Bars and Clubs
Nightlife in Dallas is a big ol’ happenin’ scene, and there are plenty of bars, dance clubs, and live music venues for any type of crowd. From Texas chic to student hangouts to gay bars, nightlife is one of the few cultural experiences in the Metroplex that’s far superior in Dallas than in Fort Worth.
Like most happening entertainment centers, the bars and clubs in Dallas switch names and ownership quicker than a socialite changes trendy sunglasses, so be sure to pick up a Dallas Observer (the city’s alternative weekly, published every Thursday) to keep up to speed on the latest developments in club names and trends.
One of the city’s consistently reliable nightlife areas is along Greenville Avenue paralleling Central Expressway (Route 75). Located just north of downtown near the Southern Methodist University campus, the district is referred to by locals as Upper Greenville and Lower Greenville (Mockingbird Lane is the dividing line). Both have essentially the same offerings, though Lower Greenville has a slightly more concentrated area of taverns, making it a better choice for facilitated bar hopping or ale sipping.
Lower Greenville is anchored by the Granada Theater (3524 Greenville Ave., 214/824-9933, www.granadatheater.com), a 1930s movie venue featuring live music, better-than-average food, and occasional special events such as Dallas Mavericks playoff games projected on the big screen. Other options include grabbing a pint and some steak fries down the road at the Libertine Bar (2101 Greenville Ave., 214/826-6850) and nearby pubs like the Dubliner (2818 Greenville Ave., 214/818-0911) and the neighborhood-friendly Winedale Tavern (2110 Greenville Ave., 214/823-5018).
Upper Greenville (extending north of Mockingbird to I-635/LBJ Freeway) is also worth checking out, especially if you’re up for grabbing a beer in a comfortable environment where college kids tend to gravitate. The best of the bunch are just off Greenville on Yale and Dyer Streets. Milo Butterfinger’s (5645 Yale Blvd., 214/363-0660) features an impressive selection of draft brews, The Across the Street Bar (5625 Yale Blvd., 214/363-0660) is a popular beer joint with occasional live music, and the Ozona Bar & Grille (4615 Greenville Ave., 214/265-9105) offers a comfy beer garden to kick back and enjoy a cold one.
Although Deep Ellum was ultra trendy more than a decade ago—a hipster district teeming with alternative-music venues and edgy nightclubs—the area is now almost the opposite, which can still have a certain charm if you're looking for a low-key evening where people don't feel the need to dress to impress.
Regardless of the destination, there's definitely an appeal to the area's local history, evident in the architecture and signage reflecting its heritage as an African-American hub of business and entertainment in the 1920s. The name Deep Ellum is attributed to the then-locals’ pronunciation of the words deep elm.
For live music, Deep Ellum’s stalwart is the Sons of Hermann Hall (3414 Elm St., 214/747-4422, www.sonsofhermann.com, Wed.–Sat.), a remarkable historic building that oozes character while Texas artists perform roots and country music on stage.
Double Wide (3510 Commerce St., 214/887-6510, www.double-wide.com) is a white-trash-themed bar with a big ol' silver tornado sculpture on the roof and offering bloozy and rough-around-the-edges rock bands and appropriately cheap beer in cans.
Or you can edge your way into Elbow Room (3010 Gaston Ave., 214/828-9488, www.elbowroomdallas.com) for some tunes from their amazing jukebox with a side of tasty food and shuffleboard.
Visitors looking for a true taste of Texas should definitely check out the legendary local branch of Houston's “Urban Cowboy” locale, Gilley's Dallas (1601 S. Lamar St., 214/428-2919). It's the ultimate country and western honky-tonk for those who want to test their skills on the dance floor or the mechanical bull.
Also worth checking out is the enormous and enormously entertaining Cowboys Red River Dancehall (10310 Technology Blvd. W., 214/352-1796), near Arlington, and the modest and genuinely lowdown Adair’s Saloon in Deep Ellum (2624 Commerce St., 214/939-9900).
If you’d rather shake your hips than scoot your boots, head to Lizard Lounge (2424 Swiss Ave., 214/826-4768), featuring nationally known DJs, electro, neo-Gothic, and plenty of party people.
Latin music is the big draw at Club Babalu (2912 McKinney Ave., 214/953-0300). One of downtown’s best “traditional” dance clubs is Purgatory Dallas (2208 Main St., 214/749-5665), offering five levels of dancing, “from hell all the way up to heaven.”
Many of the city’s gay bars are located on Cedar Springs Road northwest of downtown. The Round-up Saloon (3912 Cedar Springs Rd., 214/522-9611) features gay country & western dancing, and JR’s Bar & Grill (3923 Cedar Springs Rd., 214/528-1004) and Sue Ellen’s (3903 Cedar Springs Rd., 214/559-0707) are popular gay and lesbian bars with Dallas flavor.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition