Night on the Town: Downtown Dallas' Hidden Party Gems

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.

For a more eclectic experience, Don't Tell Supper Club offers everything from dancing to burlesque shows and aerial performances.

Fancy a hand-crafted drink in a posh setting? Then head to Midnight Rambler, a sexy subterranean drinking den in the ultra-chic Joule There's also The Mitchell, a handsome drinking haunt where gin concoctions are being elevated into an art form.

Whether it's a date night, a casual get together with friends or just a place to chill out after work, here are ten of the best places to hit around the downtown area.


House of Blues Dallas
Photo courtesy of House of Blues Dallas

Located in Victory Park, this legendary music mecca is one of the city's premier venues for a wide variety of major musical acts. In fact, Billboard magazine rated the Dallas location as the fourth most popular music club in the country. Which is not surprising since its main performance hall is large enough to take a crowd, yet intimate enough to allow music-loves to get close and personal with their favorite artists. Everyone from Alice Cooper to George Clinton have passed through its doors, and in addition to concerts, HOB also hosts free entertainment in the Restaurant & Bar.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: The House of Blues is a popular place to catch touring bands and new talent.

Ilene's expert tip: Find select cocktails, wine, beer plus snacks on offer in the bar for $4-$6, Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Skip the pricey valet and park in one of the nearby garages instead.

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Opening Bell Coffee
Photo courtesy of Opening Bell Coffee

This may be the most unlikely place to find a bustling nightlife, but this hip basement coffee house, located in the basement of the South Side on Lamar building-- has more going for it than just liquid assets. Along with coffee drinks, wine, local craft beer and decent food options (think sandwiches and pastries), Opening Bell also brews up a bevy of free entertainment ranging from open mic nights to standup comedy and live music. Find a comfy spot on one of the sofas, you're probably going to want to stay here for the long haul.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: Opening Bell Coffee is one of Dallas' best free music venues.

Ilene's expert tip: Parking is free in the black gated retail parking lot on Austin Street.

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City Tavern
Photo courtesy of City Tavern

If you're looking for a spot with loads of character, then City Tavern will be a perfect fit for you. This friendly neighborhood pub attracts a wide mix of people who come to chill out with a drink, chow down on good grub, play pool or watch a game. Expect to find a short list of cocktails and a slew of craft beer on tap as well as bar snacks, salads, sandwiches and breakfast items served until 2 a.m. Weekly events include karaoke on Sundays, free jazz on Wednesdays, Geeks Who Drink on Thursdays and live acoustic performances by local talents on Saturdays.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: City Tavern is a good for cheap drinks and

Ilene's expert tip: The Tavern offers $4 drinks from 4-11 p.m. on Mondays; $4 Texas beer and booze on Tuesdays; $4 shooters on Wednesdays; $4 drafts on Thursdays. More specials are listed on the website.

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Don't Tell Supper Club
Photo courtesy of Don't Tell Supper Club

Part restaurant, part nightclub and entertainment venue, this trendy downtown supper club is an ideal destination for those wanting to take their night on the town to a new level. Here you'll find a solid lineup of cocktails and gourmet eats served alongside everything from burlesque acts to aerialists, contortionists and illusionists. And the fun doesn't stop there. After 11 p.m., the party continues throughout the night when the place transitions into a pulsating nightclub. As for the food, the menu boasts everything from tuna tartare to veggie burger sliders, grilled fish and steak. Even better, there's usually no cover charge to get in. Book a table for the second seating so that you can hit the dance floor by the time you're finished with dinner.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: Don't Tell Supper Club is where to go for an over-the-top sensory experience.

Ilene's expert tip: $5 drink specials are on offer between 7-11 p.m. on Thursdays. On Fridays, the venue offers a set menu for $35-$45.

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Gallery Rooftop Lounge
Photo courtesy of Gallery Rooftop Lounge

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 Gallery Rooftop Lounge atop the artsy Canvas Hotel in the Cedars neighborhood downtown. Naturally, there's more to drink in than the views. Find creative cocktails, margarita flights, wine and craft beer served alongside tempting bar snacks like charcuterie boards, tuna poke tostadas and wagyu beef sliders. Occasional events include guest DJs and live music. As you can imagine, this place turns into party central after the sun goes down, so get here early to snag a prime seat on the deck.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: The Gallery Rooftop Lounge is a terrific date night destination.

Ilene's expert tip: The bar features a reverse happy hour from 6-11 p.m. on select days (usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays) every month. Check Facebook to find more information on drink specials and weekly events.

