Willie Nelson plays Billy Bob's in Fort Worth.
Willie Nelson plays Billy Bob's in Fort Worth.
Mike Brooks

10 Best Honky Tonks in Dallas-Fort Worth

Dallas-Fort Worth loves country music. It launched country legends Bob Wills, Charley Pride, the Dixie Chicks and Ray Price, and there are plenty of cowboy bars and honky-tonks in the area where you can hear the next big thing. If you're into 10-gallon hats and ostrich boots, here are 10 places where you'll fit right in — and perhaps find the next guitar-picking, twanged up superstar.

Billy Bob’s Texas
2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth
Billy Bob’s Texas is easily one of the most recognizable live music venues in the Southwest. In Fort Worth’s world-famous Stockyards, this 100,000-square-foot establishment prides itself as the “World’s Largest Honky-Tonk.” With a gargantuan dance floor, live bull-riding arena and stage where seemingly countless local and touring musicians have played, the club stands as a true Texas giant. Billy Bob’s has catered to more than 17 million visitors since its grand opening in 1981 and has hosted some of country music’s largest acts. The king of easygoing Texan folks, Willie Nelson, has played the venue more than 50 times, and Merle Haggard, Garth Brooks, The Gatlin Brothers, Shooter Jennings and Wade Bowen have all fired up the club’s famous stage.

10 Best Honky Tonks in Dallas-Fort Worth
Jen Chidgey

Stagecoach Ballroom
2516 E. Belknap St., Fort Worth
The Stagecoach Ballroom is a beacon for western heritage on Fort Worth’s Belknap Street. The dance hall is one of the oldest nightclubs in the area. Although the ballroom has seen three locations over the years, the Stagecoach has been family owned and operated since its opening in 1961. The hall welcomes visitors to a 3,500-square-foot dance floor and plays traditional country music. Ray Price, Moe Brandy and Johnny Bush have all swung by the Stagecoach and jammed to crowds of cattlemen and women. Here, everyone is welcome to buckle up and begin square-dancing. Recent headliners at the Stagecoach have included Gene Watson, Johnny Rodriguez, Lorrie Morgan and Tracy Byrd, as well as several up-and-coming local musicians.

Dustin Lynch plays Cowboys Red River.EXPAND
Dustin Lynch plays Cowboys Red River.

Cowboys Red River
10310 Technology Blvd. W.
Tucked in a town famous for blues, Dallas’ Cowboys Red River carries a western vibe that should appeal to all wandering through North Texas. The house band Marty Heddin & Runnin’ Behind regularly rocks this howling dance hall near the Trinity River, and the venue frequently features cool country acts, such as Kevin Fowler, Dustin Lynch, Kyle Bennett Band and Aaron Watson. Cowboys even offers two-stepping dance lessons every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night for those trying to polish their square-dancing skills.

Double Wide guests celebrate its 13th anniversary.EXPAND
Double Wide guests celebrate its 13th anniversary.
Roderick Pullum

Double Wide
3510 Commerce St.
The Double Wide, one of Deep Ellum’s hottest spots, might also be the coolest trailer in Texas. This popular dive bar has a hip, rustic charm unlike any other in Dallas-Fort Worth, and it caters to local artists. With taxidermied animals decorating the interior walls and a one-of-kind toilet cactus garden out back, the Double Wide maintains a fun, nonchalant atmosphere. The bar famously pours drinks that “Hit Harder Than Dad” and hosts live music suited for every modern cowboy and cowgirl. Although the bar is home to many musical styles, the Double Wide regularly showcases country-rock acts and attracts those dedicated to traditional Texan music — especially during Two-Step Tuesdays, when western hits ring through this Dallas music hub.

10 Best Honky Tonks in Dallas-Fort Worth
Texas Red Photography

Love and War in Texas
601 E. Plano Parkway, Plano
Love and War in Texas serves traditional Texan cuisine and features live, local country music almost every night. Tye Phelps, a seventh-generation Texan and restaurateur, opened Love and War’s doors in 1999. Since then, the restaurant has become one of Plano’s most attractive music venues. Local country and Americana rock favorites, such as the Eleven Hundred Springs, The Tejas Brothers, Cody Jinks and The O’s, have all rocked Love and War’s familiar outdoor patio. The stage welcomes an array of original Texas singer-songwriters, especially during Shiner Sundays. This venue has a knack for finding local talent blazing the same trail as the original Texas cowboys. In 2016, Phelps partnered with country-western sweetheart Miranda Lambert and opened a new Love and War in Lindale, Texas. Both locations have become must-see North Texas music attractions and continue to serve dishes inspired by every region of the state.

