The Best All-Around Bars in Dallas
The Point has been tucked into a Belt Line strip center since the late 1970s, and, until recently, it looked like it. The bar got a lighter, brighter update a few years ago, but it still has the same collection of knockabout regulars and the same draw: an extremely active and lively karaoke scene. People here have actual sets and plenty of opportunities; except for Tuesdays, karaoke happens every night after 10 pm.
Bryan Street Tavern
At Bryan Street Tavern, trying a stone-fired, thin-crust pie topped with Jimmy’s Italian sausage or Provel cheese should be a part of every visit. Wash it down with one of two dozen different beers on tap, including a handful of rotating choices. The dark and spacious bar has seating for everyone—booths and bar stools, tables and fluffy couches—all with a view of the TV.
Playful vintage decor, retro VHS tapes playing on the overhead televisions, and one of the best jukeboxes in the city make this offbeat neighborhood hang a must. So, too, the selection of specialty martinis, craft cocktails, and old-school Prohibition-era drinks. And the bar food here, specifically the made-to-order pizzas, is surprisingly satisfying.
Does the Guinness really taste better at The Dubliner, or is it all in your head? You’ll enjoy yourself—and the company—at this Irish pub too much to care. Owned and operated by a native of the Emerald Isle, the pub shuns trendiness in the name of authenticity. The result is a welcoming atmosphere, both inside by the fireplace and outside on the patio. The food, notably the cheese board, more than gets the job done.
The Fillmore Pub
Located in red-bricked historic downtown Plano is the British-style bar that helped jump-start the city’s nightlife scene. The Fillmore Pub is a relaxed place with draft specials scrawled on chalkboards and a dartboard in the corner. It draws a busy crowd of young drinkers on the weekends, but the rest of the time you’ll find a wide-ranging clientele with at least one thing in common: the appreciation of a well-poured pint at a comfy pub.
Just because their D Magazine awards are posted next to a photo of an ample bosom advertising Jell-O shots for $2 each or 3 for $5 doesn’t mean we’re biased. Open for more than half a century, this is the kind of neighborhood institution where you have a fond, drunken memory from the 1990s and stopped in last week to have some beers on the patio with old friends.
When the charismatic Louie Canelakes—a Dallas bartending legend—died unexpectedly in 2013 at age 58, there was some fear that his beloved pizza-and-booze joint was in jeopardy. Nope. The long bar is still packed during happy hour, as families shuffle in for some of the best pizza in town.
The Old Monk
This place set the Dallas standard, in 1998, for the concept of an Irish pub that knows its beer and serves elevated bar food (at what have to be the best prices in town: warm goat cheese salad, $9; Belgian-style steamed mussels, $9.50; smoked salmon sandwich, $10.50). Add a dozen rotators and a knowledgeable staff, and you’ve got the bar that the rest still measure themselves against.
The Round-Up Saloon & Dance Hall
This vibrant cowboy-themed gay bar on the Cedar Springs strip is home to some of the best dancing in the city. Two-step across the floor to all manner of country tunes, play a game or two of pool, or belt your heart out in the karaoke lounge. But you’ll probably also want a beverage: head to one of Round-Up’s six bar areas, including the Tequila Shack, which offers more than 40 premium tequilas.
A recent wednesday evening. a couple in the back, at the table near the bathrooms, is breaking up quietly. From the free (and great) jukebox comes Freddy Fender’s “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.” A crushingly beautiful bartender sings the Spanish stanza. Happy hour runs from 10 am to 7 pm. A bottle of Bud is $2.50. This old-school shotgun bar, reborn and responsibly renovated, is beyond classic.
The Lowest Greenville sister to Double Wide is a baller on a budget’s dream come true. With hubcaps on the walls and multicolored lights hanging above, it’s more like a trailer than its predecessor, dark and narrow and tastefully grungy and stacked with a friendly, tattooed crew. Do yourself a favor and order the adult version of a Fudgsicle, the Yoohoo Yeehaw, made with Yoo-hoo, vanilla vodka, and coffee liqueur.
Sons of Hermann Hall
No Edison lightbulbs or craft cocktails or ice program or any of that. Sons is the definition of “authentic,” laying claim to the title of oldest bar in Dallas, a social club opened in 1911, housed on the first floor of a Texas Historic Landmark. Two things to remember: cash only, and the dance hall upstairs
does swing dancing, with lessons, on Wednesday nights.
This historic Uptown bar, previously the Stoneleigh Pharmacy, is a haven for those looking to lie low. Bask in the red fluorescent lights and eavesdrop on regulars bickering over sports and politics. Or grab something to read from the complimentary magazine rack, and flip through the glossy pages as you sip a beer on the street-facing patio illuminated by Christmas lights.
The Wild Turkey
Opened in 1978, The Wild Turkey is a place where America never stopped being great. It is a bar where, after you punch your timecard at one of the nearby distribution warehouses that sit near this particularly charmless stretch of Walnut Hill in the shadow of I-35, you know there’s a pretty-enough, tired-looking waitress ready to haul a bucket of cold Miller Lite to your table. After a couple of shots of Sexy Alligator—a stomach-turning concoction that consists of Jägermeister, Midori, and watermelon vodka—the scene brightens up.
