Her beauty would probably be enough to keep her working steadily as an actress, but SMU theater grad Martha Harms brings an interesting, not-always-pretty edge to every role she's played in Dallas theaters over the past five years. She's done six shows at Kitchen Dog, and lots more for Undermain and Echo Theatre. Last fall she thrilled critics and audiences with her daffy Marie Antoinette in the new rock musical On the Eve at Magnolia Lounge, a part she'll reprise when Theatre Three revives the show, with cast intact, in 2014. When she's not onstage, Harms is working in industrial films and doing voice-overs for radio, TV and Japanese anime. She was the voice of Maya in the video game Borderlands 2. Dream roles? Says Harms, "Hedda Gabler and Nora in A Doll's House. We never do Ibsen here!"

Tradewinds Social Club

"This is why you should move to Oak Cliff," is a familiar phrase at Tradewinds. Busy on some nights, dead on others, there's always a person to converse with, including the outgoing staff of bartenders who sometimes hand out free shots on slow nights. A tiny patio around back is where you'll hear the best stories. Set up camp here for a few hours and you'll hear the Oak Cliff regulars' stories of everything from war to strife to women, and you might even tell a couple of your own.

The Dallasite

You will never again have to complain that there's nothing to do in Dallas on Friday night. There's always one option: karaoke at Dallasite. Trust. This is a magical thing. There's no stage, no professional speakers, no pomp, just teeth-clenching bad "singing" and good times. It wouldn't be out of place in this dark, aromatic watering hole to find line dances to the backdrop of "Thriller" tributes and sub-par rap renditions. It's all welcome at Dallasite. There's just one rule: no judging.

Lakewood Landing

Huddled in the back around a dark corner by the restrooms in Lakewood Landing's caught-out-of-time bar lies a lone pool table. Really, it's a pool table cave. A single wooden shelf lines the perimeter of the walls and hosts an array of long-forgotten beer and cocktail glasses, and an old couch to fall onto when you miss that easy corner-pocket shot. Sitting nearby is a jukebox blasting everything from obscure local music to hip-hop to old Motown hits. The pool cave is one of Dallas' best places to blow off steam.

He's familiar to DFW dance fans as the founder of the Track Meet DJ collective, but Rodrigo Diaz, aka Ynfynyt Scroll, stands on his own. His new residency alongside Lil' Texas at Beauty Bar features a seamless mix of rowdy hits and obscurities. Diaz seeks new music tirelessly and omnivorously, playing everything from brand new Southern hip-hop to reggaeton to whatever he finds poking around the foreign corners of Soundcloud.

As country music just keeps betting harder and harder on boring and shiny and stuff that really isn't even country at all, DJ Mike Crow digs his heels even deeper into the red dirt of Texas' country heroes. He created the Honky Tonk Texas show, now hosted by Mark "Hawkeye" Louis on KSCS-FM 96.3. And now Crow's settled in at 92.1 Hank FM, where he hosts Crowman's Honky Tonk Texas Highway for four hours every weekday morning. Live from the Stockyards in Fort Worth, Crow plays The Highwaymen and all who follow in their shit-kicking bootprints.

The choppers parked out front and the death metal roaring in back may be intimidating, but even non-biker non-metalheads get a warm welcome from the bartenders and regulars at Reno's. The drinks are cheap and come in plastic disposable cups that won't send glass shards flying if things get too rowdy. The bands that play are as heavy as they come, ranging from hardcore to grindcore to death metal to thrash. And it was the perfect setting for a biker to pull out a tooth during the Dallas Observer Music Awards showcase last year — where else but Reno's?

Lakewood Landing

It's so dark inside Lakewood Landing no one will ever know if you've been there for one drink or five. "Private" doesn't begin to cover the seclusion you'll find in a booth, but the bar remains social most of the time. Whether you're a regular or a newcomer, you're welcome to join in, enjoy the eclectic offerings of the jukebox and get comfortable. They don't start serving those legendary corn dogs until midnight, and you'll want to be there when they start.

It's as comfortable as your oldest pair of jeans, so it's hard to believe Twilite Lounge has only been open since June. Dark stained wood and warm lighting give it a timeless feel, like somewhere your grandparents might have imbibed. The New Orleans-style back patio beckons even non-smokers to enjoy the evening cool. The selection of beers, wines and spirits is well thought-out but not overwhelming. And the jukebox. Oh, the jukebox, with its funk, R&B, jazz, classic country and '90s indie rock, sets the mood perfectly. We linger too long at most bars' jukeboxes because it's such a task to find a tolerable song, but here it's because we can't narrow our possible choices down to a manageable number. Add in performances by an eclectic mix of solo musicians, jazz combos and even stand-up comics and you've got precisely the bar Deep Ellum (and Dallas as a whole) needed.

Humperdinks NW Hwy

The easy line on Humperdink's is about size: The place serves 100-ounce beer towers and features TV screens larger than 100 inches. Those are strong qualities in a sports bar, true, but it's actually the attention to littler things that appeals most about the chain, which started on Greenville Avenue in 1976 and now has four locations in the area. The littler things include a shuttle from the Arlington location to either AT&T Stadium or The Ballpark. At $10 round trip for up to four people, it isn't history's greatest deal, but it definitely beats parking at either venue. And the pre-gaming is considerably better than cans of Bud Light — Humperdink's own brews have won Great American Beer Fest medals.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of