Dallas’s booze scene is bigger and better than ever before, thanks to a brand-new generation of mixologists and craft cocktail connoisseurs who’ve put the Big D on the map.
Whether you’re in the mood for a glittering glass of local rose at a luxe wine bar, a too-cool-for-school cocktail at an upscale club, or just an ice-cold Lone Star in a dark, edgy dive bar, these are the premier spots to drink the night (or day) away in Dallas.
Mercy Wine Bar
Comfy, sultry, and elegant, Mercy Wine Bar is a fabulous place to spend a romantic evening, sampling create-your-own flights of vino and enjoying local live music. Mercy sells 100 wines by the glass, and an additional 50 by the bottle (with selections from 12 countries, many of which aren’t even on the menu), so come thirsty. At Mercy, it’s just as fun to drink up the atmosphere as it is to drink up the wines.
This charming, intimate honky-tonk first opened its doors in the 1960’s, and ever since then, Adair’s Saloon has been a beacon for the dive bar crowd. From the bar’s greasy burgers and ice-cold beer to its graffiti-covered walls and great live country acts, Adair’s is a timeless treasure that feels like it's in a different universe than the fancier establishments in Dallas' drinking scene.
Not only is Rapscallion one of the best eateries on Lower Greenville, it’s a fabulous spot to sip cocktails. The extensive menu focuses on rum, mescal, whiskey, and tequila, but the bartenders will make you anything your heart desires. If it’s hot out, ask for the tiki menu; it changes regularly but the drinks are sure to please
Shoals Sound & Service
Shoals Sound & Service just opened in 2017, but this retro cocktail den quickly became the Deep Ellum hangout, thanks to its soulful vibes and classics-driven drink menu (the Manhattans, French 75’s, daiquiris, and Sidecars flow like water here). Come hungry — their house-made bologna sandwich made with imported Italian mortadella and steaming mozzarella, has been deemed by many to be one of the best dishes in Dallas.
If you’ve been stuck in Highland Park for too long and you’re craving a good, old-fashioned dive, stop in at The Goat for a dose of unpretentious grunge, cheap beer, and really, really bad karaoke. There are blues music nights every week here; join in on the open jam or just sit back and enjoy the music. A night out at The Goat usually results in a booze-induced, headache-y stupor the next day, but it’s always worth it.
Checkered Past Winery
Nestled in the basement of the historic South Side on Lamar building, Checkered Past Winery is where all the wine snobs hang. It’s not pretentious, though — quite the opposite, in fact (the number one “House Rule” here is “Drink what you like.”) The atmosphere is casual and intimate, despite the fact that, judging from the quality of the wines and the expertise of the staff, you could easily be in California or Provence instead of North Texas. Their menu changes frequently, though they usually offer six of their own wines: 101 Sweet Red, Viognier, Syrah, RedRed Wine, Malbec, and Tempranillo, along with selections of wine from “friends” (other Texas-made wines).
Lizard Lounge is where the hip kids go to dance the night away. This high-energy dance club hosts big-name DJs and local acts, and the weekend calendar just depends on who’s spinning in the booth. Madonna once tried to buy this place, so that should tell you all you need to know.
Deep in the belly of the Joule Hotel, the Midnight Rambler is a hip mixology bar that serves up old-school cocktails with a Texan twist. Husband-and-wife duo Chad Solomon and Christy Pope are responsible for some of the cleverest drinks in Dallas, from the Shark Fishing With Machine Guns (genever, blue curacao, key lime, brut sparkling wine, mint, and absinthe chum) to the must-get Savory Hunter (lemongrass and makrut leaf gin, lime, coconut, cilantro, and Thai chile).
In the heart of Uptown, Parliament is a flashy cocktail den that hosts some of the best happy hours in town. With its red brocade-style wallpaper, glittery chandeliers, moody lighting, and extensive drink list (featuring everything from of-the-moment artisanal concoctions to prohibition-era classics), this is everything you want in a cocktail lounge, and more.
An enticing mix of classy sophistication and humble, down-home sweetness, Stoneleigh P is a Dallas institution — this historic bar used to be Stoneleigh Pharmacy, back in the day. The old-school pharmacy aesthetic sets it apart from all the other glossy bars in Uptown, and you’ll likely run into quite a few regulars here.
There’s nowhere in town quite like Lee Harvey’s. This endearingly gritty joint is exactly what you’d want in a true dive bar, from strong, cheap drinks and friendly bartenders to an ancient jukebox and rowdy live music on the weekends. On a Friday night, grab a picnic table by the fire pit and nurse your drink until the wee morning hours.
The Old Monk
Since 1988, The Old Monk has been setting the bar for what a true Irish pub should be. Most importantly, this is where you’ll find some of the most elevated bar fare in town — chow down on homemade pate, soft-baked pretzels, spicy tempura mushrooms, and Belgian-style steamed mussels; select from a wide assortment of cheese choices for your cheeseboard. But you’ll need something to wash all that delicious food down with, so be sure to try some of their local brews.
The Grapevine Bar
Funky, flamboyant, and welcoming, The Grapevine Bar in Oak Lawn has been unofficially dubbed the “Cheers on Acid,” which should give you a good idea of the vibe here. The decor is an eclectic mishmash of '70s New Orleans and a Salvation Army-style living room; the best spot in the house is the rooftop patio, where you can sip a signature frozen bellini and gaze out at the glow of downtown.
The Mansion Bar
Unapologetically swanky, The Mansion Bar in Uptown attracts the powerful Dallas elite like flies to honey. Located inside the iconic Rosewood Mansion Hotel, the Mansion Bar is decorated to the hilt in luxe, Old South-inspired decor: think rich, cognac-colored leather, dark wood, equestrian artwork, and refined velvet settees. It’s worth coming here for their gin & tonic alone — crafted with Junipero gin, grapefruit zest, house-made tonic, and Kaffir lime leaves, it’s the best G&T in the city.
The diviest of dive bars in Dallas, Lakewood Landing is one of the best spots in town to chill out, play pool, sip Lone Star tallboys and shots of whiskey, and meet some truly colorful locals (provided you can see them underneath the dim lights). Located in Old East Dallas, this beloved, no-frills bar has been around for over 50 years — not much has changed in that time, and you can bet that nothing will for the next 50, either.