Veteran barkeep Louise Owens keeps her devoted drinkers happy by offering plenty of daily specials. Her Don Q Whoa Tee punch, made with Don Q Añejo Rum and a bunch of secret ingredients, will only set you back $4. Owens’ trademark is classic and seasonal cocktails, which go down way too easy on karaoke night.
The Best Beer Bars in Dallas
The Bottle Shop
Should you stay or should you go? That win-win decision awaits you at this snug shop on Lowest Greenville. Stay, and you can enjoy one of nearly two dozen beers—the majority from Texas—on draft. Or go, and take your favorite brew home with you in a bottle or custom growler. More than 100 beer and cider options line the walls, and the knowledgeable staff is happy to help. (Editor’s Note: RIP.)
Between bearded beer-slingers, creative comfort food (try the Coma Burger), and industrial decor (like light fixtures made from wooden pallets), BrainDead has everything you expect from a brewpub. But it also has fresh pints of its Gritz cream ale and Foreign Export stout, among the dozen or so other beers from the on-site brewery.
The Common Table
The first thing you notice is the expansive patio, filled with loungers when the weather cooperates. But this Uptown spot has a secret weapon: it’s a great place to sample local beers while munching on upscale pub fare. Beer dinners—four beers paired with four off-menu courses—are served every Monday from 6 to 9:30 pm for $29 per person.
Craft and Growler
Choose from a menu that’s deep in quantity (more than 40 beers and ciders) and quality (mostly with local or Texas provenance). Sample a few before you decide. Then grab a seat at a sprawling shared table or at the bar on a keg-turned-stool and strike up a conversation with one of the regulars. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide an airy vibe and views of Fair Park across the street. Don’t forget to grab a growler—from what they claim is the world’s largest selection—and fill it with one of your new favorites on the way out.
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
Whether you’re craving pilsners or porters, local or international, The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium has it. It’s been tapping oddball kegs since Bill Clinton’s first term. And you’ll be drinking in good company: brass nameplates on the walls commemorate members of The Flying Saucer’s UFO Club, all of whom have sampled at least 200 different beers.
Free Play Arcade
No quarters necessary here. Ten bucks gets you in the door where more than 80 arcade games and pinball machines from the ’80s and ’90s—all set to free play—blink and bleep at you. We’re talking Pac-Man, Frogger, The Simpsons, Galaga, Crazy Taxi, Joust. The exhaustive beer list, leaning heavily on local and seasonal, keeps your life bar full as you try for the high score. Creative food options include shareable bites, hot-pressed sandwiches, and pizza.
The Ginger Man Uptown
The Ginger Man now has locations in Lakewood, Plano, and Southlake, but the Uptown original has been a favorite since it opened more than 25 years ago. The menu is loaded: more than 50 beers on tap and nearly twice as many in bottles, and it includes the brew’s origin in case you prefer to drink geographically. Non-beer enthusiasts will find plenty of wine, cider, and nonalcoholic options, including pints of Saint Arnold’s root beer.
Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House
Goodfriend’s 2011 opening was an East Dallas game-changer, attracting a new wave of cool, young families to the area. It keeps them loyal with a diverse roster of North Texas beers in addition to a rotating selection of hard-to-find brews from around the country. (You can also take some of them home from sister store Goodfriend Package across the street.) Add grass-fed beef burgers and a covered patio, and it’s no wonder the place remains the neighborhood’s go-to watering hole.
The Lower Greenville location of this Austin import (look for the mural of the boxing bear) opened in November, and it settled in quickly, with 40 beers on tap and 100 more in cans and bottles. The inventive menu includes open-faced sandwiches and poutine, making it one of the few places outside of Canada to do so.
Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery
If you live near downtown Garland, you already know about this place. Its barbecue is excellent (order the brisket). But it’s also a proper beer bar and brewery worth the drive. Molly and Cary Hodson own the joint. Together they’ve won local brew competitions with their Basil Buzz hefeweizen, among others. And their patio, in the brick-walled, burned-out husk of their former next-door storefront, is a bit of post-apocalyptic beauty.
Bring in food from one of several nearby restaurants, or wait for the tamale lady to come in around 5 pm on most days. Emily the bartender will know your name and your palate by your fourth visit. Trust her to recommend one of their 30-plus beers on tap. Just trust her, period. It’s a cozy, communal place where strangers share tables and neighbors run into each other. Quiet enough that you can have a conversation even when it’s busy. Free popcorn all the time. It’s perfect.
The Libertine Bar
For 10 years, The Libertine has been an effortless blend of comfort and class, a neighborhood joint where you can catch a game but also where you can order stuffed quail or house-made vegan quinoa. The bartenders here are happy to serve up cocktails, but The Libertine’s heart is in its beer. A great selection of cold beers, seasonal drafts, and weeknight specials (like Wednesday Texas beer nights and Thursday pint nights), plus regular pairing dinners puts this on every beer lover’s shortlist.
Here, you can expect 40 beers on tap and more than 85 in bottles, and a certified cicerone (a sommelier for beers) to help you sort through it all, which is pretty cool. Also cool is the decor, including a stained-glass installation of Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis rescued from the old Hard Rock Cafe.
