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? Neighborhood folk with a sense of humor about life in Oak Cliff.

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Dive Bar For Karaoke Stars

Customers Wes Dowden and Bobby Fleming unwind at The Grapevine.
Sara Kerens
Customers Wes Dowden and Bobby Fleming unwind at The Grapevine.
There are dives in Dallas for every barfly, whether male or female, old or young, straight or gay, drinking alone or in a pack.
Sara Kerens
There are dives in Dallas for every barfly, whether male or female, old or young, straight or gay, drinking alone or in a pack.

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.

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More About

Tradewinds Social Club

2843 W. Davis St.

214-337-9075

Phillip Jester, the former GM of Lee Harvey's, is moving up in the dive-bar world. He and his business partner Ken Arkwell purchased this 42-year-old northwest Oak Cliff watering hole from longtime owner Dennis Wood in September, assuring regulars that he wouldn't change a thing. Except maybe slapping on a coat of paint. And adding an enclosed back patio for smokers. And bringing in the occasional band or DJ. And adding some art to the back room to make it an inviting lounge area. And offering food from Party Maker.

But Jester promises that Tradewinds' bar staff and its revered biweekly karaoke night will remain intact. In fact, he's trying to more frequently book D&D Karaoke, the husband-and-wife karaoke jockey team whose charm and collection of oldies and country classics can get even the most reluctant performer to work the room.

Tradewinds karaoke nights are a must for people-watchers. Singers of all skill—and sobriety—levels belt out golden country oldies or strut their stuff through cheesy Neil Diamond showstoppers. The audience's age may not skew as young, now that Wood's toddler is no longer careening around the legs of bar patrons on his tricycle, but grizzled neighborhood regulars still sing alongside the younger artists and business owners who have found work a few blocks east in the Bishop Arts District.

A friend introduced Jester to the place a couple of years ago, and thanks to its proximity to his Oak Cliff home, it became his home away from Lee Harvey's. He proudly calls the place a dive, a term he uses with great affection. "A dive is a neighborhood bar that's been around for years and years that has the same clientele and has been doing the same thing," he says. "It can't be too polished. It's got to be well-worn."

A dive, he continues, should be a neighborhood meeting place. To emphasize that, he added "Social Club" to the Tradewinds name and plans to bring back the tradition of potluck dinners. Although Jester quit his post at Lee Harvey's with plans to open a restaurant, he says Tradewinds will not be that restaurant. That would be too radical a change for the dive he loves in its current form. "With Tradewinds, I figure I'll make a little bit of money over a long period of time," he says.

Who's it for? Anyone who can sing along to David Allan Coe's "You Never Even Called Me by My Name."

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The Oldest New Dive

New O'Malley's Club

2720 S. Zang Blvd.

214-943-0164

"Well, I didn't see this pretty young thing walk in," exclaimed one of the regulars when he turned from the video slot machine and spotted my wife, who'd waltzed into the place unescorted a few minutes before my arrival. "She's hotter than Church's chicken!"

A remark from a man old enough to be her father would seem creepy at most clubs. But at O'Malley's, a singlewide-sized bar on a sliver of land wedged between Zang Boulevard and Interstate 35 in the heart of Oak Cliff, it just seems like a harmless compliment.

Whatever change prompted the addition of the word "New" to the club name on the painted brick column that has served as the dive's sign since the '60s, it has long been forgotten. Nothing about the place—not the evil-looking leprechaun mascot by the door, not the faded orange siding on the exterior of the club, not the "Free Drinks Tomorrow" sign hanging above the liquor bottles, not the gray-haired barmaid—looks new.

O'Malley's hits every dive-bar stereotype as if it runs through a checklist every morning before opening. Eight-liner video slots? Check. Lingering cigarette stench? Check. Undersized, cramped bathrooms? Check. Leather-faced old-timers who look as if they've been perched on the same spot at the bar since the Nixon administration? Check and check.

Who's it for? The Irish—and anyone else. Despite the name and the leprechaun, this is no pub. It doesn't even serve Guinness.

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All-Hours Mixed-Use Dive

Starlight Lounge

4319 Main St.

214-824-5331

Though its East Dallas neighbors are almost entirely businesses catering to Hispanics, the crowd at Starlight might be white, Hispanic or mixed depending on what time you go, explains Gilbert, the bartender. "When we first open at 7 a.m., it's a white crowd," he says. "Then the girls come in, and it's mostly Mexicans, like them. Then it'll be mixed later."

"Mixed" describes the clientele at 11 on a Sunday night. A sad-faced white woman with a black eye whines for a free drink, claiming Gilbert owes her money, until he relents and gives her a can of Coca-Cola. She slinks out. About a half-dozen young Hispanic men play pool—all Mexican-American save one Honduran, who is the butt of the others' friendly jokes. Gilbert laughs, revealing a smile with more gaps than teeth, and translates for my wife and me.

"He said, 'I laid money on the table from here to here,'" Gilbert recounts, holding his hands about a foot apart. "And one of the other guys said, 'Yeah, you put a quarter here and a quarter here!'"

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