Dallas is a big small town when it comes to bars. Everyone knows everyone, and the bartenders help each other out and patronize their peers’ establishments, making the community incredibly close-knit. And because of that, these bartenders also know exactly where to drink when they aren’t behind the stick themselves.
So to enlist expert recommendations on where to go, we spoke with some of our favorite drink slingers and publicans to see which Dallas bars they choose to spend their time and money at when off the clock. Consult their picks the next time you head out for a craft cocktail—or even just a cold beer with some good music—and you can’t go wrong.
The below interviews have been condensed for clarity.
Brian McCullough, the Standard Pour
“That’s a tough one. I love Old Monk, Black Swan Saloon, Parliament, High and Tight, Armoury DE, Libertine, and Adairs. A new favorite that opened just a couple weeks back is Shoals. I feel like I will always see family there and the drinks are sure to be amazing. (Or I’ll just get a shot and a beer, which is great for me.) And, of course, Industry Alley is an unspoken staple for all of us.”
George Kaiho, Jettison
“My favorite places are Atwater Alley, Bowen House, and Parliament (around or after 1am). When I go to a bar to drink, most of the time it’s after I get off work, and usually by myself and tired. So I stop by on the way home to cool down, not to socialize or to have a party. I like to go to bars when they’re not so busy to relax with a properly made cocktail. And I know that I can always get that at these bars.”
Angela Montesclaros, Atwater Alley
“If you ever catch me at a bar off the clock, it’s most likely at Goodfriend or Old Monk. I’ll order a beer, shot, or a Gin & Tonic. I like how casual those spots are and appreciate how consistent they are with service, drinks, and food. If it’s busy, it doesn’t get overwhelmingly rowdy or obnoxious.
Being in the service industry it’s hard for me to clock out. It’s easy to get distracted by lighting, music, layout, etc. So, I look for places where I can have easy downtime, and these spots do it for me.”
Jorge Herrera, Bowen House and the Standard Pour
“I really like to stop into Jettison after work. It’s a cozy spot where I can relax and get my mind right after a crazy shift. They also focus on mezcal and sherry, which are my favorites, but are hard to find in Dallas right now.
Parliament is somewhere I go that just feels like home. I usually know most of the people on either side of the bar, so it’s comfortable and they make reliable, creative cocktails.
My home for years was Cafe Gecko in Addison. It’s a dive bar, but the bartenders all treat you like family.”
Jesse Powell, Parliament
“How many can I pick? I’ll start at the Rattlesnake Bar at the Ritz Carlton…it’s the perfect place to grab some drinks and meet some people from out of town. And also, Chef Dean Fearing’s food is a major plus.
While I’m on hotel bars, I’ll move to the Library Bar at the Warwick Melrose Hotel. I love to enjoy their Japanese whisky selection, which is well curated. (And everything is half price during happy hour!) Even better, their lobster mac and cheese is life.
Beto & Sons at Trinity Groves is the epitome of hospitality. As soon as you walk in you feel as if you just walked into your mother’s house. They also put on quite the show. I usually drink some nice tequila or a mezcal, but the last time I was there, Luis created a Negro Modelo liquid nitrogen ice cream float for me.
My absolute favorite kind of day is a trifecta with Jermey Elliott (also of Parliament). We like to start at Ellen’s Southern Kitchen—home of the best grits and chili in town. We order up some dirty gin martinis along with a bowl of chili. After, we head to Angry Dog for more martinis and chili dogs. After Angry Dog, we will hit Local down the street. It’s only beer and wine, and we usually don’t know anyone, which is comforting in its own way. The food by Tracy Miller is also pretty incredible and a nice change after all the chili.”
Fernanda Cubby Rossano, High & Tight Barbershop
“I still love The Standard Pour—it’s just solid. Regardless of the staff changing in the past few years, it breeds talent. Great food by Justin Fulps and of course a fantastic array of cocktails developed by Brian McCullough and his gang of great bartenders, and all with a story of their own.
I also love Palapas, an unsuspecting Mexican seafood bar. Headed by Mauricio, I like to pick his brain because he’s a mezcal know-it-all. Their impressive selection of mezcal and fresh ceviche pull me in every time.”
Chris Henley, Cocktail Consultant, Owner of Betty Cocktail
“When I just want half an hour to play Words with Friends uninterrupted before I go home: Stoneleigh P. The bartenders always make me feel welcome, and their chicken tortilla soup is to die for.
When I want to be sure I’m just getting a great craft cocktail: Parliament or Tate’s, and after a recent trip to Idle Rye in Deep Ellum, I’d definitely test the waters there again soon. Lounge Here has a fantastic ambiance and gets better every time.
When I go out, I look for comfort, because I’ve already been impressed by every smoking, clarified, overly garnished, unicorn tears drink. And, really, mama likes her gin neat.”