Off the Record Craft Beer & Vinyl
On a Wednesday night, we listened to a DJ friend mix Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” into “Roundball Rock,” John Tesh’s NBA on NBC theme song from the ’90s. Because, who cares, right? And, yeah, Who Cares is his DJ troupe’s moniker, but it’s also the overall feeling at Off the Record—hip and stylish yet also tongue-in-cheek. That’s what draws us in. Plus, there are usually plenty of deals on draft beer and racks of vinyl curated by Good Records co-owner Chris Penn.
The Best Live Music Bars in Dallas
Adair’s first opened on Cedar Springs in the ’60s, but it has been a Deep Ellum favorite since it moved to Commerce Street in 1983. Amid cheap beer, greasy burgers, and decades of Sharpie smears on the walls, you can find some of the best country acts around, crammed onto the low storefront stage.
The Balcony Club
The Lakewood Theater is now closed, but the space above this official city landmark still pumps out live jazz seven nights a week. Each of the comfy chairs has an intimate view of the B-shaped stage, so settle in with a stiff drink and feel your feet tap in time with the bum bum tiss of an infectious jazz beat.
Although it’s known as the go-to place to watch college football, Barley House has live music almost every Friday and Saturday night, mostly cover bands like Captain and Camille (yacht rock), Le Cure (The Cure), and the Rich Girls (Hall & Oates). Think of it as comfort food, the musical companion to the pitchers of beer and plates of mozzarella sticks the regulars order.
The Crown and Harp
The Crown and Harp’s quirky refusal to define itself remains one of its most appealing qualities. On any given night, there will be DJs spinning disco in front of an empty dance floor on the second floor, while experimental bands or hip-hop showcases take over the tiny first-floor stage. While some of the dingy, Lowest Greenville venue’s programming has migrated to Deep Ellum over the past year, The Crown and Harp has retained its particular authenticity.
You’ll find a no-fuss selection of almost 50 beers inside, but it’s the outside that makes the place shine. The bar’s gargantuan garage doors open up to a pea-graveled courtyard oasis. There’s a shady pecan tree, backyard games, picnic tables, and, most important, a stage made from recycled wooden pallets that hosts an eclectic weekend schedule.
This low-key new arrival has quickly become where Cedars locals go to grab a brew—and to watch sports, shoot pool, snuggle up to the bar’s namesake bulldog, or enjoy a slice from next-door neighbor ZaLat. The music calendar is worth a visit, too: local indie artists such as Jenna Clark and the Preston Cole Band have played here, and Mac’s has even hosted a Hamilton singalong.
This barbershop/bar hybrid located in Deep Ellum might be the closest you’ll get to a Prohibition-era speak-easy. Up front is the barbershop, complete with comfy leather chairs, whimsical wallpaper, massive mirrors, and mustachioed barbers. You get to the bar by walking through a dim hallway that eventually opens into a warehouse-like expanse with exposed brick walls, funky furniture, Jazz Age cocktail staples, and live music.
The most notable feature of this bar/restaurant/venue co-owned by country singer Pat Green is the big backyard. There, you can sit at a picnic table, eat chorizo empanadas, wash them down with one of 35 Texas beers on tap, and catch one of the country-leaning acts onstage.
The restaurant-meets-jazz lounge pairs its gourmet small plates and artisanal pizzas with performances by mostly local acts booked just about every night of the week, and it offers a great view of the stage from every intimately appointed table. Although you may not be in your chair long—the weekend’s high-energy bands will quickly draw a crowd to the central dance floor.
Music isn’t the main focus here, but it’s no surprise it’s done so well, given that owners Jess Barr (Slobberbone) and Danny Balis (Sorta, The King Bucks) have both been in bands for years. The jukebox is impeccably curated. The roster of acts that have played on the tiny inside stage or the slightly bigger one out back—the Old 97’s, Pleasant Grove, Baptist Generals—is even more so. Oh, and you’ll have a frozen Irish coffee.
The Best Wine Bars in Dallas
You can sink into a leather armchair at this laid-back hangout with a healthy pour of a rich Pinot Noir and let the sweet aromas of freshly brewed espresso from the adjoining State Street Coffee bar help you unwind. Even the connoisseur will be impressed by the wine list, boasting a number of small-production blends you won’t find elsewhere in Dallas. And for beer drinkers, the menu includes a selection of seasonal rotators.
Bodega Wine Bar
A wine flight—small pours of four wines based on a central theme or varietal—is a lovely way to compare and contrast the values of the wine and fine-tune your palate. Bodega offers 10 flights daily; if you try them all, you’ll achieve a quick education in international wine. You’ll also find reserve tastings and happy hour specials that feature $5 house wines Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm.
Checkered Past Winery
Tucked below the South Side on Lamar artist lofts building, Checkered Past offers a wide variety of wine—including bottles from its own label, sourced from the Texas High Plains AVA—alongside small plates and regional craft beer. Local art dots the interior, which is furnished with small grouped seating and cocktail tables, allowing for casual intimacy. Don’t be surprised if your server is a painter with a studio upstairs.
