Bowlounge (photography courtesy of Bowlounge)

The Best New Bars in Dallas 2013

It’s hard to believe 2013 is nearly over. (Although, when we consider all the new bars we visited, it could explain the time lapse.) It was hard to narrow our most beloved new establishments down to just 10, but we think we’ve done it. Cheers to our favorite new watering holes of the year.

KENNEDY ROOM
Neighborhood: Uptown
Opened in: January
Why it makes the list: Sometimes we need a little piece and quiet with our whiskey. Enter: The Kennedy Room, a 350-square-foot bar inside the Montaigne Club in Uptown. We like the repurposed church pews as benches and the mantle of books under the TV as much as we like curling up on the red leather couch with a Manhattan and cozy conversation. Jackie and John F. Kennedy, framed above the bar, keep watch over the patrons that are more often regulars than the obnoxious McKinney Avenue party crowd. When the noise gets turned up, it’s with tunes coming from a live piano on weekend evenings, and we’re okay with that.

THE LOT
Neighborhood: Lakewood
Opened in: February
Why it makes the list: Bringing kids to the bar is normally frowned upon, and for good reason. Fortunately, this beer garden offers playgrounds for both adults and children. There’s locally sourced food, lots of craft beer (including taps from local breweries: Revolver Blood and Honey, Lakewood Temptress, and Deep Ellum IPA), and house-made cocktails — go with the Lakewood Lemonade with Maker’s Mark, lemonade, ginger, and mint. Even with kiddos running about, the bar maintains a cozy space for grown-ups. The large patio, illuminated by twinkle lights, is ideal for group outings, so if you’ve got a birthday celebration or after work team happy hour, bring your crew. Whether or not you bring kids, there’s plenty of room to act like one.

THE LAKE HOUSE
Neighborhood: Northeast Dallas
Opened in: February
Why it makes the list: The Lake House logo incorporates the words “White Rock,” and the joint’s slogan is “Life is better at the lake.” Do not be fooled. You cannot see White Rock Lake from the Lake House. Also do not be dissuaded, though, because it doesn’t matter that the only views are of a parking lot from the back patio and Northwest Highway from the front. The Lake House is a small, comfortable neighborhood place that serves barbecue pulled pork sliders and flatbreads and a crab cake sandwich (to randomly pick from the menu). On tap you’ll find 15 beers, many of them local, often seasonal. When the weather’s nice, they pull up garage-door windows, and the place is all light and air and relaxed vibe. Yeah, it almost feels like you’re at the lake.

THREE LINKS
Neighborhood: Deep Ellum
Opened in: April
Why it makes the list: We were sad to see La Grange go, but Three Links dried our eyes. The red-hued, art-laden, industrial concert hall is owned by trio of friends Oliver Peck, Elm Street Tattoo owner; Kris Youmans, Tactics Productions founder; and Scott Begg, talent buyer (and former manager and talent booker for La Grange, Gypsy Tea Room, and Trees). The stage is kept busy with rock bands, local musicians with loyal followings, and acts you haven’t heard of yet. The stage is bigger, the sound system louder, and the beer selection broader. Plus, there’s plenty of whiskey (naturally). When our eardrums are full and we’re ready to hear ourselves think again, we like heading outside for a spot on the patio.

Bowlounge
Bowlounge (photography courtesy of Bowlounge)

BOWLOUNGE
Neighborhood: Design District
Opened in: June
Why it makes the list: We’re digging the sudden influx of places to knock pins down in Dallas. Bowlounge strikes (sorry) the right balance between contemporary and nostalgic. Made from the deconstructed materials of an old bowling alley in East Texas, the updated version offers a well-lit space in the blossoming Design District with vintage flair, extra friendly service, and a satisfying menu of bites from Twisted Root Burger (hello, Milkshake Flight) and 33 draft beers on tap, half of which are local. Craft cocktails were invented by mixology master Jason Kosmas and Bowlounge’s general manager, Dillon McDermott. We suggest the Trash Can Punch, because, why not? Unlike its upperclass frenemy in Park Lane, Bowlounge’s game are just $4.75 a pop until 4 p.m. and $6.80 on after.

