June 23, 2021

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, others you want a stout drink in a quiet corner. DFW’s best bars offer a bit of everything.

Are your pipes warmed up for a night of karaoke? Maybe you’re looking for a friendly spot to catch a game on a big-screen with pals. Whether you’re in the mood for light jazz and handcrafted cocktails, boot-scooting and a PBR or dressing to the nines and sipping a mixologist’s latest magic elixir, your next watering hole is ready for you in Big D. Our favorite bars — listed alphabetically, not ranked — offer places to match your mood and personality. Rock the night away, check out a flight of North Texas’ fine craft brews and booze or soothe your stressed soul in a padded booth at a friendly neighborhood dive. The choices are endless, but we promise that somewhere on this list is a spot ready to welcome you as its newest regular. But why stop at one? We’ve field-tested all these joints and many, many more, and we promise: Your home-away-from-home is here waiting for you with a chilling drink and welcoming smile.

By Jacob Vaughn, David Fletcher, Eva Raggio, Lauren Daniels and Observer staff and contributors.

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Adair's Saloon

Adair's Saloon
Adair’s Saloon is Deep Ellum’s outpost for what truly makes country music country. With frequent guest musicians representing the best of outlaw country from North Texas and around the nation, Adair’s boasts a honky tonk vibe in a dive bar atmosphere. The kitchen is open until 1:30 a.m. nightly offering some of the best bar burgers, sandwiches and wings for a surprisingly reasonable price. Be sure to grab a pen and leave your mark on the wall. Some may call it graffiti, but the good folks at Adair’s call it art.
2624 Commerce St., Dallas, 75226-1402

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Akai

Akai
Courtesy Akai
Let us be perfectly clear: There’s no such thing as a speakeasy anymore. Alcohol is legal again, and if you didn’t know that, we hope the rock you live under is air-conditioned. When it comes to bars based on speakeasy vibes, though, Akai is the best. To get there, a Musume staff member will guide you into the restaurant kitchen and through a cinderblock passage to the sexy backroom that is Akai. A red dragon hangs from the dark ceiling over red benches lit by warm red lights (akai is the Japanese word for “red”). The cocktails are intricate and beautifully presented. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more New York-style (not really) speakeasy in Dallas.
1740 Crockett St., Dallas, 75201

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Alamo Club

Alamo Club
Courtesy Alamo Club
The Alamo Club feels like it’s always been a part of Lower Greenville despite having opened in 2019. Owner Austin Rogers can often be found running food, taking orders and sometimes bussing tables at the classy Dallas club. The Alamo Club is billed as a cozy spot fit for any occasion, a quiet date night, an outing with the family or drinks with friends. To make sure patrons don’t go hungry, Rogers enlisted the help of English chef Michale West. The menu is filled with mouth-watering apps for the table and entrees like the Club Cheese Burger ($13) and the Pot Roast Pappardelle ($20).
1919 Greenville Ave., Dallas, 75206

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Alexandre's

Alexandre's
Courtesy Alexandre's
If you’re in the mood for drinks but don’t want to get wasted on vodka-crans, Alexandre’s is your spot. The long bar, comfortable seating and small stage give Alexandre’s the intimate feel of a speakeasy or jazz lounge. Plus, the knowledgeable team can whip up delicious craft cocktails such as mint julep, clover clubs and sidecars. On weekends, Alexandre’s showcases local talent with live music performances from local singers and bands.
4026 Cedar Springs Rd., Dallas, 75219

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Andy's Bar

Andy's Bar
Courtesy Andy's Bar
Located across the street from Denton’s famed Recycled Books is Andy’s Bar. Three bars in one, Andy’s boasts an upstairs cocktail bar called the Paschall Bar with a library vibe, a music venue and a basement bar with more of that signature Denton music and arts feel. Aside from its drink menu, Andy’s offers some delicious bar eats including loaded waffle fries, sliders and wings. Whether you’re going to catch a show or just spending a night outside the city, Andy’s is sure to make your evening on the square just a bit more lively.
122 N. Locust St., Denton, 76201

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Armoury D.E.

Armoury D.E.
Kathy Tran
When the Armoury D.E. opened its doors in 2015, its mission was to offer some of the best cocktails, food and live music Deep Ellum had seen in years. The Armoury has stuck to what it knows best, offering a casual dining experience with a diverse selection of Hungarian comfort foods and other good stuff that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else. Be sure to ask about the burger of the week while you’re there. Also, venture out back to catch one of their free live shows, curated with a music taste as refined as the bar’s choice in booze. ($$)
2714 Elm St., Dallas, 75226

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

The Balcony Club

The Balcony Club
courtesy Lorena Davey
Few places are left where you can truly feel like you’re in a bygone era, but the Balcony Club feeds that fantasy convincingly. The landmark jazz club on the second floor next to the old Lakewood Theater is a go-to spot for aspiring old-timers, no matter their age. The intimate space and dimly lit ambiance scream “date night,” as there’s only room for a cheek-to-cheek dancing, making The Balcony a great choice to take that person you’re trying to get to know much, much better.
1825 Abrams Parkway, Dallas, 75214

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Billy Bob's Texas

Billy Bob's Texas
Caity Colvard
Its building was originally an open air barn built over a century ago to hold cattle for the Fort Worth Stock Show. Since then it has served as an airplane factory and department store before arriving at its true calling in 1981, opening its doors at Billy Bob's Texas, self-billed as "the world's largest honky tonk." There may be a bigger one out there somewhere, but we doubt it, and there's certainly none that has hosted the likes of ZZ Top, BB King and Willie Nelson's July 4th picnic. There's bull riding, both mechanical and live, 30 bar stations and enough space for an army of dancers to two-step the night away in comfort.
2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, 76164