Cork Wine Bar
Recently, a nice man sitting at the bar at this quiet, unassuming spot in the West Village convinced us to try a Bonarda—a big, bold red from Argentina—instead of ordering our usual Grüner Veltliner. Cork encourages that kind of experimentation. Its state-of-the-art pour system allows you to try a glass without ruining the rest of the bottle.
eight | 11 Place
At this blue Victorian house on Main Street in Frisco, the patio is the place to be, with fire pits (where you can get a Fireside S’more Board to toast) and white twinkle lights. The menu features four wine flights and a short but unusual list of wines by the glass or bottle. We fancied a glass of Caricature, a red blend with flavors of cherry and plum against a blackberry aroma, as well as a white Pinot Noir from Left Coast Cellars in Oregon.
The Grape Restaurant
The bottles at this Lower Greenville bistro are described not only by variety and brand but also by year and region. But wine novices shouldn’t fear. The staff is happy to suggest pairings for the daily happy hour menu, which features substantial appetizers such as baked Brie and braised lamb tartines.
Mercy Wine Bar
Head upstairs to the sultry Red Room if you’re in the mood for romance, or sink into a booth in front of the stage for some live music. Either way, you’ll have a tough drinking decision to make. There are 100 wines by the glass and another 50 by the bottle. Servers are happy to bring samples or flights before you commit. Push yourself with a 3-ounce pour of Chateau Musar “Hochar,” an exotic red from Lebanon.
Stoney’s Wine Lounge
From the outside, Stoney’s Wine Lounge isn’t much to look at. Tucked away in Lakewood since 2012, it would be hard to find if you didn’t know it existed. But that’s the beauty of this cozy neighborhood bar, as self-effacing as it is charming. No one’s a stranger here, especially not to the list of 200-plus wines. It’s also one of the best places in the city to hear live jazz every weekend.
It’s a marvelous idea: nearly 40 eco-friendly wines are kept in temperature-controlled kegs and dispensed without oxidation. This Plano haven for oenophiles offers three by-the-glass pours—2.5-ounce, 5-ounce, or 8-ounce—and there is also an iPad with bottle choices with the wines organized geographically. Serious drinkers can join the Vine Hugger club and sample custom wines created just for Sixty Vines.
Times Ten Cellars
This inviting east Dallas spot serves 21 of its own wines (produced at a vineyard near Alpine) along with 10 others. Sidle up to the tasting room bar or sink into a couch in the lounge and order one of the wine flights and the cheese board. On Wednesday evenings, you can get a fresh pie from Urban Crust’s mobile pizza oven right out front. Top it off with the other kind of pie out on the patio: Times Ten serves slices of Emporium Pies’ bourbon-pecan.
Veritas Wine Room
Besides offering an ever-changing selection of more than 400 wines, Veritas hosts pizza nights, live music, and pop-up supper clubs with local chefs. Consider yourself lucky if you manage to snag a spot at one of their Epic Tastings. A recent Bordeaux event provided samples of more than 20 wines for the insane bargain price of only $35 per person.
The Wine Therapist
Owner Phillip Nikpour’s master’s degree in health education forms the basic philosophy around his wine shop and tasting room. Nikpour views wine as a healthy lifestyle choice, and that outlook has attracted many loyal clients. The tasting room is always filled with folks drinking and talking about wine while listening to live music. If you don’t know much about wine, this is a good place to start. You won’t be judged if you think a Cabernet Sauvignon is a white wine.
The Best Hotel Bars in Dallas
Adolphus Rooftop Pool Bar
This exclusive enclave—the pool is accessible by room key only—is the icing on the gilded hotel’s 2016 renovation. Guests enjoy the luxury of a spacious deck with downtown vistas, a fire pit, water feature, and several rentable cabanas. The latter is where you’ll be savoring creative (and healthy) cocktails like Beets in Oaxaca, a concoction of beets, mescal, lime juice, and agave syrup.
Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa
Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa is all about the scene. Inside, it’s art-splattered walls, white-clothed dining tables, and a perpetually packed bar. Outside, the well-lit pool glitters while a DJ spins pop hits and well-heeled patrons sip cocktails from striped patio furniture. It’s the kind of hotel bar where strangers mingle, couples argue, and the bartenders pour round after round.
While the downtown view from the patio is now partially blocked by the Sylvan Thirty development, don’t count this place out. They’ve streamlined for the better. Batch cocktails are now served premixed in glass bottles, which means you get two for the price of one. Plus, they’re portable, so if you’re staying on-site you can sip your vodka Mifune on your private terrace. But they’re better in the bar, where you can order pimento cheese croquettes fresh from Smoke’s kitchen, just down the hill.
The Knife Bar
The open bar inside The Highland Dallas is a grand place to impress clients or friends. It has a lofty list of seasonal craft cocktails, such as the Bacon Old Fashioned with flamed orange oils, and you’ll find some of chef John Tesar’s greatest hits—including the Ozersky Burger and fine steaks from 44 Farms—from his adjacent Knife steakhouse. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities, especially huddling near the fireplace in the garden patio.
The Library Bar
The book-lined, wood-paneled walls and high-back leather chairs lend the Library Bar, which sits inside the historic old Warwick Melrose Hotel, a kind of out-of-time feel. Drop in the occasional twinkly soundtrack provided by a noodling live pianist, and you have the perfect ambience for a late-night after-party drink or a too-early happy hour martini. Because, like all good hotel bars, the Library Bar projects both possibility and comfort, a feeling of escape and of returning home.