Twilite Lounge (photography by Elizabeth Lavin)
Twilite Lounge (photography by Elizabeth Lavin)

THE TWILITE LOUNGE
Neighborhood: Deep Ellum
Opened in: June
Why it makes the list: We love New Orleans and we love Deep Ellum. Happily, we love this bar that blends the two. The sultry red vinyl booths, candlelit jars on tables, gold chandeliers, and twinkle light-lit patio make us get cozy immediately. So do the Pimm’s Cup, French 75, and other Big Easy-themed cocktails. The brainchild of Jess Bar, guitarist of Slobberbone, and Danny Balis, producer of The Ticket’s Hardline, Twilite encourages you to settle in and stay awhile. There’s even a small reading area with a bookcase full of classics. Live music rotates soulful Texas artists and a jukebox lets patrons play DJ. If sports are your bag, Twilite Lounge has unsurprisingly deemed itself the New Orleans Saints watching headquarters.

Mutts Canine Cantina
Mutts Canine Cantina (photography by Raya Ramsey)

MUTTS CANINE CANTINA
Neighborhood: Uptown
Opened in: June
Why it makes the list: Finally, a bar where your dog doesn’t have to stay awkwardly tucked under your chair on a patio. Here, instead, it’s a dog’s world, and pups can hang by the bright yellow picnic tables with their human companions or roam free in two fenced-in grassy arenas: one for small pups, one for larger breeds. During our first visit, we found the sweet spot. While hanging at a table, munching off the menu (lots of adorably-named hot dogs available) is nice, the real treat is grabbing a chair under the shade of a tree with your pooch at your feet and a Lonestar in hand. Or Brooklyn Summer Ale, or margarita, or mimosa, or whatever.

Truck Yard (photography by William Neal)
Truck Yard (photography by William Neal)

TRUCK YARD
Neighborhood: Lower Greenville
Opened in: September
Why it makes the list: Everyone’s singing the praises of Greenville’s new hot spot, and we’re not going to play devil’s advocate. We love the eclectic tables and mismatching chairs, the rockabilly waitresses, old tires as decor, the pet-friendly factor, the treehouse patio, the airstream-turned-bar, the rotating food trucks, the kitchen’s custom cheesesteaks, the inexpensive cocktails, and the Carnival Barker’s Ice Cream. Oh, the ice cream. We’ll happily suffer the shoulder-to-shoulder weekend night crowds to snag a table with our pals in the back of an old truck bed.

GAS MONKEY BAR N’ GRILL
Neighborhood: Northwest Dallas
Opened in: September
Why it makes the list: We didn’t know there was a bar that could pry Dallasites away from their bubble but Richard Rawlings of Fast N’ Loud made it happen. The place is always packed. The 19,000-square-foot space sits on water on Technology Boulevard with an indoor and outdoor stage for, what else, rock-and-roll music and a patio with more seating than the dining area. But don’t worry if you’re hungry. The menu includes three cheese truffled mac ‘n’ cheese and fried green beans. The real goal here is to become a music venue, and with a packed schedule of music acts almost nightly, they’re on their way.

The Rustic (photography by Louie Solomon)
The Rustic (photography by Louie Solomon)

THE RUSTIC
Neighborhood: Uptown
Opened in: October
Why it makes the list: The masses turned out like cattle for the opening night of this new Uptown restaurant and music venue. After all, Pat Green, one of the restaurant’s partners, was playing. But also because co-owners Kyle Noonan and Joshua Sepkowitz seem to know what Texas bar-goers want. (They’re also behind Mutts Canine Cantina and Bowl & Barrel.) Despite the excessive Lone Star State vibe (Texas-themed art and horse saddles in bathrooms) The Rustic attracts an eclectic mix. We’ve spotted everyone from bikers in leather to SMU grads in Sperrys and polos. When we can snag a spot in “Pat’s Backyard,” the outdoor concert area, that’s where we’re the happiest. Just us and a few Texas beers (the menu boasts at least 40 local brews on tap) or a an Indian Paintbrush cocktail with Texas-made vodka, lemon, and boysenberry.

Writers include Tim Rogers and Matt Shelley.

2 comments on “The Best New Bars in Dallas 2013

  1. Pingback: Danny Balis Previews his DJ Set at Twilite Lounge | FrontRow

  2. I’m looking for an after-party venue for 50 people, in Dallas or any of its suburbs to the north. An indoor bar that’s fun and classy, with cocktails and a dance floor. On this Best Of list, Twilite Lounge would probably be the closest to what we’re looking for. Any other ideas?