If nothing else, Dallas is a drinking city. Don’t be surprised to see people out and about bright and early for brunch in DFW with a drink in hand, then continuing with the drink well into the night. Probably the most appealing attribute of the DFW bar scene is the multitude of indoor/outdoor options to enjoy the often-pleasant weather. Want to go clubbing and dance the night away? No problem. How about a ride on a mechanical bull and little Texas Two-Step? Sure thing. Or maybe a slower pace with some craft beer and cocktails at a cozy house bar or dimly lit speakeasy? Check and check. If your idea of a good time is enjoying the day with a drink in your hand, you’ve found a match in DFW, where the options are truly endless.
The Rustic — If you want laid-back Texas vibes, The Rustic is your spot. This indoor-to-outdoor hang is busy day and night on the weekends. And for good reason. It’s one of the best bar spots for live country music in Dallas. Situated on the outer edge of Uptown, the beer and cocktail list is stellar, and if you want a bite to eat there’s plenty of Texas favorites on the menu to hit the spot.
The Ginger Man — DFW has plenty of trendy clubs to see and be seen. The Ginger Man isn’t one of them. This laid-back, English-style pub is tucked inside a two-story house and is a break from the Uptown norm. Notable for having the area’s largest craft beer selection, The Ginger Man is a neighborhood spot that warmly welcomes strangers. Once you’re filled up, there are plenty of places to enjoy your pint — inside playing darts, on the front porch, in the backyard beer garden, or in the cozy upstairs library lounge.
Kung Fu Saloon — Kung Fu Saloon is basically an adult playground with booze. From giant Jenga and Connect 4 on the outdoor patio to the nearly two dozen arcade games, skee ball, and foosball inside. If you feel like singing the night away, there are several karaoke rooms available for rental. You can also forgo the limelight and step onto the always-happening dance floor. Don’t be surprised when you hear the bar gong ring, as the sound signals tips for the bartenders.
Katy Trail Ice House — The Katy Trail is a 3.5-mile trail that runs through the heart of Uptown. On nice days, it’s packed with Dallas’s fit set, and the Ice House is where many grab a refresher after some exercise. Known for its ice-cold schooners, this pet-friendly patio is the best in Dallas. If you want the authentic experience, get one of the Ice House cocktails or the famous Beerita. Just be careful, as this beer-margarita combo can knock you on your rear.
Bowen House — When you walk into this intimate and sleek prairie-style home turned bar, you are literally stepping into a piece of history. Registered with Dallas County in 1888 by one of Dallas’s founding fathers, Ahab Bowen, this house is one of the few structures in the area, and really all of DFW, that has stood the test of time. Now, Dallasites come to Bowen House for some of the best cocktails in the entire metroplex. It’s a great spot for couples, and the best way to describe the late-night vibe is simply sexy.
Backyard — In its defense, Backyard does have grass. It’s just artificial. Tucked behind Bottled Blonde, which offers more of a club-type vibe, The Backyard is a laid-back spot that’s great for watching sports, playing drinking games like cornhole, or drinking with your dog. Backyard is very dog-friendly, in case the giant graffiti paintings of dog faces wasn’t a giveaway.
Dots Hop House & Cocktail Courtyard — Forget the formal title. Locals just call this spot Dots. If the inside bar, complete with 100 craft beers on tap, wasn’t reason enough for a visit, wait until you see the outside. Accentuated by a giant chandelier, murals, and stained-glass art depicting Dallas landmarks and icons, this massive open-air courtyard is something to behold and a big reason why Dots is one of Deep Ellum’s best.
High and Tight Barbershop — From the sidewalk, it looks like an unassuming retro barber shop, but if you wander past the paying customers you’ll find a door to another world. Well, not really. It’s a door to Dallas’s coolest speakeasy. In a city that has its fair share of speakeasies, High and Tight is a cut above the rest. Aside from a great hiding spot, what really sets it apart is not its craft cocktails (although tasty) but its live music. Deep Ellum is the city’s music center, and High and Tight often draws talented acts for intimate crowds. If you’re looking for a new hairdo the barbers aren’t bad either.
Off the Record (OTR) — There aren’t too many vinyl record stores around these days, and there are even fewer that serve drinks. Off The Record happens to be one of them. You can stay inside and peruse shelves of classic vinyl with a drink in hand or head out to the back patio for a break from the tunes. To see OTR really come to life, head over on a Friday or a Saturday night when some of Dallas’s top DJs spin it for the crowded dance floor.
Truck Yard — Most places with spare automobile parts scattered around aren’t ideal for a drink, but the Truck Yard is definitely an exception to the rule. It’s most popular for day drinking on the weekends, but Truck Yard is pretty much busy all the time. Inside, you’ll find eclectic Texas-themed décor while outside you’ll be drinking in a reimagined junkyard filled with people and dogs. If you get hungry, you can take on Truck Yard’s famous Texas Philly Cheesesteak or check out one of the several food trucks that rotate daily. Don’t forget to head up to the top of the treehouse for some great people/dog watching from above. Live music on Saturdays.
Single Wide — Hidden in plain sight smack dab in the middle of Lower Greenville, The Single Wide is a dive bar through and through. Its tackiness is its charm. WARNING: You will see plenty of mounted animal heads, old velvet paintings with nudity, and other nostalgic items that you may or may not deem appropriate. That said, the prices are great by Dallas standards and the vibe is, well, “authentically divey.” Make sure you try the famous Yoo-Hoo Yeehaw made with Yoohoo chocolate drink and described as “White Russian meets White Trash.” If you love Single Wide you’re in luck, there’s a rowdier sister bar called the “Double Wide” located in Deep Ellum.
