It’s a great time to be a drinker in Dallas. Craft breweries are multiplying like rabbits, and bartenders have elevated craft cocktails to respectability. But drinks are nothing without the proper venue, so as part of our month-long Best of Everything series, we’ve identified the city’s best bars.
Because the word “best” is murky outside of sports, we’re defining it as a multitude of things, and no one criterion carries more weight than another. Does the bar do what no other does? Would you take an out-of-towner there for a first drink? Is it the best of its type or just flat-out great?
In alphabetical order, these are our top 10. But remember, a bar is often only as good as your companions.
You might have an opinion about Adair’s, but Adair’s doesn’t care. A Deep Ellum institution since the early ’60s, this graffiti-covered dive serves up canned beer and live music that shakes the whole place. It’s a callback to the kinds of places you’d find Willie Nelson or Guy Clark playing back when nobody knew them.
How do you beat the best view in Dallas? You sell booze. The breathtaking vista of the Dallas skyline makes it feel like you’re looking at a different planet. Oak Cliff has always felt like a different city than the rest of Dallas, and BarBelmont’s laid-back vibe confirms it.
Craft beer is no joke in Dallas anymore, and the Common Table has a lot to do with that. The bars around the corner on Cedar Springs Road are what come to mind when you think about Uptown, but no place delivers like Common Table, with its devotion to featuring the best and newest beers from Dallas and the rest of the country.
Like a West Texas peyote-fueled fever dream, the DoubleWide is the perfect level of weird for when you want to get a little lost in Deep Ellum. The crowd might be a bit hipster for some, but that’s such a hipster attitude to have. You can’t beat cheap Lone Star, an eclectic clientele and great bartenders.
Step back in time at the Inwood Lounge, housed inside the art deco theater on Lovers Lane. With a sensuously dark atmosphere, trickling waterfall and the smell of fresh popcorn wafting through the air, the Lounge is unlike any other bar in Dallas. Oh, and they still shake some of the best martinis in town.
Katy Trail Ice House
The Ice House is Uptown in bar form, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like the Foundry, it has a good thing going on inside, with a long wall of taps. But a spot on the giant patio is prime real estate, whether you are taking refuge from the summer heat with a goblet of beer or you need a cozy spot next to a fire pit on a cool night.
It might draw hipsters by the droves, but a great dive bar with a stellar outdoor space ought to attract anyone looking to unwind. Sundays are for dog lovers, when pooches of all varieties — and their owners — take over the front yard. It’s like being at a friend’s house where the only rule is to have a good time.
We can’t all be rich, but we can play above our pay grade every now and again. The Mansion Bar is pure class, with its low lights and luxurious setting. It’s the kind of place that doesn’t need to brag; it knows it’s better than everywhere else. And it shouldn’t really be a surprise that a place this smooth has unrivaled people watching.
A proper Irish pub is, above all other things, inviting and familiar. Is there a Powers Whiskey mirror behind the bar? Is everything made of luscious wood? Does the bartender two-pour your pint? Hopefully. Trinity Hall follows all the rules, and that dedication makes us feel like we’ve been transported to a corner near the Bleeding Horse in Dublin. An extensive beer list and friendly bartenders puts it above other Dallas pubs.
Although other cocktail-centric bars embrace a speakeasy aesthetic with handlebar mustaches and $10 drinks, the Windmill Lounge is a simple, no-fuss joint on Maple Avenue. No matter. A good drink is a good drink, and Charlie Papaceno knows how to make a great one for a fraction of the price. Cheap and high quality don’t typically make strong bedfellows, but that’s what makes the Windmill the best.