The Best Bars in Dallas to Drink at Right Now
Everyone runs at their own speed when it comes to drinking. Whether you’re looking for a fancy cocktail, a local craft beer, or just feel like sipping on a well-aged Scotch, there’s a Dallas bar that has you covered. While many drinking establishments come and go, these recommended selections in our latest feature, Beverage Director, are perennial powerhouse bars that are evergreen. No matter what you are craving, these local haunts have you covered.
A sophisticated cocktail lounge with crowd-pleasing bar bites
Nestled among Deep Ellum's tattoo shops and vividly colored murals, Ebb & Flow is a popular cocktail destination for concert pre-gaming and late-night shenanigans. Gather your friends, settle into a sensual red booth inside or on the garden-like front patio, and sip on creations like the activated-charcoal Darkest Storm or the forever-summer frozen watermelon mule while communing over bacon-wrapped, brisket-and-pimento-cheese-stuffed jalapeños. Any of the above will provide adequate fuel for a night of dancing and fist-pumping at Ebb's sister venue, The Bomb Factory, whose line you can skip simply by alerting your server that you have tickets. Because who doesn’t love VIP treatment?
Casual neighborhood tavern that’s destination-worthy
The coolest bars in town are usually the ones that don’t try too hard, and that’s definitely the case at this unassuming little spot tucked away in a strip center, mere steps away from a dollar store. Inside, you’ll feel worlds away from off-brand toilet paper and canned food that time forgot. The sophisticated yet unpretentious watering hole comes from a talented group of industry vets, and whether you’re there to drink a cold draft or tuck into a hot, crispy duck confit sandwich, you’ll be in good company -- even if said company is just the Willie Nelson painting glancing your way from the wall.
Swanky cocktail den serving up craft creations and fine wine
The plant-based revolution isn’t reserved solely for burgers, thanks to the herbaceous concoctions at this warm and cozy Bishop Arts haunt. Wrap your green thumb around a reinvented classic or a brand-new tradition like the Bob Ross: a jalapeño-beet tequila drink named after everyone’s favorite chilled-out painter of happy trees. If it’s real trees you’re seeking, step into the garden courtyard shared with sister establishments, Paradiso and Good Companions. Of course, you can always choose to melt into any of the comfy, eclectic seating options, or step up to the bar for a front-row view of what to order for round two.
Multi-level rooftop bar with vacation vibes
According to the owners of this Texas-based mini chain of patio bars, 77 degrees is the ideal temperature for enjoying cocktails. Who are we to question science? Here, the options abound for lounging while getting liquored thanks to three levels of rooftop patio space, each with vacation-worthy touches including group swings, cabanas, and balconies with views of Dallas in all directions. Specialty cocktails also lean tropical with coconut, pineapple, mango, and rum presumably delivered by the truckload to fulfill demand. Fun, festive shareables range from tacos and tenders to overflowing pineapple boats filled with fresh fruit and, in the case of El Loco, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and candy for good measure.
If you know what you’re looking for, magic awaits just beyond a door marked with this mezcal bar’s namesake, a black widow (though beware of taking that clue too literally). Created by the owners of next-door El Come Taco, this discreet gem boasts a brilliant selection of mezcals, as well as other Mexican-born spirits like raicilla (“Mexican moonshine”), and even some darn good whiskey. Each boozy offering can be procured as a shot or in a well-balanced creation, like the Amarte a La Antigua: a mezcal/whiskey version of the classic Old Fashioned. Be sure to try anything with pulque as well, an ancient alcoholic drink made from the maguey plant’s fermented sap.
Fido-friendly patio bar and kitchen with draft cocktails
The competition among Dallas patios to be bigger and better means there's no shortage of square-footage available for folks who like a little actual sunshine with their tequila sunrises. At Toller Patio, there’s a whopping 15,000 of those square feet perfect for getting back to nature with your pooch -- or with one of many others sprawled out and snacking on puppy popsicles. For humans, signature offerings include about a dozen cocktails on tap, available by the shot all the way up to a $99 XXL vessel enough to quench the thirst of a crowd. A small-but-nice selection of ice-cold tap beers can also be procured by the glass or pitcher, perfect for putting out the fire of the many spicy seasoning and sauce options for shrimp, wings, and tenders.
Old-school supper club downstairs, modern rooftop patio upstairs
With cocktails dreamed up by Eddie “Lucky” Campbell, one of Dallas' most inspired bartenders, this uptown establishment could just as easily be called a sipper club. An evening here is all about indulging in the full flashback experience of darkened, Rat Pack-era hangouts, where cultured types gather for a lavish meal and some drinks while enjoying hours of live music. Here, the tunes tilt toward blues and big band, but you’ll often find artists from other genres gracing the stage with candlelit onlookers clapping between courses. If it’s the uptown vibe you seek, head up to the rooftop for spectacular downtown views and booze on-demand.
