Best Dance Club 2019 | It'll Do | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Patrick Williams

It'll Do dominates this category by consistently providing a well-curated and world-class dance club experience. No bottle service, no VIP and no pretension — just a big dance floor and top-notch sound servicing a calendar of touring acts you would typically have to fly halfway across the country (or overseas) to see. The atmosphere has the old-school warehouse party vibe of the '90s minus the dusty floors. They lean heavy toward house music, but in the past year, they've hosted a diverse array of talent such as Danny Tenaglia, Dubfire, Nightmares on Wax, Dusky, Lee Foss, Leon Vynehall, Ben UFO, DJ Boring, Derrick Carter and even hometown superstar DJ Maceo Plex. On the off nights when there are no touring acts, resident DJ Red Eye keeps the dance floor moving with his Occupant night — which often rivals the high bar set by their touring acts.

Lauren Drewes Daniels
The rooftop at Happiest Hour

If we're all being honest, we can agree that there are only about 15 days out of the year in Dallas when it's not too hot, wet, icy or tornado-y to sit on a bar patio with a drink. So when one of those 15 days comes around, it's important to make good use of it. Happiest Hour has enough space to allow you to do just that. With a ground-floor beer garden and a rooftop terrace, there's plenty of space to breathe without worrying about putting your elbow into someone else's IPA. And it's just a few blocks from the American Airlines Center, making it a great place to stop for a beer or a cocktail before a Mavericks game.

Founded in Bryan in 1977, Messina Hof added a tasting room in a historic hotel building on Grapevine's Main Street in 2014. There, visitors can sample reds, whites, rosés and ports the winery makes from grapes grown across the state, including in the Brazos River Valley and the Hill Country. Some favorites are the Estate Sagrantino, a ruby-colored red made from grapes grown at the winery's Bryan vineyard, as well as a Riesling from the winery's High Plains Vineyard. The winery also offers a full selection of ports and dessert wines. If they're pouring the tawny port during your visit, make sure you have a glass.

Kathy Tran
The Henry

Gatsby-era decadence meets a modern industrial aesthetic at The Henry. New to the Dallas dining scene, the restaurant boasts great design, Southern-inspired comfort food, and the real highlight, a sprawling rooftop bar and lounge. Open until midnight on weeknights and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, the rooftop bar is prime real estate for happy hour or dinner al fresco. Libations include a variety of Champagne, wines and beers, and interesting cocktails, such as the Drunken Panda, which blends cucumber sake with dragon fruit tea, calamansi and Chinese lager.

Musician Teddy Waggy is best known for fronting the theatrically inclined rock band Midnight Opera and has been stepping into her own spotlight with frequent collaborator Sudie. But Waggy, a noted guitarist and songwriter, has taken a turn into fashion design, with food-printed designs she calls "meatsuits" and handmade, impeccably tailored garments with original forms and vivid prints befitting her iconoclastic, cool buyers. Waggy's clientele is made up almost exclusively of artists and musicians, making her Dallas' version of Vivienne Westwood.

Best Out-of-Town Band That Calls Dallas a Second Home

North by North

Nate Girard and Kendra Blank must have someone in Dallas who's doing their laundry. That's the only sensible explanation for why the Chicago-based crunch rock duo known as North by North stops by so frequently. They play Dallas venues more often than many genuinely local bands — and we're not complaining. Guitarist Girard and drummer Blank have an electric presence that makes stages large and small feel gigantic. And it looks like we're destined to continue hearing from them for a long time. Even after playing more than 650 shows, North by North are sticking by the ethos emblazoned on their home page: "Tour until we die."

There are many reasons to love the Oak Cliff hangout: its views, pool parties, outdoor concerts and art moderne architecture. When the hotel changed hands a few years back, its new investors' dream was simple: to build not simply a business, but a myth. And while a lot of this vision has yet to materialize — into something between the Beverly Hills Hotel's boutique legend, the Chateau Marmont's decadence and Hotel Chelsey's massive counter-cultural significance — the inspiration holds up. And so far, it remains the ultimate spot in Dallas to attract the artsy elite: Alejandro Escovedo (a Chelsey figure) even took up residency there. But on any night, you'll find photographers shooting partygoers dancing with regulars Leon Bridges, Jonathan Tyler and Sarah Jaffe.

The Prof. Fuzz 63 is a family punk band consisting of husband and wife of 30 years Mike and Maren Farmer and their 24-year-old son Brooks. The band became a true family band after releasing their Chinese Folk Songs album in 2016, when their original drummer left and Brooks was asked to join. An art-punk band in the style of Devo or The Fall, The Prof. Fuzz 63 plays guitar-driven, organ-backed ditties about hip replacements, panda attacks and nudist women. The band plays frequently in and around Dallas, and spectators can expect to see a stage filled with red — red amps, red keyboard, red guitars and Mike's signature red telephone receiver-turned-microphone. As an actual professor of Chinese studies at UTD, Mike is completely comfortable telling awkward dad-jokes onstage. Their latest release, Kirvin Streetman's Sugar Bride Blues, is available digitally and on vinyl through Dreamy Life Records.

In early 2019 the Fort Worth electronic duo Vogue Machine released an instrumental single called "Kardio" for a bump during Adult Swim's smash hit Rick and Morty, garnering well-deserved local attention. Clayton Norris and Dylan Rice have been performing together since 2013, beginning as a synth pop group in Denton then moving to Fort Worth. Vogue Machine has since evolved into what the duo describes as "coldwave/postwave," but all that means to the average listener is that there is a higher chance of dancing and possibly taking off pants.

Best Instruments That Look Like They Belong in a Mad Scientist's Lab


While he's known in Dallas as a visual artist and curator of Tradewind's avant-garde noise cabaret Running With Scissors, Jim Branstetter can also be caught performing in the darkest corners of the city as Schmekelhead, a project that is either an evil scientist's experiment or a one-man show of hair-raising soundscapes created by homemade theremins and spring boxes to score black-and-white silent films. Branstetter scores with such precision that it is easy to fall into a story of one's own making no matter how abstract. Is it performance art or just something refreshing on the bill? We're not sure, but Schmekelhead is something straight out of science fiction.

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