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Dallas' hottest new club district is in this surprise pocket neighborhood

Dallas' hottest new club district is this surprise pocket neighborhood

Bottled Blonde
Bottled Blonde is the one that started it all. Courtesy photo
Good Latimer map
Shaded portion is among Dallas' most liberal zoning areas, and home to six new clubs. Marc Lee
Bottled Blonde
Good Latimer map

An unexpected neighborhood just east of downtown Dallas is poised to become the city's hottest new club zone.

The area is a small wedge straddling Good Latimer Freeway, between Live Oak and Elm streets, and it's drawn a number of high-profile bars, some opened and more in the works, all walking distance of each other.

They include:

  • Bottled Blonde and The Backyard, pizzeria and beer garden concept from Arizona that opened in 2017
  • Citizen, glossy bar relocated from Uptown in 2020
  • The Sporting Club and Blum, dual-concept venue, opened in March 2021
  • Green Light Social, hybrid concept from Austin, opening off Good Latimer in summer 2021
  • Wishful Drinking, secret garden bar and restaurant from the Syn Group, opening summer 2021
  • Vice Park, Miami-influenced nightclub opening at 2601 Gaston Ave. in late 2021
  • Komodo, Asian restaurant with celebrities and nightlife vibe from Miami, on the ground floor of the Epic office tower, opening still TBA

Further into Deep Ellum but along the same strip are Elm & Good, the restaurant at the Pittman Hotel featuring chef Graham Dodds; Biscuit Bar, open at 2550 Pacific Ave. on the ground floor of The Epic; and Harper's, a restaurant-bar from Milkshake Concepts (Citizen, Stirr, Vidorra) that's opening in the Epic complex in May.

This sudden infusion of clubs is transforming what was formerly a strange no-man's land into a buzzy mini-entertainment district of its own.

The neighborhood is centrally located: One block east of the Central Business District and two blocks north of Deep Ellum, with the Deep Ellum DART rail station at its center.

And yet, until Bottled Blonde moved in, the area was so anonymous as to merit no attention at all.

Unlike Dallas' three already-established entertainment districts — Deep Ellum, Greenville Avenue, and Uptown — this newcomer has no track record, no damning history. That's part of its appeal, is its unpredictability as a place for a club scene to sprout.

Bottled Blonde effect
Bottled Blonde was the catalyst when it opened in 2017. Owners Les & Diane Corieri took over the old Allied Printing Co. — a building that had languished on the market for two years until they saw its potential, one block from Westdale's epic Epic mixed-use project.

To be fair, the Lizard Lounge had been a dance-music and goth destination in the same area for more than 20 years. (It closed in 2020.) But Bottled Blonde, with their free-wheeling patio and dual-purpose Backyard space, was an off-the-charts smash, generating astonishing liquor sales figures, averaging $1 million per month, that galvanized the food & beverage industry.

"Bottled Blonde was the first venue to prove the area, but once they did, nearly all the buildings surrounding them went under contract within a couple of months," says Imran Sheikh of Milkshake Concepts, who opened Citizen directly across the street in 2020. "We had a conversation with Westdale and learned more about their plans, and the trajectory became clear. We understood very quickly that, just as Cedar Springs and Uptown had been an entertainment district at one time, this would be the next iteration."

"It's such an interesting area," he says. "Not quite downtown, not quite Deep Ellum, this thoroughfare comes off the highway and intersects everything."

SoClutch Group, owner of Sporting Club and Blum, and of the coming-soon Vice Park at Gaston and Good Latimer, was similarly inspired, says owner Rico Taylor.

"We were on Cedar Springs with Concrete Cowboy and Kung Fu Saloon, but we were in a limbo situation with the landlord and looked for the next logical move," Taylor says. "We figured Good Latimer would be the next epicenter."

They acquired a building at the corner of Good Latimer and Florence Street, across from Live Oak Lofts, that was originally created for the storage of railroad cars. For nearly 50 years, it was was home to C&R Garage, as well as a smattering of residential lofts and a Sherwin-Williams paint store (which relocated down the block).

The Sporting Club and Blum took all 22,000 square feet, one venue but with two atmospheres: Blüm is a Vegas-style day and night club serving Italian and Southern food, with bottle service and DJs; The Sporting Club has a massive outdoor space featuring corn hole, ping pong, and table games, with large format cocktails and shareable bites.

No zoning
One major attraction for SoClutch was the fact that, due to a very rare zoning situation, the location had no requirements for parking.

That area is zoned as "CA-2(A)," which Lizard Lounge owner Don Nedler, who knows the area inside-out, calls "the most liberal zoning in the city of Dallas."

"That triangular patch bound by I-345, Pacific Avenue, and Good Latimer has very liberal zoning," he says. "Every other area has overlays that come with restrictions, but that one patch of land slipped past everybody. You could put anything from a smelting plant to a helicopter port in there."

Not having parking requirements is definitely advantageous, Taylor says.

"We have a parking lot behind us that holds about 70 cars, and the train station is across the street," he says. "Our goal is to work with Deep Ellum for dropoffs and pickups and push Uber as much as possible. That's kind of the expectation, that options like Uber will play a big role."

The other side
The other side of Good Latimer is part of the Bryan Area Special Purpose District. This is where SoClutch Group's other bar, Vice Park, will be located, as well as Green Light Social, an Austin concept opening its first location in Dallas in late summer.

Green Light Social also boasts multiple experiences in one, says co-owner Ian Fletcher.

"We'll have three environments under one roof, so that you can have your own bar crawl within one bar," he says. "You can enjoy happy hour, sit on the patio and receive good hospitality, or you can dance and party — we have a nightclub for that."

Their location is at 2625 Floyd St., previously a Czech-themed events center, which they're rebuilding into a two-story bar with outdoor seating.

"We started looking in Dallas in 2018," Fletcher says. "We looked at more than a dozen properties, most of which were in the Deep Ellum grid. I grew up in Dallas, and I remembered the Lizard Lounge being outside of Deep Ellum. I liked the idea of the proximity, but not being in Deep Ellum. I think we're hoping to be a destination on our own, where you come with a lot more intent and deliberation. There's something we liked about being off the main drag."

Fletcher says the idea of a new entertainment district is a big positive. All it needs is a name.

"There's a development on South Good Latimer that they're calling 'So Good,'" he says. "We're off North Good Latimer, and at my office, we've been joking about calling it 'No Good.'"

The train
This could all be dust if and when the D2 — the city's second downtown rail line — materializes. Various routes are being considered, but one that gets mentioned frequently would have an underground tunnel through the Central Business District that re-emerges at ground level — right around where Bottled Blonde and Citizen are now.

Best get there while it's hot.