Night on the Town: Downtown Dallas' Hidden Party Gems

Photo courtesy of House of Blues Dallas Facebook
Photo courtesy of Masque Dallas
Photo courtesy of City Tavern Facebook
Photo courtesy of The Nines Facebook
Photo courtesy of Opening Bell Coffee Facebook page
Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
Photo courtesy of NYLO Dallas South Side Hotel
Photo courtesy of The Woolworth Facebook
Photo courtesy of The Mitchell
Photo courtesy of Midnight Rambler
By Ilene Jacobs, Dallas Local Expert

After the sun goes down, downtown Dallas heats up with a dizzying array of nighttime diversions to keep night owls entertained until the wee hours. From uber-hip lounges to neighborhood pubs and energetic live music venues, downtown Dallas has it all and more.  

If your idea of a night out involves good music, then you'll want to check out Opening Bell Coffee, one of the best free live music venues in the city– or City Tavern, a cozy neighborhood pub featuring everything from jazz to rock. And, of course the house is always rocking at the legendary House of Blues.

For a more eclectic experience, The Nines offers everything from dancing to burlesque shows and aerial performances. Not to mention, it has a massive rooftop terrace boasting spectacular views of Downtown.

Fancy a hand-crafted drink in a posh setting? Then the Rattlesnake Bar, in the swanky Ritz-Carlton, may be just what you're looking for. There's also the Midnight Rambler, a sexy subterranean drinking den in the ultra-chic Joule Hotel; the SODA Bar, perched atop the hip NYLO South Side hotel; and The Mitchell, a handsome drinking haunt where Gin concoctions are being elevated into an art form.

And for those wanting a comfortable spot to unwind, The Woolworth offers exceptional drinks and a chilled-out vibe.



10. House of Blues Dallas
Photo courtesy of House of Blues Dallas Facebook

Since opening its Dallas outpost in 2007, this legendary music mecca has been one of the city's premier venues for a wide variety of major performing artists. Everyone from BB King and Alice Cooper to George Clinton, and Mumford and Sons have passed through its doors. The Dallas House of Blues is large enough to take a crowd, yet intimate enough to allow music-loves to get close and personal with their favorite artists. Billboard magazine even rated the Dallas location as the fourth most popular music club in the country. Along with being a major venue for renowned artists, HOB hosts free live entertainment in its Crossroads Diner, ranging from concerts and game nights to stand-up comedy and special events.

9. Masque Dallas
Photo courtesy of Masque Dallas

In the world of swish nightclubs, this Uptown dance palace ticks all the boxes. High-profile DJs? Check. Glamorous go-go dancers? Check. VIP bottle service? Check. Velvet rope at the door? Yes. That is if you can find the entrance, which is located above the Fat Rabbit restaurant (there's another entrance inside of the restaurant too). All that is offered against a stunning backdrop that resembles something out of Alice Through the Looking Glass: Think candle-lined, purple walls; crimson chandeliers and gold-coated chairs. There's even a Mad Hatter Room (for VIP bottle service) complete with top hats hanging from the ceiling and a themed staff to welcome you in full-character. Music-wise, expect to boogie to everything from EDM to electro, top 40 and hip hop. Add in the fact that there's no cover charge, and it's easy to see why this place is packed every weekend. Oh, and you can also have your tarot cards read up on the rooftop.

8. City Tavern
Photo courtesy of City Tavern Facebook

If you're looking for a place with loads of character, then this friendly neighborhood pub will be a perfect fit for you. The place attracts a wide mix of people who come to chill out with a drink, chow down on pub fare, play pool or watch a game. It's also one of Dallas' best live music venues, featuring everything from smooth jazz and rock to punk and Texas blues--throughout the week. Not to be missed is the Dirty Dusty (a shot of Jack Daniel's with a chaser of Pabst blue Ribbon)-- it's a Tavern classic.

7. The Nines
Photo courtesy of The Nines Facebook

This 3000-sq. ft. multi-level dance palace is the place to get your fix of electro-house, EDM and other hands-in-the-air sounds supplied by some of the city's biggest DJs around. Super offbeat entertainment is also the order of the day here, where on any given night you'll find everything from costume parties to burlesque, aerial performances and fetish shows. When you feel like coming up for air, take the back stairway to the massive roof top terrace where you can enjoy more music, more libations, snazzy finger foods and spectacular views of downtown Dallas. If you're looking for something weird and wonderful, this is the place to go.

6. Opening Bell Coffee
Photo courtesy of Opening Bell Coffee Facebook page

This may be the most unlikely place to find a bustling nightlife, but this hip basement coffee house, located in the South Side on Lamar building-- has more going for it than just liquid assets. Along with serving cups of Joe and good food, the shop also brews up a bevy of free entertainment-- from open mic nights and stand up comedy to acoustic live music of every genre. Grab a glass of wine and have a seat on one of the comfy sofas, you're probably going to want to stay here for the long haul.

5. Rattlesnake Bar
Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas

Dean Fearing's sleek and sexy Rattlesnake Bar is the destination for the city's see-and-be-seen crowd. The atmosphere is always lively, and better yet, the cocktails are superb. Here, you can imbibe on everything from Dean's signature margaritas and French Fizzes to a variety of barrel-aged cocktails. As well, the bar serves up delectable snacks like lobster nachos and buffalo tacos. You can also order off of Fearing's restaurant menu, giving you the opportunity to eat here without having to book a table. Or if you want to enjoy drinks al fresco, you can cozy up to the fireplace in the Live Oak Bar on the patio.

4. SODA Bar
Photo courtesy of NYLO Dallas South Side Hotel

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.

3. The Woolworth
Photo courtesy of The Woolworth Facebook

The Woolworth has all the makings of an ideal watering hole: it has a friendly atmosphere, it serves creative food, and the bartenders know how to whip up extremely delicious cocktails--the Smoke and Spice being one of those. Much like a spicy margarita, the drink is served up with a billowing haze of smoke. What makes the Woolworth even more appealing is that it's housed in a large loft-like space with amazing views. Choose from a comfortable mix of seating options, ranging from tabletops and banquettes to cushy sofas. Or have a seat at the massive bar and catch a game on one of the TV's overhead. For something more intimate, head into the wood-paneled library where you can tuck into one of the cozy sofas and chill out with a good book.

2. The Mitchell
Photo courtesy of The Mitchell

Discerning drinkers will want to take note of The Mitchell, a handsome new downtown haunt with a sophisticated list of libations and an impressive lineup of victuals. The avant-garde styled space, boasting opulent chandeliers and plush navy velvet furnishings-- makes a fitting backdrop for sipping the signature gin concoctions featured here. The drinks menu also includes specialty cocktails, champagne and wine. The bar boasts an excellent by the glass wine program, featuring wines from unique varietals, as well as sherries, tawny ports and Madeira. As for edibles, the options range from oysters and caviar to gourmet burgers and rotating dinner specials.

1. Midnight Rambler
Photo courtesy of Midnight Rambler

It may not be in a secret location, but the Joule Hotel's posh subterranean hideout has all the makings of a sultry speakeasy--from its arched ceilings and wood paneled walls to vintage light fixtures and plush leather sofas. As for drinks, the cocktail menu is filled with an extensive selection of elaborately mastered concoctions, ranging from shots of wheat vodka, sherry and beef stock to aromatic potions made of spiced bourbon, stone fruit and Creole Bitters. There's a limited selection of gourmet goodies available from the bar or food can be ordered from CBD Provisions upstairs. And on Thursdays and Sundays, a DJ drops in to spin '60s and '70s hits from the lounge's expansive vinyl collection.