Best Country Bar 2018 | Longhorn Ballroom | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Kathy Tran
Longhorn Ballroom
The Longhorn Ballroom almost got the wrecking ball last year. Originally built in 1950, the 23,000-square-foot hall once owned by Bob Wills (and managed by Jack Ruby) was set for demolition to make way for new real estate. But like the phoenix, fate intervened in early 2017 when Dallas businessman Jay LaFrance purchased it at the eleventh hour. After an exhaustive restoration, it’s now a fully functional country music venue and bar that somehow manages to maintain its homespun, boot-scootin’ vibes. New generations of Dallasites can channel the ghosts of vintage Willie, Conway and Charley shows while also standing in the same vicinity as where Sid Vicious once played an entire show with his face covered in blood.
Alison McLean
STIRR inspires devotion among Deep Ellumites. Its table settings are upscale, and the unframed doorways expose the building’s industrial core. But that’s not what you’re here for: You want to see the view. And we’re not talking about the cityscape, lovely as it is. STIRR is the perfect place to serve imprudent cocktails and game-day specials like Brats N Blankets, because the view of downtown is mostly peripheral — the people you’re with, or the ones you could meet, are the main attractions on this rooftop bar. Take a seat at the bar top, or plop yourself down in close quarters on one of the trendy white sofa chairs. It’s a great spot for groups to catch up over an expansive menu of drinks and food.
Kathy Tran
Sweet Tooth Hotel
In its limited run, Sweet Tooth Hotel offered Dallasites a new kind of selfie-friendly art experience with a Willy Wonka-esque art installation, exhibition and retail pop-up, giving attendees who “check in” a taste of the new trend of interactive, highly Instagrammable art experiences complete with neon cacti, giant candy pieces and an unforgettable bathroom with a pink claw-foot bathtub. This 1,200-square-foot temple to candy and confectionery boasts rooms filled with candy-themed art collaborations with names such as Built by Bender’s Sprinkle Spa, Shamsy Roomiani’s Rainbow Confection, Jojo Chuang’s Cotton Candy Island and more inspired creations by several other artists. Husband-and-wife duo Cole and Jencey Keeton dreamed up and coordinated the artists who brought their vision for the space to life. The Keetons teased their next pop-up Sweet Tooth Hotel “1955” with “What does a rocket ship fueled by rainbows look like?” “1955” opens November 1.
Not everything is as it seems. Take High & Tight, for instance. Hidden behind a nondescript door at the back of the shop is a watering hole unlike any other in the city. Equipped with vintage barstools and 1920s decor, it could be straight out of the Prohibition Era. The craft cocktails, however, are definitely modern. On weekends, the bar’s vintage sofas are prime real estate. Grab a spot if you can and settle in for live music and silent movies.
Mikel Galicia
Fortress Festival
As music festivals go in Big D, you’ve got Homegrown, you’ve got Old 97s County Fair and you’ve got Fortress Fest. While technically in Fort Worth (hence the name), Texas Monthly has called it “an arbiter of taste,” so let’s just go with it. Attendees are blessed with not only world-class music, but world-class art, and all in the heart of Fort Worth’s cultural district. The 2018 lineup included Observer favorites Father John Misty and Texas Gentlemen. It’s only two years old and has already earned these distinctions. Nowhere to go but up.

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