Best Place for Pinball 2018 | The Cidercade | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Mikel Galicia

The arcade wars have been heating up in Dallas, and the player has reaped the rewards. Pinball is one sector that's noticeably improved, and The Cidercade in Dallas' Design District has the best collection in the city. The folks at Cidercade's parent brewer Bishop Cider have stepped up their pinball game by dedicating a large portion of their game offerings to this arcade staple. They've set out two long rows of pinball machines, from games of yesteryear like Bride of Pinbot to modern releases such as Houdini: Master of Mystery. Cidercade does an awesome job of keeping them running smoothly, and guests can play all of them with no quarters required.

If you're a struggling Southern playwright, a recently jilted lover or someone who really needs a drink, few beverages can help better than bourbon. If you're in the mood for something more complex than a straight glass of liquid psychiatry, Bourbon and Banter is your best bet. This Statler Hotel speakeasy has the look of a classic bar and feels high-class without being snooty or one of those places that refers to certain clients as "riffraff." You can order your favorite drink or try one of the 11 signature cocktails made from their large selection of bourbon and other spirits and get a bite to eat if you've had one too many.

Matt Nager

There are plenty of great venues to see punk rock, but Double Wide has something special these days. Whether it's the small stage or the specialty drinks, the longtime venue outside of Deep Ellum brings in plenty of great national punk bands as well as locals.

Whether it's your birthday, your bachelorette party or you just want to have a hella good time on Saturday night, The Rose Room hosts the biggest and best drag shows in Dallas. When you go there, you'll be sure to see some of the best drag queens from around the country putting on their best shows to the music of Lady Gaga, Britney Spears or anyone else fabulous. Be sure to bring some dollar bills, or some 20-dollar bills to tip generously for the wonderful queens.

Whether you've never stepped foot on a dance floor or are looking to perfect your Lindy Hop, Sons of Hermann Hall's swing night is a great excuse to get out and get shaking. Every Wednesday night, join a group of newcomers and highly experienced dancers alike for a lesson in swing dancing followed by the opportunity to show off your moves to live music in a fast-paced setting. The historic building, located on the edge of Deep Ellum before Expo Park, is one of the oldest wooden buildings in Dallas. Downstairs, you'll find a cozy bar ready to provide you any liquid courage you may need. Upstairs is the ballroom complete with a stage and benches if you tucker yourself out too quickly. Dress in your best poodle skirts and dance shoes, or keep it simple — the many instructors on hand just want you to be comfortable.

Trees is best known for its metal and hard rock bills, but the venue is also home to a lot of great hip-hop shows. It seems any genre can sound good in Trees, and that's not a slight. The thick bounce of hip-hop beats translates from the front to the back. Locals and up-and-comers have performed here, and it's welcoming to the future.

Brian Maschino
FOE pool
Since it opened in the 1970s, the place has earned a reputation for being a hot spot for hard-bodied twentysomethings and hipsters, but it really is a nice spot for families and older folks as well. It’s cozy, nestled among shady trees and a grassy lawn where one can lie out or picnic. It’s super-casual; there’s burgers and sand volleyball, too. If you aren’t a member, you pay $10 to get in on the weekends, $7 during the weekdays. The place is usually packed, so be prepared. Hit up one of two bars for reasonably priced drinks.
Kathy Tran
Late night at the DMA
When you’re really looking to impress on a first date, consider the Late Nights program at The Dallas Museum of Art. On the third Friday of every month — be sure to check their website for the occasional one-off, obviously — the museum stays open till midnight offering live music, film screenings, museum tours, talks from notable authors and artists, bites and adult beverages. No two nights are exactly the same, making Late Nights a viable option for second and third dates too, should you be so lucky.
Mike Brooks
Box Garden
What’s better than an eco-friendly outdoor music venue? An eco-friendly outdoor music venue that is part of Legacy Hall, Plano’s new European-style food hall, and employs Gavin Mulloy, formerly of Trees and The Bomb Factory, as its marketing director. Denton native Sarah Jaffe performed at the Box Garden’s grand opening in May, a promising start for the space that can hold up to 1,200 people. Bring your dog to listen to music, watch the big game or even compete in Mario Kart on a giant LED screen.
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.

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