For most folks today, jukeboxes are a dying art form. Now that we can all hold our favorite musical selections in our hands, it seems a bit superfluous to have a massive, dusty old machine in the corner. But not everyone has forgotten how great it is to have. Plenty of Dallas’ best dive bars insist on keeping things old-school. You’re not going to see many vinyl-or-8-track playing jukeboxes, but plenty of bars here are still using those old relics called compact discs to provide a soundtrack for their thirsty patrons.
Whatever you like, from recent pop to old-school soul, there’s nothing like hearing your favorites on a jukebox in a bar after a few cocktails. Save your quarters and errant $1 bills and head to these Dallas bars, each with their own unique and awesome selection of tunes on the jukebox.
10. Ginger Man
The Ginger Man’s jukebox, like the bar itself, knows how to stick to the basics. Sure, they have a fancy and very eclectic beer list, which explains the modern stuff like the National or Spoon on the ‘box. But at heart they like simple things like old-school bar food, which explains the Marvin Gaye, the Abba or the Madonna.
At The Dallasite, no-frills is the standard. You won’t find some aesthetically pleasing vintage-style jukebox with plenty of well-curated tunes from obscure '70s singer-songwriters and soul stars, but there's enough Lynyrd Skynyrd here and Tom Petty to make your PBR-and-Fireball fueled nights of hardcore boozing memorable. You’ll probably sing “Three Steps” drunkenly a time or two, but that builds character.
4822 Bryan St., Dallas, dallasiteclub.com
8. The Goat
You don’t go to The Goat for a fancy experience, but you’d probably be surprised to find that the jukebox here has plenty of musical selections from the mid-to-late 2000s. Still, playing anything from the last 15 years is likely to get your ass kicked. Stick with classic rock and old country, and listen closely to the lyrics. You might just find your next hit for The Goat’s legendary karaoke nights.
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Everyone already appreciates the worn-in, slightly trashy aesthetic of Lee Harvey’s, evidenced by the piles of people that fill the patio and tiny indoor bar. In the bar’s quieter moments, though, the jukebox is a welcome soundtrack. Whoever curated Lee Harvey’s jukebox has particularly schizophrenic musical tastes. Hair metal, indie, classic rock and '80s tunes dominate the selection, but there are plenty of seemingly out-of-place gems.
The cocktails at Windmill Lounge are legendary, and even though Charlie Pap isn’t around anymore, the jukebox here is equally stellar. Stevie Ray Vaughan is an obvious choice — it’s the perfect pairing for a few beers and a shot or two of whiskey. There's no shortage of songs to listen to when you’re pissed off or feeling a little heartbroken, which is exactly what a jukebox should provide.
A good jukebox, like a good barbecue recipe, has staying power; why mess with it once you get it right? Sammy’s, a bit of an outlier here on a list of bars, knows how both of those things go. Their jukebox is one of the oldest in the city and it’s still chock full of Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline records — on 45s. The one drawback: Sammy’s is only open during day, depriving us of some prime jukebox hours.
Dimly lit dive bars are required (by law, maybe) to have a great jukebox, and Lakewood Landing delivers. You will likely spend far too much time flipping through the selection of CDs, think you might want to hear a little Tom Petty, but ultimately decide that you’ve got to pick something from Big Star or Fleetwood Mac. Good choice.
It’s no surprise that a bar owned by two musicians would have a well-curated jukebox, but Twilite Lounge’s is downright impressive. The classic country is really no surprise, but the diverse selection of old-school soul is most deserving of your dollars. There’s also plenty of good Americana/folk tunes to round out your hipster dreamboat playlist.
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Because Adair’s has live music every night, many first-timers tend to ignore the jukebox. But regulars of this Deep Ellum institution know that the jukebox here is a real hidden gem. Classic country music dominates the offerings, with Texas greats like Bob Wills and Willie Nelson. Better still, there’s also a nice selection of the very up-and-comers that grace the Adair’s stage nightly.
The jukebox at Ships Lounge is consistently honored by publications and patrons alike as one of the best in the city, and for good reason — this place is legit. Drown your sorrows with Hank Williams and Etta James and plenty of other good old Motown and soul. Of course, you’ll also find the usual Johnny Cash and southern rock. The regulars here have a pretty good handle on the tunes selection, so on your first visit, sit back, and let them choose your evening’s playlist.
1613 Greenville Ave., Dallas