We recently unveiled our Top 100 list of the very best restaurants in Dallas, and it includes every kind and level of restaurant: fine-dining splurges, modest gems, taquerias, pizzerias, and sandwich shops. Some are known for having a single great dish, like ramen; some have the best atmosphere around. And some are known for their bar scene.
It should be said that many (most?) of the restaurants on our Top 100 list have good bars. These days, most restaurants open with a heightened focus on their bar scene, with complicated cocktails and a separate bar menu. And bars open with a full menu of food that surpasses typical bar snacks.
Some of our list-makers, such as Fearing's and the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, have bars so substantial, they are practically entities unto themselves. To all the great restaurant bars of Dallas, we lift a toast.
Here are the 5 restaurants from our Top 100 where the bar shares billing as the reason to go:
This fried chicken joint opened in West Dallas before fried chicken was the epic trend it is today, and before West Dallas became ground zero for the next gentrification ground. They do chicken both fried and rotisserie, and the sides are Southern basics like collard greens and macaroni and cheese. But the driver here is The Foundry, the adjacent outdoor bar. It's an expansive courtyard with picnic tables, ping pong tournaments, and a good selection of craft beer that's both dog- and kid-friendly. The chicken's good and all, but the bar's the thing.
Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House
That Goodfriend would make this list should come as no surprise. It comes from guys with a strong bar background and was conceived as a beer bar first, with the food originally made in the kitchen of Good 2 Go Taco next door. Its lineup of burgers is surely worthy; Goodfriend was among the first wave of places in Dallas to do the Hopdoddy-esque burger list with all sorts of meats and toppings. But Goodfriend's primary draw remains its cache of boutique beers. Although the craft beer world has expanded since it opened in 2011, Goodfriend is still a place where you can get beers not found elsewhere.
This Design District pioneer has always had serious chefs in the kitchen, and some menu items, such as its signature moth balls (ricotta balls in a cream sauce), tip their hat to culinary stars like the Spotted Pig in New York. But how can you ignore that bar? It runs 24 feet long, practically the length of the restaurant, with a seemingly infinite number of taps — there are actually 40 — and one of the best beer selections around. Owner Shannon Wynne took all of the beer capital earned from his Flying Saucer chain and tacked it onto a good restaurant; as a result, many a rare keg has been tapped here first.
Retro restaurant on Greenville Avenue from HG Sply Co. owner Elias Pope and chef Danyele McPherson does some cute twists on homey food such as a grilled-cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Its scratch-made bologna is one-of-a-kind. But so is its bar program, devised by Mate Hartai, incorporating scholarly techniques and ingredients such as wine jellies and shrubs, aka drinking vinegars. There's an entire menu of nonalcoholic drinks, as well. The ongoing trend with bar menus has been to treat them with the same seriousness as what's coming out of the kitchen, and Remedy is on that cusp.
No establishment in Dallas blurs the line between bars and restaurants more perfectly than VT. A raucous social scene gives the place a real bar vibe. It also blazed the cocktail trail, as one of the first in Dallas to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables, such as red bell pepper in its pepper smash drink, with gin, mint, lemon, and honey. But to focus entirely on the bar is to overlook the prowess of chef Kirstyn Brewer, winner of CultureMap's rising star chefs contest of 2016. Her menu is finely tuned, with a few dinner entrées and a whole lot of great shareable plates and upscale bar snacks.