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

The Winedale Tavern

2110 Greenville Ave.

214-823-5018

Cooper’s Club customers like John Zavala, Ignacio Cisneros and Daniel Ruiz will make you feel like a regular too.
Sara Kerens
Cooper’s Club customers like John Zavala, Ignacio Cisneros and Daniel Ruiz will make you feel like a regular too.

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.

Ever overheard one of those loud discussions between a woman and a man, where you can't tell if they're about to get into a fistfight or start making out? Those seem to be a regular occurrence at The Winedale Tavern.

On the night I stop by, a twitchy 30-something blonde with the taut body of a young lady and the haggard countenance of an elderly woman who seemed to have a wrinkle for every regret, eagerly offers a seat to a friend and me. "Sit next to me, I don't mind," she rasps as we headed toward the lone billiards table.

A country song comes up on the jukebox, and the blonde gets off her stool, leaving her Miller Lite behind, to wriggle and shimmy alone in the small space between the bar and pool table. Her jeans are so tight, we could count the change in her back pocket; her gyrating hips hike her blouse up enough to reveal a faded, indiscernible small-of-back tattoo.

With neither of us interested, she sits down again next to a young Hispanic dude and loudly declares, "My old man can't handle me, so I had to go out with my Mexican friend."

A drink or so later, she gets up and sits down next to a gray-ponytailed guy dressed entirely in denim. The volume of her slurred conversation gradually escalates to a yelling match, until the ponytailed guy's final declaration that, "Well, no matter how good it is, somebody's tired of it." Her "Mexican friend" grins, as if to agree.

"Talk about white trash," mutters the barmaid in a heavy Texas drawl as she scoots to the back door for her third or fourth cigarette of the hour.

It's impossible to imagine such an exchange occurring anywhere else within a couple of blocks in either direction. The Winedale is improbably sandwiched between a fondue shop and a techno nightclub on Lower Greenville, just a stone's throw from a new hookah lounge to the south and an organic food store to the north. You wouldn't think that in a Lower Greenville bar scene replete with $30,000 millionaires, frat boys and sorority girls, poseurs, voyeurs and just plain regular folk, there would be room for such characters. But they'll have a home as long as the Winedale is open.

The chalkboard advertises $3 Sea Breezes, an oddly cosmopolitan drink for such a dump. So when the barmaid returns, I ask if they have any other drink specials.

"Oh, that's leftover from last night," she says, and picks up a rag, pondering whether to create another drink special. She puts the rag down. "I guess I could do any vodka drink for $3." The free-poured vodka tonic strikes that fine balance between generous and too generous, ensuring I'd feel it but not get so blotto as to nix another one.

As entertaining as this crowd is, the club also has karaoke nights as well as open mic performances by acoustic acts. Open mic host Mark McCulloch is another type of character altogether. He's a pro at dealing with delays between nerve-racked or ill-prepared performers, with his arsenal of groaners to keep the crowd entertained. "If you're ever in New York, just remember there's a light at the end of the tunnel," he says. "Unfortunately, it's New Jersey."

Who's it for? If it's been a while since you've taken your medication, you'll fit right in.

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Dive Bar That Will Make You Feel Like A Regular

Cooper's Club

2424 S. Cockrell Hill Road

214-337-0096

We walked into Cooper's as complete strangers, but by the time we left an hour and a round on the house later, it was amid promises to return as soon as possible. The bar's advertisement in Latin Life Magazine isn't kidding when it claims, "Now looking for new members!"

From what bartender Jose and longtime regular Larry could remember, the place has been at its current location at the corner of West Illinois Avenue and South Cockrell Hill Road since relocating from West Davis Street in 1983. The CD jukebox reflects the diversity of the neighborhood and clientele, with a random assortment of discs from Freddy Fender, Vicente Fernandez, AC/DC, Al Green, Robert Earl Keen, Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash. Thursday-night karaoke is similarly mixed, Jose says, with regulars choosing blues, country, rock and Tejano from a comprehensive Internet playlist.

Conversation between the regulars, the bartender and us newcomers ranged from how the smoking ban symbolizes governmental intrusion to the price of a cord of post oak firewood to just how quickly you can get used to the sound of gunfire at night in Oak Cliff.

One 50-ish ex-military man claims he could tell by the sound of the gunshots on certain holidays that a neighbor was using a .50-caliber machine gun to celebrate.

"It goes, 'budda-budda-budda,'" he explains. "And those shells are expensive. I don't know where he'd get them. I hear it sometimes at New Year's or Christmas, but not always. I figure he can't afford the bullets every year."

The laid-back approach to repair in the men's room is evidence of the easy-going manner of the joint, with tiles missing and the toilet tank lid replaced with a whitewashed piece of plywood rather than porcelain. However, there are signs that not everyone in the place is always so friendly, as a couple of fist-shaped holes scar the inside of the door. Above the broken wood, some anonymous wag wrote, "Don't hurt me, I'm only a door."

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