Latin American drinks and eats
With four bars located throughout this sprawling multi-level space, if you leave Te Deseo thirsty, you have no one to blame but yourself. Whether you wish to partake of the traditional foods of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, or Peru, or simply be part of the see-and-be-seen crowd at one of the aforementioned quartet of bars (the rooftop patio is worth the ride-share cost alone), every moment spent here feels like a fiesta. Even on a Tuesday night.
Games, games, and more games -- plus plenty of drinks
Everything about this gigantic indoor/outdoor venue is centered around fun with friends, with a healthy bit of competition thrown in for good measure. Pick your playtime pleasure from a well-rounded selection of free games, including ping-pong, foosball, cornhole, giant Jenga, bocce ball, darts or a few rounds of indoor basketball. Belt out some karaoke tunes, or simply sing spontaneously wherever you find yourself at any given moment. Nobody will judge you for a second -- unless you sing too much Bieber.
Intimate watering hole for top-notch craft cocktails
Calling your establishment the “gold standard for cocktails in the city” could be a dangerous brag without the goods to back up the boastfulness. Fortunately, the cocktailers here can be as cocky as they like, but don’t worry, they’re not the pretentious type. What’s really great about this cozy spot in Deep Ellum is that it appeals to aficionados and the inquisitive alike with sophisticated creations that challenge the status quo while being presented in an easy-to-understand menu organized by characteristics ranging from brave to refreshing. Watching the cocktails get made feels like you’re getting a show for free, unless you opt for an on-tap offering, which doesn’t get you more than a quick bicep flex as the lever is pulled. Oh, and the annual Christmas pop-up bar is always worth a visit.
A den of retro cool in the heart of Deep Ellum
While Deep Ellum fills with ultra-lounges, bottle service clubs, and valet parking stands, Shoals Sound & Service offers up no-frills, high-quality classic cocktails and a mid-century modern air of cool. Nowhere else in Dallas can you have a gourmet bologna sandwich (trust us) while listening to Stax Records artists on vinyl.
Craft cocktails served in the renovated majesty of the Statler
Everyone in Dallas is talking about the renovation and rebirth of the iconic Statler Hotel in downtown Dallas. Long vacant, it has been restored to all of its Mad Men-esque glory and is home to newly-opened Bourbon & Banter. A speak-easy-themed cocktail lounge from two Dallas bar veterans, be sure to wear your sharpest Don Draper suit if you want to be a hit here.
Classy cocktails and a hip, mid-century slice of East Dallas
The newest addition to the Dallas bar scene and quite possibly the most anticipated is helmed by one of the city's best bartenders of the year Brad Bowen. A modest spot in a strip mall from the outside, this bar is the Tardis of drinking spots. Inside, you’ll find warm and rich mid-century modern interiors and a comprehensive cocktail menu as well as specialties depending on the whims of the well-established bartenders.
Bringing the pub vibe to Expo Park
Brought to you by the same folks who run Ten Bells Tavern in the Bishop Arts District, this gastropub continues the obsession with local craft beers established at Ten Bells. Directly across from Fair Park in Exposition Park, this bar offers a scenic European style back courtyard where one can sip a porter or stout with friends and get plenty of fresh air.
The Joule Hotel’s much-lauded basement speakeasy
Downtown Dallas has plenty of glamorous options when it comes to New Year’s Eve but only one is located in the swanky confines of the Joule Hotel. DJs spin classic soul music and mod favorites on vinyl while bartenders mix up carefully crafted cocktails for the who’s who of Dallas.
A charming and quirky neighborhood bar and bookstore
What is Wild Detectives? Is it a local bookstore? Is it a craft cocktail bar? Is it a live arts venue? The easy answer is that it’s all those things and more. Located in the heart of Bishop Arts District and boasting a cocktail menu which features Spanish inspired takes on American favorites. If spending your time having an intellectual discussion with the creative of Oak Cliff sounds like your scene, Wild Detectives is the spot to be.
Deep Ellum’s slice of Bourbon Street branches out west to Fort Worth
Deep Ellum’s Twilite Lounge was one of the first bars to herald the rebirth of the neighborhood. Inspired by speakeasy-type bars in New Orleans, Twilite Lounge feels like a turn of the century bordello with a great jukebox and frozen Irish coffee or Jack and Coke on tap. Now they are bringing the Big Easy to Cowtown.
