For country music fans, North Texas presents a wide array of night-life options. We've got traditional honky-tonks rife with two-steppers, tiny down-home bars with a taste for twang and intimate music rooms offering soul-stirring live tunes.
Fort Worth's historic Stockyards district is a natural be-all and end-all, allowing for plenty of saloon-hopping for those on foot. Yet there are equally worthwhile destinations in Dallas and its suburbs if you've got a ride. With the help of GuideLive's Sarah Blaskovich, we've identified 10 of the brightest country music spots in North Texas. Polish up those boots ...
During her recent concert at American Airlines Center, country superstar Miranda Lambert recalled her formative days playing in small Dallas clubs. The 52-year-old bar Adair's was one of the places she mentioned, and that speaks to the rich musical history of the tiny stage at the Deep Ellum institution. You don't even have to read up on or ask folks about all the memories in the place. All you have to do is walk in, grab a beer and start reading the writing on the walls, which are covered from floor to ceiling with signatures, photos and messages from years gone by.
2624 Commerce St., Dallas. adairssaloon.com.
Billy Bob's Texas
Billy Bob's is no doubt the top draw in the Fort Worth Stockyards, touting itself as the "World's Largest Honky Tonk." Since its opening in 1981, the multistage 127,000-square-foot entertainment behemoth has certainly earned the right to make such a claim, and we know for sure that playing there is considered a rite of passage for traditional country artists. All the greats, young and old, have stopped in. And even when there's not a legend or respected up-and-comer onstage, there are countless other ways for the boot-scootin' crowd to entertain itself. Live rodeo, anyone?
2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth. billybobstexas.com.
Cowboys Red River
Like any honky-tonk worth its salt, Cowboys Red River has the mechanical bull for photo ops and billiards tables for pool sharks. There's a capable house band as well as a skilled instructor who gives regular dance lessons to patrons who are a little rusty with their two-step.
But the biggest draw has to be the people-watching on the crowded dance floor -- this is the kind of honky-tonk where the best country dancers go to show the scene what they've got. Nothing warms the heart more than the sight of a cowboy and cowgirl tearing up the floor to a classic country tune.
10310 Technology Blvd., Dallas. cowboysdancehall.com.
Henderson Avenue Country Club
It's understandable that you don't always want the hustle and bustle and bar lines of a large honky-tonk. Luckily, there are plenty of smaller bars that are fueled by country music tradition. The fairly new Henderson Avenue Country Club is one of those places, with a tiny stage regularly featuring local twangy acts such as the King Bucks. And if you wear yourself out hootin' and hollerin' for the folks onstage, you can always refuel with one of the Texas-inspired items on the barbecue-driven menu. There's even a shareworthy option called "Hillbilly Charcuterie" that includes brisket, pickled jalapeños and saltine crackers.
2405 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas. hendersonavecountryclub.com.
Love and War in Texas
Ask anyone who regularly listens to Texas country where to go for live music and he or she will point you toward Love and War in Texas, with locations in Grapevine and Plano. Acts such as Max Stalling and Deryl Dodd rock onstage while the restaurant and bar becomes a family-friendly, fun place for two-stepping and sipping beer. If you ask us, the best shows are Sunday afternoons on the Plano patio. Get there early for those Sunday shows: Secret's already out.
2505 E. Grapevine Mills Circle, Grapevine. 601 E. Plano Parkway, Plano. loveandwarintexas.com.
Pearl's Dancehall & Saloon
What was originally a bordello called Hotel Pearl's, opened by William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody in the 1800s, has retained some of its original decor and now stands as a pure and simple honky-tonk on the outer edge of Fort Worth's Stockyards. You don't completely forget what decade you're in when you set foot in the place, but the vintage country and Western swing in the joint's live music lineups certainly help take you back.
302 W. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth. pearlsdancehall.com.
Poor David's Pub
This isn't what you'd consider a honky-tonk in that there's not a lot of dancing to be found. It's a live music "listening room" that allows folk and country artists the chance to be heard by attentive audiences who appreciate songcraft. Poor David's started in Uptown in the '70s, moved to Greenville Avenue in the '80s and settled into its current South Side location in 2004. Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett and the Dixie Chicks are a few of the many greats who've graced the venue's stages throughout the years.
1313 S. Lamar St., Dallas. poordavidspub.com.
It's one of the most unusual and delightful night-life stops in Dallas. You'll see plenty of cowboys two-stepping with cowboys on the spacious floor of this Cedar Springs honky-tonk, but the vibe is far from exclusive. All kinds of kinds take part in the twangy fun every night at the Round-Up. And for those who don't make it to the regular dance lessons offered, DJs will throw in occasional pop and hip-hop classics to inspire freestyle moves. Also, check out the karaoke room if you want to take on your favorite George Strait or Pam Tillis tune in front of a friendly and welcoming crowd.
3912 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas.roundupsaloon.com.
The Rustic is a cavernous restaurant, bar and backyard concert venue in Uptown that generally hosts dressy cowboys and cowgirls for a night on the town. Good-timin' Texas country singer Pat Green is a part-owner in the place, and country fans can catch him there from time to time strumming on the big stage. Huge country shows are occasional; more regularly, you'll find a musician performing in the corner while folks mingle at the beer bar. On sunny days, you can't beat the Austin-like vibe of the Rustic's backyard.
3656 Howell St., Dallas. therustic.com.
White Elephant Saloon
The kitsch factor at this midsize Stockyards haunt is very high. The walls are covered with music memorabilia, mounted cowboy hats from rodeo and country luminaries, and quirky Western decor. Oh, and there's that wall full of shelves holding scads of ceramic white elephants. Even when the place is empty and the stage isn't occupied by a local or touring country act, your eyes never become bored. On our last visit we spotted a rodeo cowboy ordering a beer with the paper contestant number still attached to his back.
106 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth. whiteelephantsaloon.com.