Best Margarita 2014 | Stampede 66 | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

The margaritas in Dallas tend to blur together (especially when you drink them back to back). They're mostly green, they're made with cheap tequila and they all smell like a hangover. At Stampede 66, none of these are true. The margarita that's made on a cart beside your table after you order it is more like a science experiment than any lime-tinged margarita you're used to. Prickly pear fruit, lime and candied jalapeño join liquid nitrogen for a misty show that will take you back to chemistry lab in high school. Except you're of legal age now, so put the isopropyl alcohol down and get to drinking.

On any given Saturday or Sunday, provided the air isn't thick with humidity and the sun isn't searing hot, the patio at Capitol Pub is filled with drinkers. And in many hands, you'll find a tall pint glass filled with the blood-red liquid — one of the greatest hangover cures of all time. The bloody mary served here isn't the best because it tries to be gourmet. Yes, the mix is made on site, but the drink stays true to the salty renditions we all grew up on when the bloody mary was simply served from a plastic bottle at the liquor store. Salty as sin, just spicy enough and as you would hope, topped with a strong pour from the vodka bottle. Hair of the dog? Here, you'll get the whole pelt.

Catherine Downes

With craft beer exploding in popularity and the opening of scads of breweries in the area, a good selection of local beers is all but mandatory for bars, pubs and restaurants these days. What sets LUCK apart is that it offers nearly 40 locally brewed ales and lagers — and that's it, as far as beer. No Chimay, no Samuel Adams or Fat Tire, no Dogfish Head or Ommegang, not even anything from as far away as Austin and certainly no Bud Light or Shock Top. The beer menu is divided into styles, making it easy to find an old or new favorite. Better yet, every beer is $5, so there's no sticker shock when you tab out. It's a great way to get to know your local beer scene, because that's your only drinking option. Unless you like wine, that is — offerings from the Duchman Family Winery are shipped all the way up from Driftwood.

Imagine your favorite frozen coffee drink emboldened with a shot of Irish whiskey. Now picture in your mind a Coca-Cola Slurpee, but with a slug of Jack Daniel's to put a grown-up twist on a favorite childhood drink. The Twilite Lounge, one of our very favorite bars, offers both, and they are even tastier than they sound — particularly the Frozen Irish Coffee, with its sprinkle of ground coffee on top making it the poor man's speedball. Either way you go, it's tempting to drink them so fast you get an ice cream headache. Fortunately, whiskey is a pretty effective remedy for that pain. Be sure to get the extra shot of whiskey in the Jack & Coke.

Chris Wolfgang

Community Beer Co. head brewer Jamie Fulton has won multiple awards for his work at Community and his previous post at Fort Worth's sorely missed The Covey, and a few sips of Inspiration is all it takes to see why. Named for the street on which Community Beer Co. is located, Inspiration is a fantastic Belgian strong dark ale. While it is only available in the Dallas area, it deserves mention alongside heavyweights like Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue), Unibroue's Trois Pistoles and North Coast Brewing Co.'s Brother Thelonious. It's certainly no lightweight. This is a beer that drinks like raisins and molasses, spicy and toffee sweet with a full body, and yet the 9.6 percent ABV is barely perceptible. Community also makes perhaps the best IPA in town, Mosaic, and the Vienna Lager is an outstanding example of its style. The brewery will also soon release an imperial Russian stout that knocked our socks off at a recent brewery tour. They're doing great things over on Inspiration Drive.

There is a feeling, somewhere around the end of the second Velvet Hammer, where your face gets kind of warm and suddenly all of your friends aren't so terrible anymore, and you start anticipating the third Velvet Hammer with both delight and fear. It's more akin to a trip than your average bout of drunkenness. On Velvet Hammer, you know that very soon you won't be able to remember any more of the evening, but in the most delightful way possible. It's 7 p.m. Do you know where your brain is?

Lauren Drewes Daniels

People are putting a lot of focus on mixology these days, with artisanal bitters and obscure spirits dominating the local drinking scene. But for the utilitarian drinker who prefers imbibing in a dim dive, it's hard not to look at these needlessly complicated drink slingers as pretentious cocktoligists. Fuck your handmade maraschino cherries; we just want to get drunk. And for the devoted drinkers, only a proper bartender will do — one like Roger Nelson at Lakewood Landing. Nelson won't outfit your cocktail with a sprig of thyme and then make a coy reference to the clock on the wall, but he'll pour you a black and tan with a sniper's precision — a demarcation of Guinness and Bass that's as clearly defined as the DMZ. Better yet, order a Bud, which only requires the twist of a cap. Nelson has been slinging beers at this East Dallas dive for five years now and he's never served a mixed drink that has more ingredients than a wedding cake. What's that you'll have? Jack and Coke? You'll fit right in here.

The Meddlesome Moth offers an incredibly wide selection put together by people who are passionate about great beer. There's always have something unique. If there's a very limited release that has the beer nerds drooling, you can bet the Moth will have it. If a brewmaster from some far-flung state or country is in town, chances are he or she will have a meet-and-greet or beer dinner there. Partner Keith Schlabs has been a part of the craft beer movement in the Dallas area since the days when they were called microbrews, and cicerone Matt Quenette has forgotten more about beer than most of us will ever know. One look at the cool stainless steel tap wall — not a macro to be found — and you'll want to live there.

Our unofficial nickname for this place is "Tacos, Beers and Chandeliers," because it has those three things in abundance. It's a fairly new gas station with a grill and coin laundry, and for reasons unknown is lit by dozens of LED chandeliers, including a huge one that hangs directly over an ice bin filled with tallboys of malt liquor. But the beer cooler has far more than malt liquor, offering a surprisingly good selection of craft beer bottles and cans from Dogfish Head, Harpoon, Real Ale, Founders and more. Even better are the tacos offered from the flat grill. Tacos al pastor are savory and semisweet, sliced off the trompo and crisped on the grill, and the other options are just as good, as are the quesadillas. It's an unexpected oasis of great food and beer in southern Oak Cliff.

When HG Sply Co. opened its expansive patio, complete with full bar and kitchen, we thought, "This is as cool as it gets." It's a respite from the high-octane Uptown rooftop decks and has a different view of downtown Dallas than the Hotel Belmont patio. But then Nora came in with a less obstructed view, a quieter ambiance and delicious Afghan food. Sharing a plate of hummus and pita while sitting next to your date on a couch under the curtained cabana feels like vacationing in the Mediterranean. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Lower Greenville and enjoy the hot, summer breeze while sipping a dry red wine.

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