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The Woolworth
Photo courtesy of The Woolworth

Situated on the second floor of the building which originally housed a Woolworth five-and-dime, this sleek downtown spot is a popular destination for those in search of stellar libations and an equally great meal. Drinks include cocktails like the Purple Rain with gin, creme de violette and pomegranate-rosemary simple syrup alongside a nice selection of craft beer and wine. The food menu ranges from shareable snacks like crab nachos and lobster-brie fondue to heartier dishes like dry-aged beef burgers, fresh fish and steak. All of which is served in an airy, loft-like space with an inviting patio that overlooks Tony Tasset's eye sculpture.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: The Woolworth is a great destination for a night out with friends.

Ilene's expert tip: Score $5 glasses of wine and select craft cocktails for $8 during Happy Hour: Monday from 11 a.m. â€" 2 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. â€" 7 p.m. There's valet ($6) as well as free parking on Elm Street after 6 p.m.

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The Mitchell
Photo courtesy of The Mitchell

Set in a stylish 1920's building adorned with chandeliers and tufted leather furnishings, this laid-back neighborhood haunt straddles the line between bar and restaurant. Meaning it's a great place to stop in for a quick drink or stay for a full-blown meal. On offer are sophisticated cocktails, over 100 gin options, a robust wine program plus a stellar menu of reasonably priced French-inspired food (niçoise salad, beef tartare and steak frites). Whiskey lovers will especially want to take note that they serve drinks made with Tottori and Teeling. Also find live music Thursday through Saturday night.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: If you're looking for a classy bar with great food, stellar cocktails and an unpretentious vibe, this is the place.

Ilene's expert tip: $6 select cocktails, $4 beer and $1 east coast oysters are on offer during Happy Hour from 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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Photo courtesy of Parliament Facebook

This Uptown drinking den is considered one the best in the city, and for good reason. It's a handsome, moodily lit space with a welcoming vibe and an extensive cocktail list (more than 100 libations) featuring everything from innovative concoctions to prohibition-style classics. Best of all, it boasts a ridiculously good happy hour (all day on Mondays, and from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday), where you can snag many of these tipples for only $4-$7. Oh, and Parliament also offers happy hour prices anytime it's raining. As you might expect, the place fills up fast, so come early if you want to find a seat.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: Parliament is the best place for serious cocktail geeks.

Ilene's expert tip: You can order food in from State & Allen Kitchen+Bar next door. Note that there is free 3-hour parking behind the restaurant.

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The Clover Club
Photo courtesy of Louis Rajsich

Dinner with a side of live music and dancing is what's going down at this swanky, 1960s-style supper club by local cocktail wizard Eddie Campbell, who also owns neighboring Uptown bars, Parliament and The Standard Pour. Expect to swing to Big Band tunes and Motown while dining on everything from lobster pot stickers to grilled quail and ribeye steaks. Drinks to look out for include The Clover Club's namesake cocktail consisting of gin, egg whites, lemon juice and raspberry syrup. Reservations for tables to view the show require the purchase of an entree, though guests can also enjoy the entertainment from the bar. For something more casual, there's a rooftop lounge offering cocktails with a view.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: The Clover Club is geared to the over 30 crowd.

Ilene's expert tip: Happy Hour is available in the rooftop bar from 6-8 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Note: The club has a strict no shorts dress code for the dining room.

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Midnight Rambler
Photo courtesy of Midnight Rambler

This prohibition-chic hideout in the basement of the Joule Hotel showcases extensive menu of inventive cocktails conceived by renowned mixologists Chad Solomon and Christy Pope of the NYC beverage consulting firm, Cuffs & Buttons. High quality spirits and housemade ingredients created with a variety of high-tech gadgets (think rotavapor, immersion circulator and centrifuge equipment) go into creating libations that span the spectrum from re-imagined classics to original creations like the Savory Hunter made with lemongrass & makrut leaf-infused gin, lime, coconut, cilantro and Thai chile. A limited selection of food from upstairs at CBD Provisions is also available down here. And Thursdays through Sundays, a DJ spins '60s and '70s hits from the lounge's expansive vinyl collection.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: Midnight Rambler is an excellent place for an after dinner cocktail.

Ilene's expert tip: Score a Slow & Low old fashioned for $5 and double cheeseburgers with fries for $10 on Sundays. Complimentary valet parking is available in front of the Joule.

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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