Food and Drink

The Best LGBTQ+ Bars and Parties in Dallas-Fort Worth

Here, queer, and ready to rage.

Mr. Misster
Mr. Misster
Mr. Misster

We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re all over Dallas-Fort Worth. People are often surprised to learn about the robust LGBTQ+ scene here in Dallas, most likely due to our conservative state government. But despite all that, our metro area is home to a truly impressive 25 different LGBTQ+ venues (and another on the way), serving the community as lively places to drink and mingle in a safe space with like-minded folks.

The Cedar Springs/Oak Lawn entertainment district boasts the largest concentration of queer and queer-friendly bars, clubs, and other hot spots in its few square blocks, but you’ll find plenty of welcoming places throughout the region. So whether you’re looking for a fun place to day-drink on a patio or a night out dancing and doling out dollars to drag queens, we’ve got your LGBTQ+ A-Z right here.

1851 Club
1851 Club
1851 Club

1851 Club

Arlington
Arlington is known for its mega-entertainment venues, from Six Flags Over Texas to Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium, but the only gay bar in town has a devoted fanbase, too. The small, no-frills outpost features pool tables, darts, and special nightly events including karaoke on Wednesdays and drag performances every Friday and Saturday.

Alexandre's
Alexandre’s
Alexandre’s

Alexandre’s

Oak Lawn
Currently undergoing an expansion into the space next door, this pocket-size (for now) piano bar continues to be one of the best live entertainment venues in the neighborhood, if not the city. Plus, it’s one of the few LGBTQ+ bars where you can score an expertly mixed craft cocktail without paying outrageous Uptown prices.

Barbara’s Pavilion

Oak Cliff
Even though the neighborhoods surrounding this quaint watering hole are packed with LGBTQ+ residents, Barbara’s is still the only gay game in this part of town. It charms long-time regulars and newcomers alike thanks to friendly service and an inviting crowd eager to sing karaoke or graze through the potluck-style spread of snacks that often appears on the pool table.

Cedar Springs Tap House
Cedar Springs Tap House
Cedar Springs Tap House

Cedar Springs Tap House

Oak Lawn
Doubling as a full-service restaurant, this corner hangout showcases a fantastic patio, a stellar weekend hangover brunch, and daily specials that promise cheap eats and drinks to an enthusiastic crowd of revelers.

Club Changes
Club Changes
Club Changes

Club Changes

Fort Worth
The oldest gay bar in Cowtown, Club Changes houses a multi-level patio, as well as the Secret Room, which hosts the city’s longest running drag act, the Divine Miss Divas Show. Owners and patrons embrace the dive-bar vibe and the no-pretense attitude remains one of this mainstay’s biggest draws.

Club Reflection

Fort Worth
Themed nights play a big part in this neighborhood joint’s allure, with shows devoted to amateur talent, drag acts, karaoke, and Latinx patrons, with a little country-western music thrown in for good measure. The occasional underwear auction also brings all the boys to the yard (or dance floor, as the case may be).

Dallas Woody’s

Oak Lawn
Screening a variety of live sports and music videos throughout the two-story expanse, the gayborhood’s resident sports bar is a favorite among area LGBTQ+ athletic teams looking for a post-game beer. The double-decker patio is a great place to hang out and watch the parade of passersby, while the back patio makes for an ideal spot for a quieter, more secluded date situation.

The Grapevine Bar
The Grapevine Bar
The Grapevine Bar

The Grapevine Bar

Oak Lawn
Though it’s not exclusively a LGBTQ+ bar, this quirky ultra-dive represents one of the best places to kick back and throw back a few cold ones amid folks from all walks of life. Stiff frozen drinks like the Tangarita make up the bulk of the menu while friendly basketball games throw down on the back patio. Sunday Funday here is always a party.

Havana Bar & Grill
Havana Bar & Grill
Havana Bar & Grill

Havana

Oak Lawn
Latin sounds meet Latin flavors at this bar-restaurant, where you can start the night out with a big plate of Tex-Mex deliciousness followed by hours of dancing under the light show and disco ball in the nightclub. Drag shows and super-cheap drink specials also make regular appearances.

