August 17, 2016

Bar None (Part 2)

It’s time to move on from the old Ships Lounge (R.I.P.).

With the reopening of Ships Lounge, the discussion on “real” dive bars has ratcheted up around Dallas. There aren’t many left—and many of the survivors are closely guarded secrets. For those looking to move onward and upwards from Ships (we get it, it’s not the same), here’s the second part of our suggestions of where to venture out and find that dive bar experience in—get this—an actual dive bar. And check out part one of this story here. 

Tradewinds Social Club

The good folks of Oak Cliff are no strangers to having their beloved haunts replaced in the name of “progress” or whatever sounds plausible to use as an excuse for developers doing whatever is good for developers. So it’s really nice to know there’s a place like Tradewinds Social Club, which has been around since 1965 and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

It’s a comfortable spot. “Unassuming” might be a word you’d use to describe a bar with no windows, a sign on the door that’s faded in a way that makes is barely legible, and a gravel parking lot with space for about eight vehicles. Inside, the bar itself divides the room in two. It’s small, but there’s room for shuffleboard, two tube television sets playing sports, and more Christmas lights than you can shake a stick at. If you want liquor, they’ve got a handful of choices, but don’t expect eight different kinds of overpriced vodka. As a bonus, when we visited, there was a can of White Rain hairspray in the ladies’ restroom, but we promise there’s no “Have a brew and fix your ’do” sign next to it.

Of the dives we visited, this one was the only place with a real jukebox, and it features a solid selection of classic rock, some 80s/90s country, and two selections titled “Stuff I like … you probably won’t like” and “Stuff I like … you might like, too.” We don’t know what’s on those, but you’ll save enough money on cheap beers here that you’ll have plenty of cash left over to feed the jukebox and find out for yourself.

Tradewinds Social Club, 2843 West Davis Street.

One Nostalgia Place Tavern

Basically, you should go here before that new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema opens at Skillman and Abrams. When that floods the neighborhood with a bunch of new people who wouldn’t otherwise visit this part of town, it’ll expose the secret of one of the most fun places to karaoke in Dallas. We know you’ve always loved karaoke at The Goat, and, sure, it’s a great time, but there’s a lot less irony going on at One Nostalgia Place Tavern, and that’s pretty refreshing. Of all the dives we visited, this one was undoubtedly the cleanest. It smells like it has recently been scrubbed from top to bottom, so I guess we apologize if you’re looking for a dive bar that smells like bum urine.

It also features two shuffleboard tables and some pretty nice newer televisions that were playing fringe sports competitions on ESPN2 (did you know there is a Crossfit Olympics called something we can’t bother to remember but that obviously isn’t actually named something that’s a trademark violation of Crossfit or the Olympics?). In the bar’s defense, they asked us if we wanted them to change the channel, but we didn’t care. One of us got to tell a joke about “The Ocho,” which is always a win in our book.

One Nostalgia Place Tavern, 6521 Abrams Road.

Honorable Mention: The Single Wide

Now, listen, some of you say you want a dive bar, but what you really mean is you want a “Dive Bar.”  And that’s ok—it’s good to know yourself.

If you’re looking for a place that isn’t really a dive bar but does a pretty good job of playing up dive bar elements in a fun, kitschy way, the Single Wide on Lower Greenville is just the place. You could opt for the original and visit the Double Wide instead, but we really love the vibe at the Single Wide, as its smaller size and shotgun-shack layout give it more of a dive feel.

Everyone there is friendly, just like a dive bar should be. The drinks are cheap (-ish if compared to an authentic dive bar, but cheap none-the-less). The beer is cold. The bartenders, who are some of the nicest in town, will treat you right *if* you behave. And if you get bored, you can spend time studying the taxidermied animal heads hung on the walls or wander over and ogle the vintage velvet naked lady paintings.

Do yourself a favor on the hot summer nights, and try the Yahoo Yeehaw, a delicious boozy low-rent milkshake of sorts, and you’ll have a “one, two, floor” experience. Also, weekends usually feature all-vinyl DJ sets. We never miss Stoned Soul Saturdays (4-8 PM, no cover) with DJ Gabe Mendoza.

So, yeah, we get it, it’s not really a dive bar, but it might be a good dive bar gateway drug for anyone not ready to dive in to that dive life just yet.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: ERIN AND NATHAN JOHNSON CAN TYPICALLY BE FOUND HANGING OUT IN THE CORNER OF THEIR FAVORITE DIVE BAR. AND WHILE THEY LOOK EXPONENTIALLY COOLER THAN YOU (HIM: DENIM AND A DISTINGUISHED BEARD; HER: PINK HAIR, PERFECTLY LAYERED ENSEMBLES; BOTH: BESPECTACLED AND FINGERS STACKED WITH RINGS), THEY’RE ACTUALLY QUITE FRIENDLY. GO UP AND SAY HI.