Cowboy Up At Dallas' Best Country-Western Joints, Honky-Tonks and Dancehalls

Contrary to popular belief, Dallas isn't actually a town of 10-gallon hats, oil derricks and cattle ranches. And rather than being at home on the range, Dallas' real Cowboys are playing football on a field. But that's not to say locals don't enjoy embracing their inner cowboy (or cowgirl), especially when it comes to two-steppin' at the city's best country music bars.

Those looking for dance floor action will want to mosey on over to Cowboys Red River–where they'll find plenty of room to strut their stuff and live country music rocking the house on weekends.

Speaking of live music, Adair's Saloon brings in the cream of the country music crop when it comes to up-and-coming indie bands and singer-songwriter acts. Even Jack Ingram and Miranda Lambert have performed there. Not to mention, all the shows are free for the taking. There's also Poor David's Pub, another legendary live music venue where Sara Hickman and The Dixie Chicks got their start.

Of course, we'd be remiss not to include Dallas' most-loved dives and honky-tonks in this list. After all, they exemplify the true Texas spirit. One of the most famous and most quirky is the Double Wide Bar, a dive that can be best described as trailer park chic– complete with taxidermy animals and white-trash memorabilia as far as the eyes can see. The place also showcases everything from rock to bluegrass and Americana.

And it doesn't stop here, there's still a wide array of night-life options left to discover. Whether you want to kick your heels up on a dance floor or just hang back with a cold one and listen to good music, you'll want to be sure to add these 10 best spots to your boot-scootin' bucket list.


Post Time Honky Tonk
Photo courtesy of Post Time Honky Tonk

If you're looking for a no-frills spot where you can shoot pool, belt out karaoke and line-dance across a huge dance floor, then you'll find your happy place at Post Time, one of the most friendly country-western joints in the city. Dark and dive-y, lit up by only a sea of Christmas lights, Post Time nails all of the expected honky-tonk essentials. Darkness? Check. Cheap drinks? Check. Poker tables? Check. And, of course--plenty of good music for folks to boot-scoot by. The place is a go-to venue for some of the top country-western bands in the DFW area, offering live music (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights) from the likes of performers such as Ricky Lynn Gregg and the Keith Mitchell Band, to name a few. Be sure to swing by for open mic on Monday nights too, when you can catch talented up-and-comers before they hit the big time. Want to work on your two-steppin' skills? Then head over on Tuesdays from 7 to 10 p.m. so that you can learn and practice your new moves with DJ Donnie.

Sons of Hermann Hall
Photo courtesy of Sons of Hermann Hall

Dallas has plenty of honky-tonks, but few are as authentic as this century old Deep Ellum mainstay. Originally built to house several lodges for a fraternity of German immigrants, the hall now serves as a live music venue showcasing a variety of genres from folk, country and blues to alternative pop and reggae. Along with live bands, there's also a DJ to get the party going with everything from blues to swing and two-step, all you have to provide is the dancing. Want to learn some new moves? Then drop by on Wednesday nights for a free lesson. If dancing doesn't do it for you, head downstairs to the bar where a jukebox, pool table and shuffleboard provide a nice diversion. Just be sure to keep an eye out for ghosts-- legend has it that this place is haunted.

This venerable watering hole pays homage to the trailer park culture with its kitsch-adorned decor and surprisingly tasty low-brow cocktails. As the name indicates, the bar is set up in a double wide trailer--replete with wood paneling, taxidermy animals, mismatched old furniture and white-trash memorabilia as far as the eyes can see. The theme continues out on the AstroTurf covered patio, where bar patrons relax on seats made from old toilets and chug Boone's Farm martinis. Aside from all its tackiness, Double Wide is one of Deep Ellum's top music venues-- showcasing everything from rock, bluegrass and Americana to electronica. And though there's barely enough space to turn around (it is a trailer after all), it sure doesn't stop anyone from busting a move. In fact, audience participation-- in the form of dancing and singing-- is highly encouraged.

Poor David's Pub
Photo courtesy of Poor David's Pub

Perhaps you'll do more listening than line-dancing at this legendary music mecca (going strong since 1977), but nevertheless-- Poor David's Pub, located in downtown's South Side on Lamar neighborhood--is a stellar venue to catch local rising singer-songwriters and national acts cranking out everything from folk to bluegrass to country. Not only has the pub hosted concerts for everyone from Jerry Jeff Walker to Lyle Lovett--it's also the place where big name performers such as Sara Hickman and The Dixie Chicks got their start. Along with a weekend lineup of must-see feature bands, Poor David's keeps the bar hopping seven nights a week with comedy, poetry readings, open mic nights and the like. Plus it welcomes in all ages as long as kids, aged 17 and under, are accompanied by an adult. Be sure to keep an eye out for popular events, ranging from songwriter competitions to a Mardi Gras style gumbo cook-off.

