Best Bars in Dallas: From Honky-Tonks to English-Style Pubs
By Denise Brandenberg
Dallas Local Expert
If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, then our Dallas guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Dallas for hanging out and kicking back in. From long-lived mainstays like the Lakewood Landing to busy places like Double Wide that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the Greenville Avenue area? No fear - we share all the facts!
In the mood for imported beer? You're in luck, as Dallas features some of the best European-style pubs this side of the Atlantic. Head on over to the Old Monk on Henderson Avenue for people-watching on a great patio while sipping your favorite ale or bring your appetite for elevated, gourmet pub fare that pairs perfectly with your favorite draught at Libertine Bar on Greenville Ave. If you're looking to experience a country-western bar in the heart of Dallas, Adair's Saloon in the Deep Ellum district won't disappoint. If dive bars are more your thing, choose from a variety of popular low-key watering holes, like Lee Harvey's and The Grapevine Bar.
While bars are spread out across the metroplex, Uptown, Deep Ellum and Lower Greenville Avenues are full of choices and different types of venues.
Lakewood Landing is one of Dallas's best known "joints." Owned and operated by a woman simply named Louise, who greets patrons with a cheerful "Whatcha' drinkin', sugar?" the Landing has a fantastic jukebox filled with old country favorites, a single pool table, and a great collection of barflies, musicians, and general riffraff. Low-key and dark, it's what all bars should aspire to. The decor is comprised of 70s-era wood paneling, chairs covered with red vinyl, a beat-up couch in the back and the standard dive bar. Dress code? Ha! As you can tell by the name, this Dallas dive bar landmark is located in the Lakewood neighborhood. (214-823-2410)
Double Wide Bar
"Quirky" barely skims the descriptive surface of this club, which has all the style and charm of a mobile home. Don't let the kitsch drive you away though, because Double Wide promises to be one of the more memorable nightspots you'll visit in the Big D. And while the decor may certainly be described trailer-park chic, there's nothing trashy about the scene, even if the place does serve cold suds by the can and televise dizzying clips of tornadoes ravaging small towns. On Friday and Saturday nights, cutting-edge country and rock acts take to the stage; other nights, DJs are on call. (214-887-6510)
Although Deep Ellum arguably functions as Dallas's cutting-edge district, parts of it maintain a long-standing commitment to simpler times. Take, for example, a honky-tonk like Adair's, which has been popular since 1963. The digs (in the early days, it was on Cedar Springs Road) and faces may have changed over the years, but other aspects haven't. Adair's remains a rustic haven for folks who like to swill brew, listen to live music, and munch on good burgers. For history buffs, too, the joint holds an allure, courtesy of a jukebox loaded with classics by Hank Sr. and Bob Wills, along with hundreds of framed photos and graffiti. (214-939-9900)
Located in the Warwick Melrose Hotel in the Oak Lawn neighborhood, Library bar is classy and elegant. It has a traditional decor, complete with dark woods, comfortable sofas, upholstered chairs, and stately bookshelves lined with classic titles. Guests enjoy quiet conversation while listening to the melodies of the house pianist and saxophone player and nibbling on tasty hors d'oeuvres from the hotel's prestigious restaurant, Landmark. While Library Bar is a popular spot for Downtown, Uptown and Highland Park residents, it's never too crowded, so you'll always be able to find a seat to enjoy your night out on the town. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 5pm-7pm. (214-224-3152, 214-521-5151)
The eclectic crowd that frequents this light-hearted watering hole is composed of folks from all walks of life. Highland Park socialites rub elbows with local drag queens, and if you're not a twenty-something, you won't feel like a parent busting your teenager's party. The Grapevine Bar's patrons are attracted by theme nights (drag shows tend to draw the most boisterous crowds), a rooftop patio, a backyard hoops court, and billiards. When you factor in cozy furniture and a laid-back vibe, it's easy to see why so many people consider Grapevine Bar to be Oak Lawn's rec room. Helping the place's popularity are fantastic specialty drinks and a jukebox that plays mp3s. (214-522-8466)
Frankie's Sports Bar
Since opening in 2000, Frankie's Sports Bar has been the go-to Dallas bar for sports enthusiasts looking to enjoy a cold brew while watching the game. Two 10-foot HDTV projection systems and 30-plus HDTV screens promise great views from any seat, and wireless receivers at each table ensure that you don't miss a second of the action. The deliciously diverse menu includes treats like Spinach Artichoke Crawfish Dip, "Frankie's Favorite" sandwich and Hawaii Five-O pizza. Oh, and they have free pizza on Tuesday nights, so if you're on a budget but still want to watch the game, you're in luck! (214-999-8932)
This Dallas bar serves upscale pub grub with a side dish of live music and weekly rotating draughts. Menu items include standards like burgers and salads served alongside sweet potato frites, mussels, and a few unexpected dishes like the popular cheese board, Muenster fries and pork tacos. Other popular - and unexpected - menu items include seared ahi tuna burger and duck confit salad. The best part about the great menu is that you can get recommendations of imported beers to pair with them! Nightly specials include half-priced food on Tuesdays and a Sunday brunch. Want to step it up a notch? Hit the Libertine for one of the monthly five-course beer dinners. (214-824-7900)
Old Monk, with its great assortment of beers and its full bar, has built a steadfast reputation as a great place to begin an evening or a nighttime adventure. The kitchen serves sandwiches (including a great roast beef version), along with nachos, fish and chips, and steamed mussels - their specialty. If you're not that hungry, share a delicious cheese plate - complete with crackers and fruit - with your little group. At the Old Monk, you can play one of many communal board games, hang out with friends at a dart board, or people-watch on a perfect patio with a great view of Knox Henderson add to the appeal. (214-821-1880)
There aren't many rooftop bars in Dallas that come with an infinity pool, a fire pit, and awesome city views. At least not any like the SODA Bar-- that resides atop the hip NYLO South Side hotel. Naturally, there's more to drink in here than the views. The libations menu offers a lineup of tempting craft cocktails. The best being the signature NYLOrita: made with tequila, pomegranate liqueur, cranberry juice and lemonade. There's also a short list of wine, brews and bubbles. And bar snacks that range from fried deviled eggs to shrimp nachos and burgers. Just be warned, the place turns into party central after the sun goes down--so try to get here early to snag a prime seat on the deck. ((214) 421-1080)
A unique sense of style characterizes this popular watering hole near Lakewood Landing. You won't find frat boys or the yuppie types here - Cosmos is where hipsters and laid-back twenty-somethings go to kick back and drink with friends. Its vintage decor boasts a collection of funky items apparently found at yard sales, including groovy lamps, a faux fireplace, and kitschy furniture. The result is an environment refreshingly conducive to chatting. Of course, a place this cool isn't without its own brands of sustenance, and Cosmo's specialty martinis and gourmet pizzas have won over more than a few 20-something patrons. (214-826-4200)
About Denise Brandenberg
Born and raised in Dallas, Denise Brandenberg has been a self-proclaimed “Dallas Ambassador” for out-of-town friends and colleagues for years. Denise started her career as an advertising agency copywriter, recruiter, and manager of online forums for an international meeting planning association. She ventured off on her own a few years ago, to start an adventurous career as a freelance writer and marketing consultant. Denise’s other work can be found at Global Road Warrior, USA Today, Chron.com, The Motley Fool, LovetoKnow, The Meeting Professional, and several other online publications.
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