The 10 Best Honky Tonks in Dallas

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Being from Texas, country music is pretty well in our blood. It's such a staple of our lives that we could live on Texas country and nothing else, without ever having to know about Nashville. Of course there ain't much that's more country than a good old-fashioned honky tonk -- and whaddya know, we're chock full of those here in Dallas. In fact, many would say that we have the very best honky tonk in all the world right here in North Texas. So don your cowboy hat and your dancing spurs and let's pay tribute to our roots: the best honky tonks in Dallas.

See also: The 10 Best Hipster Bars and Lounges in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area The Best Bro Bars in Dallas

10. Hank's Texas Grill

Hank's is so rebellious the city of McKinney has tried to shut down the country music venue multiple times for fire code violations, and Yelp reviewers either really love the place or are willing to help the city out by burning the place down. But that's neither here nor there, because this list is about music, and there's one thing you can't take away from the place. They're doing their damnedest to bring as much live country music as possible to the North Texas 'burbs. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night Hank's is filled with some hot string picking, smokey barbeque and beer-swilling country music fans. The city of McKinney and Yelp reviewers be damned; Hank's is gonna keep having fun. Jaime-Paul Falcon

1310 N. Central Expwy., McKinney, hankstexasgrill.com

9. The Mule Barn

If you head west on 114 past the Texas Motor Speedway and go three miles north on FM 156, you'll find this place called The Mule Barn on the left side of the road. It doesn't have Billy Bob's space or Pearl's history, but it's still a fun place to see shows from legends like John Anderson to road-tested contemporary mainstays like Cody Canada and Mike and the Moonpies. Along with the music, there's a menu full of fried food, burgers and plenty of other thing that go good with a pitcher of Kurrs Laht. Steve Steward

218 Hwy. 156 S., Justin, mulebarntexas.com

8. Round Up Saloon

The best bar in Dallas is a honky tonk-themed gay bar in the Cedar Springs area that features a Howdy Hour and an annual Rent-A-Cowboy event. There's a tequila bar and it's my everything. There's two-stepping, great country music and it's the No. 1 spot for tourists who want some Texas culture with a hell of a lot of flair. Oh, and if you're lucky Lady Gaga will show up at a random time and do a song or two. Pop those Pearl Snaps and show a little chest when you go here; you'll fit in better. Oh, and let Johnny shine up your boots, it's only 8 bucks. Jaime-Paul Falcon

3912 Cedar Springs Rd., Dallas, roundupsaloon.com

7. White Elephant Saloon

There's a reason the Stockyards in Fort Worth are commonly referred to as "historic." Indeed, a bunch of cowboys wrangled and cattle marched around the bustling intersection of Main Street and Exchange Avenue. It was true Wild West stuff. But that was way back when, and these days the White Elephant Saloon, in all of its dusty, smoky glory, is still the best place to knock back some cold ones, see some local country music and saddle-up inside a watering hole where a dude wearing spurs on his boots is normal. And the original Love Shack burger spot is next door in what used to be the White Elephant's outdoor beer garden. So meaty, so Fort Worth. Kelly Dearmore

106 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth, whiteelephantsaloon.com

6. Thirsty Armadillo

The Thirsty Armadillo might seem a little more modern than Pearl's, but that's like saying Cro-Magnon man seems more modern than Neanderthal. Like most things in the Stockyards, the furnishings here look sturdily rooted in the Reagan Administration. So do a lot of the clientele, for that matter, but this is a honky tonk bar, not a drum circle. You've probably seen people two-step, but this is no frat guy drunkenly spinning his girlfriend around at the Rustic -- the moves at the Armadillo are as serious as the starch in the shirts. It's the place where people who actually do cowboy things for a living come to play, and watching them whirl around the dance floor is worth the cover. Steve Steward

120 W. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth, thethirstyarmadillo.com

5. Love & War in Texas

This Plano institution sometimes feels like it's single handily trying to keep the honky tonk tradition alive. There's music almost every night and it's doing so with some of the best acts performing in the country music genre today. From legends to up and comers, Love & War is bringing it every night of the week, and fans are flocking to the location to eat it up. They're also eating up the place's highly rated and diverse food, and guzzling down some of the largest beers served in the area. But that's just an extra kicker for these city slicker country fans. Jaime-Paul Falcon

601 E. Plano Pkwy., Plano, loveandwarintexas.com

4. Southern Junction

Southern Junction in Rockwall, just north of I-30, is a legit, small-town honky tonk. It's not a bar that happens to have music. It's not a music venue that happens to serve (awesome) steaks. It's a true local gathering spot where you can order dinner, dance to the house band on a time-tested hardwood floor and go back to your table and tear up your steak. Then you can sit back with a bucket of Buds and take in a show from Robert Earl Keen, Aaron Watson, Wade Bowen or any other top-notch Texas Country act. The stage sits high enough to where you can be drinking, dancing and cavorting anywhere in the joint and still revel in this authentic gem that offers an unrivaled country experience in small-town Texas. Kelly Dearmore

5574 Highway 276, Royse City, southernjunctionlive.com

3. Pearl's Dancehall

Billy Bob's might be the most recognizable spot in the Stockyards, but Pearl's is at least as historic; it was originally a bordello opened by Buffalo Bill Cody called Hotel Pearl's. History is fascinating and all, but Pearl's is better for drinking cheap domestic bottles and Western swing. It'll fit your image of a honky tonk and its shows stick to traditional country sounds as much as possible. Your friend who loves Luke Bryan might get bored, but at least you can show him what real country is. Steve Steward

302 W. Exchange, Fort Worth, pearlsdancehall.com

2. Adair's Saloon

Through all the deaths and rebirths of Deep Ellum in recent times, there's been a bright neon beacon shining seven nights a week welcoming any who may come near its band sticker and sharpie-marked window. Adair's Saloon is a wonderfully historic, narrow room where the greatest names in Dallas country music have plied their craft since it opened in 1983 (after it moved from its original Cedar Springs spot). Jack Ingram and 1100 Springs both made the no-cover charge crowds jump and swirl long before they became widely adored symbols of Texas Country. The cheeseburgers are great, and the jukebox is on-point when the bands aren't rocking the tiny stage near the door, which backs up to that classic, neon-lit window looking onto Commerce Street. Kelly Dearmore

2624 Commerce St., Dallas, adairssaloon.com

1. Billy Bob's Texas

Best in the world? As far as the honky tonk argument goes, Fort Worth's Billy Bob's certainly has a claim to the title. Country royalty comes through the doors of Billy Bob's on a regular basis, and it does well to remind you by having signed pictures of its more famed visitors. The place has become a bit of a mecca for the country culture. It certainly helps their coinage to be situated right next to the historic Fort Worth Stockyards as well. If you want to polish off a Lone Star, take in a quality country gig and walk a block over to get some class BBQ, look no further than Billy Bob's. James Khubiar

2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, billybobstexas.com


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