If you’re an introvert, going out to a bar can seriously be torture. Going alone means that any friendly drunk feels the need to chat you up and include you in conversation, which can get in the way of your ability to eavesdrop and, perhaps most importantly, people watch. There are plenty of weirdos of all stripes in Dallas, and you can find most of them in drinking establishments scattered across the city.
You’ll have to do a little preparing — a good back-story for creepy lingerers, or headphones if you really want to be left alone — but these 10 bars are great for scoping out the interesting folks, the freaks and the popular kids in Dallas. Happy people watching.
10. Twilite Lounge
Deep Ellum’s least-offensive bros congregate at this Danny Balis (yes, from The Ticket) owned bar, which makes it a great place to see fights get started over pseudo-intellectual conversations, local musicians and the honor of neighborhood regulars. Wear plaid and black horn-rimmed glasses and you can be sure that you won’t out yourself as an interloper.
2640 Elm St., thetwilitelounge.com
This place has been open since 1985, which cultivates a unique combination of regular patrons and embellished history. You’ve probably seen the Reverend Horton Heat here a million times, but the crowd is certainly best when The Prophet Bar isn’t hosting a concert. The people that show up there to drink are much more interesting than those who bought a ticket for a one-time trip to Deep Ellum.
2548 Elm St., theprophetbar.com
If you’ve ever wanted to see the pretentious hipster in its natural habitat, get thee to Off the Record. We can’t say that we’re not part of this class of people who enjoys the juxtaposition of craft beer and well-curated vinyl collections, because that would just be a dirty, dirty lie. But that also doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy butting into an argument over the best Elliott Smith song after a few beers.
2716 Elm St., facebook.com/OTRDallas
Once this place is done with being a Mexican restaurant at about 11 p.m. on Friday nights, it turns into one of Dallas’ best places to scope out people who are really, really good (and really, really bad) at salsa dancing. You’ve never quite understood what the words “high energy” mean until you’ve seen a 63-year-old Salvadorean grandmother dance all night long, and that’s something you really should get a glimpse of before you die.
5100 Belt Line Rd., Addison, gloriascuisine.com
You’ve probably peeked into this bar or ordered a PBR before a show upstairs at Sons of Hermann Hall, but you should definitely swing by on an evening when it’s just the regulars nursing their beers and well liquor. You’re likely to hear plenty of high-drama war stories and about someone’s terrible divorce, which is pretty much the best reason to leave the house that we can think of.
3414 Elm St., sonsofhermann.com
The excellent burgers and beer aside, Lakewood Landing is a great spot to cozy up in a dark, ripped booth and enjoy the life stories of nearly everyone within its walls. The bar here is so small that a good spot will ensure that you can hear multiple conversations, but you’ll want to stay on the other side of the jukebox if you really want to have the best potential for eavesdropping on this bizarrely diverse crowd.
5818 Live Oak St., lakewood-landing.com
4. Lee Harvey’s
Once you’re welcomed into the tribe at this south-of-Downtown establishment, you’re in for life. But if you’d prefer to just be a casual observer, there’s plenty to see here. Punks and yuppies co-exist peacefully, and there is so much range in the crowd that assembles here it’s almost hard to nail down a stereotype. You can also do plenty of dog watching on the Lee Harvey’s patio, which is decidedly better than looking at other people.
1807 Gould St., leeharveys.com
3. The Windmill
If you’d like to see how the other half lives, meaning the service industry, The Windmill is the place to be. Not only is owner Louise Owens one of the best cocktail shakers in town, the crowd that congregates here is a veritable smorgasbord of spirits, music and other random-ass knowledge. This is the place to go when you want your eavesdropping material to be more substantive than a loud break-up.
5320 Maple Ave., windmill-lounge.com
2. The Goat
If you make it to The Goat for only one night, make damn sure it's karaoke night. The regulars here are comprised of a fiery lot who really enjoy their oldies. Even if you don’t have the stones (and you will need them) to sing on your own, you’ll get plenty of inspiration from this rag-tag group of karaoke enthusiasts. Just go ahead and start readying your interpretation of “Proud Mary” — the Creedence version of course.
7248 Gaston Ave., thegoatdallas.com
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You might think that your moto jacket and $500 Diesel motorcycle boots make you look like a biker, but that’s only because you haven’t seen any actual bikers in a while. Show up to Reno’s to be put firmly back into your wannabe place, and enjoy the company of people who look gruff, but are actually total sweethearts. Don’t be surprised if you end up shedding a tear while looking at cat photos with a man who has four skulls tattooed on his neck.
210 Crowdus Rd., renoschopshop.com