The Cedars Social
The Cedars Social crowd is a hard one to define. It's a melting pot of sorts, consisting of young artist types, aging hipsters, trendy Uptowners and folks from the neighborhood, which is huge considering that the nearest adjacent building is South Side on Lamar. The commonality of all the patrons is the desire for well-made, refreshing beverages, which The Cedars Social has in abundance. Riding the wave of the Prohibition-era cocktail trend, the drink menu is divided into turn-of-the-century time periods, while, oddly enough, the decor is something from a 1970s den.
The Grapevine
Yes, it's right across the street from the Dallas Observer office. But that it's within walking (OK, sprinting sometimes, after editorial staff meetings in which both infrastructure and the Trinity River project are discussed) distance accounts for only, oh, 60 percent or so of why it's our favorite happy hour. There's the newly added bar food, which even our food critic applauds. There's the colorful, cheerful and welcoming crowd of regulars, a mix that seems to be split pretty evenly between straight and LGBT. There's the outdoor basketball half-court. And there's the patio screen, great for game watching when you want to be part of a raucous crowd but can't stand bro-tastic sports bar crowds. But mostly it's the duration and discount of the drink specials. Wells are just $2, and almost everything else (excluding super-premium drinks — just ask your bartender) is $3, and happy hour runs from open to close Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the week, the specials last until 7 p.m.
Ten Sports Grill
Athletes go to Nick & Sam's when they're hungry. They flitter over to Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa when they want to get their drink on. But when rich and famous athletes want to hunker down and watch sports over a cold beer in a hot spot, they congregate at Ten. At the corner of Main and Field, the downtown sports bar has hosted such celebs as Steve Nash (who stopped by to watch some English soccer), Charles Barkley (who stopped by to watch some NBA playoffs) and Shaquille O'Neal (who stopped by because he knew he'd be recognized, but not mobbed). Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Eduardo Najera and even the band Puddle of Mudd have been known to pop in. SMU hoops coach Matt Doherty is a regular. With nine hi-def plasma televisions, a prime location adjacent to Hotel Adolphus and just the right dash of ambiance and anonymity, Ten has become the Bo Derek of Dallas sports scenes.
Granada Theater
The team keeping things in line and the crowds in check at the Granada Theater? They're no rent-a-cops. And that's the idea, the reason why they're called "serenity" guards, not "security" guards. A little cheesy? Sure, but so is the "Love Yourself" sign above the stage. Oh, well. That's just how it is over at the Granada, a spirit that trickles down from owner Mike Schoder's days spent traveling the country as a fan recording live Widespread Panic bootlegs back in the day. The guy doesn't just love music; he loves it, talks about it the way a college freshman does after smoking his first joint and "finally really listening" to The Wall. The whole vibe is friendly, encouraging and docile, a setting that inspires a relaxed concert-going experience. In turn, it takes all the pressure off of the should-be "security" guards. Making them, y'know, serene. It's a beautiful thing.
Round-Up Saloon
Cute cowboys? Check. Friendly bartenders? Check. Cheap drinks? Check. Good music? Check. Uninhibited straight girls plus Jell-O shots? Check and check. With a list like this, it isn't hard to see why The Round Up Saloon is one of the most beloved and well-known bars not only in the gayborhood, but in all of Dallas. From karaoke to pool tables, dance floor to rooftop patio, The Round Up has all of the bases covered for a pleasure-seeking good time. Its convivial reputation has attracted the attention of citizens far outside our city limits, with surprise visits made this year by both Lady Gaga and Hermione Granger, aka Emma Watson. Is there any place in Dallas that's more apropos for the pop stars and famous movie witches of the world to come down to earth and have a frolicking good time with us mere mortals? Highly unlikely.
Double Wide
Matt Nager
For almost eight years now, The Double Wide has charmed drinkers and music fans alike down on the edge of Deep Ellum with its unique blend of trailer park décor and rock 'n' roll chic. The cheap drinks haven't exactly hurt the place when it comes to drawing a crowd, either. And now Lower Greenville residents don't have to make the drive down to Deep Ellum to partake in the party. Back in May, when the Winedale Tavern shuttered just months before its 26th anniversary, Double Wide owner Kim Finch swept in to take the place over. She called it, fittingly, the Single Wide. And though the Winedale certainly boasted a homey vibe of its own, she gave it a facelift, bringing in all the mounted animal heads and low-rent kitsch you'd expect to the new spot's walls. It's no surprise that people immediately took a shining to it. The real surprise is that there's no Triple Wide yet.
Lizard Lounge
If you thought that the era of techno and electronic music died in the late '90s, you clearly haven't been to Lizard Lounge, which continues to host the world's top DJs. Rumbling bass, bright laser lights and twirling glow sticks all contribute to the sort of sensory overload welcomed by its patrons, who pack the massive space on weekends, making it easy to blend in. And, for those who want to stand out, The Church, Lizard Lounge's semiweekly goth nights on Thursdays and Sundays, encourages such leather-bound singularity. So, if your wardrobe screams "Leather Daddy," then chances are Lizard Lounge is the place for you.
In early 2011, Rio Room, located on Travis Street, opened its doors to explosive fanfare. DJ sets for the night were performed by DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown (Erykah Badu's alter ego) and Chromeo, which drew a good mix of hipsters and socialites. The space, while not huge, gets packed quickly and regularly thanks to a revolving door of celebrity DJs and top spin artists. Super producer Diplo has already performed at the place twice. So too has Badu, who shared the DJ booth with The Roots drummer ?uestlove on the second go around. Celebrity aside, Rio Room's sound system and floor plan are all designed to keep its patrons moving.
Windmill Lounge
Every man needs a home bar. Every man needs that place he can slouch into, order a Shiner or a Maker's on the rocks and retreat into its dimly lit recesses to hide from Dallas' summer hellscape. The Windmill Lounge is that place. Once you park in the gravel lot behind the building and pass through the red door, you may notice that The Windmill exists in a state of perpetual night, which is by design. Don't give a man bright and airy. Wrap him in a cocoon of low lighting and blasting air conditioning. Give him a black vinyl couch that runs the length of the back wall, where he can continue slouching. Give him tiny, one-man-operation bathrooms scarcely big enough to turn around in. And, most important, give him a jukebox with a puzzling assortment of soul and soundtracks from seminal films like Clueless, Grosse Pointe Blank and The Wackness. That, friends, is a place just seedy enough to be a man's home bar. God bless our happy Windmill Lounge.
The Boiler Room
In 2011, a Deep Ellum bar that was destined to be the best rock bar in Dallas reopened under the ownership of one of Dallas' biggest rock stars. Drowning Pool bassist Stevie Benton opened The Boiler Room for business the same day he got the keys to the front door back in June, and it's been teeming with Deep Ellum's hard-rock set ever since. Benton beefed up the venue room, which sits adjacent to the bar room, with a powerful sound system and lighting rig, making The Boiler Room one of the best places in town to see a hard-rock show. And, chances are, you might get to rub elbows with a few rock stars while you're at it.

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