The Cultural District has traditionally been known for its world-class art museums and architecture. Increasingly, though, the sprawling district is drawing locals and tourists to a growing selection of events, festivals and concerts.
Ampersand (in the West 7th neighborhood) moonlights as a tame coffee shop by day. It’s no speakeasy, but there is a surprise in the back. A large dance space and full-service bar await behind the coffee bar. Things generally start picking up around 9 p.m. when the music starts and the bartenders start slinging beers and cocktails. The Patron XO Cafe (cold brew coffee and orange liqueur topped with sweetened milk) is a popular drink. The West 7th club is the perfect place to get #amped after an evening concert.
Taco Heads (near Dickies Arena) is open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturday. The main draw here is the food, of course. A few of my favorite dishes are the elotés (fire-roasted corn and crema plus other goodies), charred avocado and roasted corn taco (Blue Zones-approved), wild caught fish taco (marinated in chimichurri) and Write bacon and egg breakfast taco (served all day). The taqueria has an outdoor bar station, ample outdoor seating and a great view of the Cultural District.
If you’re looking for a swanky downtown location to unwind (and arguably the best cocktails around), Thompson’s Bookstore is your place. The main floor has a long bar, lounge seating and quirky decor. If you make your way to two bookshelves near the entrance, you can gently push one of the cabinets to access a stairway down to the bottom floor where another bar awaits. Thompson’s Bookstore has some of the most skilled mixologists in town, and the service has always been top-notch in my experience.
Foundry District-based Blackland Distillery is shaking up the local spirits scene. You can view their hi-tech distilling equipment from inside the adjacent bar. “Dimly lit and sophisticated” is how I would describe the drinking environs. The cocktail menu uses Blackland spirits, which are sourced from local grains (i.e., grains from the Blackland Prairie that envelopes North Texas in rich, black soil). Expect big things from this modest-sized distillery in the coming years.
Magnolia Motor Lounge
Magnolia is THE go-to venue to visit to watch local musicians strumming on their guitars. The easy vibe invites you in while the affordable grub, drinks and good music keep you hanging around all night.