Southern hospitality, Old World charm, and a boisterous drinking culture are contagious in Dallas. The city now plays host to venues for every type of drinker, from vibe-y craft cocktail bars to steakhouses boasting robust fine wines to dive bars slinging frozen Margaritas, right in the town where the blended drink was invented.
“It’s a very exciting time here. People are young, curious, and receptive to not only the classics, but cocktails that explore creative avenues and push the boundaries,” says Tanner Agar, creative director and CEO of modernist bar Apothecary, of the city’s shifting scene. Now, a new generation of Dallasites are blending new concepts with revered traditions, and locals and tourists alike are enthralled by the results.
Here are the best places to drink in Dallas:
To Kick Off the Evening: Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge
Housed inside the contemporary Hall Arts Hotel and named for the mother of hotel co-owner Craig Hall is Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge, a dynamic space that sees the union of hospitality and art. The museum-bar hybrid radiates elegance with its clean lines, minimalist setting, and “Asteroid,” an eclectic light installation by artist Spencer Finch that dangles over its guests. Its selection of drinks pays homage to the painted canvases, installations, and sculptures that surround guests while they imbibe.
“Our drink philosophy stems from the creative energy found in the surrounding Arts District,” says Ginger Martin, general manager of the hotel. “We pride ourselves on marrying traditional flavor profiles with an inventive and art-centric twist.” Indicative of this vision is the Stardust Cosmo: Inspired by “Just Play Me Two Bars of Stardust” by Cerith Wyn Evans, the bright cocktail contains Meyer lemon vodka, Cointreau, white cranberry, lime, and some “iridescence” as the pièce de résistance. For a more floral interpretation of a classic G&T, seek out the menu’s Landscape in Blue, a blend of gin, St. Germain, cucumber, and lemon that was created to capture the vibrancy of Carrie Mae Weems’ “The Blues.”
Tip-Jar: If you turn your visit into a staycation, guests of the hotel receive a private tour of the property’s signature collection pieces during which you can enjoy complimentary wine. Booking through the concierge is highly recommended.
Address: 1717 Leonard St, Dallas, TX 75201
For Family-Friendly Vibes: Beto & Son
Co-owned by father-and-son chef duo Beto and Julian Rodarte, this Mexican restaurant calls west Dallas outdoor retail and entertainment space Trinity Groves home. There’s no shortage of spectacle at the spot’s extensive indoor and outdoor patio spaces, including a flashy liquid nitrogen Margarita topped with passion fruit boba pearls and prepared tableside. Rest assured that the drink is as delicious as it is conspicuous: Flash-freezing adds creaminess to the blend of lime, orange liqueur, and the restaurant’s very own Beto & Son Avion Reposado Tequila. As for food, foundational Mexican family recipes are given a twist for fusion fare that works, like the menu’s Roasted Carnitas Noodle Bowl.
Tip-Jar: Brunch here is supremely popular on the weekends — and why wouldn’t it be when dishes like Steak and Eggs Ranchero and Chilaquiles Bowl beckon? — so make a reservation. Don’t forget to toast the weekend with a Margarita Tower.
Address: 3011 Gulden Ln #108, Dallas, TX 75212
For a Night Full of Experimentation: Apothecary
The speakeasy-style entrance to this cocktail lounge isn’t impossible to find, but you do need to pay attention. “That’s kind of by design,” Agar explains. One inside, you’ll be lured into a space that merges the aesthetics of a boudoir with Alice’s Wonderland. And though they do offer classic libations, it’s all about venturing down the proverbial rabbit hole here. Agar and his team have taken cues from the culinary playbooks of avant-garde chefs Grant Achatz and Ferran Adria for Apothecary’s menu, which employs non-traditional ingredients and gastronomy-geared technology like sous-vide and pyrolysis. Take their TomKha-llins, a riff on the classic highball that pays homage to a traditional Thai chicken and coconut soup. The drink is fortified with lemongrass-makrut lime gin and tom kha soup — containing a stock made from coconut, vegetables, fish sauce, and galangal — that is topped off with soda and lime. The menu’s complementary tapas also tickle the mind and senses.
Tip-Jar: If you want to avoid the crowds, Agar suggests visiting on a weekday afternoon and grabbing a seat by the bar.
