The Ivy Tavern
Catherine Downes

In a world of oft-underwhelming bar food, Ivy Tavern on Lemmon Avenue stands out. All dark wood paneling, wild game heads, and vintage (or at least vintage-looking) art, the bar itself is pretty great. But its menu is something to behold. In 2015, a year after the bar opened, its owners decided to up the ante on their food offerings. And boy, did they deliver. This isn't the first award this hidden gem has received for its food. The chef-driven menu is full of bar standards — french fries, burgers, nachos, etc. — made better.

Best Shot
Hannah Ridings

Full disclosure: Your first Vapshot can be a bit scary. But get past the initial "Oh my god, I'm inhaling vaporized alcohol" internal dialogue that occurs, and you're sure to enjoy. As far as flavor goes, there's little to speak of. But the experience ... that's worth bragging about. Order the Vapshot, and a cloud of vaporized alcohol will come presented to you in what looks like a large water bottle. The barkeep will pop the cap, stick in a straw and instruct you to begin inhaling right away. Unlike shooting Everclear, the process is quick, painless and guaranteed to leave you standing upright (prior indulgences notwithstanding).

DJ Blake Ward
Kathy Tran
DJ Blake Ward

One would be hard pressed to find a DJ in town with more hustle and chutzpah than Blake Ward. With his long-running Saturday night residency at Beauty Bar, Ward has built a small empire around his many residencies. Ward established Four Four Agency a few years ago to help facilitate his ambitious DJ and party-planning agenda. He has turned that ambition into a consistent string of successful parties. Ward's Sunday Jams have become a go-to end-of-weekend spot for hip-hop heads. This past summer he put roots at the Statler with day parties at Waterproof, popped up for support slots behind touring DJs at It'll Do and threw his ambitious and usually over-the-top Disco, TX parties. And he still manages to fill in the schedule gaps with corporate and party gigs. One has to wonder when Ward has time to sleep.

Beauty Bar

Martinis and manicures? What's not to love? Like its sister locations in New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas, Beauty Bar is reminiscent of a 1950s hair salon, complete with retro salon chairs, hair dryers and pink, well, everything. DJ-driven dance parties and theme nights are the norm here. But it's the bar's weekday happy hours featuring martinis and basic manicures that make it the ultimate destination for girls night out.

Lounge Here opened to much fanfare in 2016 and has yet to disappoint. Bringing a bit of fun to the up-and-coming Garland Road area, the ultracool haunt has some legitimately cool names behind it. The brainchild of Julie Doyle, co-founder, singer and manager of The Polyphonic Spree, and Tony Barsotti, designer and Hagfish drummer, Here (as it's commonly called) is inspired by airplane lounges of the 1970s. Libations include classic and craft cocktails, beer and wine, and chef Megan Foley (formerly of Meddlesome Moth and Smoke) helms the menu.

The name says it all. Located in the heart of downtown near American Airlines Center, Happiest Hour boasts Dallas' largest patio bar, a rooftop deck with fabulous views, and four — count them, four — full-service bars. There are signature cocktails and beers aplenty, but we recommend gathering the crew and trying one of the bar's "team drinks." The Tour de Lillet, for instance, is made with red, white and blush sangria and requires 8 to 10 people to share. In similar form, the food menu features "team happytizers" with shareable plates feeding four or more.

Cork Wine Bar

A wine lover's paradise, Cork Wine Bar features more than 48 wine varietals, which rotate monthly; an impressive collection of craft beer and cheeses; and dips and desserts for pairing. Offering a state-of-the-art experience, the wine bar features computer touchscreens and a top-of-the-line pour system, allowing wine drinkers to sample one-ounce tastings up to six-ounce glasses at their leisure. The educated staff know their stuff and are happy to guide you through the process. And of course there's a retail shop to hit on the way out, boasting more than 350 wines.

It doesn't get more chic than The French Room Bar at The Adolphus Hotel. Jaw-droppingly beautiful, the recently renovated space transports you back to the early 20th century. In fact, The French Room opened in 1912. Remnants of its rich history are visible throughout, but it's decidedly modern — particularly the bar with its navy-clad walls, marble tables, velvet seating and diamond-cut glassware. Come at the right time and you might catch a live pianist. And while you'll pay dearly for shareable plates and artisanal cocktails, it's worth every penny. After all, you never know who you'll run into.

The People's Last Stand
The People's Last Stand

At The People's Last Stand in Mockingbird Station, it's all about quality not quantity. Cocktails are handcrafted with homemade juices, syrups and infusions, using locally sourced ingredients when possible. Yes, it is a full bar, and they also serve craft beers and wine. But really, with award-winning cocktails on the menu, why not break out of your comfort zone? There's a bistro menu replete with pairing options. And for those who are interested, group cocktail classes taught by the experts behind the bar.

It'll Do Club

Boasting one of the biggest and most Instagram-worthy dance floors — think "Saturday Night Fever" — in the city, It'll Do is a cross-section of Dallas nightlife. This Deep Ellum favorite hosts some of the top touring performers in the electronic, EDM, dance and house scenes. With a large, open interior and spacious dance floor, It'll Do is one of the biggest dance clubs near the heart of downtown. It's served as a hot spot for dancing since its inception in 2012. And, in addition to resident and celebrity DJs who regularly sell out the place, you'll hear one of the best sound systems in town.

Best Of Dallas®

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