send to printer

Texas Nightlife

Billy Bob's Texas
2520 Rodeo Plaza
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 624 7117

Billy Bob's bills itself as "the world's largest honky-tonk." And with three acres under cover and 32 bars (they once sold 16,000 beers during a Hank Williams, Jr., concert), nobody's arguing. In what was once a vast indoor barn for thousands of prize cattle, you now find an undercover small town where multigenerational crowds of 6,000 can gather to play billiards, video games, and slot machines, or watch live bull-riding competitions in the in-house arena—not to mention two-stepping to the A list of country music on a dance floor you could land an airplane on. Concerts here have been staged by the likes of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. The rough-hewn honky-tonk decor is enlivened by Vegas-style neon signs glimmering everywhere, just to make sure you don't get lost going from the dry goods store to the in-house BBQ restaurant. Did we mention that Billy Bob's is really, really big?

Open Sundays noon to 2 am, Mondays through Thursdays 11 am to 2 am, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to 5 pm and 6 pm to 2 am.

Broken Spoke
3201 S. Lamar
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 442 6189

Don't come to the Broken Spoke looking for Kenny Chesney or Shania Twain. This is a gen-u-ine honky-tonk with low ceilings, longnecks, and two-steppers shuffling around the dance floor in tight-fittin' jeans and ten-gallon hats. C&W torchbearers like Bruce Robison, the Derailers, and Dale Watson keep the joint jumping. The restaurant serves burgers, enchiladas, and one of the best chicken-fried steaks in town.

Continental Club
1315 S. Congress Avenue
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 441 2444

Austin's best live-music venue is also one of its oldest, having opened in 1957. The late, great blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan often unleashed his guitar solos here, and the bands—local mainstays and touring acts alike—are usually rootsy rock. The club exudes retro cool, from the vintage roadsters parked out front to the decked-out couples spinning around the postage-stamp-size dance floor. Every Tuesday, R&B diva Toni Price sings along to a guitarist and fiddle player, as she's done for 15 years.

Dallas Bars

<p>It wasn't that long ago that you couldn't legally buy a drink in Dallas; now the city's nightlife is enlivened by a plethora of imaginative bars. <strong>Double Wide,</strong> is a wry ode to trailer-park culture, done up with old car parts, Astroturf, macram&#233;, and paintings on velvet; this is a place to quaff domestic beer and listen to live local rockabilly favorites. For something more upscale, try the inimitable <strong>Inwood Lounge</strong> inside the lobby of the art house Inwood Theatre. The gray slate and soothing Zen water wall make it ideal for quiet post-art-flick conversations over vodka martinis. At <strong>Ghostbar</strong> in the W Hotel, gussied-up pretty people down cocktails in a bar that sometimes borders on too trendy, depending on your scenester tolerance. <strong>Trece</strong> boasts a tequila bar with hundreds of selections. <strong>Bar Belmont</strong> is all glass, retro furniture, pastel cushions, martinis&#133;like an Arab harem done up in 1950s swank. An expansive if pricey wine selection packs Dallasites into <strong>Cr&#250;,</strong> a West Village wine bar with Francophile styling. One of the hottest new restaurants in Dallas, <strong>Sangr&#237;a Tapas y Bar,</strong> might nonetheless be better simply as a place to nibble on bacon-wrapped Medjool dates stuffed with Cabrales, take in the scene, and drink the aphrodisiac for which the bar is named.

Hotel Photo
Deep Ellum
Dallas , Texas

Alas, Deep Ellum's trendsetting days are over. Formerly the haunt of legendary bluesmen such as Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter during the 1920s, Deep Ellum's funky music clubs produced platinum acts like Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians in the '80s; art galleries, art bars, and quirky shops soon followed. Although the scene has mostly moved uptown to areas like the West Village and Victory Park, and although parts of the area can be unsafe, it's worth the trip to experience Club Dada. The bar preserves the raw feel of Deep Ellum in its heyday, with entertainment ranging from quirky rockers to blues to poetry readings.

Driskill Bar
604 Brazos Street
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 391 7162

This venerable Austin hotel is known for its rooms and its restaurant, but the very best part of it might be the evocative bar, which transports you to the days of the Old West. Everything's done up in cowhide and polished copper, the barmen are genteel, and the crowd is all Texas money. There's live piano music some evenings, and always enough activity to make the place feel lively, even on a weeknight when the rest of downtown Austin's bars are empty. The Scotch selection and small but well-chosen beer list are the highlights drink-wise.

Open Sundays through Thursdays noon to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 2 am.

Dry Creek Saloon
4812 Mount Bonnell Road
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 453 9244

A ramshackle dive bar with a million-dollar sunset view. Leaning drunkenly by the side of the road near the top of Mount Bonnell, just west of town, Dry Creek has a rooftop deck that looks out over Lake Austin and the Hill Country. The tables are rickety, the beer is cheap, and the jukebox is always playing Willie or Waylon. It's owned by a cranky old lady who insists if you take a bottle up to the deck you won't get another until you bring the empty down. Don't believe us? Just try her.

Gay Bars

The gay scene in Dallas is concentrated uptown, around the intersection of Oak Lawn and Cedar Springs. Havana Bar & Grill is a Latin-themed bar with cute Latin boys and enough dancing to go around. Dance your way over to JR's Bar & Grill for a more preppy crowd and more diverse entertainment options; pool tables and large TV screens round out the experience. Thumping music drives the crowd at Station 4; also check out the drag shows at the adjacent Rose Room. For daytime kicks, Barney's New York pours free wine on Saturdays, and the store turns into a great place to find a date.

