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Stairway to Cocktail Heaven

Stairway to Cocktail Heaven

Just steps above some of Dallas’ most popular restaurants are buzz-worthy destinations worth a trip on their own. Here are five serving up some of the city’s coolest cocktails and tastiest bites.

Courtesy of El Bolero

El Bolero Fitzhugh

A go-to destination for the late-night Henderson-area crowd, El Bolero’s upstairs Agave Lounge is a perfect spot for post-dinner drinks. Open on weekends until 2 a.m., the second-floor lounge features high-end tequila and mezcal cocktails including the restaurant’s signature Oilman, a jet black margarita made with Código 1530 tequila, lime juice, charred agave and Napoleon Mandarin complete with gold stars, salted rim, and rock candy garnish. Or opt for one of the Agave Room’s other boozy, Instagram-worthy libations—the menu often features colorful seasonal specials. Another plus: the fun, festive décor. We especially love the bold patterned wallpaper and uber-cool Patron bottle ceiling sculpture designed by Dallas visual artist Ben Lewis.

Merchant House

It’s hard to tell from its dollhouse-like exterior the treasures you’ll find inside this Maple Avenue eatery. It’s actually two concepts in one: just above the globally-inspired restaurant on the first level, the upstairs bar and patio serves up scratch cocktails, locally-brewed beers and killer views of downtown. According to the clever menu, drinks are either “Selfless” or “Selfish”—in the first camp, jumbo-sized, meant-to-be-shared creations like Thai Me Down (Titos, sake, yuzu, coconut, and lime) and Rye Blackberry Smash (Four Roses Yellow, lemon, honey, cranberry and mint) are priced at either $48 or $92; in the latter, choose from a wide selection of inventive (and more traditionally-sized) libations. In the same spirit, the 4 to 7 p.m. weekday Happy Hour features a variety of easy-on-the-pocketbook drinks and snacks including a $10 mezza platter (selfless) and $3 sliders (selfish).

Photo courtesy of El Bolero

Monkey Bar

Along with the much-anticipated remodel of Highland Park Village’s Mi Cocina, there’s a new meeting place three floors up: the just-reopened Monkey Bar, now sporting a comfortable outdoor terrace and revamped menu. Designed by renowned Dallas architects Droese Raney (the same team behind the Village’s Park House), the new space is bigger, lighter and brighter. Among the updated features are a brass-trimmed bar, custom upholstered seating, and hand-made metal cocktail tables. What remains the same: the Monkey Bar’s unique ambiance (the feeling that you’re up in the trees) and those addictive sangria-swirled Mambo Taxi margaritas (a D magazine reader’s choice). With Cowboy season and cooler temps right around the corner, expect a crowd.

Photo courtesy of Monkey Bar


The stairs themselves start the experience, tossing out a thought-provoking question: “What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?” From there, guests can head up to the enclosed 3,000-square-foot rooftop lounge/patio for innovative craft cocktails and stunning downtown views. Among the choices are enticingly-named drinks like “The Pick Up Lime” (Patron Reposado, Solerno Blood Orange, fresh lime juice and Topo Chico) and Femme Fraise (Grey Goose, strawberry basil syrup and fresh lemon juice). Open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Sunday, the bar is a late-night favorite with Deep Ellum partyers. Those inclined to imbibe earlier—Happy Hour starts at 3 p.m. Monday through Friday—can order up half-price shareables (smoked brisket tacos, avocado caprese crostini) and flatbreads (spicy buffalo chicken, truffle shuffle) to accompany well-priced draft beers, wines and house cocktails. 


Just above Uptown’s popular Uchi, Happy Hour starts at 5 p.m. in this bar concept from Chef Tyson Cole and Hai Hospitality. Their Whisky + Wagyu features whimsically named, Asian-inspired cocktails plus six preparations of the tender, perfectly-marbled beef (think wagyu meatballs, yakitori skewers, tartare maki, and mini burgers). Other tempting bites include foie gras mousse, spicy crunchy maki, and hot fried chicken bun. Select whiskey (not a typo—whiskey is spelled without the “e” in Japan) tastings, sake, wine, and beer round out the happy hour offerings. Prefer to dine later in the evening? There’s a full sushi bar and yakitori grill along with classic bites from Uchi under the direction of Chef Alex Astrani.

With a comprehensive background in fashion, beauty, food service and interiors—including Stanley Korshak, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Mary Kay, Stephan Pyles and the Horchow Collection—Elaine Raffel has hands-on and management experience in literally every phase of the creative process. With a background spanning multiple channels (retail, direct selling, digital and business-to-business), her client list includes major fashion and beauty brands, restaurants, realtors, agencies and non-profits. In addition, Elaine’s work has appeared in both the print and digital editions of D Magazine; Patron Magazine; Modern Luxury Dallas, Weddings and Interiors; and
Elaine Raffel


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