Sure, you can go to a nice restaurant and have a fabulous meal and a lovely glass of wine. And yes, you could also go to your favorite dive bar and knock back some Old Fashioneds, then hit a hot dog cart before you Uber home. But what about that magical unicorn, a cool bar that also has fantastic food? We've got the handy rundown of the rainbows at the end of which those unicorns can be found.
Dallas Bars With Unbelievable Food
The younger sister to Bishop Arts District’s Ten Bells Tavern, this bar had quite a culinary reputation to live up to. Instead of trying to mimic Ten Bells' gastropub fare, Eight Bells instead offers sandwiches and a variety of curated tinned Spanish seafood delicacies. Scallops or mussels in paprika sauce with a side of crusty bread or crackers are particularly shareable, especially once the 100-degree “springtime” weather arrives.
This place is worth it for the retro movie posters and never-ending loop of VHS movies showing behind the bar. But the food offerings have become nearly legendary, too, with the most legendary being that treat to start the week off right, Banh Mi Monday. The no-frills, wildly popular Vietnamese sandwich is only available on Mondays, and makes the start of the work week a little less soul-crushing.
While Lower Greenville grows, expands, changes, and hopefully doesn’t become too bro-y, The Libertine Bar will continue to be a beacon of sanity, good beers, and better food in a sea of change. As Dallas was a town built on a foundation of brunch, The Libertine’s brunch is particularly noteworthy for its ability to tranquilize even the most feisty of elephants.
There are bars that have pretty good food, and then there’s Small Brewpub. Chef Misti Norris consistently knocks Small’s innovative, ever-changing menu out of the park, with everything from chicken feet to pickle boards to pâtés. Her innovation has not gone unnoticed, as the food at Small has already won multiple national awards in the year since the bar opened.
If Small Brewpub’s food is adventurous and challenging, Lakewood Landing is the opposite. But are you really going to complain about something like midnight jalapeño corn dogs or loaded nachos? The food at the Landing perfectly matches the dive’s decor of ripped vinyl booths and pool tables. And when it comes to a good, honest burger, the Landing is awfully hard to beat. Keep an eye out for specials which usually consist of whatever the hell someone felt like cooking a big batch of that week.
For years, pizza in Deep Ellum has come in the form of a slice hastily purchased from a window after a few too many frozen Irish coffees at Twilite Lounge or a show at Three Links. But Stonedeck has brought a respectable gourmet pizza menu to the bar scene of Deep Ellum. Bar-hoppers nearly lost their minds when Stonedeck recently announced it would open for a lunchtime pizza and booze all-you-can-eat buffet.
The gastropub concept has been done -- and done to death -- but the ones that do it well remind you why the idea of savory, European-inspired pub fare perfectly complementing an English stout or German Pilsner is a good one. The Idle Rich Pub does that, with a gastropub food menu that offers enough hearty soups, stews, fish & chips, and classic pub dishes that you might feel like you are actually across the Atlantic.
Again, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and good bar food is just good bar food. Just because you’re drinking doesn’t mean you have to tolerate chewy wings or school cafeteria-like pizza. In fact, wings and pizza are where Bryan Street Tavern really shines. How do you know that its pizza is particularly good? When people who don’t even drink make it their go-to takeaway pizza place.
This bar, which caters equally to the Deep Ellum crowd and the all-hours doctors and nurses on staff at Baylor hospital down the street, features affordable and hearty subs and pizzas which are served until 1am. If you were curious how proud it is of its pizza, make sure to check out an Elbow Room brunch one day, if only to order the pizza omelet.
No matter what, if you are hungry and drinking at Truck Yard, you will be A-OK. Most likely, there will be three to four food truck options that rotate, offering everything from sushi, to sliders, to BBQ, and more. Don’t forget the in-house Philly cheesesteak window inside the bar, open at all times. It’s literally impossible to not be eating something delicious at any given time at Truck Yard.
The long-established watering hole popular with those in the East Dallas know, Louie’s is most famous for its “Waukegan-style” thin-crust pizza, the brainchild of the brothers (and Chicago natives) who opened the bar back in the early 1980s. Louie’s is old school, so old school that it only accepts American Express and cash, and the pours are generous. And don't dare say a bad word about any Chicago sports team, the memorabilia for which hangs on every wall.
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Amanda Cobra has eaten so much good bar food that she may eventually need to be removed from her house with the use of a forklift and a tuna-catching net. Follow her extraction on Twitter at @amandacobra.
