AOL PICK from our Editors
Dallas’ nightlife is decidedly sleeker and heavier on the velvet ropes than nearby Fort Worth, but you’ll still find honky-tonks and dive bars throughout the city. Popular bars get busy early and stay busy until 2AM when last call hits. Dallasites flock to impeccably-styled rooftop patio bars, dives, dens and sports bars as soon as 5 o’clock rolls around. Things remain edgy and interesting in Deep Ellum and Lower Greenville. Deep Ellum is still home to Dallas’ best live music clubs—many with a very youthful, often teen, clientele, while some of the best bars, a few great music venues and many of the best dives still call Lower Greenville home—an area popular with 20- and 30-somethings. Downtown’s bars attract the work crowd and those staying in nearby hotels. Cedar Springs in Oak Lawn teems with packed lesbian and gay bars and clubs. When you want vintages instead of vintage, head Uptown—home of wine bodegas, celebrity scenes and many of the top bars in Dallas. Whether your seat of choice is astride a mechanical bull or atop a cushy cocoon chair beside a cantilevered catwalk, Dallas has got it covered.
Neighborhood: Oak Lawn/Uptown
When you really want sports in a sports bar, mosey on over to Oak Lawn’s Grapevine Bar—an eclectic haunt with mismatched chairs, friendly bartenders and a full-size basketball court tucked out behind the spacious, shady patio. It’s the best people-watching spot in the city. The gay-popular Grapevine is a bit of a Dallas Noah’s Ark—you’ll see every ethnicity, every sexual orientation, and everyone from bohemian types to business folks. There’s another bar outside, so you can get out and stay out. It’s open till 2AM daily, starting at 3PM, except on Sunday when it opens at 1PM. And those $2 happy-hour drinks lure in the crowds early. If you last till the wee hours, you’ll see a steady stream of locals pour in for last call.
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Neighborhood: Victory Park/Uptown
If having a helipad for an easy escape is something you look for in a bar, ghostbar, on the 33rd floor of the W Hotel in Victory Park, is your top Dallas drinking destination. Forget showing up fashionably late on weekends. If you want to get in to this brash splash of Vegas in Texas, show up early and dressed to the nines and ready to pay top dollar for drinks. For the shameless exhibitionist—or the smoker—the “ghostdeck” is a glass-bottomed balcony with incredible views of Dallas’ showy nighttime skyline. The staff is equally decorative. It’s a fascinating scene of the city’s socialites and visiting celebrities, with a soundtrack courtesy of big-name DJs—and the dance floor gets packed. If you’re looking for a drink with a view, surrounded by beautiful people, come up to this lofty lounge on a midweek night and you’ll be able to take in the city views from the balcony without the hordes of iPhone-toting fashionistas getting in the way—and without paying a $20 (and up) cover.
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Get a taste of Texas Viognier, sweet South Plains Orange Muscat or, well, anything you fancy, really, at this wine bar, tucked at the back of a wine store in the hip Travis Walk strip in Knox-Henderson. We’ve yet to ask for anything that Chateau doesn’t have—courtesy of a wine list with 1,500 vintages on it. Although the state is only America’s fifth-largest wine producer, this Wine Market has been making wine in Texas since the 17th century. Sink into a leather couch in the candlelit, cellar lounge or pull up a chair on the patio by the fountain and sip local. We can’t resist finishing off an evening out with a port and cheese plate or glass of dessert wine and a rich slice of homemade white chocolate cheesecake. Grab a glass before dinner in one of the nearby eateries or stop in for a nightcap—they stay open till 1AM on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s a great way to kick back, sample local flavors and pick up a few souvenir bottles, all in one.
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If you’ve wondered what that is 10 stories above you when walking along Main Street, pencil the Joule’s PoolSide lounge into your schedule Thursday through Saturday (from 6PM till 1AM). These are the only opportunities non-hotel guests get eye-to-eye with the startling, cantilevered swimming pool that juts eight feet out beyond the hotel structure. Hotshot mixologist Lucy Brennan is responsible for pitchers of luscious libations, such as watermelon sangria, tangerine mojitos and cucumber sage margaritas, and star chef Charlie Palmer created a light seasonal menu with indulgences from calamari steak skewers to alcohol-spiked grapefruit and gin sorbet—offered only May through October. It’s such a delicious setup that it’s hard not to jump on the impeccable cabana beds that you’re supposed to lounge languorously upon.
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Neighborhood: Oak Cliff
For a more down-to-earth view of the city skyline, BarBelmont, at the reborn, mid-century modern Belmont Hotel in Oak Cliff, has a charming terrace that looks north at Downtown and over the Trinity River corridor. Popular with a mix of artists, lesbian and gay locals, and various local characters, BarBelmont is always our top Dallas bar stop after an afternoon ambling round the adjacent Bishop Arts District. BarBelmont is easy, unpretentious, and—in our opinion—the perfect place to unwind. Some nights you’ll catch a live band at the laid-back neighborhood lounge; others have tarot card readers or art openings. The Ice Pick is a must—this refreshing spin on a Southern classic that uses sweet tea vodka, lemon liqueur and mint is simply yummy.
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