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. And, of course the house is always rocking at the legendary House of Blues.

For a more eclectic experience, Don't Tell Supper Club offers everything from dancing to burlesque shows and aerial performances. Not to mention, the food is pretty awesome too.

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.


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.

The Nines
Photo courtesy of The Nines

Formally the Red Light Lounge, this 3000-square-foot multi-level dance palace is one of the only places in the Deep Ellum neighborhood where you can 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 3,000 sq. ft. roof top terrace where you can enjoy more music, more libations, and spectacular views of downtown Dallas. If you're looking for something weird and wonderful, this is the place to go.

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.

City Tavern
Photo courtesy of City Tavern

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.

Photo courtesy of Don't Tell Supper Club

For those who want to take a night out on the town to a new level, enter Don't Tell Supper Club, a hip restaurant, nightclub and entertainment venue featuring sharable gourmet eats, whimsical cocktails and over-the-top entertainment. The massive, moodily lit, two-story space hosts regular DJs, burlesque acts, aerialists, contortionists and even fire breathers. And they don't slack on the food here either. The menu boasts everything from smoked hamachi sashimi and BBQ pork sliders to grilled fish and steak. Oh, and there's dancing too. What's even better? Unless it's a special event, there's usually not a cover charge. Keep an eye open for Sunday drag brunches (offered every other week) on Facebook and Don't Tell's website.

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 digs are swanky, the atmosphere is always lively, and the cocktails are superb. Here, you can imbibe on everything from Dean's signature margaritas to a variety of barrel-aged cocktails. As well, the bar serves up a host of delectable snacks plus you can also order off Fearing's restaurant menu. There's also an awesome terrace complete with a fire pit for those times when you fancy a few drinks al fresco. Don't miss happy hour (Monday through Friday from 4 -6 p.m.), where you can score $7 craft cocktails as well as $10 bar bites like lobster tacos, sloppy Dean sliders and bacon-wrapped jalapeño quail.

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 than the views. Indulge in a lineup of tempting craft cocktails as well as bar snacks ranging from fried pickles to flatbread, burgers and sandwiches. 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.

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.

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 fresh oysters and beef tartare to gourmet burgers, steak frites and lobster galette.

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), punches, housemade sodas and everything in-between. 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.


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