Dallas’ 10 Best Bars in 2022 Offer All Kinds of Ways to Sip
Pour yourself a shot for this new entry in the 2022 annual Tastemaker Awards, CultureMap Dallas’ culinary celebration highlighting the best talent in the Dallas-Fort Worth restaurant and bar communities.
Part of that celebration includes a 10-part editorial series with profiles of nominees for Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Bartender of the Year, and more. Check out our page with all the nominees, all of whom were voted on by a panel of judges made up of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts.
It will culminate with a party on May 12 at the Fashion Industry Gallery, hosted by comedian CJ Starr, where attendees can dine at nominated restaurants and find out who the winners are in all categories. (Tickets are on sale here.)
The category we’re here to toast is bar of the year, and this year’s crop is unusually diverse, with everything from neighborhood joints to hotel bars to over-the-top Instagram-centric spots with drinks that emit smoke.
Here are the 10 nominees for Best Bar of the Year 2022:
Will call Bar
A friendly neighborhood bar with a low-key vibe and killer range of food, Will Call Bar has been a Deep Ellum staple since it first served drinks in the former Curtain Club space. They have been a no frills watering hole with cold drinks, top notch bar food and friendly staff. They also host open-mic comedy and live music, as well as televisions featuring live-streamed sporting events. With an in-house chef who is also a Tastemaker Award nominee, they have all the bases covered.
The bar at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas has been revived post-pandemic, but with a nostalgic twist. Originally opened in 1981, the bar is named after Walt Garrison, who played with the Dallas Cowboys and was also a professional rodeo rider. Now it’s a nod to an old-school Texas tavern, a no-frills bar with a menu of Tex-Mex and traditional Texas cuisine-influenced bar fare.
Exxir Hospitality’s Bishop Arts concept (Paradiso, Botanist, Tejas) serves craft cocktails and shared plates, with decor that draws inspiration from Moorish design, Moroccan motif, Balinese island influences, craftsmanship and greenery, in indoor and outdoor spaces, including a courtyard with a tiled reflecting pool. It also comes with an item that gets more and more commented on these days: a speakeasy named Casanova which is a 70s-inspired karaoke lounge.
The candy store-restaurant combo is a chain whose Dallas store opened in November 2021. It’s a kitschy antidote to the dive bar, with over-the-top food and drink, including steaming cocktails a la dry ice served in big crazy cups, topped with lollipops and candy necklaces. It’s schlocky but fun if you’ve just reached drinking age and are on your first date, or if you’re carrying kids or family and could really use a stiff one.
Adair’s co-owner Joe Morales’ unassuming bar is a returning nominee, having been nominated in that same category at the 2021 Tastemaker Awards. Morales envisioned an “old East Dallas joint” when he opened Peak Inn in 2019, and it has everything you need: good food, including a crowd-pleasing burger, jukebox, pool table, fireplace, TVs and cheap drinks, including a generous weekday happy hour that lasts until 10 p.m. The kitchen remains open until 1:30 a.m., a draw for workers in the service sector.
The funky dive bar between Deep Ellum and Expo Park is from bar impresario Kim Finch who later opened its Greenville Avenue cousin Single Wide, then cool neighbor Thunderbird Station. But the Double Wide is the original with a crowd that remains hipster and laid back, cheap Lone Star, a great jukebox, an eclectic clientele and great bartenders.
Deep Ellum now has a place in Dallas proper for late-night dim sum, cocktails on tap, and craft cocktails made with Japanese spirits. Opened in the former Beauty Bar space, Neon Kitten is first and foremost a cocktail bar, with cocktails served in quirky containers such as the one with gin, sage and salted pomelo which is served in a shaped cup of white bear. They also have a canning system so you can get cocktails to go, as well as cocktails on tap. There are also small bites: cabbage, spring rolls, and all kinds of ravioli.
The intimate Greenville Avenue Lounge — it can only seat 40 people inside — is a dark, brooding cocktail bar with peacock wallpaper, velvet seats and decorative items from estate sales whose menu pushes back the limits of daring cocktail creations, new techniques and creative presentation. The menu offers three levels of cocktails, ranging from entry-level selections to extra-adventurous selections such as the Orange Julius Caesar made with shochu, clarified orange, clarified tomato broth, clam essence, Greek yogurt and orange-marinated onions.
Bar at the chic Ritz-Carlton, Dallas has always been hailed as one of the best places to people-watch: Between local big players and hotel guests, it’s an entertaining mix, and the bar opens on the hotel lobby, which not only increases the see-and-be-seen element, but also provides a stunning backdrop. Better yet, you also get Chef Dean Fearing’s signature margarita, premium spirits, expertly blended wines and cocktails, and great bar bites.
Suburban yacht club
Plano restaurant with tacos and tiki drinks at The Boardwalk at Granite Park is part of the 33 Restaurant Group (Union Bear Brewing Co., Cadillac Pizza Pub, Taverna Rossa, The Yard at McKinney), with a food-truck inspired menu Southern California scene, bean and cheese tacos with avocado in a toasted flour tortilla. Drinks such as rum tiki tai, orange curacao orgeat, passion fruit, lime and tiki bitters are tasty and fun.