Whippersnapper – This dive bar turned club is one of the best late-night scenes if you’re looking to really get after it. When you walk in you’ll see the remnants — a billiard table and some old art and trinkets — from the old Slip-Inn. However, when you turn the corner it’s all club with a DJ booth, bottle service tables you can reserve and, of course, the dance floor. It’s the little things that make this place worth a visit, like the ability to order a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor that comes in a brown bag. The dance floor is best on Fridays and Saturdays after 11:00 PM. If the line is too long, High Fives is directly next door and worth an honorable mention on the list.
Chelsea’s Corner — A Dallas staple that’s been recently renovated and is now better than ever. Located on the outer edge of Knox-Henderson, Chelsea’s Corner is a bar/restaurant that turns into a dance party by night. Originally opened in 1974, and formerly known as Corner Bar, the recent enhancements have upped the game by modernizing the interior and adding a dog-friendly patio with an additional bar in the back. It’s a big spot with multiple areas that’s a got a little something for everyone — outdoor drinking, billiards, and dancing. Come for drinks, food, or both.
Beauty Bar — It’s rare for a bar to be on the top of the list for both dancing and manicures, but Beauty Bar is a rare spot. This beauty salon-dance club hybrid is located in the heart of Knox-Henderson. It’s hard to miss with giant cherries painted all over the outside. The house-style DJs are always great, and the young crowd loves to dance. Drink prices are cheap for the area. Just make sure you watch out for the retro hair dryer chairs on the dance floor. Saturday nights are typically the best time.
Lakewood Landing — Lakewood Landing lovingly refers to itself as an “upscale dive.” I’m here to tell you: Don’t believe it. A favorite among bands playing in town, The Landing is the divest of dives, but a fun one. If you’re looking for a break from the Dallas norm, this could be the spot for you. Bartenders, prices, and people-watching is all above average. Lots of regulars make Lakewood Landing their go-to hang for a reason. Not to mention, it’s sneakily in the running for the best burger in Dallas.
South Dallas — Bishop Arts/Trinity Groves
The Wild Detective’s — At Wild Detective’s, you can both read and drink. This bar-bookstore combo located in Bishop Arts District has gained national attention for mixing books and booze into one trendy environment. The goal? To make reading and discussing ideas a fun social scene. Options include beer, wine, or one of their literary inspired cocktails like the Scarlet Letter. If you don’t feel like alcohol, there’s plenty of coffee and tea options as well as Mediterranean-inspired tostas if you need a bite to eat.
West Seventh in Fort Worth
Magnolia Motor Lounge — You come for the drinks and laid-back, intimate vibe and stay for the music. With live music talent every weekend, and some weekdays, Magnolia Motor Lounge is a great place to grab a drink and take in a show. There’s good prices and drink specials. If you get hungry, try some of the homemade bar food. I recommend the dip strips, which are hand-breaded fried bacon strips with magnolia sauce.
America Gardens — Great spot for drinks on a nice day. Boasting the largest patio in the West 7th neighborhood, the scene here is great for all ages. There are plenty of backyard games to keep you entertained, from ping pong and air hockey to giant Jenga and foosball. If you come in the summer, you can beat the heat with one of the many frozen drinks — like the “Horned Frog” — or try one of the spiked snow cones.
Downtown and Sundance Square in Fort Worth
Thompson’s Bookstore Cocktail Bar — There’s no other way to put this: This bar is kind of a big deal. It has many leather-bound books and the bar smells of rich mahogany. Any Anchorman fans out there? Located in one of Fort Worth’s most historic buildings, this may be the best cocktail bar in Panther City. Stepping into Thompson’s is like stepping back in time. The vibe is cool and sexy, and the bartenders are talented. You name a drink and they can make it, and, more importantly, make it well. Be sure to check out Thompson’s Facebook page to get the password for the speakeasy.
Stockyards in Fort Worth
White Elephant Saloon — Prepare to feel like you’ve just walked into an 1800s Western saloon. White Elephant’s history even has ties to a real Wild West gun fight. Smack dab in the middle of the Stockyards off Exchange Ave, White Elephant Saloon is an old-school Texas country bar with cowboy hats on the ceiling from previous performers. With cheap drinks and a good happy hour, complemented by live music, the White Elephant keeps folks moving around. If you work up an appetite dancing, be sure to try the famous Texas Red Chili or onion straws.
Billy Bob’s Texas — If you’ve been looking to learn how to Texas two-step, here’s your chance. The self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Honky Tonk” is the heart and soul of Fort Worth’s Stockyards. This massive venue brings in some of the best country acts around, and the dance floor is always packed. If dancing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of things to see or do, from billiards to an indoor rodeo arena. Be sure to get a photo with the bull before you head out.
Lil Red’s Longhorn Saloon — If you haven’t had your fill with two-stepping and old Texas watering holes, we’ve got one more spot for you. Lil Red’s has plenty of ice cold beer, mixed drinks, and traditional country tunes. The unique barstools make for a fun photo. The venue is also home to Craig’s “museum,” which is worth a visit if you have interest in old country Western memorabilia ranging from vintage beer to rodeos.