"Akai" means red in Japanese. Courtesy of Akai
You can find La Viuda Negra disguised as a bridal boutique. (Courtesy of La Viuda Negra)
Don't miss hidden bar, ABV Establishment, in Lower Greenville. (Courtesy of ABV)
Atwater Alley's dimly lit, cozy interiors
Hidden in plain sight, Black Swan Saloon doesn't have any signage besides "Open." (Courtesy of @blackswansaloon via Instagram)
Truth & Alibi is disguised as the Deep Ellum Candy Company.
Head to the back of High & Tight Barbershop for speakeasy bar vibes.
Underground cocktail lounge Bourbon & Banter.
Rare Books Bar recently opened up inside of a Bonnie Ruth's in Frisco. (Courtesy of Rare Books Bar)
With so many great bars to choose from in Dallas, most happy hour-seekers may not even realize that some of the city’s best are hidden in plain sight. Disguised as candy shops and bridal boutiques, or accessed through secret passageways, there are of excellent, underground cocktail havens to discover in this city.
We’ve done our best to highlight them all, and help you figure out how to find them.
2330 Flora Street
Akai in the Dallas Arts District takes some effort to seek out. First, you have to make reservations by calling 214-444-5357. After you get a response and set up a specific time to come in, the adventure begins.
Navigation is a little tricky. You’ll be led through a winding path that takes you through the kitchen (and even a storage area) of Asian restaurant Musume. But once you approach the the mysteriously lit entrance of Akai, you’ll know it was worth it. The intimate bar is cast in mood-setting dim red lights and equipped with a Japanese highball machine. Cocktails are made with soju and green tea-infused whiskey. Many of which are also light on calories.
1914 Greenville Avenue
To the right of Leela’s Wine Bar on Lower Greenville, look for an unassuming yellow door. Head up the stairs to find the aesthetic opposite of the sunny, white-tiled Leela’s. ABV Establishment is defined by dark walls, plush velvet couches, and brass accents, serving up well-made, Prohibition-style cocktails.
La Viuda Negra
2513 N. Fitzhugh Avenue
Most probably wouldn’t look twice at El Come Taco‘s next door neighbor. Of course, that’s the point. Only those in-the-know would think to walk into bridal shop (or at least what looks like a bridal shop) looking for some of the best mezcal in town.
La Viuda Negra’s intimate, dimly lit room is a pure, Tulum-inspired escape from busy Fitzhugh Avenue. Beautifully crafted tequila and mezcal-based cocktails are the thing here, and much is served in local ceramicist Marcello Andres‘ stunning works. They also do a nut pulqueria, one of Mexico’s oldest drinks.
4900 McKinney Avenue
Hidden away in the alley (natch) behind Henry’s Majestic, this bar entrance is barely discernible — the door is marked by just two small “A”s. If you can get past the dumpsters, the dark, cozy, speakeasy-like space is well worth the hunt.
Open nights-only from Wednesday to Sunday, Atwater Alley serves a classic Old Fashioned, Sazerac, martini, and a Champagne cocktail, or a seasonal concoction of your choosing.
Black Swan Saloon
2708 Elm Street
This Deep Ellum classic defines “hidden in plain sight.” Situated next to Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Black Swan Saloon isn’t necessarily hidden, it just isn’t labeled. Inside, founder Gabe Sanchez is creating some of the best drinks in town.
Sanchez likes to use fresh fruits, and infuses them with vodkas, whiskeys, and more behind the bar. A Black Swan specialty is its pear-infused bourbon, available to order in an Old Fashioned.
Truth & Alibi
2618 Elm Street
Truth & Alibi, the trickster of the bunch, is designed to look like an old fashioned candy shop. But “The Original Deep Ellum Candy Company” is just a front. All you need is a secret password (easily found on Facebook). An alternative to our mostly moody lineup of hidden bars, Truth & Alibi is for those looking for a crazy night out, complete with loud music and bright strobe lights.
High & Tight Barbershop
2701 Main Street
A barbershop by day, High & Tight turns into a full-blown bar and live music venue when the sun goes down. Just head to the back of the shop and someone will know what you’re looking for. The industrial looking space is reminiscent to a Prohibition-era bark, complete with mustachioed men.
A must-try cocktail is The Great Gatsby, made with New Amsterdam gin and an edible orchid.
Bourbon & Banter
1814 Commerce Street
Tucked below The Statler hotel, Bourbon & Banter is one of the best speakeasy-style spots in Dallas. You’ll have to descend a flight of stairs, found just beyond Scout, get there (this underground bar is literally underground). When you see what looks like an old shoe shine spot and a phone booth, you’re almost there. Step into the booth, dial four numbers (they’re listed on the phone—something had to be easy), and a wood-paneled wall will open for you. Voila!
Once you get inside the welcoming lounge, take a seat at any of the cozy couches or tables and order a Red Maine.
Rare Books Bar
6959 Lebanon Road, Suite 110, Frisco
Rare Books Bar brings speakeasy vibes to the suburbs, inside of what might be this list’s most unexpected spot: a Bonnie Ruth’s in Frisco. There is a password to get in, so check the Facebook page beforehand.
With a food and drink menu, Rare Books Bar is the perfect hideaway for late-night bites and sips. Their expertise is fine bourbons, and they have tons, as well as flights so you can test as many as possible. Several whiskey-based cocktails are also available. If that’s not your drink of choice, try a signature cocktail or one of the eight martinis.