The 10 Best Honky Tonks in Dallas-Fort Worth

What's more Texas than seeing Willie Nelson at Billy Bob's? Not much, we reckon.
What's more Texas than seeing Willie Nelson at Billy Bob's? Not much, we reckon.
Mike Brooks

Being from North Texas, country music is pretty well in our blood. We could live our whole lives and never utter the word "Nashville." Of course there ain't much that's more country than a good old-fashioned honky tonk. We have some of the best examples in the world. Here's where to find 'em. 

Whiskey Girl Saloon
Whiskey Girl Saloon
Gallemore Photography.

10. Whiskey Girl Saloon

It's crazy to think that in the not-so-distant past, there were only a couple of dependable live-music venues in the Stockyards. That lull is a definite thing of the past now, thanks to the vitality of places like Whiskey Girl Saloon. Located within walking distance to White Elephant, Billy Bob's and Thirsty Armadillo, this younger-generation-driven outpost is a surefire stop for anyone looking to add a raucous stop to a Stockyards honky-tonk crawl. Over the years, many of the most promising Texas country artists have offered up live records from performances recorded there, including Phil Hamilton and Fort Worth's own Joey Green. As is the case with a legit Fort Worth dance hall, smoking is permitted while you shoot pool, drink nicely priced longnecks or take it all in with a view of lively Ellis Street from the spacious patio. Kelly Dearmore

2413 Ellis Ave., Fort Worth, facebook.com/WhiskeyGirlSaloon

The Mule Barn
The Mule Barn

9. The Mule Barn

If you head west on 114 past the Texas Motor Speedway and go three miles north on FM 156, you'll find this place called The Mule Barn on the left side of the road. It doesn't have Billy Bob's space or Pearl's history, but it's still a fun place to see shows from legends like John Anderson to road-tested contemporary mainstays like Cody Canada and Mike and the Moonpies. Along with the music, there's a menu full of fried food, burgers and plenty of other things that go good with a pitcher of Kurrs Laht. Steve Steward

218 Hwy. 156 S., Justin, mulebarntexas.com

Round Up Saloon
Round Up Saloon
Dallas Observer

8. Round Up Saloon

The best bar in Dallas is a honky tonk-themed gay bar in the Cedar Springs area that features a Howdy Hour and an annual Rent-A-Cowboy event. There's a tequila bar and it's my everything. There's two-stepping, great country music and it's the No. 1 spot for tourists who want some Texas culture with a hell of a lot of flair. Oh, and if you're lucky, Lady Gaga will show up at a random time and do a song or two. Let Johnny shine up your boots, it's only eight bucks. Jaime-Paul Falcon

3912 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, roundupsaloon.com

White Elephant Saloon
White Elephant Saloon
Walker Mangum

7. White Elephant Saloon

There's a reason the Stockyards in Fort Worth are commonly referred to as "historic." Indeed, a bunch of cowboys wrangled and cattle marched around the bustling intersection of Main Street and Exchange Avenue. It was true Wild West stuff. But that was way back when, and these days the White Elephant Saloon, in all of its dusty, smoky glory, is still the best place to knock back some cold ones, see some local country music and saddle-up inside a watering hole where a dude wearing spurs on his boots is normal. And the original Love Shack burger spot is next door in what used to be the White Elephant's outdoor beer garden. So meaty, so Fort Worth. KD

106 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth, whiteelephantsaloon.com

Thirsty Armadillo
Thirsty Armadillo
Dallas Observer

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6. Thirsty Armadillo

The Thirsty Armadillo might seem a little more modern than Pearl's, but that's like saying Cro-Magnon man seems more modern than Neanderthal. Like most things in the Stockyards, the furnishings here look sturdily rooted in the Reagan Administration. So do a lot of the clientele, for that matter, but this is a honky tonk bar, not a drum circle. You've probably seen people two-step, but this is no frat guy drunkenly spinning his girlfriend around at the Rustic — the moves at the Armadillo are as serious as the starch in the shirts. It's the place where people who actually do cowboy things for a living come to play, and watching them whirl around the dance floor is worth the cover. SS

120 W. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth, thethirstyarmadillo.com


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