Believe it or not, there are people who come to Dallas who don't already live here. And while the summer might seem like the worst possible time for someone to visit our climate, one must always be prepared. But fear not: There's always booze, and there are (almost always) bars with A/C, meaning that the math is simple when it comes to figuring out the best places to take your guests. The question is, which bars are the most quintessential? How to give your visitor the best possible impression of our fair City of Hate? We've got you covered, with our picks for the 10 best bars to take out of towners in Dallas-Fort Worth.
10. Ten Bells Tavern
There isn’t just food at Ten Bells Tavern, there’s I Hate You Food. As in: “I hate you so much for being this good, food.” Get their version of poutine: Crispy fries topped with a velvety bechamel sauce and pulled short rib. Or get Jack’s cheeseburger, which is a juicy two-hander. The award-winning food’s one of the reasons Ten Bells stands out from the rest of the pubs. The patio’s another, especially at night, loaded with big wooden tables and right in the heart of Oak Cliff’s wonderful revitalization. Look for the tin house, the gravel lot and the roving cats. It's a happy place. Nick Rallo
232 W. 7th St., tenbellstavern.com
The rumor that “Everyone goes to Round Up” is true. Literally everyone goes to Round Up. Visiting celebrities, groups of adventurous suburbanites, hipsters, scenesters, characters from a Stefon sketch — literally everybody. So that’s why you’re taking your friend here, because you want them to have a story, and that story will be about how much fun they had dancing, drinking and meeting that wonderfully interesting character at the bar. God bless you Round Up; you never let us thrill-seekers down. Jaime-Paul Falcon
3912 Cedar Springs Road, roundupsaloon.com
Inside the historic Inwood Theatre sits the neon-adorned Inwood Lounge, where you’ll find moviegoers sharing a cocktail before catching the latest Oscar bait on one of the theater’s giant screens. You take your friend here because it feels so utterly not Dallas. Honestly it wouldn’t feel out of place in a city like Los Angeles with its neon decor, dark atmosphere and incredibly hip music. It’s off the beaten path so you don’t really run into people here, which means you can actually have a conversation and a drink before heading off to find whatever misadventure Dallas has waiting for you. JPF
If you want to show out of towners a vision of an idyllic life in a Texas town, take them north up I-35 to the tiny college hamlet of Denton and, more specifically, to esteemed local watering hole Dan’s Silverleaf. There you will introduce them to a wide swath of local personalities: the lifetime musicians, the politicians, the college kids, the happy hour commuters, the artists, and just about every other interesting personality type you could ever hope to find huddled together and sharing stories of generously poured libations. JPF
Going to a bar for a round or seven of drinks used to be a formal affair. There was no such thing as your “Sunday best” because we had to wear it every day of the week if we didn’t want to be socially ostracized. The Twilite Lounge on Elm Street doesn’t require a suit and a tie or a nice dress for service, but because it feels like a swanky hooch slinger from back in the day, it may make you feel underdressed. The bartenders also know how to make just about any obscure, tasty beverage you can throw at them including the best Old Fashioned in the entire city. Danny Gallagher
If you don’t bring your guests to Black Swan Saloon, where owner and cocktail master Gandalf Gabe Sanchez will remember your name and shake your hand, Dallas will take something from you. It’s the covenant: Leave without an icy cocktail from Black Swan, and a curse will follow like a bad Stephen King novel. Sound extra cool to your guests by studying Twitter (@blackswansaloon) in advance, and ordering things like the Texas peach-infused Old Fashioned or an “Elm Street Julep” with habanero and mint. Or get a glacially cold martini. Either way, you’re in good hands: Black Swan Saloon does the impressing for you. NR
Listen, you're going to have to take your visitor to Fort Worth at some point, and while the siren call of the world-class museums or the Coyote Drive-In might be hard to ignore, don't kid yourself and just aim straight for the Stockyards. Yes, the glorious place where NFL networks go to shoot their B-roll footage for commercial breaks is about as "Texas" as we get around these parts, and no trip to Hell’s Half Acre is complete without a stop at the White Elephant. Inside you'll find the relief of a cold A/C system and an even colder beer, while locals and visitors alike do their best to keep the Cowboy Way alive and well. You'd do well to wear your best boots while visiting and be polite when the country act is performing; they don’t cotton to rudeness at this fine establishment. JPF
When you mention the name of this South Dallas bar to an outsider, they're probably going to be a little confused. Lee Harvey Oswald is easily Dallas' most infamous resident of all time, so it's no surprise that this divey institution decided to pay him a little homage. Even if it's too hot to bring the dogs and chill outside on the patio, you can cram in at the crowded bar top for cheap drinks and random conversation with every charming weirdo in the city. Amy McCarthy
Double Wide feels a bit like Cheers for white trash people: It’s as though the owners originally planned to make a cartoon about what it means to be white trash, centered around a bar. The pilot didn’t get picked up, so they opened a bar instead, using the same concept. It’s certainly cartoonish: The artwork on those walls is absolutely what you would find in an American trailer park; it has a cartoon tornado on the roof, their trademark drinks have Yoo-Hoo and Tang in them; and the place looks like a trailer. But somehow punk rock found its way into this drinking establishment and one cavernous room has a stage. It's an essential experience for any out of towner. Jeremy Hallock
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Everyone wants to go to Fort Worth and experience the world's largest honky-tonk, but it's possible to have an even better country music experience right here in Dallas at Adair's. This bar is legendary for a reason, and its grungy charm is perfect for showing off Dallas' local music scene. Free live music is on the stage every night, plus plenty of cheap Texas beer and people-watching. If you need any more convincing, the burger at Adair's somehow manages to make this place even better. AM
2624 Commerce St., Dallas, adairssaloon.com