Ye olde downtown bar offers counterpoint to glitzy Dallas stereotypes
Dallas has a reputation for bigger, better, and more, which makes a place like Ye Olde Scarlet Pumpernickel Tavern a refreshing counterpoint.
The downtown pub-style sports bar took over the former City Tavern space at 1402 Main St. in 2020 — next door to its sibling, The Mitchell, which opened in 2015. (City Tavern relocated to 1514 Elm St. in 2019.)
While The Mitchell aspires to an elegant cocktail bar status, Ye Olde has its foot planted in the proletariat roots of post-war America, not unlike the profile that City Tavern established, but with some Euro feel and plenty of Texas.
That means a menu with meatloaf, pot roast, chicken schnitzel, and sloppy joes, plus 16 beers on tap, a refrigerator case full of Lone Star and Coors in cans, and a big collection of whiskeys.
“We’re in this downtown neighborhood, it’s pretty close-knit, and we want to be an American tavern, a working class kind of place,” says owner Adam Salazar.
Salazar got into the food & beverage industry tending bar at spots such as Nikita and Rio Room, and was named the city’s best barkeep in 2004 and 2005 by the Dallas Observer.
“I was lucky to work at some iconic bars in Dallas,” says Salazar, a Texas native who went to high school in Littleton, Colorado and attended SMU in the early 90s.
He eventually connected with an investment group, gravitated into property management, and now owns the buildings that are home to The Mitchell and the Pumpernickel, giving him control over factors like rent. And obviously he'll never get evicted.
The name Ye Olde Scarlet Pumpernickel Tavern is a mouthful, but is a sendup inspired by the The Scarlet Pimpernel, the English novel written in 1905 — sortof.
"It's from the book, but there was a Daffy Duck cartoon parody I grew up watching all the time," Salazar says. "And of course any American tavern worth its salt has to have 'ye olde'."
With its Olde English lettering, dark green exterior paint job, and plate glass windows, the facade can be slightly deceptive.
"We get confused for an Irish bar," Salazar says. "But then you walk in and there are Texas horns and Schlitz beer signs."
They place a premium on sports; the Texas Rangers victory in the Major League Baseball playoffs was a big draw. “We also show more hockey than most bars, and get a lot of Dallas Stars fans,” he says.
And their location is a block from hotels such the Adolphus, the Magnolia, and the Joule, drawing out-of-towners in search of a place to mix with locals over a sandwich and a can of Colt 45.