Two universities, a lively arts community, and a reputable music scene make this North Texas city a major player when it comes to nightlife, especially on the streets around the courthouse square. For a glimpse into the art scene, check out West Oak Coffee Bar on West Oak Street, which provides a space for local artists to display their work.
Everything about West Oak Coffee Bar supports the community, including the leather coasters and the wooden pie boards made nearby. Although West Oak stops serving its main menu at 3 p.m., baked goods are available until 10:30, along with beer and wine, including 10 Texas beers on tap. Don’t miss the Chocolate Cold Brew Pie, made with a signature cold-brew coffee cream, a layer of chocolate ganache, then topped with espresso whipped cream. For dinner, walk down to Elm Street and check out Agua Dulce, which specializes in Tex-Mex plates and margarita flights.
For a live show at the venue that helped put Denton on the music map, head to Industrial Street to check out Dan’s Silverleaf. Nearby, in an old house on Oak Street, Oak St. Drafthouse & Cocktail Parlor serves more than 70 beers on tap (with 24 taps dedicated to Texas beers), plus another 100 or so in bottles. Rooms in the house are furnished with sofas and chairs, creating a cozy meeting place.
While San Marcos is popular for river-floating and shopping, the town’s true sweet spot is the downtown area, which is filled with places to kick back and enjoy an evening. On North LBJ Drive, Root Cellar Café serves microbrews created on site. Just a few steps away on Hopkins Street is Taproom, a pub with 42 beers on tap and 60 bottled options. There are nine flat-screen televisions here, making Taproom a great place to catch a game. Locals love “The Works” burger with melted Swiss and American cheese, grilled mushrooms, jalapeños, onions, and bacon. Also on Hopkins Street is Zelick’s Icehouse, a former 1930s gas station where you can play washers, corn hole, and horseshoes while enjoying Texas craft beers and specialty cocktails.
Looking to do some dancing? Consider The Marc on San Antonio Street. Complete with a large dance floor, three bars, and an upper-level balcony, The Marc is a hot spot for live music. For a quieter evening, head about a half-mile southeast to Patio DOLCETTO on Cheatham Street. This wine lounge, beer garden, and artists’ gallery offers more than 50 wines and 40 craft beers, as well as wine flights and flatbread pizzas. For a sweet treat, try the Cinnamon Dolce flatbread pizza with olive oil, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a drizzle of white chocolate.
If you’re in downtown Bryan on the first Friday of the month, you’ll find the downtown sidewalks abuzz with street music, magic acts, art vendors, and food trucks. On Thursday nights, Murphy’s Law on Main Street has trivia night to go alongside Irish fare. Just down the street is the Grand Stafford Theater, a 400-capacity live-music venue in a century-old building. A full bar offers classic cocktails. Steps away, in yet another historic building, you’ll find a restaurant called Proudest Monkey, which serves plenty of Texas beer. While the menu offers unusual French fry varieties (“dirty” fries are seasoned with salt, pepper, and sugar while “yuppy” fries feature olive oil, garlic powder, and Parmesan), Proudest Monkey is most famous for its ice cream martinis. Try the Arnold Palmer, which combines Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, Triple Sec, fresh lemon juice, lemonade, tea, and lemon sherbet.
Interested in learning some new dance moves? Head northwest to 26th Street, where you’ll find the Village Cafe. On Wednesday and Saturday nights, the dance floor heats up with salsa lessons. For a great place to catch up with friends, head next door to Downtown Uncorked, a wine bar complete with couches and outdoor seating—and cheese plates with crackers, fruit, and several types of cheese.
For a plethora of bars, live music, and delicious eats in Dallas, you can’t go wrong with a trek down Lower Greenville Avenue. For great live music, head to the Art Deco Granada Theater, built in 1946 as a movie house and later renovated to host live bands. About a mile south on Greenville Avenue is HG SPLY Co., where you’ll find dishes such as mussels, stir-fries, and grains-and-greens combos, plus a rooftop patio with city views. Try the bison-chili Frito pie with poblano, jalapeño, and ancho chiles.
For more variety, check out the Truck Yard on Sears Street, about two minutes away. The Truck Yard offers a rotating list of food trucks with everything from Greek to Texas cuisine, as well as three bars (one is in a treehouse). A permanent kitchen here also offers cheese-steaks, and live music takes the stage Friday through Sunday nights. Weekenders should arrive early, as seating goes fast.
For some of the best DJs in Dallas, head to the Beauty Bar on Henderson Avenue, just around the corner, about a half-mile from Greenville Avenue. At Beauty Bar, patrons can get a martini and a manicure and dance the night away in the retro-salon setting, complete with vintage hair-dryer chairs.