10 Best Honky Tonks in Dallas-Fort Worth
courtesy Southern Junction

Southern Junction
5574 State Highway 276, Royse City
Royse City’s boot-scootin’ hot spot, the Southern Junction Nightclub and Steakhouse, hosts some of the best country bands outside the big city. The house flashes its western flare with huge rib-eyes, large brews and line dancing workshops every Thursday night. Southern Junction remains a beloved live music venue in Rockwall County. The bar regularly rattles with house band Big N Vegas and also features popular touring country acts, such as Tracy Lawrence, Josh Abbott, John Anderson and The Charlie Daniels Band. This genuinely small-town honky-tonk is the perfect easygoing place to sip a longneck while listening to some soul-strumming southern licks.

Adair's is also known for its great burger.
Adair's is also known for its great burger.
courtesy Adair's

Adair’s Saloon
2624 Commerce St.
Anyone who visits Deep Ellum needs to swing by Adair’s Saloon. The bar is a sanctuary for local artists, extending particular hospitality to blooming musicians. Local country greats such as Jack Ingram and the Dixie Chicks played some of their first shows at Adair’s. Many more people have graced its stage in the 30 years Adair's has been on Commerce Street. The popular venue continues to draw music lovers of all types while designating the spot for fans of both the contemporary and traditional country sound. Music never stops playing in Adair’s. If you're not listening to one of Dallas’ hottest new country-rock acts, the club’s famous jukebox blasts cherished hits from country music gods such as Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.

The Thirsty Armadillo is popular for bachelorette parties.
The Thirsty Armadillo is popular for bachelorette parties.

Thirsty Armadillo
120 W. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth
The Thirsty Armadillo has been catering to rising country stars since 1990. The bar is a Fort Worth favorite and has the awards to prove it. This Cowtown gem in the historic Stockyards, Fort Worth Weekly’s 2012 and 2015 pick for best country bar, always has room for the up-and-comers breaking into the country-western music scene. Eli Young, Casey Donahew and the Randy Rogers Band have all lit up the Thirsty Armadillo’s stage before stepping into music’s limelight.

Jay LaFrance (right) and his daughter Amber reopened the Longhorn Ballroom this fall.EXPAND
Jay LaFrance (right) and his daughter Amber reopened the Longhorn Ballroom this fall.
Kathy Tran

The Longhorn Ballroom
216 Corinth Street Road
A true piece of Dallas history, the Longhorn Ballroom is one of the most famous North Texas dance halls. No one can miss its giant longhorn statue on Corinth Street. A couple of years ago, the Longhorn was on life support, almost torn down to pave way for new real estate. But now the 23,000-square-foot hall, originally owned by western-swing legend Bob Wills and once managed by Jack Ruby, has a throbbing heartbeat that pumps with Texas charm. Wills opened the Longhorn Ballroom in 1950 and used the hall as a home stage for his band. Since then, the Longhorn has thrown huge shows for several southern music icons, including Ray Price, Charley Pride, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson. The ballroom is also famous for one of the Sex Pistols' last epic performances — the show where Sid Vicious played with his face covered in blood after being socked by a fan.

The White Elephant Saloon
106 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth
Once a getaway for North Texas’ rowdiest gamblers, heaviest drinkers and quickest gunslingers, the White Elephant Saloon is still home to some of the most rugged cow-folk in Fort Worth. This circa-19th-century watering hole originally stood as a gambling parlor in Cowtown’s Hell's Half Acre. Now, the famous bar sits in the Stockyards on Exchange Avenue and is still one of the most notorious honky-tonks in Texas. The White Elephant is the landmark for Fort Worth’s last Wild West shootout, fought between the nefarious Sheriff Jim “Longhair” Courtright and Luke Short, one of the bar’s first owners. Today, this historic club features rising honky-tonk heroes and allows any musician to pour his or her soul out onstage during the bar’s weekly Texas Music Showcase. The White Elephant is full of Texas history and is suited for any ardent country music fan.

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