the gay version of Cheers, a place where the bartenders are friendly, the pours are generous, and, yes, everybody knows your name. In fact, few Dallas bars—gay or straight—are this fun. Each weeknight offers a different entertainment option, from karaoke to show tunes to theme nights like Totally Gnarly ’90s night. And when the Rangers reach the World Series, there’s no place better to root for the home team. Granted, it’s to the beat of Lady Gaga.

Readers’ Pick: The Grapevine Bar

photography by Billy Surface
Best Bartender
Leann Berry, Komali

With her signature chunky framed glasses, spiky blond hair, and big laugh, this mixologist at Uptown Mexican
restaurant Komali is hard to miss. And why would you want to? We fell in love with Berry back when she was manning
the bar at Monica Greene’s dearly departed Ciudad, and we’ve followed her ever since. At Komali, she has created a
sophisticated menu of margaritas, Mexican martinis, and more. Her Caliente Clementine—with Herradura double-barrel
Reposado tequila, tangerine purée, habanero, Cointreau, and fresh lime—is sweet, fiery, and refreshing, just like the
effervescent Berry.

Readers’ Pick: Gabe Sanchez, Black Swan Saloon