Adair's Saloon (Dallas): Deep Ellum's down-and-dirty honky-tonk is unfazed by the discos, rock clubs, and preppy SMU students in its midst. It sticks to its down-to-earth antistyle, knee-slapping country and redneck rock bands, cheap beer, and tables and walls blanketed in graffiti.
Gilley's Dallas (Dallas): Gilley's is where John Travolta rode a bucking bronco in Urban Cowboy, and now Big D has a branch of the famous Houston honky-tonk. If bigger is better, this one's right up there with the best of them: It's got 90,000 square feet of dance floor, bars, and stages.
Billy Bob's Texas (Fort Worth): Kind of like a big-tent country theme park, Billy Bob's has it all: 40 bars, a huge dance floor for two-stepping, pro bull riding, and live performances by big names in country music. And of course dance lessons: Shuffle and two-step like a Texan after a few hours with instructor Wendell Nelson.
Pearl's Dancehall & Saloon (Fort Worth): Perhaps a tad less down-and-dirty than when it was called Big Balls of Cowtown, Pearl's is still a winner. In the shadow of Billy Bob's, it's an intimate spot for live Western swing and honky-tonk and dance lessons every Wednesday.
Blanco's (Houston): This is a genuine honky-tonk where you go for music and dancing, and not for dressing up in Western duds. It's strictly come as you are, and this place attracts 'em from all walks of life, from bankers to oil field workers. The small venue gets some of the best of Texas's country music bands.
Floore's Country Store (San Antonio): Not much has changed since the 1940s when this honky-tonk, boasting the largest dance floor in South Texas (half an acre), opened up. Boots, hats, and antique farm equipment hang from the ceiling of this typical Texas roadhouse. There's always live music on weekends; Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Robert Earl Keen, and Lyle Lovett have all played here.
Texas Hill Country (San Antonio and Austin): The Texas Hill Country has some of the best honky-tonks in the state. In Gruene, just outside of New Braunfels, Gruene Hall is the oldest country-and-western dance hall in Texas and still one of the mellowest places to listen to music. Arkey Blue & The Silver Dollar Bar is a genuine spit-and-sawdust cowboy honky-tonk on the Main Street of Bandera. When there's no live music, plug a quarter in the old jukebox and play a country ballad by owner Arkey. And look for the table where Hank Williams, Sr., carved his name.
Broken Spoke (Austin): This is the gen-u-ine item, a Western honky-tonk with a wood-plank floor and a cowboy-hatted, two-steppin' crowd. Still, it's in Austin, so don't be surprised if the band wears Hawaiian shirts, or if tongues are planted firmly in cheeks for some songs.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.