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Bodega Wine Bar

Bodega Wine Bar
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Though it’s been around for years, this Lakewood wine bar still feels like a well-kept secret. Bodega’s cozy, cave-like atmosphere and cushy armchairs and couches are perfect for settling in and spending a couple of good hours getting to know its savvy selection of global wines. If you need help deciding, the owners choose every bottle and know their inventory perfectly. The wines are available for retail purchase, too.
6434 E Mockingbird Lane, #109, Dallas

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Booty's

Booty's
Courtesy Booty's
Booty’s is based on a once-popular New Orleans bar that the owners wanted to revive here in Dallas. It’s hard to say what is most endearing about this spot. Either that fact that it’s connected to a hostel, or that they host drag show brunches some weekends. Or maybe it’s the vibrant plush couches and modern effects that sit flawlessly with the decades-old exposed brick wall. Then there’s the craft cocktails and stellar small kitchen pushing out small plates from around the world.
2801 Elm St., Dallas, 75226

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Boulevardier

Boulevardier
Kathryn DeBruler
This quaint French bistro in the Bishop Arts District has one of the best brunches in the city, a celebrated wine list, phenomenal French cuisine and a stellar oyster program. It almost feels arrogant of them to also have one of the best bars in the city. And, yet, here we are. Every Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., get half-off of every bottle of wine on their list and discounted oysters. Watch the chalkboard for the best picks. Not a wine-drinker? No problem. Their hand-crafted classic cocktails will get you wherever you need to go. ($$$)
408 N. Bishop Ave., #108, Dallas, 75208

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Bowen House

Bowen House
Courtesy Bowen House
In the historic Dallas home of Ahab Bowen, you can brush with a bit of local history while you slam back a few cold beers. It’s located conveniently in uptown Dallas, in, well, an old house. The drink menu tends toward the upscale, with a classy wine list and an assortment of beers in draft, bottles and cans. All your favorite hard liquors are available, too, so don’t fret if you need something a touch stiffer when you stop by Bowen House. There’s also an assortment of signature cocktails. If you’re feeling equal parts literary and spicy, for instance, you could try out the “For Whom the Bell Pepper Tolls,” a mix including tequila, Cynar Amaro, lime and bell pepper.
2614 Boll St, Dallas, 75204

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Cedar Springs Tap House

Cedar Springs Tap House
Courtesy Cedar Springs Tap House
In the heart of Oak Lawn, this gay-friendly sports bar is equipped with plenty of flat-screen TVs, so you can watch a game or catch a fight while enjoying bar food and craft brews or maybe a cocktail. The drink list is a broad one, replete with beer, wines, liquors and hard seltzers. Luckily for you, if you drink one too many, you can head back in the morning for a hangover brunch to ease your post-booze blues. On the weekends, you should stop by for one of the specials: a mimosa carafe, bloody mary, mimosa flights or a monster-sized bloody mary.
4123 Cedar Springs Road, #100, Dallas, 75219

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Charlie's Star Lounge

Charlie's Star Lounge
Charlie Binks
“Be Kind, Unwind” is the tagline for this bar right outside of Deep Ellum in the location of the old Starlight Lounge. Allen Falker, owner of Nines in Deep Ellum, and general manager Corey Howe had to replace almost everything in the building: plumbing, electrical, roof, floor, HVAC, bathrooms (for ADA compliance), the parking lot — everything. What is left is a straightforward bar with DJ, music video and karaoke nights. Be sure to try the Cherry Lime-Yay! a frozen cherry limeade with vodka, and if you’re feeling extra fancy, an OIld Fashioned made with Garrison Brothers Single Barrel.
4319 Main St., Dalals

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

Christies Sports Bar & Grill

Christies Sports Bar & Grill
Courtesy Christies
When the soup of the day is “mimosas” and sangrias come in towers, you know you’ve found home. Not to mention the spicy and tropical F*** It Bucket. And while we all loved (sometimes too much) their original Uptown location, their new spot has a large outdoor space; every seat on their patio, rooftop and inside has views of TVs. It's literally wall-to-wall sports here. It's a great option for catching local sports teams, especially when the weather is nice and you can sit on the patio. ($$)
2817 Greenville Ave., Dallas, 75204

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

City Tavern

City Tavern
Beth Rankin
Soaking Dallasites with booze since 2003, City Davern is a cool downtown spot where you can grab a drink and get a bite to eat. They offer regular lunch specials, and the drink menu is as varied as it is tasty. On Tuesdays, you can get a taco special, and on Wednesdays, you can tilt Italian with a fettuccine Alfredo and garlic bread combo dish. Weekdays from 4 p.m. till 7 p.m. you can also hang out for happy hour, when they offer all sorts of specials on grub, beer and wine. ($$)
1514 Elm St., Dallas, 75201

The 100 Best Bars in DFW

The Clover Club

The Clover Club
Susie Oszustowicz
Every bartender should know how to make the Clover Club cocktail. You can order the cocktail, made of gin, lemon juice, dry vermouth and egg white on top at the Uptown club of the same name. The Clover Club opened up in 2019 and has kept the Uptown area buzzing ever since. Standing in the footprint of Teddy's Room/Nikkei space, the club is meant for a slightly more mature crowd. When you show up, you’re given the option to either get a table to watch the show (which requires an order of one entree per person for “free” entry), grab a seat at the bar or hit up the rooftop for a nice view. The local singer and bandleader Hunter Sullivan was tasked with filling up the club’s event calendar. As a result, you can hear anything from crooners to big band orchestras any day of the week.
2404 Cedar Springs Rd., Dallas