The dark, low-ceilinged room with its imposing stone fireplace, equestrian-themed art, and leather club chairs was made for royal trysts. If Wallis and Edward VIII ever brought their clandestine love affair to Dallas, it would be here, probably at the corner banquette hidden to the left of the bar. Snag it for yourself then order the best G&T of your life. Made with Junipero gin, house-made tonic, grapefruit zest, and a Kaffir lime leaf, it’s almost worth abdicating for.
Situated on NYLO’s sixth floor, soda bar has everything a hotel bar should: classy cocktails, a vacation vibe, and a nice view. Mingle with out-of-towners, or just sit back and peruse the attractive crowd around the sparkling infinity pool. Claim the cabana for a picture-perfect evening escape.
The Best Restaurant Bars in Dallas
Creative bar bites here include buffalo sliders, duck confit with tamarind barbecue sauce, and lobster shooters. During happy hour—from 5 to 6:30 pm Tuesday through Friday—you can pair them with such classics as a French 75 or a Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned, running $6 apiece.
The dark wood bar, set front and center in this Dallas institution, is ideally situated for a happy hour pop-in, when crab-stuffed jalapeños, cushion-soft wagyu-angus sliders, a prime rib French dip sandwich, and other high-end snacks are half off. Marvel at the domed ceiling’s celestial-themed mural while raising an Al’s Martini, which you can ask to feature muddled jalapeños and “gold flake caviar.”
Texas’ German roots tend to show mostly in the central part of the state, but this raucous Bavarian-style beer hall in Plano is North Texas’ best portal to the Old World. The kitsch—plenty of cuckoo clocks, toy trains circling the ceiling, and waiters in puffy white skirts and lederhosen—comes with the territory. But when it comes to draining ein mass of Munich Helles to the rowdy romping of accordion music, this is the place to get your fix.
Blind Butcher Meat-centric man cave meets low-key Irish pub here on Lowest Greenville. Indulge a bit with a local beer and duck poutine (duck fat fries, cheese curds, confit, an egg, and gravy). On your way out, be sure to check out the in-restaurant butcher just left of the bar.
On a recent night: a man at the long wooden bar offers a monologue to two women about how this place used to be a garage before it set into motion the redevelopment of North Oak Cliff, proving that an upscale neighborhood restaurant could work here. For all the changes that this part of town has undergone, good and bad, Bolsa has remained its stalwart. And no matter the staff turnover, the cocktails remain, much like the restaurant, sophisticated yet approachable.
We’ve never eaten in the dining room at Boulevardier. The wraparound bar is too welcoming and the bartenders too kind and engaging to try anywhere else. It feels more communal there, the perfect setting to share a few of the French restaurant’s small plates and linger over an affordably priced bottle of a Grenache blend rosé, or a couple of its bourbon-forward cocktails.
In between shopping at Forty Five Ten, Traffic LA, and TenOverSix, you’re going to need to hydrate. Stop at CBD Provisions in The Joule Hotel, find a stool at the marble-topped bar, and ask for a breakfast martini. The gin and Cointreau cocktail sweetened with orange marmalade is the perfect day-drinking libation. Add a spicy quinoa bowl for lunch, and you’ll be fortified enough to face the Neiman Marcus makeup counter.
Dunston’s Steak House
This Lovers Lane steakhouse opened in 1969, and the decor is a charming throwback to the restaurant’s beginnings. Make your way past the oxblood vinyl booths, bountiful salad bar, and open-pit mesquite grill, and pull up a stool at Dunston’s tiny back bar. Don’t expect over-the-top cocktails. Instead, stick to the classics. A dirty vodka martini is the perfect pairing for your bacon-wrapped tenderloin.
It feels like Charleston here, from the exposed brick walls to the tweed-jacketed maître d’. Head to the bar and find John, the ginger-bearded lumberjack of a barman. Tell him you like whiskey and he’ll ask if you like it juicy or clear. Say juicy, and he’ll serve up a perfect whiskey sour, frothed with egg white, in a coupe iced with liquid nitrogen. Then order some fried green tomatoes with crispy pork belly. You’re going to want to settle in.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bar that offers a better perspective of the Dallas skyline than the one at Wolfgang Puck’s chic restaurant, located at the top of the 560-foot Reunion Tower (hence the name). Grab a seat in the lounge with an immaculately crafted drink and take in the 360-degree view of the city as the room spins. No, really. It slowly rotates.
Flora Street Cafe
You’ll find a world of whimsy at this sophisticated Arts District bar, especially in a short but sharp cocktail menu that more than keeps up with chef Stephan Pyles’ vibrant, modernist dishes. Your drink might include smoked peaches, charred poblano peppers, or maybe fennel and carrots. Our order: the namesake Flora, an artful mix of gin, lemon verbena, elderflower liqueur, crème de violette, and lavender bitters.
Dallas diners are familiar with the fine food at this casually upscale restaurant. But few are aware that the bar stays open until 1 am every night except Monday. Their refined cocktails with cardamom, pomegranate seeds, and lemongrass attract industry folks and people looking for a cultured nightcap. Besides The Alpinist, a rosemary-infused Four Roses Bourbon mixed with Génépy des Alpes, mint, and honey, you’ll also find a succinct but well-curated wine list.