Hidden Door

Oak Lawn
For 42 years, the Hidden Door has been a not-so-hidden meeting place for shirtless gay men (and the occasionally clothed guy, as well). Bears, back patio barbecues, beer busts, and bargain booze are just a few of the reasons its has enjoyed such longevity and a reputation for being one of the friendliest bars in town.

Jr's Bar And Grill
Jr’s Bar And Grill
Jr’s Bar And Grill

JR’s Bar & Grill

Oak Lawn
This airy, two-story video bar sports a wrap-around balcony and lunchtime menu of burgers and sandwiches. It’s a must-stop on any neighborhood pub crawl, especially during one of their frequent live shows.

Kaliente

Oak Lawn
This upbeat nightclub keeps the party going every night until 2 am-the same time most bars close, but the action rarely slows down at Kaliente. The city’s top Latinx drag queens show up on the regular, and Saturday Rumba gets people out on the dance floor in full force.

Liberty Lounge FW
Liberty Lounge FW
Liberty Lounge FW

Liberty Lounge

Fort Worth
Drag queen bingo, lesbian speed dating, all-day Sunday happy hour, and a book club for the literary-minded are among this neighborhood gem’s draws. Their motto-“where you feel comfortable and know you matter”-indicates the owner’s dedication to providing a friendly, welcoming atmosphere that exemplifies the meaning of community.

Liquid Zoo Bar & Grill
Liquid Zoo Bar & Grill
Liquid Zoo Bar & Grill

Liquid Zoo

Oak Lawn
Come for the Friday and Monday Steak Nights, stay for the drag divas and male go-go dancers. It’s a soirée for the ages at this bar and grill with live music, DJs, and trivia masters rounding out the opportunities for shenanigans with your best pals.

Marty's LIVE
Marty’s LIVE
Marty’s LIVE

Marty’s Live

Oak Lawn
Bring your dollar bills for the sexy male dancers six nights a week (plus female dancers on Tuesdays for Lesbian Night) at this high-energy nightclub. In between people shaking their money-makers for tips, visitors can enjoy a variety of drag entertainers lip-syncing for their lives (and your never-ending enjoyment).

Mr. Misster
Mr. Misster
Mr. Misster

Mr. Misster

Oak Lawn
Offering an upscale lounge experience complete with bottle service (and sparklers!), this sophisticated addition is probably the only LGBTQ+ bar in town with a $1,250 bottle of Champagne and we’re here for the opulence. Every Saturday, drag brunch attracts a line around the block waiting to slip into their reserved seats and enjoy the show.

Pekers Bar

Oak Lawn
If daily happy hour from noon to 8 pm isn’t enough to make you proud to be a Peker, the cordial, chill vibe at this slightly-off-the-strip bar most certainly will. Karaoke nights every Friday and Saturday hold court as can’t-miss events.

The Rose Room

Oak Lawn
Even though many venues around town feature drag performances, the absolute best spot for a full stage production is this second-floor, state-of-the-art showroom inside Station 4. Cassie Nova reigns over the festivities nearly every night with a full lineup of drag queens sharing their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent with the max capacity crowd.

Round-Up Saloon & Dance Hall

Oak Lawn
It wouldn’t be a night out in the gayborhood without a stop (and a two-step) into this iconic honky-tonk where folks in 10-gallon hats twirl around the dance floor like professionals (and weekly dance lessons help amateurs get there, too). Multiple bars, a double-decker back patio, and a cozy front parlor with karaoke offer patrons plenty of scenery changes while a team of cheery barkeeps keep the booze flowing and the party going.

Roy G's
Roy G’s
Roy G’s

Roy G’s

Oak Lawn
Named after the classic rainbow mnemonic, this popular corner bar and restaurant serves up everything from fantastic burgers and cheese fries to shots in each of its eponymous seven colors. Grab a seat at the bar, on the covered patio, or outside in the parklette and let the good times roll.