Outdoor down-home bar and venue in the epicenter of Uptown
This music venue, bar, and restaurant is a home away from home for urban cowboys who want to enjoy a craft beer or cocktail, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy some of the hottest in red dirt and Americana artists. There may even be beer-can chicken in your future if that's what you're feeling.
A place to see and be seen while getting a workout
Located directly on the Katy Trail, this bar might as well be officially crowned as the king of Uptown. Whether you’re seeking a cold brew after a long run or meeting friends for some college football watching, the mostly outdoors Katy Trail Ice House has nearly 50 beers on draft, and all the outdoorsy Uptown types will be packed into Katy Trail’s patio.
Trashy, tawdry, totally fun neighborhood favorite
The Lower Greenville twin of Doublewide took the kitsch of the original bar but added a very important ingredient: locals. Anyone who lives in East Dallas, the M Streets, or Deep Ellum knows that this is the place to congregate. This small bar serves up traditional cocktails and a wide selection of local beers to sip while sitting on the patio and making friends in the neighborhood. Easily the best place to party on Lower Greenville.
The ultimate unique cocktail experience in Dallas
In a former incarnation, Deep Ellum was known primarily for music venues and all ages dance clubs. But now that the neighborhood has reinvented itself, Black Swan Saloon has become a destination for those who take their spirits seriously. Gabe Sanchez is always cooking up some custom concoction at Black Swan. If impressing a foodie date is your goal, this one is a no brainer.
The happiest hours for downtown worker bees
For a very long time, 9-to-5 workers in Downtown Dallas had no place to blow off steam after work. Then City Tavern came along and changed all of that. With sidewalk patio tables, booths and a stage upstairs, City Tavern caters to both weekday warriors and music lovers. Plenty of nights, this is the bar that turns into home base for those revelers looking to avoid the dance club scene that permeates downtown.
The original king of kitsch of the Dallas bar scene
The bar where a thousand memories are made and then quickly erased. Doublewide serves as a gateway between Deep Ellum and Exposition Park. Whether you’re craving an ice-cold beer or one of their custom cocktails like the Yoohoo Yeehaw, grab a seat on one of the toilet seats in the courtyard and get ready for some good drinks and even better people watching. Also, how often will you get the chance to make out under a mural of Dolly Parton?
Fire pits, burgers, and live music dominate this outdoor bar
Before the Cedars was the hip new place to live, before dive bars were cool again and before south of the Trinity River was the place to hang out, Lee Harvey’s was the small, mostly outdoor bar that welcomed both you and your dog with a stiff drink and a fire pit already going. Grab a picnic table by a fire pit and enjoy live music as you lounge.
One of the best spots to catch a pint and a game
A longtime favorite of SMU students due to its proximity to campus, the Barley House’s dedication to beers is evident from the minute you walk in. Whether it’s by the pint or by the pitcher, Barley House has all the hoppy goodness you’re looking for and more than a few choices of greasy baskets of food to soak it all up while you watch football.
Best place to sip a martini like you’re one of the Rat Pack
If you’re the type who enjoys cocktail while watching the latest arthouse or blockbuster film, Inwood Lounge is your kind of place. The art deco murals lining this historic film house serve as an ideal setting for cinefiles as well as those who enjoy classic cocktails served in dimly lit dens of cool. Did we mention that the Inwood Theatre is known for screening the cult classic The Room?
Country-western gay bar with universal appeal
The Round-Up has been one of the most popular gay bars in Dallas for over four decades, but even non-gays and non-country music fans flock here for a great time on the wooden dance floor -- or to watch those taking a spin under the Texas-shaped neon light. With multiple indoor bars, a two-level back patio, and a front parlor known for lively karaoke sessions fueled by draft beer served in boot-shaped mugs, there’s a nook and cranny for everyone to find a little fun. Come for the two-steppin’ and stay for the good vibes.
An uptown staple with a neighborhood bar vibe
In a world full of ultra lounges and trend chasing nightclubs in Uptown, Stoneleigh P is the constant that rides out the storm. A classic beer and cocktails joint located across the street from the historic Stoneleigh Hotel, this is the bar that could be considered the anchor of Uptown. But unlike the rest of Uptown, there will be no bouncers, cover charge, or terrible dance music on a night you want to rage.
The diviest of dive bars in Dallas – in a good way!
The dive bar upon which all other dive bars are based. The Lakewood Landing is the place where bands are formed, handshake business deals are done and first kisses happen. There is no pretense to the bar and likewise, their drinks are strong and simple. It may be the only bar in Dallas at which anyone is guaranteed to walk in a stranger and walk out with a half dozen new best friends.
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