Guitars and Cadillacs
Photo courtesy of Guitars and Cadillacs

If you're looking for the ultimate place to do some two-stepping, this bar is it. Located in the old Midnight Rodeo spot, this upscale cowboy hang is a go-to for all things that involve boot scooting and then some. There are multiple bars, nightly drink specials, a late-night kitchen, a state-of-the-art sound and light system, awesome DJs, and, yes, a big, "Texas-size" dance floor where you can show off your best moves. If that's not enough to keep you entertained, they also offer free pool and games like air hockey and giant Jenga. Need to brush up on your dance skills? Then head here on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. when you can score lessons for only $5.

Round-Up Saloon
Photo courtesy of Round-Up Saloon

This legendary Cedar Springs hotspot has been hailed as the nation's best gay country western dance hall-- and with good reason. The saloon boasts multiple themed bars, a rooftop patio and a spacious hardwood dance floor with plenty of room to boot-scoot, as well as disco dance, the night away. It also cranks out a roster of weekly events, from RuPaul's Drag Race watch-parties to chili cook-offs, poker tournaments, pageants and even bachelor auctions. Not to mention, the place hosts some of the best karaoke nights in town. As if that weren't enough, there's drink specials every day, plus all day happy hours and even late night howdy hours. Not only is this place a favorite pit-stop for locals, it also draws in celebrities like Lady Gaga. The crowd is primarily cruising cowboys, but fun-loving cowgirls and just about anyone who wants to do-si-do across the threshold is made to feel just as welcome. And if you need to tone-up your two-step, be sure to check out the free dance lessons. Held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights--they're supposed to be the best in town.

The Rustic
Photo courtesy of The Rustic Facebook

When Dallas' urbanites can't muster up the time to high-tail it to their Hill Country hacienda, they head to the next best place-- the Rustic-- a sprawling indoor-outdoor restaurant, bar and live-music destination nestled under the starry skyscrapers of Dallas' Uptown neighborhood. A traditional hole-in-the-wall honky-tonk it is not. As most of the folks who come here (around 40,000 of 'em each month) are more cosmopolitan than cowboy. And the only bulls you'll find are mounted on the walls. There's not a dance floor here either. But you'll certainly have plenty of room to kick the dust up in "The Backyard"-- a massive outdoor space filled with picnic tables, fire pits, oak trees and a concert stage. As well, you can enjoy everything from upscale comfort chow, cocktails and craft beer to some serious boot-stomping music by local and national C&W performers most nights of the week. Perhaps you'll even catch country music legend Pat Green taking to the stage since he happens to be part-owner of the whole shebang. And if you've never tried calf fries (a.k.a. calf testicles)-- served up with ketchup and ranch dressing, this is the place to do it.

Mama Tried Honky Tonk
Photo courtesy of Mama Tried Honky Tonk

A relative newcomer to Deep Ellum's bustling bar scene, Mama Tried (named for the Merle Haggard song), is a sprawling indoor-outdoor oasis for fans of classic, Texas, bluegrass and outlaw country music. In addition to daily happy hours and events such as game watch parties and live band karaoke nights, the bar boasts a weekly roster of local and national country music DJs and live bands. And the Southern-style grub is no slouch either. Expect to chow down on the likes of everything from chicken fried steak to shrimp & grits and chile rubbed turkey legs. Speaking of chowing down, don't sleep on the Sunday bluegrass brunch.

Sure, the drinks are cheap and the burgers are legendary, but what lassos most folks into this Deep Ellum dive is its undeniably unpretentious vibe and weekly roundup of live music. But it's not just any live music-- Adair's brings in the cream of the country music crop when it comes to up-and-coming indie bands and singer-songwriter acts. Did we mention that all the shows are free? Even heavy hitters like Jack Ingram, the Dixie Chicks and Miranda Lambert have taken to Adair's tiny stage at one time or another. And an old jukebox filled with the likes of Bob Wills and Hank Williams, plus floor-to-ceiling graffiti and enough Christmas lights to last a lifetime only add to the place's old school charm. It's no wonder that this spot has been able to maintain its staying power for over fifty years.

Cowboys Red River
Photo courtesy of Cowboys Red River

If you've got a hankering to down ice-cold Lone Stars and two-step your way across a massive dance floor-- then this behemoth honky-tonk is for you. Not only can you do some serious boot-scootin' to live bands Wednesdays through Saturdays, but you can also cowboy up with everything from mechanical bull riding to games of Texas Hold 'Em, Blackjack and Craps. And if that doesn't get your toes a-tappin'--then free dance lessons, ladies nights (Wednesdays through Fridays) and $2.50 drinks (before 9 p.m.) certainly will. For an authentic country experience without having to get your boots dusty, this place is the real deal.


Meet Ilene Jacobs

As a perpetual wanderer, foodie freak and wannabe chef, Ilene is always on the lookout for the best places to see, eat, drink and sleep. When she's not writing about the latest happenings in...  More About Ilene