Nightlife

Featured in The Best of Big D 2014

Best Gay Bar

Sue Ellen’s

This two-story playground for Dallas’ lesbian community is a crowd-pleaser whether you fancy boys or girls. Hit the main dance floor for high-energy tunes. Enjoy a cocktail in the Lipstick Lounge. Listen to live music in the Vixin Lounge. Shoot some pool. And wake up the next morning with the word BOOBS stamped on your arm, trying to recall just how many shots you actually did the night before.

Readers’ Pick: Technically, the Grapevine Bar is not a gay bar. But it is certainly gay-friendly, boasting an eclectic clientele, stiff drinks, and a great jukebox.

Best Sports Bar

The Owner’s Box

We get it—there’s something magical about watching a Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium. But when you can’t make it to Jerry World, the 16-foot-tall screen at the Owner’s Box may be the next best thing. And if it isn’t, maybe the 71 other televisions they’ve got tuned to various games will do. You won’t miss a moment of your team’s game, because they even have TVs in the bathrooms.

Readers’ Pick: The Nodding Donkey is a sports bar with tons of extras: trivia, extensive outdoor seating, and, of course, Donkey Punch.

Best Bar with Games

The Back yard at The Social House

If Uptown is Dallas’ playground for the 21-and-up crowd, then this is where patrons go to actually play. The former parking lot has been turned into an actual playground, where children at heart can play bubble soccer, ladder ball, trash-can pong, giant Jenga, and more while enjoying 100 beers on tap plus a full menu.

Readers’ Pick: Barcadia is a favorite spot to beat friends at Mortal Kombat.

Best Live Music Venue

Texas Theatre

It may be known for esoteric film selections, but live music is just as much of a showcase for the historic venue’s heavy atmosphere. Either in the dimly lit lobby or behind the big screen, the performances are imbued with a dignity not possible on more garish stages.

Readers’ Pick: When your favorite band plays House of Blues, you know it’ll sound good.

Best Karaoke

Good Luck Karaoke

If you have the right host at your karaoke night, it doesn’t matter who shows up to sing. Good Luck Karaoke—now at Twilite Lounge on Thursdays after a long run at Double Wide—works so well because it has three such hosts: Oliver Peck, George Quartz, and ringleader Josh Hammertimez. Also, you don’t find many other karaoke nights where the hosts come dressed as personal injury attorneys, say, or maybe beekeepers, and stay in character all night.

Readers’ Pick: The Goat’s dive-bar setting, partial live-band accompaniment, and wildly diverse mix of singers make it a fun spot, especially on Sunday nights.

Best Dive Bar

Tradewinds Social Club

Tradewinds is housed in a slumping building with peeling paint and a dirt parking lot. The shuffleboard table tilts wildly to the right, and the bathroom is smaller than most Port-A-Potties. But the beer is cheap and cold, the drinks are strong, and the company isn’t completely rude. Those are the only three things that matter, right?

Readers’ Pick: If you enjoy drinking mixed drinks out of red Solo cups, Inwood Tavern is your place.

Best Frozen Drink

Frozen Irish Coffee, Twilite Lounge

This is a magical beverage, something like you might find on the streets of New Orleans. It’s the consistency and color of a milkshake, covered with sprinkled coffee grounds, usually served in a plastic cup. It goes down fast and easy, but be careful. The drink is liable to give you new powers, like the ability to stay up all night and tap your foot incessantly.

Best Hotel Bar

BarBelmont

Go for the incredible infused bourbon you can sip by the fireplace. Go because you can order food from Smoke next door and eat it on the patio. Go for the laid-back live music or because you might bump into a group of drunk writers—the best kind. If you have a few too many, stay for the night.

Readers’ Pick: Everything about Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa is smooth and glossy.

Best Patio

The Rustic

Also known as “Pat’s Backyard,” The Rustic’s outdoor space, which is named after country singer and part-owner Pat Green, comes fully equipped with picnic tables, fire pits, a grassy hill, and an outdoor concert space. Stop by on a weekday for a relaxing and family-friendly experience, or on the weekends for live music while hanging out in a space that fully celebrates everything Texas.

Readers’ Pick: Although it has been open less than a year, it’s easy to see why the Truck Yard is a crowd favorite. It hosts a rotation of food trucks (the lineup changes daily) and serves craft cocktails, plus they are dog- and child-friendly.