1. Eight Bells Alehouse831 Exposition Ave Apt C, Dallas
2. Cosmos1212 Skillman St, Dallas
3. The Libertine Bar2101 Greenville Ave, Dallas
4. Small BrewPub333 West Jefferson Blvd, Dallas
5. Lakewood Landing5818 Live Oak St, Dallas
6. Stonedeck Pizza Pub2613 Elm Street, Dallas
7. Idle Rich Pub2614 McKinney Ave, Dallas
8. Bryan Street Tavern4315 Bryan St, Dallas
9. Elbow Room3010 Gaston Ave, Dallas
10. Truck Yard5624 Sears St, Dallas
11. Louie's1839 N Henderson Ave, Dallas
This charming spot in Dallas's Expo Park is definitely a new neighorhood standby. This warm and lively space is generously stocked with a wide variety of beer, liquor and wine, there's a super spacious outdoor patio (often the site of live concerts at the area), and a nice smattering of bar snacks, sandwiches, and seafood plates. The gastro-influenced cuisine is a nice pair to the house signature cocktails.
This retro style dive bar traffics in some truly eclectic fare-- they serve not only pizza, but also banh mi, pho, and Tex Mex specials (who wants Frito Pie?). This spirit of reinvention also applies to their cocktails. Try the house Mayan mule, a south of the border take on the Moscow classic. Also peep the outdoor space!
A divey Lowest Greenville bar with live music and great specials, The Libertine Bar is a dope spot in Dallas to get your drink on. Specials at this gloriously low-key hang include $3 Texas Beer Night on Wednesdays and half-price food on Tuesdays-- how could you go wrong? You might come here for just a drink, but the food menu is definitely also worth your while.
This microbrewery's cute size (they've only got room for a handful of picnic-style tables) and bare, industrial interior certainly doesn't speak for how much a culinary powerhouse it is. Its constantly changing menu highlights an equal mount of game- and vegetable-based dishes, all rooted in American and Southern classics with modern spins that make them real game changers. Fruity ales and spicy peppered lagers brewed in tiny batches are what get your though the door, but the wild onion dumplings and rabbit bolognese are what keep you at the table.
Famous in Dallas for its late charitable, coke-bottle-glasses-wearing bartendress, Lakewood Landing is a dive bar that serves up a killer burger and super-strong drinks. Stop by this authentic gem of a neighborhood spot and dance to tunes on the jukebox while you sip down brew and munch on tasty and reliable bar food. Also of note: this Lower Greenville locale's outdoor seating area.
Always fresh, never frozen, Stonedeck's a warm and friendly neighborhood pizza spot in Deep Ellum. Known for their customizable pies, stop in and make the 'za of your dreams: you can pile high toppings that pack a flavorful punch like BBQ chicken, chicken tikka, Asian pork, and spicy green tomatoes. The spot also features a wide variety of barrel aged whiskey and "retro cocktails."
A traditional irish pub, Idle Rich has a wide selection of beers and ample space indoors and outside to kick back with a group. As far as brew-friendly eats, the menu is filled with dishes like fish and chips and their signature Irish Reuben sandwich to soak up all that Celtic pride in your stomach.
This low-lit dive has always felt like a friend's basement, decked out as it is in sofas, bar stools, and pool tables. Both feel like someplace where it’s (maybe too) easy to spend endless hours drinking and eating pizza, but what exactly is wrong with that? An added bonus of this spot is their regular live concerts and spacious outdoor patio area-- a major upgrade on the basement, indeed.
Elbow Room's an easygoing, vintage-inspired neighborhood bar. Housed inside a warm and inviting brick building, Elbow at first looks like an upscale dive, but on closer inspection, it's really more of a New American local spot and bar. The menu serves satisfying takes on classic lunch and dinner fare (there are burgers and sandwiches, plus your standard bar fare), and features a good selection beer and cocktails.
A great beer selection, cheesesteak galore and ice cream trucks? To round out this myriad of awesomeness, let us not forget that there's also a freakin' treehouse bar in the place. Seriously, combine all of the above to make this the coolest backyard establishment in all of Dallas, if not the world.
Louie's is a no-frills Lower Greenville dive bar that's one of the best in Dallas. There are no airs about this authentic hangout spot-- Louie's is simply one of the more authentic dives in town. There are drinks, of course (but be warned, Louie's doesn't serve draft beer), but also some solid bar food: the bar serves up a tasty (and sizable) pizza that you'll be needing around you knock back a few.