For many Dallasites, bars are a home away from home — but better. A bar can be a place to sit and sip, whether alone or with a group. A place to meet old friends and make new ones.
Bars are half the story of the food and beverage industry, which CultureMap Dallas will celebrate via its 2019 Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink.
To crown the best bars in Dallas, we consulted with a panel of judges, consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts, and narrowed it down to 10 establishments as the finalists for 2019 Bar of the Year.
Over the next few weeks, we'll spotlight nominees in every category: from best chefs to the best restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Winners will be announced at the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards party on April 25 at Fashion Industry Gallery. We’ll reveal the winners, sip cocktails, and dine on bites provided by the nominees. Tickets are on sale now.
Here are our nominees for Bar of the Year in Dallas:
If this contest were judged by liquor sales alone, then we'd be done right now. This mega-bar with beer garden located across from the Deep Ellum DART train station is well known in the industry for selling more booze than any other bar in town. Its casual atmosphere, accessibility, and decent pizza make it an easy and appealing drop-in, and it's almost always mobbed, mostly by young singles in the late 20s to 30s range. This is one in a small chain founded in Arizona with locations in Scottsdale and Chicago — and another coming soon to Houston, as well.
This cozy bourbon lounge and eatery off Lower Greenville was early on the bourbon trend and has an extensive selection, along with a staff that's eager to advise you should you seek such guidance. If you like whiskey, this is the place. There's also a menu that's more interesting than your usual bar food, heavy on smoked meats, but with the occasional zucchini taco, for example. There's a nice patio and their location off Greenville Avenue is ideal if you want to soak up some of the Greenville action but far enough away that it's less hassle.
Henderson Avenue spot balances its bar persona with a restaurant side, just like the revered Victor Tangos, whose space it took over. This is part of the SBBC Hospitium family (Truth & Alibi, Tipsy Alchemist), and features sharp and engaging service, well-made cocktails, a good menu of food, and decor that's both upscale and quirky, with plush velvet banquettes and vivid artwork featuring pop-culture figures like Audrey Hepburn.
Family-owned bar is one of the bright spots in the new Deep Ellum, known for possessing both a friendly ambience as well as epic, occasionally over-the-top cocktails. Service is helpful, and the bar staff is not only knowledgeable but also attentive, even doting. There's food, too, with a selection that's small but tempting, including burgers and a biscuit sandwich.
Cocktail bar at the Sylvan Thirty complex is perhaps not visible to the naked eye; it's located inside Houndstooth Coffee. You walk through a hallway and that's where you'll find what is, for many cocktail aficionados, a hidden gem. The bar is small and very personal. You'll end up knowing the bartender even without trying, and you'll be glad you did. Their drinks are refreshing and refined, with combinations that stimulate your mind as well as your palate. They have all the cool stuff including mezcal and a rare selection of sherries.
Craft cocktail palace at The Joule is a repeat nominee, and actually won for Best Bar in 2016. No surprise given the reputation of its New York mixologists Chad Solomon and Christy Pope, who've wielded a big influence with their craft cocktail cred. Their drinks are pricey but also vastly creative, with new menus rolled out on the regular. The bar's subterranean location, with its marble tables and leather booths, feels like a fun secret.
Celebrity mixologist Omar Yeefoon reigns over this cozy storefront in Deep Ellum, where he's doing classic cocktails — old-fashioneds, margaritas, mint juleps — in a retro-modern environment with a blues soundtrack inspired by Southern rock 'n soul of the '60s and '70s. A food menu runs from signature empanadas to an acclaimed bologna sandwich to vegan items such as fried plantains and black beans.
Uptown Dallas hangout is world-famous for its Moscow mule, proclaimed by many to be the best there is. But with acclaimed mixologist Eddie "Lucky" Campbell and partner Brad Woy now in charge, there's more to this bar than ginger beer and vodka. The cocktails are predictably amazing, but the food's been upgraded and the atmosphere remains comfortable and chill.
Cocktails are an entertaining show at this Uptown Dallas bar, with plenty of dry ice, blow torches, liquid nitrogen, and amusing vessels — light bulbs, anyone? — in which your drink is served. The bar has an anything goes spirit that's welcoming to all. You don't just see one kind of person here, it runs the gamut, and that's a big part of the fun.
Henderson Avenue bar is a bro kind of place but in a chill, goofy way, like the guy who lets you know he likes you by tackling you. It's just carefree good times with a fun crowd, DJs, and a tongue-in-cheek spirit — thus the 40-ouncers and Boone's Farm wine, if you're so inclined. They work to keep it fresh, with their latest master stroke in January when they created a pop-up bar that faked The Drunken Clam, the bar in Family Guy.