Address: 1922 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206
For Cocktails With a View: Monarch
For those who want to be seen, Monarch flies above the rest. Situated on the 47th floor of the Thompson Hotel, the swanky Italian haunt oozes charisma. There’s a sprawling main dining area and a primary bar overlooking the city where you can toast amongst the clouds, but the prime seats may be the centrally situated lounge. While small in scale, it maintains a sense of grandeur with a glamorous chandelier fixture dangling overhead, plush furniture to lounge on, and moody wallpaper. Such intimate confines make for an ideal spot to watch your bartender wield their drink-making magic. Begin with a Spanish Secrets — a sugar-and-spice-infused tequila tipple with grapefruit, jalapeño, strawberry and Tajín salt — or beverage director Eric Simmons’s favorite, the Secret Garden, a sipper containing Nolet’s Gin, Violettes, St. Germain and finished with fresh lemon and Seedlip Citrus Grove. And if you’re in the mood to nibble, options include Spanish charred octopus, Texas Wagyu Carpaccio, and wood-fired meatballs.
Tip-Jar: Speaking of secrets, if you’re seeking some special top-shelf action, make sure you introduce yourself to Simmons. He just may hook you up with an insiders-only tasting experience reserved for those who come searching for it.
Address: 1401 Elm St 49th Floor, Dallas, TX 75202
To Blend in With Locals: Gloria’s
For a laid back hang, head to Gloria’s, a local family-owned chain. Each of its four Dallas locations serves up beloved Salvadorian specialties and Tex-Mex classics — think hallmark dishes like tamales and pupusas with beans and Texan-sized chimichangas stuffed with beef, shredded cheese, and chile con queso. To balance your meal’s heat, Gloria’s drinks menu offers refreshing levity and tropical notes. The bright La Tuna, a prickly pear Margarita, is a prime example. But for purists, look to the bar’s top-shelf tequila collection of añejos, reposados, and ultra-premium options.
Tip-Jar: Bring your dancing shoes for Saturday night salsa. Gloria’s hosts DJs and live local Latin bands so guests can dance the evening away.
Addresses: 3223 Lemmon Ave. Dallas, TX 75204 (uptown); 600 N. Bishop Ave. Dallas, TX 75208 (Bishop Arts District); 4140 Lemmon Ave. Dallas, TX 75219; 3715 Greenville Ave. Dallas, TX 75206
To Impress Out-of-Towners: Rattlesnake Bar
Housed inside the Ritz Carlton Dallas, consider this your quintessential hotel lobby bar with a classy, cowboy spirit. The space manages to wrangle that Wild West feeling but softens it with refined touches, including an illuminated bar with amber onyx detailing, wood-paneled walls, and 30-foot ceiling adorned with a chandelier made of steel antlers. The outpost sees an array of faces, from globetrotting business professionals to locals seeking a pampered staycation. If you order one thing, let it be award-winning chef and owner Dean Fearing’s Signature Margarita, which spotlights a shrub native to southern Texas and Mexico.
“Damiana is an orange-based liqueur infused with the Damiana plant, which provides an herbal and floral aroma and finishes with a subtle spice,” explains bartender Ryan Salo. “It really brings the flavors of the tequila and lime together, creating a wonderfully unique twist on a classic cocktail.” Also noteworthy is the killer list of premium spirits, particularly the whiskey, Scotch, and tequila selection. Tex-Mex bites include smoked chicken quesadillas and the bar’s signature mesquite-grilled burger, slathered with secret sauce and pepper jack cheese and sandwiched between pretzel buns.
Tip-Jar: If you can’t make it here on your night out, the Ritz’s adjacent Fearing’s Restaurant offers a southern Sunday Brunch featuring cocktails straight from Rattlesnake Bar. Consider the Creamsicle-esque Orange Whip to complement your steak and eggs.
