The growth of culture on South Lamar in Dallas over the last few years has resulted in great restaurants, great concert venues, great retail and this little gem: Brooklyn Jazz Café. Home to some of the region's established and most talked-about jazz and R&B artists, Brookyn Jazz Café has live music almost every night of the week, as well as a $3 martini "Super Happy Hour" on Wednesday nights and a Sunday brunch. You'll typically hear a wide variety of smooth jazz, blues and old-school jazz, and you might even be inspired to get out of your seat and dance. Whether you're a seasoned jazz connoisseur or an entry-level jazz-head, you're sure to find something you'll enjoy at Brooklyn Jazz Café.
OK, so Gloria's isn't your typical reggaeton-pumping Latin club, but when it opens its dance floor each Friday and Saturday for an all-night salsa dancing sweat-fest, it's tough to find a more electric place anywhere in town. Whether the amazing Cuban band Havana NRG or the delicious (and deceptively strong) margaritas remove the most inhibitions, it's hard to say. To be certain, though, the opportunity to dance with beautiful women is enough to inspire any guy to learn as much as he can at the salsa lessons they start the night with. And look out ladies, because there are plenty of seasoned salsa pros out there ready to sweep you off your feet.
Here's our kind of drinking game: Order an uninitiated friend a cocktail or, better yet, whiskey on the rocks at The Loon. Then sit back and watch your pal's face as he has an internal debate about whether to say something to the server, like, "Excuse me, ma'am, but I didn't order a triple." The Loon, with its homey, pretense-free and clean but divey ambiance and satisfying food, doesn't need such enormous drinks to keep patrons coming back, but we're sure not complaining. A damn-near-tumbler-sized pour of booze makes us that much happier that we chose a quiet bar full of old alkies over some hip club-kid destination.
If there's anything more American than baseball and apple pie, it's getting tanked and stuffing yourself with fried food on a stick. So it's no wonder the Libertine's celebrated the last two Fourths of July with a 15-minute corn-dog eating contest. First and second place get bar tabs, third place wins a roll of quarters, and ties are broken with shots of tequila. It's billed as a "family event," but try telling that to the trash-talking girl pretending she's pregnant, or the overzealous cheerleader threatening everyone competing against his cousin. It's first-rate farce, the essence of an eating contest, and—win, lose or yak—guaranteed to ruin your day if you compete.
The Black Swan Saloon is a thin sliver of a thing on Elm Street in Deep Ellum, but what it lacks in width it makes up for in depth. Figuratively and literally—the back patio's a shady place for a smoke, but Gabe, a Ghostbar ex-pat who opened the Swan this year, gives the place its soul. Behind the bar, Gabe pours little cocktails that taste a lot like sweet, sweet love—we're talking apple-cured whiskey drinks and mixes of infused vodkas fashioned from whatever Gabe picked up at Farmers Market that week. Miles away from the Ghostbar's crotch-thrusting epicenter of $30,000 millionaire action, the skinny little Black Swan Saloon has quickly become the neighborhood favorite for Deep Ellum residents craving a spot to call their own. Find patrons playing Pac-Man near the bar's entrance or just grab a stool and listen to Gabe ramble on about his LA Lakers—it's almost quaint, really, considering the Swan's thoroughly Texan spirit.
To call the Double Wide a "rock bar" is a bit of a slight. It's much more than a bar. Sure, it has a bar, but right across the patio from that home base, the establishment also boasts a bona fide concert room with a capacity of 75 (and there's another bar in there, by the way), and it's one of the best rooms in town to catch a show. Really, though, the Double Wide transcends both the "bar" and "venue" tags; for much of the Dallas music community, the Double Wide also serves as a home of sorts. Stop by the place any night of the week for proof. Whether there's a show taking place or not, you'll find a whole cast of local musicians at the spot, shooting the shit, tossing back some drinks and reveling in one another's company and camaraderie. Maybe it's because so many of them play shows there that they feel so comfortable in that environment. Maybe it's because those same musicians are so often invited back to host DJ nights. More likely, it's just the overall vibe of the place itself, which boasts an indisputable charm and an undeniably friendly staff. Sure, "charm" and "friendly" might not be the first things that come to mind when the idea of a "rock bar" is brought up. But ask any musician in town their pick for this honor, and nine times out of 10, the Double Wide's the response you'll hear. And that counts for something.
Look, we know how silly we look holding a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. It's cheap, flavorless, crappy American lager that has inexplicably become the drink of choice for hipsters trying to affect some kind of facetious blue-collar aesthetic. But when we're at City Tavern, we're drinking it all night. Because for $4, you can get a shot of Jack Daniel's whiskey with a PBR chaser any time, any day of the week. Whether you're there for the simple but tasty fried bar grub or the excellent Home Sessions local rock, folk and country shows, be sure to keep both hands free for PBR and his buddy JD.