The feel is Prohibition-era chic—wood walls, antique lightbulbs, a moose head on the wall—but teetotalers miss half the fun at Henry’s Majestic, where cocktails flow like beer. Literally. Draft cocktails deliver spiked goodness right from the tap. We liked the Fords Cooler, a mixture of gin, grapefruit liqueur, cucumber water, lemon, and sugar. The food and live entertainment don’t disappoint. And, as you’d expect from a spot owned by the people behind Bread Winners, the brunch here is choice.
There are punch bowls aplenty and a half-page of juleps in this North Dallas spot fancifully done up like a caravansary. The cocktail menu looks like a travel booklet, and the drinks will, in fact, transport you. Ladylike with honeysuckle-infused vodka or Lillet and strawberry cordial, the concoctions are a little racy, too, liberally spiked with wanderlust (think saffron or a chai-spiced milk punch).
LARK on the Park
It is loveliest here in the evening, with lights glowing from Klyde Warren Park and a back bar shining bright aqua like the bottom of a pool at night. As with the food, which shows global influences, cocktails may feature guava paste or cinnamon- and chile de árbol-infused bourbon. Taps dispense everything from kombucha to cold brew. For a sweet ending to the evening, order the Can You Fig It, a blend of port, fig jam, lemon, and tonic that pairs well with dessert.
At the snug bar, which feels like a well-lit ship’s cabin, they’ll shake Tiki drinks for you and garnish them with a mermaid and paper umbrella. Spritzes, ciders, and a wealth of dry, crisp white wines are also great complements to the Pacific Northwest menu and white-linen maritime vibe.
There are several outposts of Nick Badovinus’ Americana-inspired restaurant around town, but the Lovers Lane location is the granddaddy. You don’t need a reservation at the bar: grab a seat and chow down on Badovinus’ take on a bacon cheeseburger. The Danny Trejo, made with house-infused jalapeño tequila, will wash it down quite nicely.
Proof + Pantry
Stop in to the glittering Arts District bar before or after a night at the Winspear or Wyly. Michael Martensen, the cocktail maestro, applies his skills to create smart takes on standards behind a granite-topped counter anchored by absinthe fountains. Drinks are beautifully balanced, whether no proof (with shrubs and sodas) or full proof, like a glorious flute of framboise, gin, and sparkling wine spritzed with orange blossom water.
Bartenders at this popular Lowest Greenville bistro will make whatever you want, but the menu focuses on whiskey, rum, tequila, and mescal. The Barrel-Aged Rapscallion, made with rum, Carpano Antica Formula, and cacao nib-infused Campari, is the standout. Tuesday is Tiki Night.
Folks come in for chef Tim Byres’ smoky barbecue, but the drink menu alone is worth the trip to this Plano outpost of the Oak Cliff original. Cocktails utilize wood-infused liquors and innovative ingredients such as matcha tea and turmeric syrup. Wall lanterns and a striking Navajo rug-inspired back bar create a welcoming Southwestern atmosphere.
Skip making a reservation and head straight to the sprawling bar at this popular Roman restaurant on Maple Avenue. Sample a wine from the focused list featuring varieties exclusively from southern Italy. Those who prefer cocktails have plenty to choose from, too. The Negroni Bianco, a must for agave lovers, is a refreshing and herbaceous blend of tequila, white vermouth, Suze, and Strega.
Tim Byres’ dreamy NorthPark retreat takes its inspiration from Teddy Roosevelt. Bar manager Kyle Hilla honors its namesake with cocktails that are distinctive and inventive yet still exquisitely traditional. Names like Badlands and Yosemite allude to passages in Roosevelt’s life. Try the Yellowstone’s turmeric pop rocks rim or the North Cascades’ champagne foam. They speak softly and pack a big kick.
Is this a knockout cocktail hangout with table service—and a menu offering everything from a cheese selection scribbled on a chalkboard behind the bar to family-style platters—or is it a restaurant with an extraordinary selection of beer and cocktails? Yes. Popular drinks include The Dapper Dan and the Pepper Smash. For a sense of exclusivity, order a custom cocktail or an off-menu beer.
The Best Cocktail Bars in Dallas
If a medieval library and a bar hooked up, Armoury D.E. would be the outcome. From its brick walls to liquor-filled bookshelves, the Deep Ellum destination lets you know it’s serious about its handcrafted cocktails. Order the Green Honey made with gin, orange, lemon, and grapefruit bitters. The gin is soul-warming, a splash of orange blossom water is refreshing, and a touch of honey adds just a hint of sweet to the bitter.
Black Swan Saloon
This homey, down-to-earth saloon opened in 2010 before the recent craft cocktail craze and set the standard. With no sign out front and no menu, the hidden Deep Ellum gem is all about the experience. Tell owner Gabe Sanchez—one of the best bartenders in town—what you like, and he’ll craft a custom cocktail to order from a selection of dozens of infused spirits.
This cool, relaxing spot inside the historic landmark Ahab Bowen House is a laboratory for custom cocktails. Just give the bartender a spirit and a flavor profile, and voilà! But that personal experience, along with a bar-food menu turned on its side (a sloppy Joe grilled cheese and fried Brie, anyone?), is perhaps best left to weeknights. On weekends, bar stools are cleared out to accommodate crowds thirsty for traditional cocktails, like the ever-popular Old Fashioned.
