Dallas's Most Authentic Dive Bars

Pull up a stool, order some cheap whiskey and don’t forget to duck when the beer bottles fly

Who's it for? Couples and families—there's even a high chair.

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Hipster Dive

Good times at Copper Spur Saloon.
Sara Kerens
Good times at Copper Spur Saloon.
Customer Anthony Muelle rocks out during a karaoke night at The Winedale Tavern.
Sara Kerens
Customer Anthony Muelle rocks out during a karaoke night at The Winedale Tavern.

Location Info

Map

Tradewinds Social Club

2843 W. Davis St.
Dallas, TX 75211-3679

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Cockrell Hill

The Grapevine Bar

3902 Maple Ave.
Dallas, TX 75219

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn

Ships Lounge

1613 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: East Dallas & Lakewood

Club Schmitz

9661 Denton Drive
Dallas, TX 75220

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Northwest Dallas

Lakewood Landing

5818 Live Oak St.
Dallas, TX 75214

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: East Dallas & Lakewood

Copper Spur Saloon

6524 E. NW Highway
Dallas, TX 75231

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Northeast Dallas

Winedale Tavern

2110 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: East Dallas & Lakewood

Cooper's Restaurant and Club

2424 S. Cockrell Hill Road
Dallas, TX 75211-8102

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Cockrell Hill

New O'Malley's Club

2720 S. Zang Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75224

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Oak Cliff & South Dallas

Starlight Lounge

4319 Main St.
Dallas, TX 75226

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Downtown & Deep Ellum

Details


Web extra: Check out our slide show for more photos from 10 Dallas dives.

Lakewood Landing

5818 Live Oak St.

214-823-2410

To call the Landing a dive is sort of like calling a laptop DJ a musician. The crowd is mostly younger, and it's hard to qualify anything in Lakewood—an area full of trendy restaurants and yuppies who call themselves bohemian—a dive. Plus, the place's slogan, "An Upscale Dive," presents two problems. First, many would make the argument that it's a contradiction in terms. And second, there's the matter of self-identification: A dive can't know it's a dive.

But in the Landing's defense, the food and drinks are cheap, and the place welcomes all to come and slump into one of its booths dimly lit by a vintage Bud lamp. Decoration is mostly of the sentimental variety, with photos of beloved regulars and a shrine to the late, beehived waitress Lucille. The CD jukebox—not one of those Internet things, thankfully—is heavy on local bands, indie-rock and classic country. It's a rare and heartening sight to see Baboon, Squeeze and Johnny Cash rubbing shoulders, though the impeccably selected music also raises the issue of an all-out hipster takeover.

But on any given night, there'll be at least a few old-timers and punch-clock types yelling at whatever game is on and pounding back liquor like it's the eve of Prohibition. And in a weird cultural paradox, if the oldsters were to stop coming in, the hipsters would fear for their dive-bar cred and stop coming as well. And if that happened, it will once again be the domain of the colorful characters who order cheap beer, not because Pabst Blue Ribbon and Lone Star are this year's ironic trend, but because that's what they can afford.

Who's it for? If you can't name your favorite album by Waylon Jennings, Big Star or The Pixies, you might be out of your element.

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Dive Where You Could Take Mom (If She Doesn't Already Work There)

Copper Spur Saloon

6524 E. Northwest Highway

214-750-5833

Pity the band that competes for patrons' attention against the raucous games of darts, shuffleboard, pool, cards and shit-talking on a Saturday night at the Copper Spur Saloon—especially if the band in question, a marginally talented cover outfit, is playing for free as an "audition" for possible future gigs. Judging by the crowd's indifference, this freebie will be the cover band's one and only appearance.

It's a tough crowd, but maybe they're just following the lead of owner Nell Scarborough, a stocky gray-haired woman whose quick movements belie her years. She watches over her customers like a mother whose children long ago stopped disappointing her and have since become a source of amusement. When a player at the card table requests a cup of coffee at midnight, she makes no effort to oblige.

"He wants a coffee," she shouts across the room, smirking. "What does this look like, a Starbucks?"

"Hey, Nell, I'll have a decaf latte," blurts out a regular seated near the shuffleboard tables. Others join in, hooting and calling out ridiculous orders.

"You people think this is a Red Lobster?" Scarborough yells to nobody in particular. "This is a beer joint!"

Red Lobster probably wouldn't hide a franchise behind a Tejano club in a potholed parking lot across from Keller's on Northwest Highway. But there's no hiding the beer—cold, cheap and American—or the constant din of clinking bottles pounding against tabletops or shattering in trash cans. Of course, with happy hour prices including $3 wells till midnight on some nights, the harder stuff isn't an uncommon sight.

As much as Scarborough seems to enjoy ribbing her patrons, she looks out for them too. Minutes after I enter alone, she approaches me, an obvious outsider, and begins to quiz me, somewhat aggressively: Where was I from? Where did I hear about the bar? What bars did I usually frequent? Did I work nearby? She seems content with my answers because she replies to each with an enthusiastic, "Well, there you go!" She takes her regular seat at the bar, the stool nearest the front door, and recounts our conversation to a middle-aged guy sitting next to her, making no effort to lower her booming voice.

I figure I'd better make myself look busy. There are no empty chairs at the card table and the video poker machine doesn't take singles, so I put a dollar in a Cherry Masters 96 eight-liner and draw out the experience with minimum bets. "For Amusement Only," the disclaimer warns, so I try to look amused.

A drink or two later, an attractive 40-ish blond waitress visiting the bar on her night off stops by to make sure I'm OK. She says I look lost. I must be. Of the couple dozen people in the bar, the only other two around my age appear to have come with their parents.

Who's it for? Best enjoyed with a group of drinkers who realize that mechanical bulls are for tourists.

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Dive With Character(s)

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