Best Dog-Friendly Bar

Lee Harvey’s

Next time you head out for Sunday Funday, skip the guilt about leaving your furry companion behind. While this joint is always welcoming to dogs, Sundays are best. From 3 pm to 2 am, the bar’s big patio is gated off for dogs to roam leash-free while their human counterparts enjoy live music and sip on $2 Bloody Marys and mimosas.

Best Beer Selection

Strangeways

In January, a house behind the bar caught fire. Social media flooded: is Strangeways okay? (Sorry, homeowners.) Thankfully, it was. This bar offers some of the city’s strangest ales, lambics, sours, stouts, and hefes, while still providing safe options for everyday drinkers. But you really should try the sours.

Readers’ Pick: The Ginger Man’s ahead-of-the-beer-curve foresight is admirable.

Best Place To Dance

The Basement at the Travis, When DJ Sober is There

If there’s a unifying event among nightlife scenes, it’s Thursday night at the Travis. The bottle-service crowd mingles with residents from some of the toughest neighborhoods, but nobody is being judged; they’re just here to dance.

Readers’ Pick: It’ll Do’s light-up dance floor brings out the backup dancer in all of us.

Best Bar With a View

HG Sply Co.

Forget about the paleo menu, the above-average cocktails, and the entertaining Saturday crowd. None of these things matter, because atop this Greenville Avenue spot sits an expansive rooftop bar with stunning views. As the sun sets, our fine city has never looked better.

Readers’ Pick: Clearly folks are nostalgic for a time when BarBelmont did indeed have the best view in town.

Best Uptown Retreat

Bowen House

Snagging a taxi on a Saturday night in Uptown can be a challenge. Instead of giving up and going to that overcrowded, not-so-great bar up the block, check out this newly opened haunt for craft cocktails, cozy booths, and a break from the Uptown buzz. You’ll find us nestled in the corner sipping on our favorite concoction, the Prairie Dog.

Best Wine Bar

Veritas Wine Room

If you want to keep up with Veritas’ aggressive wine-by-the glass offerings, sign up for its newsletters. There are more than 350 bottles in the cellar, and rotating specials. Pair them with Texas cheeses and local food items. It’s hip and casual and easy to take a chance on trying a new wine.

Readers’ Pick: Get Cru Food & Wine Bar’s Flight No. 5, a sampling of sparkling wines from Oregon and France.

Best Treehouse

Truck Yard

As a child, we had what sort of resembled a treehouse. It just wasn’t, you know, in an actual tree. And it most definitely did not have a bar. The adult beverages and crow’s nest-style people-watching make Truck Yard’s version indisputably the best in town, especially on a somewhat less crowded weeknight. The cocktails are bottled, but beer’s always an option.

Best Lounge

Candleroom

Before Tommy DeAlano dreamed up Boxwood Tap & Grill and the Dram, there was Candleroom. The lounge has been a staple of Dallas nightlife for more than 10 years, providing an upscale spot for adults with minimal $30,000 millionaire buffoonery. Candleroom boasts dim lighting, a variety of drink services, and comfy seating for when the dance floor stops calling your name.

Readers’ Pick: Young, beautiful people abound at Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa.

Best Cocktails and Bartender

Abacus, Jason Long

The craft cocktail movement can be rather irritating—three-piece suits, beards, and high-minded nonsense that result in overly sweet concoctions at a steep price point. Abacus, however, is a pro shop in the midst of amateurs. Every foam, spritz, infusion, and aging process results in pure cocktail bliss. Spring for the on-menu Killin Thyme or the barrel-aged Old Fashioned from any member of the qualified bar team—Jordan Gantenbein, John Campbell, and Jason Long. Or better yet, just go with Long. Those Matthew McConaughey mannerisms coupled with his eagerness to share what he’s “working on” make him our favorite bartender. No fedora required.

Readers’ Pick: Black Swan Saloon takes home the best cocktail prize, with owner Gabe Sanchez winning their hearts as best bartender.


View Map of the Best of Big D Winners

Editor’s Choice: Bars & Clubs

Readers’ Choice: Bars & Clubs

Credits

  • Photographer Kristi and Scot Redman
  • Photographer Sean McGinty
  • Photographer Jeremy Sharp
  • Photographer Kevin Marple
  • Photographer Matthew Shelley

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