Maybe it’s Dallas’s long, hot summers, or perhaps it’s because residents love nothing more than to go out for dinner and drinks, but the city and its surrounding areas overflow with enticing watering holes. Dallas’s artisanal distilleries are winning awards and its craft beer scene is one of Texas’s best. The establishments on this list serve everything from local brews to Old World wines to Japanese whiskys. From iconic dives to fancy wine bars, from gastropubs to live music venues, from a sushi and cocktail lounge in the sky to a Mexican speakeasy, there’s something for every drinker.
The Rattlesnake Bar at star chef Dean Fearing’s eponymous restaurant in The Ritz-Carlton is Dallas’s sexiest lounge. Mahogany walls, rich leather furnishings, and tasteful, oversized art provide an elegant backdrop for sipping margaritas. Chef Fearing is known worldwide as one of the pioneers of southwest cuisine—the glass and gold chandelier, shaped like a cluster of cattle horns, is a nod to his reputation. A happy hour here means fancy bites, cocktails on the cheap, and guac on the house.
Lakewood Landing (Lakewood)
This iconic bar in Lakewood calls itself an “upscale dive,” and though it sounds oxymoronic, the description is spot on. Yes, it brims with regulars and is dimly lit, but Lakewood Landing is sparkling clean and the pub grub—a burger, wing, and corn dog selection that could give any state fair a run for its money—is delicious. Not to mention inexpensive—nothing on the menu is more than $11. So fire up the jukebox, play a round or two of pool, order some jalapeño poppers, and throw back a few cold ones.
The Lounge Here (East Dallas)
The round bar at this neighborhood gem is a stylish spot to relax with a bourbon. The Marfa mural on the wall and leather booths lend an airline-lounge vibe. Innovative cocktails, including the La Vie en Pistache—white rum, pistachio syrup, lime, and Thai basil—pair well with fancy bar snacks such as goat cheese and crab toast with tomato-bacon jam. A daily happy hour from 4 to 6 pm offers discounted cocktails and a soundtrack curated by Good Records, the neighboring record store and music venue.
Adair’s Saloon (Deep Ellum)
Live music lovers flock to this Deep Ellum honkytonk to check out great bands five nights a week. Every surface at this beloved burger-and-beer joint is covered in graffiti, and neon beer signs light the walls. Past musical guests have included the Dixie Chicks, though the line-up usually features plenty of local acts—on nights when there’s no band, the jukebox is cranking.
This intimate 60-seat sushi and cocktail lounge, set on the 50th floor of The National skyscraper, was made for Japanese whisky and sake lovers. Jewel-toned furnishings pop against glass picture windows, framing a bird’s eye view of Dallas. The luxe vibe extends to the menu—the king crab roll is prepared with fresh truffle shavings and the decadent cocktails are stellar sushi accompaniments. Try the Kyoto Old Fashioned, made with Japanese whisky, or the Kessaku Carajillo, a sake-forward drink, flavored with vanilla-flavored Spanish liqueur and cold brew.
Yellow Rosa Cocktaileria: A Speakeasy (Deep Ellum)
The best time to hit Yellow Rosa is on Thursdays for five-dollar margaritas, but the agave cocktails are cold and delicious any night of the week. Inspired by the boho-chic vibes of tropical Tulum, this Mexican speakeasy-slash-cantina is an atmospheric oasis, dressed in greenery and neon signs. Live music—after 10 pm on the weekends—pairs exceptionally well with mini sopes, elotes, and tacos.
The second location of Neighborhood Services is just as adored as the original on Lovers. The bar is a guaranteed good time, thanks to attentive and knowledgeable bartenders who churn out stellar cocktails—there’s also an excellent craft beer list. It’s all enhanced by the restaurant’s impeccable New American menu, which allows for classic pairings such as fish and chips with a local brew and steak frites with a glass of red—it’s impossible to make a bad choice here.
RH Rooftop Restaurant Dallas (Knox/Henderson)
High-end furniture chain RH has a stunning gallery on Knox, complete with a swish restaurant on the top level. To reach the spot, climb an elegant staircase, adorned with oversized mirrors. At the top, you’ll find a spectacular chandelier and a posh bar. While there’s no bar seating, guests can order a drink, then stroll the gallery. Feel free to take a seat down there, even with your glass of red—the furniture is near impossible to stain.
NAPA Thai Asian Cuisine (Colleyville)
The Blue Infinite Lounge in this popular Thai spot is, as the name suggests, bathed in a vivid cobalt. Tufted-button velvet seats and lush plants create a moody ambiance. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect evening than one featuring a spice-laden curry on the restaurant’s terrace, followed by a stop at the lounge for nightcap. The inventive Southeast Asian-inspired cocktails, such as the Bangkok Mule, are infused with ingredients like tamarind and fresh ginger syrup.
St. Martin’s Wine Bistro (Lower Greenville)
This adorable neighborhood escape, one of Dallas’s best bets for a romantic evening, evokes France. There are white tablecloths, escargots on the menu, and a massive crystal chandelier that serves as an alluring centerpiece. Sit at the polished wood bar, enjoy the live piano, and sip Champagne with your shrimp in Dijon Champagne sauce. The wine list is legendary, featuring hundreds of impressive Old World bottles.
Meddlesome Moth (Design District)
This traditional gastropub houses one of Dallas’s most dynamic beer lists—not just local I.P.A.s, but stouts, sours, lagers, and ambers from all over the world make appearances on the prolific menu. It’s difficult to choose just one, so order a sampler and pair your brews with shareable small plates, such as grilled oysters and gnudi with parmesan and crispy sage, aka Moth Balls.
Stan’s Blue Note (Lower Greenville)
As a downtown staple since the early 1950s, this is one festive sports bar. With two pet-friendly outdoor patios, 30 big screens, and over 50 beers on tap—plus live music and karaoke—Stan’s is a certified crowd pleaser. Jersey-clad fans gather around the bar, and those who aren’t interested in the game can keep busy playing darts, pool, or shuffleboard. The Hangover Burger—refried beans, jalapeños, hickory-smoked bacon, cheddar, a fried egg, and bloody mary ketchup on a brioche bun—lives up to its name, and pairs beautifully with an I.P.A.
Diana Spechler is a novelist and essayist whose work appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, Harper’s, and elsewhere.
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