This week the Dallas Observer's annual Best Of Dallas issue goes public, celebrating all that is right with the city. But with so many music venues and bars winning in so many categories, how will you ever take advantage of them all?
Well, we have an idea of how to make the most of it. With just a little bit of planning, you could have one damn fun night by hitting up the list of the winners.
For loyal readers of the paper's music section, concerts are a core component of a night out. You can't do better than this year's Best Concert Venue winner, The Bomb Factory, which takes the honors for the second year running. (Pretty impressive, given that the Deep Ellum club only reopened in 2015.) It's a gorgeously prepared room with great sound and lighting, and it plays host to some top-notch shows — the best of the year, in fact, as this month's Kraftwerk show at The Bomb Factory also took Best Concert honors.
Shows at The Bomb Factory tend to get out earlier than most clubs in the neighborhood, sometimes well before midnight, which leaves plenty of time for more adventures in the night. A good next stop would be Adair's Saloon, which is right around the corner and picked up this year's Best Country Venue award. With its graffitied walls and cheap drinks, this well-worn dive sure makes for a contrast to the glitz of The Bomb Factory. It's also free to get in — a great attribute for any after-party plans — but be careful, you're likely to spend the rest of your night two stepping here. (If you do, make sure to scarf down one of those burgers.)
Fortunately, there's an escape option right across the street in the form of RBC, which picked up a couple different Best Of awards this year. The former Red Blood Club was rebranded as Rhythm Beats Culture at the start of the year, and has enjoyed something of a renaissance in 2016, which is why it was named the Best Venue Comeback. It's also a great place to catch local bands, such as the (also free) weekly Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions, which explains the Best Bar for Discovering New Music award that RBC also picked up.
And then there's Elm Street, just two blocks over from Adair's and RBC, which is still the core music hub of Deep Ellum. On a nice night, it's hard to find a better patio to drink and mingle than Twilite Lounge. And, what do you know, they host live music there too. It's admittedly sporadic, but when it happens it's always free to enter, and the artists they book hardly ever play such intimate shows. That's why Twilite got named the Best Live Music Patio.
There are almost too many other spots to mention within a stone's throw of Twilite, but you're likely to find yourself visiting at least a couple different Best Of winners if you're on the block. Trees, like RBC, picked up a pair of awards, as the Best Rock Club and also the home of the Best Bouncer — which means there's likely a show worth seeing there, but you better not try to sneak your way in. Just saying. Right across the street is Off the Record, where you'll probably have to wait to get in, thus the Best Bar to Wait for Half an Hour award. (Happy second anniversary, guys!)
Sooner or later, you'll have to leave Deep Ellum (in theory, anyway), and when you do you'll probably make a detour through Double Wide. It's a logical thing to do, not just because it's close to the action while also being comfortably removed, but also because it's the Best Venue for Hosting a Party. You might be too wasted to remember what all happened (thanks, Yoo-Hoo Yeehaw), but at least you'll have some pictures from the Photo Wagon to help you piece it all together.
And if you're a real soldier (or alcoholic — again, just saying), you can swing through Double Wide's sister bar, Single Wide, on your way home. It's the Best Bar for a Nightcap, after all.
Of course, being so ambitious might not really be appealing to you, which is fine. Maybe you just want to get away from it all — in which case, there's a Best Of for that too: Cosmo's, the Best Bar for Hiding Away From the World. (Really thought of everything, right?) It's also right next door to the Best Dive Bar, Lakewood Landing. There's no one right way to make the most of the Best Of Dallas, so it's a good thing you'll have the next 12 months to make the rounds before Best Of Dallas 2017 hits the stands.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.