It might seem like an oxymoron: a Park Cities dive bar. Surely the HP vice squad would have busted this place up lest it sully the good image of the 75205 bubble. Luckily for those who enjoy their brews in a less-than-pristine setting, the TOT is just west of Inwood Road on Lovers Lane, in still what can be considered the Park Cities by people who don’t live in the Park Cities. It’s like the scuzzy older cousin hovering on the edge of the family reunion, waiting for you to be alone so he can sneak you a beer. It’s always a gamble on who you’ll find inside, but you’re guaranteed a great memory no matter what.
Everyone knows that the best bars are found in strip malls. On the corner of Marsh Lane and Walnut Hill Road, the Velvet Elvis may or may not be in a time loop stuck in 1987. But when the hair metal cover bands come on stage, and you realize everyone here wants to be, then maybe hanging out as “Don’t Stop Believin’” gets the whole bar shouting in unison isn’t the worst option in the world. Strong cougar hunting here.
Come to Lakewood Landing more than a couple of times, and the place starts to fit like a glove. There are some couches that appear to be from the ’70s, which can either be a selling or breaking point depending on how concerned you are about germs. The burgers here have a bit of a local following, but this isn’t a burger list, so we will mention that this place serves alcohol as well. The Lakewood Landing, like many great dive bars, harkens back to a simpler time of wood paneling and polyester blends.
The vibe here is your hipster friend’s house party. Maybe that doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, but just go with it. Take a good book and relax in the dog-friendly backyard that’s grassy and has this one little hill toward the back, just to the left. Okay, we’ll stop. Just enjoy this little slice of Austin that resides in South Dallas. Don’t worry too much about how clean it is on the inside because you probably won’t be in there much, anyway.
It’s the sign of a good dive bar if you’re wary of going in the first time. At Tradewinds, you might have reservations about even getting out of your car, but those drinks aren’t drinking themselves, are they? And what drinks they have. Strong? You betcha. Cheap? Like the women of Harry Hines! Usually, when a bar is full of locals, it means the place is worth checking out, and Tradewinds is no exception.
There are a few things you need to know about Ships. The bar only takes cash, only serves beer and only is as boring as you let it be. If you balked at any of that, then this is the wrong listing to read. But if you need your dive bars with something stronger than beer, then bring it yourself. Ships is BYOL, which means that any mistakes made here are purely of your own doing. Grab a few friends and knock out a night pretending you’re Bukowski or Tom Waits at this drunken poet’s safe haven.
Vaguely resembling the Mos Eisley Cantina from the outside, the Grapevine on Maple Avenue might not be a “wretched hive of scum and villainy,” but it promises a colorful crowd. The inside is about the size of a truck bed: The main room has a jukebox and a row of plush seats along the back wall; one room over is a pool table. And that’s the inside of the bar. But the back patio is huge, with nearly three times the seating and a basketball court to boot. The drinks are cheap, the crowd is all over the map, and the matchbooks suck, so bring your own lighter.