Address: 2121 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75201
For Pre-Gaming the Big Game: Peticolas Brewing
This casual-cool space with a warehouse aesthetic was founded in 2010 by attorney-turned-brewer Michael Peticolas, who helped other brewers petition their local government to change laws that made owning and operating a brewery in the area incredibly difficult. Today, the three-level, Design District brewery is hopping — pun intended — and serving up beers in its taproom. Many of the 16 on-tap options have a notably high ABV, but shift manager Scooter promises they “won’t immediately cause you to fall down on your ass.” Signature suds include the Velvet Hammer (9 percent ABV), a blend of citrus and floral hops with finishing notes of sweet malt and caramel; the ever-popular Sit Down or I’ll Sit You Down Imperial IPA (10 percent ABV), which throws big hoppy punches thanks to a strong malt foundation; and the award-winning Great Scot (6.8 percent ABV), a Scottish ale with malt undertones and a clean finish. Food arrives by way of pop-ups and food trucks that run the full gamut, from Selena Quintanilla-themed brunch items to Himalayan dumplings to donuts that would make Homer Simpson jealous. Check the brewery’s Instagram for all event updates.
Tip-Jar: Peticolas doesn’t offer formal brewery tours, but if you ask nicely — and the staff isn’t busy — the team is happy to give you one on the fly.
Address: 1301 Pace St, Dallas, TX 75207
For Backyard BBQ Vibes: Deep Ellum Brewing Company
Nestled in the Deep Ellum entertainment district, this namesake brewery is proudly the first-ever craft brewery in Dallas. It’s not just sitting on its laurels, though: It continues to offer award-winning brews that pass the vibe check, and then some. The setting is a mash-up between a garage and backyard, complete with live music on Saturdays. As for drinks, go-tos for tap room manager Cassie Corre include the seasonal Seltzer Sunshine (8 percent ABV), which tastes like a Margarita amped up on electrolytes, and Cadillac Bantio (6 percent ABV), a Mexican lager with a crisp, refreshing palette. On the food front, you’ll find American and Tex-Mex mash-ups on the menu: pepperoni pizza, honey hot chicken sandwiches, and Deez Nugs (a.k.a. pretzel bites) are highlights.
Tip-Jar: For the ultimate in nostalgic kitsch, ask for the rotating flavor of seltzer jello shots (11 percent ABV), also a favorite of Corre’s: “They’re fun, nostalgic, and cheap.”
Address: 2823 St Louis St, Dallas, TX 75226
For Sparkling Enthusiasts: Coupes
This Champagne bar is sophisticated, but not stuffy. The space welcomes you with its chic lounge setting — awash in a trifecta of velvet, chrome finishes, and marble — and it can play host to intimate gatherings of up to 30 people. Naturally, bubbles are big here, but if you’re looking to dabble in the spirited side of things, general manager Tab Hirschey has you covered cocktail-wise.
“The Garden Party is a wonderful balance of fruit, herbs, and citrus, combining French gin with bubbles and a light spritz of rose water for an extra floral boost,” he says. “It’s lighthearted and flavorful and makes you feel like you’re lounging on a sunny garden terrace in France.” The heady, Scotch- and sherry-based Démodé is ideal for those who want a (brief) respite from Champagne. As for food, Coupes doesn’t offer full-on meals, but small plates are available to supplement your sips: light-as-air gougères, wagyu beef tartare, and oysters with Champagne mignonette all make for worthy companions.
Address: 4234 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219
For a Nightcap: Rodeo Bar
If you’re hankering for some Texan swagger and hallmark grit, look no further than this saloon-esque dive. Situated inside the historic Adolphus Hotel, Rodeo Bar achieves its high-low atmosphere by juxtaposing eclectic decor, dollar bill-wrapped pillars, and classic American grub against elevated cocktails and curated spirits.
“Think of it as an evolved dive bar,” explains bar manager James Smith, who says he’s particularly proud of his riffs on Texan classics. “The Rodeo Ranch Water is one of my favorites: we transform the at-home cocktail by using earthy and herbaceous Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila, then echo these flavors with Key lime, Persian lime, and lime oleo, then top with Topo Chico.” The Rodeo Rita is another signature staple with a refreshing vibrancy, spotlighting Lunazul Tequila and a Tajín rim.
Tip-Jar: The spot offers live music every Friday and Saturday, cheapie blue plate dinner specials, and happy hour Monday through Friday between 4 and 6 p.m.). Also notable: The private back room is perfect for rustling up a party, complete with a retro Crosley jukebox, lasso, and saddle. Yee-haw, indeed.
Address: 1321 Commerce Street, Dallas, TX 75202