Some of you may know me for my snarky restaurant reviews around town and some of you may not know me at all, in which case I feel sorry for you. Whatever the case may be, what you don’t know is that I was raised on wine. You think I’m kidding? I was raised in California and my early years were spent running around various vineyards while my parents were off tasting getting hammered. Regardless, before kindergarten I knew the difference between a Chardonnay and a Pinot Grigio. By the time I was in middle school my family had owned and operated their own wine store and instead of going to day care, I refined my palette for fine wine. Does this make me a wine snob? Perhaps a little although I still love two buck chuck. Does it make me understand what it takes to have a successful wine store? You bet! My youth as well as my lifestyle of over-indulgence makes me uniquely qualified to share my idea of the Dallas wine scene and the top five wine experiences (bars) in Dallas.
So, what makes listed below the top five wine bars in Dallas? Several aspects were taken into consideration during this vino adventure, most importantly the quality of the staff. When dealing with wine it is important that the staff is not only friendly but knowledgeable as well. Being able to make recommendations to customers is the foundation of any great wine bar. The scores were also determined by adequate parking and signage, atmosphere, pricing, as well as the availability of food items for sale. Think you can't get a decently priced glass of wine while sitting in a comfortable couch and munch on great appetizers in Dallas? Think again!
Upon arriving at Bodega Wine Bar in Travis walk you are instantly transported into medieval Spain. Rustic walls and a dark interior make this Dallas wine bar the ultimate escape for your wine tasting journey in Dallas. Clearly, the most important thing about a wine bar is the selection of wines and Bodega delivers-but in a different way than one would expect. Although a rather obscure tasting list, the owner Amier has definitely done his research, allowing patrons to explore vineyards that are hard to find outside the romantic facade of this establishment. On top of the exploratory wine list, there is an nice menu based off family recipes that include lasagna, sandwiches and great cheese boards.
Favorite aspect: The surprising ambiance. From couches, to private rooms, tall tables to benches it is easy to nestle in with a glass, or two, of your favorite wine quite nicely.
Least favorite aspect: Obscure location leads to low crowd even on a Friday night is the only thing keeping Bodega from earning 5 stars.
Brooks Anderson has done a wonderful job delivering his concept of a “wine pub” on the notoriously hip Henderson Ave. Although the interior of Veritas is what you would expect from a Dallas wine bar, local art-work for sale and all, the cozy neighborhood feel is the best around. Everyone is welcome at this tiny shop although walking in the door and seeing the bar so far at the end is a bit uncomfortable. The best part about Veritas is the various activities that seem to fill up their calendar. From Dallas’ beloved Il Cane Rosso setting up shop every Tuesday evening, to guest vineyard tastings, it is extremely easy to stumble upon something exciting at this gem.
Favorite aspect: Even though it is located in one of the so-called trendy areas of the moment, Veritas still manages to be cozy and welcoming.
Least favorite aspect: Minimal food selection (although, the fact that you can order from Horne & Dekker next door is always a plus).
Although the location lacks any source of creativity, I still consider Cru a wonderful wine bar in Dallas. They always deliver an amazing wine selection and can, quite frankly, offer tastings that other Dallas wine bars can’t seem to match. Depending on which bartender you get, you may even be allowed to bring your glass (or bottle) of wine into the Magnolia next door with the promise of returning the glass that, let’s be honest, would only be permissible in Texas. Cru offers an extensive menu that is a plus as food selections at wine bars seems to be continuously dwindling.
Favorite Aspect: Outstanding wine selection and easily the best cheese board in Dallas.
Least Favorite Aspect: Interior is too small and it is hard to find a seat inside during months that outdoor seating would leave you drenched in sweat or shivering into your glass. The inconsistent service is a bummer too.
Perhaps it’s the refreshing aspect of seeing a McKinney Ave establishment that doesn’t focus on the latest and greatest beer selection, or maybe it’s the outstanding people watching location-regardless of the reason, Vino 100 remains a stand out wine bar in Dallas. Although it is no match for the distinct feel of Bodega or the welcoming feeling of Veritas, Vino 100 does do a great job of introducing the 20-somethings who inhabit Uptown to wine. An outstanding patio that is perched above the sidewalk on the main drag, this wine bar affords some of the most prime views of Uptown you could get.
Favorite Aspect: Location, location, location.
Least Favorite: Staff doesn’t seem extremely knowledgeable nor offer suggestions of what to explore.
Although the Wine Therapist doesn’t have the most inviting exterior, it is a hidden gem in a most unexpected location. Do not let the white brick building on Skillman throw you off; there is a cozy feel to the Wine Therapist that makes you feel like you are “in the know” just for walking in the doors. Local art dots the walls of this establishment; but it’s the prompt service allows this wine bar to stand out amongst the rest of the competition.
Favorite Aspect: The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and prompt.
Least Favorite Aspect: The warehouse-like interior makes the Wine Therapist seem a bit unfriendly to the general passerby