The Cedars Social
The intimate 70-seat cedars social is midcentury mod meets Dallas swank. Inside, there’s a cool library cave with dog-eared books, an enticing fire pit, and lots of ’60s-era furniture. Sophisticated cocktails like the Loch and Key (rum, vanilla, and scotch) and Peat and Peaches (scotch, lemon, peach syrup, ginger beer, and Laphroaig) match the throwback vibe. Plus, there’s a brand-new menu from Ritz-Carlton alum Justin Box, featuring modern comfort food like pumpkin asadero taquitos, pork schnitzel, and fried chicken.
Industry Alley Bar
Almost hidden away in the Cedars, Industry Alley brings in a kaleidoscope crowd. One night you might stumble into the middle of a steampunk party; the next, it’s just you, some out-of-towners, and a few tipsy rounds on the pinball machines. What’s constant, though, is the quality of the custom-made cocktails and the jukebox’s playlist. You’ll soon find yourself dancing around the pool table to Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.”
This sleek space, tucked behind Houndstooth Coffee in Sylvan Thirty, is an ideal spot to sip a craft cocktail and catch up with friends. Adorned with dark woods, black curtains, and flickering candles, it lends itself to intimate conversations. Soak in the warm and inviting atmosphere as you indulge in intricately crafted cocktails. The BLVD, a flavorful mix of rye, Campari, Amaro Averna, and coffee-infused vermouth is a must-try.
Husband-and-wife team Chad Solomon and Christy Pope are the bartending brains behind the clever craft cocktails served at this sultry bar beneath The Joule. They recently created an Electric Orchard/Gothic Harvest menu of drinks inspired by their two passions—esoteric music and ingredients. The Electric Mud (Cointreau, Jersey Lightning, bourbon, sorghum, Angostura, orange bitters, and orange zest), for example, is meant to evoke the earthy, rustic sound of Muddy Waters’ Delta blues.
This garish cocktail den, located in the heart of Uptown, serves some of the best libations in town. Flip through the 30-page drink menu and request a classic, or simply let the bartenders take a stab at pleasing you. This place is home to one of the best happy hours in town, boasting specials seven days a week—and whenever it rains. Their slogan: “Every time it rains, we pour.”
Quill Kitchen + Cocktails
Stepping into this lavish bar is like walking into a lounge in New York or London. Plush emerald-green seating, marble tables with brass accents, and mirrored walls set a luxurious and decadent scene. Match it with the Two and a Half Roses, a blend of mescal, fresh grapefruit juice, honey syrup, and rosé Champagne.
Located in the burgeoning Jefferson Tower, less than a block away from the legendary Texas Theatre, this tiny storefront brewery was hand-built by the bar’s master brewers using repurposed dairy tanks. There is, naturally, a killer selection of old-fashioned home brews, but we’re partial to the specialty cocktails, especially the smooth-drinking New Hat, a refreshing mix of bourbon, grapefruit, and honey.
The Tipsy Alchemist
Uptown’s The Tipsy Alchemist is not unlike a mad scientist’s lair—but, you know, fun. The science here is in the cocktails, like the Alchemist Margarita, with mango-habañero reduction and Salt chocolate tequila, and The Edison, a rum-lime concoction served in a glass shaped like a lightbulb. Drinks are made with a whoosh of vapor or flourish of fire, then garnished with fruit and foam.
The Best Patio Bars in Dallas
Cold Beer Company
With 20-plus beers on tap and enticing weekly specials, CBC draws a grab-bag crowd of friendly Deep Ellum locals. The long bar inside is usually packed, but the best place to enjoy a cold beer is on the wraparound, dog-friendly patio. Grab a Pony Up (a mini-Miller High Life with a shot of Jameson) and head outside.
This breezy restaurant and bar located in the Harwood District evokes fantasies of warm Italian evenings spent on the Riviera. Have a seat at the outside marble bar situated in the palm-covered courtyard, or snuggle into a plush love seat adorned with pillowy cushions. Savor a glass of bubbly or one of the best Negronis in the city, and lose yourself in la dolce vita.
Dot’s Hop House & Cocktail Courtyard
This new Deep Ellum party palace is split between a showpiece 10,000-square-foot open-roof patio (decorated with a chandelier, a stained-glass window, and Dallas-related art) and an interior bar. The 99 beers available on tap are impressive, but maybe more remarkable is what’s in the kitchen: the well-seasoned grill recovered from Club Schmitz, which closed in 2014, after 68 years in business.
Eight Bells Alehouse
Low-lit, with touches of Goth-style decor, this comfortable Exposition Park tavern has a homey backyard patio (complete with plastic lawn flamingo). It draws a crowd that comes for the no-pressure atmosphere as much as it does the craft cocktails and Wednesday-night dinner specials.
Located in the Harwood District, Happiest Hour combines a roomy dining area, chilled-out patio, well-lit front yard, and a rooftop bar to create a 12,000-square-foot adult playground. The breezy rooftop patio’s view of the skyline makes for a perfect sunset-watching spot.
Katy Trail Ice House
It’s a slice of Austin with a side of Uptown. Snag a patio seat on a wooden bench with your best canine friend, and watch the sweat-soaked runners on the Katy Trail while you sip a Pecan Porter. If all of that onlooking builds up an appetite, order the loaded queso and chips and get comfortable.
