Trees
You old-timers need to quit it with your Trees-was-better-back-in-the-day horse manure. Just stop it. Right now. Yes, Radiohead played there once upon a time. Sure, Nirvana too. Others as well, we're told. News flash: Radiohead is not going to be playing a 600-capacity venue again any time soon. The next Radiohead? Just maybe, if we're lucky. But here's the thing: If such an up-and-coming act does play Trees this time around, they'll sound way better now than they ever possibly could have back then. Why? Because Trees' sound system is way better now than it ever was. Owners Clint and Whitney Barlow have the place set up with the same exact sound system as the House of Blues' — only in a venue a third of the size. You literally shake when the bass comes in. It's glorious. There's a reason why the best hip-hop, electronic and metal shows all happen here. Just be sure to bring some earplugs — it's definitely loud. Loud enough to drown out the haters, if you think about it.
The term "jam session" usually elicits a groan from most live-music fanatics. But the one that takes place every Wednesday night at The Prophet Bar is like nothing you'll see in town. Hosted by Grammy-winning R&B singer Shaun Martin, the night of improvisational neo-soul and R&B sees the Prophet Bar crowded with people each week — sometimes well after the 2 a.m. curfew. And with good reason: Erykah Badu musical director R.C. Williams and his band The Gritz make The Prophet Bar feel like it belongs in another city in a different era. DJ Jay Clipp starts things off with a bass-heavy mix of hip-hop and R&B.
The Belmont Hotel
Truthfully, patio-dwelling in Dallas is only comfortable for a few weeks out of the year. The rest of the time, you're either sweating it out or freezing. But the patio at Bar Belmont, located at North Oak Cliff's The Belmont Hotel, is pleasant all year round. Half of it is covered and the other half is open to the elements, and the entire thing offers a spectacular view of downtown Dallas from the vintage hotel's spot perched on a hill. As added bonuses, if you get hungry, you can order award-winning barbecue from Smoke, and if you drink too much, you can stay the night.
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.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of