10 best bars in Dallas for 2021 give us a reason to leave the house
Bars are half the story of the food & beverage industry, which we'll celebrate via our annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, celebrating the best in Dallas food and drink.
In our editorial series, we're spotlighting nominees in every category: best neighborhood restaurants, best rising star chefs, best bartenders, and best restaurants — voted on by a panel of judges, consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts, who helped narrow down the final list to 10 finalists.
Who will win? Find out at the Tastemaker Awards party on August 19 at Fashion Industry Gallery, where we’ll dine on bites from nominated restaurants while emcee CJ Starr reveals the winners. Buy tickets here.
Here are the 10 nominees for Best Bar:
Atlas Bishop Arts
Chic Bishop Arts lounge from the owners of Bishop Arts restaurant Krio has a theme: to showcase the world, in food, drinks, and music. Drinks like the Pisco Sour (Peru), Pimm's Cup (London), and Singapore Sling (Singapore) are globally inspired, and they serve international-themed snacks, too. But they're also a neighborhood bar, ready to throw it down for Bastille Day or whatever other fun the neighbors have hatched.
Bar in White Rock Center from husband-and-wife Todd Dickerson and Jennifer Rohde Dickerson caters to East Dallas: from Lakewood, Forest Hills and Hollywood Heights, to Casa Linda, Eastwood, and Old Lake Highlands, with signature drinks, beer, wine, and sports on TV. Todd is a career restaurateur with 31 years food and beverage experience, including his role as managing partner of Angry Dog for 20 years.
Cosmo's was founded in 2000 — a lifetime ago in bar years — by brother & sister Gerald Stogsdill & Debra Peña, who created a chill-funky-retro vibe, plus crafty martinis tha were ahead of their time Bar manager and now business partner Jackson Tran has given Cosmo's a second life, adding family Vietnamese recipes to the menu such as pho and grilled pork chop with braised collard greens that have drawn a new appreciative audience of foodies.
Dahlia Bar & Bistro
Dahlia is the first establishment to finally make the most of this location at 3300 Ross Ave., which saw bars such as Woody's and Ross & Hall Kitchen come and go. Chris and Mark Beardon (Felix Culpa, Toluca Organic, Truth & Alibi, and The Tipsy Alchemist) have created a floral-themed oasis, including floral-inspired cocktails and an inverted ceiling floral arrangement above the 35-seat bar. The location comes with a built-in courtyard, ideal at a time when outdoor space is an essential.
All applause for this "Lower Greenville Avenue bar that could," that has gamely hung on through dramatic neighborhood changes and a pandemic, continuing to pour one of the best beer selections in the city, with service that feels both attentive yet effortless. Owners Simon McDonald and Mike Smith never sleep: In the spring, Smith rebuilt the entire patio, with handsome updated sidewalk seating, making it an even hotter ticket for weekend brunch.
Subterranean bar at Joule Dallas debuted in 2014 and is a repeat Tastemaker Awards Best Bar nominee, even winning in 2016. The Rambler has been a craft cocktail temple since it opened but cemented its dominance in the field by hiring popular bartender Gabe Sanchez after he sold Black Swan Saloon, his bar in Deep Ellum. It's a Dallas destination not only for its craft cocktails, but also for its sultry music, special events, and cultural impact.
Joe Morales, co-owner of Adair's, wanted to create an "old East Dallas joint" when he opened Peak Inn in 2019 in the former Peak & Elm restaurant. It's a good old-fashioned bar, with good food and no gimmicks. They have all the things you need: jukebox, pool table, fireplace, TVs and cheap drinks, including a generous weekday happy hour that lasts until 10 pm. The kitchen stays open until 1:30 am, a draw for service industry workers.
Punch Bowl Social
Spacious bowling-themed bar and restaurant in Deep Ellum deserves an award for perseverance alone. The concept was left high and dry by parent company Cracker Barrel, who bailed once the pandemic hit. But they've made a comeback, and with three bars, scratch kitchen, and sundry entertainment options such as bowling, karaoke, ping-pong, wall scrabble, and old school arcade games, they have plenty to offer, not to mention occupying a key anchor spot in the neighborhood.
Latest creation from veteran bar owner Kim Finch (Double Wide, Single Wide) is a perfectly formed concept that hits all the right notes, from its location on the edge of Deep Ellum, to its thoughtful reuse of its vintage gas station location, to its timely pandemic-friendly sprawling patio in front. Cocktails have a fun, high-concept flair, and the food has a distinctive down-home Southern theme, with Frito pie, bologna sandwiches, and sloppy joes.
Henderson Avenue bar is all about the carefree good times with a fun crowd, DJs, and a tongue-in-cheek spirit — thus the 40-ouncers and Boone's Farm wine. They work to keep it fresh, with ventures such as their semi-regular pop-up bar installations themed to match pop-culture icons such as The Office and Family Guy.