10 terrific spots to spend an evening in Downtown Dallas

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 intimate 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 Americana experience, The Rodeo Bar offers a classic Texas vibe with live music and a lineup of food and booze to match. 

Fancy a hand-crafted drink in a posh setting? Then head to Midnight Rambler, a sexy subterranean drinking den in the ultra-chic Joule hotel There's also The Mitchell, a handsome drinking haunt where gin concoctions 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 hosts a bi-weekly Local Vocals showcase in the Foundation Room lounge where you can also enjoy cocktails and bites.

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: Note that valet is only available for Foundation Room members, but there are parking lots and garages in the area where you can reserve spots in advance. You can find that information on the website under FAQs-general venue.

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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 and chow down on good grub. Best of all, it's the place to always catch some type of televised sports action. Expect to find a short list of cocktails and a slew of craft beer on tap as well as bar snacks, salads and sandwiches ranging from wings and barbacoa nachos to burgers, and fish & chips. Keep an eye on Facebook for special events.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: City Tavern is where to go when you want a laid-back atmosphere with reasonably priced food and booze.

Ilene's expert tip: The Tavern offers Happy Hour from 4-7 p.m., weekdays. More specials are listed on the website.

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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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Opening Bell Coffee
Photo courtesy of Opening Bell Coffee

Tucked away in the basement of a former Sears Roebuck building, this hip coffee house 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 regular program ranging from standup comedy to live music. There's something on offer almost every night as well as on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. As for the musical lineup, expect to find a rotating cast of local and national acts churning out everything from folk to soul, jazz, and pop. Fun fact: Many of the musicians who have performed here went on to be contestants on the television show, The Voice.

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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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 offerings range from shareable snacks such as crab nachos and lobster-brie fondue to 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 date or night out with friends.

Ilene's expert tip: Score craft cocktails for $8 during Happy Hour, offered weekdays until 7 p.m. There's free parking on Elm Street after 6 p.m.

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Frankie's Dallas
Photo courtesy of Frankie's Dallas

Dallas has no shortage of places to catch a game, but there are few as inviting as this bi-level watering hole located in the historic Davis Building downtown. It's got comfortable seating; daily drink specials; loads of TVs (44 HD big-screens) equipped with all the major DirecTV sports packages; and food that goes beyond your usual pub fare. We're talking everything from sharables like wonton nachos to crafted burgers, unique sandwiches and artisan pizzas. They also have an inviting cocktail menu and twenty Texas craft beers on tap. Oh, and there's live music, burlesque shows, trivia nights and a sultry speakeasy tucked away downstairs.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: Frankie's is a perfect place to go for a casual meet-up with friends.

Ilene's expert tip: Happy Hour is offered from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and all day on Tuesdays. There are also food specials from 5-7 p.m. during the week.

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Rodeo Bar
Photo courtesy of Steven Visneau

Celebrating a comeback after being closed in 2018 for renovations is the Rodeo Bar, a western-themed bar and eatery in the Adolphus Hotel. Originally opened in 1981, the iconic saloon evokes a classic Texas-vibe with vintage furnishings, neon lights, and a lineup of food and drinks to match. There's everything from Texas-inspired cocktails and boilermakers to nachos, smash burgers, blue plate specials, and even caviar fries served with Dom Perignon. It is the Adolphus Hotel after all. On the entertainment front, expect to find live music every weekend in the back room, with tunes ranging from western to rock.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: For those seeking a watering hole that encapsulates Americana, this is your place.

Ilene's expert tip: Score $5 burgers, chili cheese fries, draft beer, select cocktails and more during Happy Hour from 4-6 p.m., Monday-Friday. There is free valet parking at the hotel as long as you get your parking ticket validated at the bar.

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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, a solid gin collection, a robust wine program, and a stellar menu of reasonably priced French-inspired food (think frog legs and steak frites). Plus there's also live music Wednesday through Saturday night. Did we mention the Mezcal and cigar pairings on select Wednesdays of the month?

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, $5 beer and $1 east coast oysters are on offer during Happy Hour from 4-6 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), when you can snag tipples for only $5-$9. 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 street parking.

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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. The beverage menu runs the gamut from re-imagined classics to modernist inventions (think wheat vodka, sherry, lime juice and beef broth infused with roasted ginger, anise and cardamom). There's also a limited selection of gourmet goodies available from the bar, and food can be ordered from CBD Provisions upstairs. Keep an eye on Facebook for special events like classical music pop ups and weekend DJs.

Recommended for Downtown Dallas' Best Nightlife because: Midnight Rambler is an excellent place to take a date.

Ilene's expert tip: Complimentary valet parking for 90 minutes 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