Gay Bars
Dallas , Texas

The gay scene in Dallas is concentrated uptown, around the intersection of Oak Lawn and Cedar Springs. Havana Bar & Grill is a Latin-themed bar with cute Latin boys and enough dancing to go around. Dance your way over to JR's Bar & Grill for a more preppy crowd and more diverse entertainment options; pool tables and large TV screens round out the experience. Thumping music drives the crowd at Station 4; also check out the drag shows at the adjacent Rose Room. For daytime kicks, Barney's New York pours free wine on Saturdays, and the store turns into a great place to find a date.

Hotel San José Bar
1316 S. Congress Avenue
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 693 9317

The romantic outdoor garden of this Austin institution is every bit as hip as the hotel itself. It's really only worth it in good weather, when you can sit at the dimly lit tables around the pool, take in the retro vibe of the architecture, and sip from a very basic selection of beer and wine (no liquor is served here). The place closes down fairly early; it's not a party joint, just a great place for a relaxing drink. This is probably the only hotel bar in Austin where you'll find more locals than out-of-towners. So make new friends, then head to the bars along South Congress.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5 pm to midnight, Fridays through Sundays 3 pm to midnight.

Red River
Red River, between Sixth and Ninth streets
Austin , Texas

An area that was down and out just a few years ago, this three-block strip just north of Sixth now boasts the city's tightest concentration of clubs. Glamorous gals are drawn to the fancy mixed drinks at the Club de Ville lounge; hipster boys are drawn to the gals; everyone loves the setting, a tree-lined patio sitting under a limestone cliff (512-457-0900). Across the street, Stubb's dishes up satisfactory barbecue and doubles as an outdoor venue for up-and-coming touring bands; during South by Southwest, the speakers never seem to get a break (512-480-8341; One more block down, the Red-Eyed Fly gets the punk fans, alterna-chicks, and the bands they love (512-474-1084;

Sundance Square

Sundance is a carefully orchestrated civic initiative that has pumped new life into 20 blocks of Fort Worth's city center. The culture is geared somewhat toward families; you can actually stay in a nice hotel and go car-less for a weekend, sampling from dozens of dining and PG-rated entertainment venues, including comedy improve, intimate theater, and musicals imported from Broadway. Sundance also has considerable style and charm, from the tree-lined red brick Main Street drag to the giant trumpeting angels on the facade of the Bass Performance Hall (home of top touring acts as well as the biennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition) to funky spots like the UFO-themed Flying Saucer, with a global selection of almost 200 beers. Dining favorites include the sleek hipster bistro Zolon and the posh, Western-themed Reata, offering a dependable lineup of choice Texas-size steaks.


A night at the theater has become an increasingly familiar pastime in Dallas and Fort Worth. The major regional theater, the Dallas Theater Center, performs standards and new work in the only theater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a challenging, fluidly organic space built in 1959. Dallas institution Theatre Three offers dependable mainstream productions with the best local talent—as well as proximity to fine dining in the surrounding Quadrangle. For new and experimental work, there's the well established but perennially edgy Undermain Theatre in Deep Ellum, a cozy basement venue (right beneath Main Street) noted for first-rate productions of outré material (think rock opera). In Fort Worth, Circle Theatre also works out of a basement—beneath a former department store in Sundance Square—staging standards alongside challenging contemporary works. Jubilee Theatre )is another Sundance Square fixture, featuring African-American performers, writers, and directors. But the real star of Fort Worth's theater scene is Hip Pocket Theater, revered for its wildly inventive outdoor staging—often using mime, puppets, and projections—of zany, commedia dell'arte–inspired scripts written or adapted by founder Johnny Simons. Under-the-stars productions at the company's parklike wooded amphitheater (they call it "theater in the rough") are eclectic, spanning drama, riffs on classic literature, and send-ups of science-fiction B movies.

Warehouse District
Austin , Texas

Sixth Street continues to skew younger and bawdier, so festive adults who aren't necessarily in the mood to paaaartay!! are heading to the Warehouse District instead. You can pick your poison from the growing multitude of pubs and restaurants: beer and a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (512-476-1320;; a porterhouse and single-malt scotch at Sullivan's (512-495-6504;; or a top-shelf martini under the stars at Cedar Street Courtyard (512-495-9669; The district starts a block west of Congress Avenue between Third and Sixth streets.

Wink Wine Bar
1014 N. Lamar Boulevard
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 482 8868

Wink Wine Bar's exterior may not look like much (it's located in a small strip mall), but this darkly lit, sleek wine bar, attached to the perennially packed Wink Restaurant, is a great place to start or end the night—whether you have a reservation at the restaurant or not. There's a consistently impressive list of over 60 reasonably priced wines by the bottle and 50 by the glass, each chosen for its food-friendliness and organized on the menu by flavor rather than by region or varietal, so wine novices can choose with ease. The bar bites are worth a nibble, especially the edamame with sel gris and the mac 'n' cheese with black truffles. But if you're hungry for a larger meal, you can also order from Wink Restaurant's seasonal, locally sourced menu without leaving your comfortable perch.—Carolina Santos-Neves

Open daily 5 pm to midnight.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.