Early in the evening, this upscale lounge’s downstairs patio is a nice place to relax with a cocktail and from-scratch bar bites. At night, the upstairs transforms into a thumping club, complete with DJ and dress code. Escape to the second-floor patio, where you can enjoy the view of McKinney Avenue.
Opened in October, STIRR will make you stop and stare. Even more impressive than the stylish interior is the 3,000-square-foot rooftop patio, where you can enjoy an eye-popping downtown vista while relaxing on plush chairs and sipping a Babe’s Old Fashioned, made with bacon fat-infused Rittenhouse Rye. Get there by
8 pm on a Saturday to snag a coveted upstairs spot.
With a rotation of food trucks, three bars (including one in an Airstream trailer), and eclectic yard-sale decorations, this open-air Lowest Greenville bar is great any day of the week. Get there early to claim one of the truck-bed tables or take over the treehouse bar for the best look at the sunset.
It’s strange that one of the best views in town is from the second floor of a movie theater. But Vetted Well is more than just a feature of Alamo Drafthouse. This relaxed bar in The Cedars is a favorite of those craving solid cocktails and a competitive pub quiz. But the biggest draw is the downtown-facing patio. Well, okay, that and the boilermaker menu.
The Best Dive Bars in Dallas
A Step Up Lounge
Expect chatty barflies, friendly bartenders, and stiff drinks at this dark watering hole located in a double-decker strip mall on the corner of Walnut Hill and Marsh Lane. If you’re lucky, and you probably will be, somebody will offer you a slice of their pizza, fresh from the Domino’s a few doors down.
Last time we were here, Tig Notaro was performing at a sold-out Texas Theatre, so we pretty much had the tiny gay bar to ourselves. That meant unlimited time at the pool table, a constant rotation of AC/DC and Hole on the jukebox, and an offer of free pie and homemade banana bread from the ponytail-bearded bartender. We stuck to packets of Cheetos, draft beer, and hard cider from Bishop Cider Co. and relived our best college bar nights.
Stuffed into a slumping white building in the shadows of Interstate 30 and Samuell, Fireplace Lounge is the last remaining bar on a street that once had a lot of them. It’s been there for 27 years, and the owner, Linda, shows no interest in walking away from it. She’s made it into a home for her regulars. There is a smoker chained to a tree out back that anyone can use and a makeshift fire pit made of cinder blocks.
Grungy and unpretentious, this refreshingly authentic neighborhood favorite doesn’t serve food or cleverly named cocktails—just cheap drinks to keep you dancing all night long, either at one of the weekly blues jams or its popular karaoke nights. Even Mayor Mike Rawlings has been spotted taking in some live music at this joint near White Rock Lake.
The Grapevine Bar
This Oak Lawn dive is the epitome of your favorite living-room comfy chair, the one that long ago needed reupholstering. But, nah, it’s perfect the way it is, and you never want it to change. Beers are cheap, and signature drinks are of the frozen variety. The back patio is equipped with its own bar and a basketball court, while the rooftop deck gives patrons a look at downtown’s glow.
Certain things will never leave the Landing. The lived-in smell, a musk earned over decades of whiskey, Lone Star, and bubbling cooking oil. The always-handy after-midnight jalapeño corn dogs. And the collective sense of humor of its regulars, perhaps highlighted by a reminder of Ayn Rand’s big—well, you’ll have to go in the men’s room for that one. That bit of vulgarity disappeared when the wall was repainted, but someone always makes sure it’s resurrected upon a dry-erase board next to the sink.
Lee Harvey’s has all of the dive-bar essentials: neon beer signs hanging on rec-room wood paneling, raggedy booths, a men’s restroom covered in graffiti, a pool table, an ancient arcade game in the corner, a blaring free jukebox. But the place has a soul that’s less easily defined. People show up here because it’s comfortable and accepting and rebellious and weird. Its namesake may not have made it out of Dallas alive, but this is one of our choice hideouts.
One Nostalgia Tavern
We wish this bar was actually called Cocktails Dancing. That’s what the blue sign with yellow letters on the building suggests it’s called. One Nostalgia Tavern isn’t bad, but Cocktails Dancing captures the simplicity of this place. There’s nothing snooty about it—except, maybe, for its terrific PA system, used for karaoke. The beer is cheap and cold; shots are poured in red plastic glasses the size of your thumb. The hair is big, the regulars old. And there is nostalgia. Credit the cocktails and dancing.
Tradewinds Social Club
Tradewinds is another world from the opposite end of Davis Street, as if the bar broke off and floated to an uneven plot of gravel a safe distance away from Bishop Arts, some kind of gentrification-induced Pangaea. Unlike so much of North Oak Cliff these days, it is whatever you want it to be: you can karaoke Bruce Springsteen through a blown-out amp or bring your own boombox and dance to cumbia on the back patio. And the bartending can seem almost communal—the person closest may wind up pouring your drink.
Housed in a century-old space, Uptown Pub’s interior comes with a patina worthy of its well-worn maturity. It’s no antique: the crowd can get rollicking, especially when there’s a game on. But the service is swift and with a smile, and the kitchen’s bar grub is supplemented with house-smoked barbecue and a “hangover” brunch menu you can enjoy on the patio or tucked into a booth, depending on how you’re holding up.