Station 4 (S4)
Station 4 (S4)
Station 4 (S4)

Station 4

Oak Lawn
The largest LGBTQ+ club in Dallas, Station 4 (also known as S4) features 15 bars and service wells throughout its 24,000-square-foot expanse, which includes the quiet(er) Granite Bar, a gigantic outdoor patio in back, and the legendary Rose Room drag stage (see above). The massive dance floor features plenty of space to boogie down under disco balls as confetti shoots from cannons and onlookers watch from the second floor balcony.

Sue Ellen’s

Oak Lawn
For several years now, Sue Ellen’s has held court as the last remaining lesbian bar in Dallas, but anyone who’s stepped inside knows it’s always been one of the best clubs in any category. The multi-level operation features multiple bars, lounge areas, and a large dance floor, hosting frequent live music acts alongside the fan-favorite Queer Off talent competition.

The Tin Room (Dallas, TX)
The Tin Room (Dallas, TX)
The Tin Room (Dallas, TX)

Tin Room

Oak Lawn
The down-and-dirty vibe is part of the charm inside this gayborhood strip club featuring a lineup of professional eye candy dancing in cages and twirling around poles seven nights a week. If the exotic dancers get too exotic for your tastes, you can always duck away to the tiny patio behind the club for some SFW fresh air.

TMC: The Mining Company

Oak Lawn
The clientele skews mostly gay cis-men at this buzzy go-to, complete with an intimate dance floor, plenty of pool tables, and two outdoor patios. The down to earth bartenders make everyone feel special, but they can also take credit for cultivating a group of loyal regulars who’ve officially made this their home away from home.

The Urban Cowboy Saloon
The Urban Cowboy Saloon
The Urban Cowboy Saloon

The Urban Cowboy Saloon

Fort Worth
The largest LGBTQ+ bar in Fort Worth has a country accent, sure, but it comes and goes just like Madonna’s British one. That means you can boot-scoot through a two-step, take in a world-class drag brunch, or post up for one of the many superstar DJs who make this a must-stop spot while touring around the country.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Steven Lindsey is a Thrillist contributor. 

Food and Drink

The Best Ways to Dress Up Your Summer Beers

From micheladas to shandies to fruit infusions, the power is in your hands-and kitchen.

Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Today, just about any flavored beer a person could dream up already exists in a can, from micheladas to shandies to, yes, pickle beers. But there’s still much to be said for the DIY versions of these dressed-up beers.

For one, they’re fresher (you could squeeze your own lemonade for a shandy right this instant). For another, they’re customizable: spiciness, fruit choice, how strong you’d like the final drink to be-all those are in your hands. And perhaps more importantly, they’re fun. Whether you want to spend two minutes constructing a beer-lemonade shandy or spend an hour infusing your IPA with real chunks of pineapple, there are plenty of ways to get creative in gussying up your beer this summer.

Embrace red beer

A brunch staple across the western half of the U.S., “red beer” is essentially a stripped-down michelada: just your preferred light lager of choice, plus tomato juice. But the devil’s in the details-folks can get mighty particular about their red beer specifications.

My preference is Coors Light with just a splash of Campbell’s tomato juice. It’s a pet peeve of mine when bartenders go too heavy on the tomato juice; it’s called red beer after all, not tomato juice. To make this yourself, start with your light lager of choice, then add just a splash of tomato juice so that the beer has a strong orange hue. Sip, taste, and add more if necessary.

Upgrade your salt rim

Another component of some micheladas, salt rims are more versatile than they might seem-and they complement several styles of beer. Just coat the rim of a beer glass with lime juice or water, then dunk the glass in a shallow dish of salt. Try the following combos:

• Mexican lager with a Tajin rim: Try substituting Tajin seasoning for straight salt for a bit of a chilli-lime kick. Pair this with a red beer for a michelada-like vibe.
• Gose with a herbal-salt rim: Goses are a beer style with a light salinity already, so pouring them in a glass rimmed with a rosemary salt or basil salt can add an additional flavour that doesn’t clash. Try mixing and matching fruited goses with herbal salts-how about a watermelon gose with a basil-salt rim?
• Dark lager with a smoked salt rim: Smoked salt is a surprisingly versatile ingredient because it’s way less powerful than liquid smoke. Try a dark lager (like Modelo Negro or a bock) in a glass rimmed with smoked salt for a subtle campfire vibe.

Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez/iStock/Getty Images
Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez/iStock/Getty Images
Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez/iStock/Getty Images

No shame in a shandy

Radlers and shandies are often used interchangeably to refer to a light-coloured beer blended with fruit juice (typically lemonade or grapefruit). Packaged versions exist, but with so many fruit-flavoured non-alcoholic beverages on the market, it’s worth playing around with some creative combos in your own kitchen. A good rule of thumb is to start light with the base beer, either a pale lager, cream ale, blonde ale, or (if you’re really a hop head) a pale ale. From there, most people blend in a splash of their favourite juice.

But here’s my preference: Use a fruit-flavoured soda. I find that adding straight fruit juice to beer often makes it too sweet and a bit flat. A high-quality fruit-flavoured soda, like the ones from Sanpellegrino, adds carbonation and fruit flavour with too much sweetness. Also, go easy on the ratio of soda to beer to start, because you can always add more soda. I find a ratio of about one part soda to three parts beer is ideal.

Infuse your beer with fruit

Your French press isn’t only for coffee-it can also act as a device for infusing fruit or other flavours into beer. If you end up with a bumper crop of strawberries or melons from the farmer’s market, this is a great way to use them.

1. Start with a new or perfectly clean French press to avoid coffee flavour leaching into your beer (unless that’s what you’re after).
2. Pour in your beer of choice. Almost any style could work here: light lagers, blonde ales, saisons, IPAs, even porters and stouts. Pour the beer into the French press, leaving a couple inches empty at the top.
3. Add some cut-up fruit. The possibilities are limitless: porter and raspberry, IPA and pineapple, blonde ale and mango, wheat beer and oranges, saison and cherries…
4. Allow the fruit to infuse. How long to leave the beer in contact with the fruit is up to you, knowing that the longer the mixture sits, the more pronounced the flavours will be. Start with 10 minutes, push the plunger down slightly, pour and taste some of the beer, and wait longer for a more intense flavour.
5. Push the plunger down all the way. Pour your infused beer into a glass and enjoy!

Make a mighty michelada shrub

Micheladas are typically a mixture of Mexican lager, lime juice, tomato juice, and salt. But recently, premixed michelada shrubs (like those from Pacific Pickle Works and Real de Oaxaca) have popped up, adding some vinegar tartness and other ingredients like Worcestershire sauce and spices to the mix.

A shrub combines vinegar with fruit or, sometimes, vegetables, and they’re easy to experiment with at home. Michael Dietsch, author of Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, suggests that if you’re creating a shrub to mix with beer and tomatoes, beginning with a base of apple cider vinegar or malt vinegar (to match the malt in beer) plus lime is a smart start. From there, savoury additions like soy sauce will lend a Bloody Mary feel-just be sure to use a light hand with those umami-packed additions. Because vinegar and soy or Worcestershire sauce are tangy and savoury, Dietsch notes that you may want to add just a pinch of sugar to your shrub for balance.

From there, the sky’s the limit. Swap apple cider for white balsamic if you’re feeling bold, or add orange juice as well as lime. But regardless of what ingredients you use, Dietsch says it’s important to let a shrub sit and mellow for a couple days before using it. That time will let the intensity of the vinegar mellow and will ensure all the flavours meld together in perfect harmony. Once the shrub has sat a few days, give it a taste, then add a few splashes of it to your favourite Mexican lager.

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Kate Bernot is a certified BJCP judge and freelance reporter whose work regularly appears in Craft Beer & Brewing, Thrillist, and Good Beer Hunting. Follow her at @kbernot.

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