When the sun finally set on the short-lived tiki bar Sunset Lounge in June, Dallas waited and watched the corner of Liberty Street and Ross Avenue to see what would be next for the location. The Sunset Lounge failed to capitalize on the recent growth along Ross in the no man’s land between Uptown and Deep Ellum. In November, a new challenger stepped up to the plate in hopes of becoming the neighborhood’s go-to bar.
The owners of The Pretty Diver, local event promoter Matt Jones and former Club 7 owner Steve Reese, described the bar as “Dallas' first neighborhood glam dive bar." In an interview with Culture Map before the bar’s opening, Jones said that the bar would be a traditional dive bar, minus "the usual dive bar crowd."
Judging from our Thursday night visit, Jones meant a crowd more accustomed to $7 wells in Uptown. Thursdays might not be the best night for Pretty Diver, which hosts sporting event watch parties, hookah nights and DJ sets throughout the week, but among the bar’s $4 drinks, tasty bar food and mostly enjoyable music, it's equipped to handle a crowd.
But don’t go in expecting The Goat or The Velvet Elvis. The Pretty Diver earns its glam bar designation.
The booths are lined with glowing blue neon, which plays off swirling purple lights and aquamarine couches. The main bar is a wide, open space — filled with a varying number of tables, depending on what's happening that night — and it leads into a quieter game room, decorated with lots of eye-catching furniture, including a pink pool table with the motto "S.T.F.U. and Drink" plastered on its side.
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The bar comes across as an Uptown parody of a dive bar. The whole place seems designed to serve as an interesting Snapchat selfie background. Even the low lighting will help you catch the perfect snapshot for all the internet to see. The standing-room-only patio, covered in AstroTurf, offers a nice view of downtown, as well as the parking lot full of sports cars.
But Galaga, Mrs. Pac-Man and PowerPutt in the game room are all nice touches, and convenient bars with cheap drinks, good food and pleasant-enough crowds and service staffs may be what Dallas needs more of as traffic in Deep Ellum becomes increasingly difficult to maneuver.
Somewhere between a sports bar, a theme bar and an honest-to-God dive bar, The Pretty Diver hits all the necessary beats. Whether the Uptown crowd and the surrounding neighborhood will embrace it is another story — one that the Sunset Lounge learned the hard way.
So far, in the two weeks since its opening at the end of November, The Pretty Diver has seemingly impressed the crowd it was looking for. Its Facebook page is already loaded with more than 40 five-star reviews from visitors during its soft opening.