Photography by Danny Fulgencio

What do spunky 21-year-olds, seasoned 70-year-olds and everyone in between have in common? There’s an intense love for this neighborhood blues bar The Goat, where live music, jukebox jams, billiards and good conversation, unfold in a dimly lit haven every day of the week.

When you open the red wooden door, chances are a whiff of freshly brewed coffee will hit one nostril while a chilled glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon enters the other. The Goat is the only place in Dallas where a morning routine peacefully overlaps with traditional bar shenanigans. The 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. hours cater to absolutely anyone.

Fresh off the night shift, it’s the morning crowd’s 5 o’clock. Sunrise bargoers enjoy their drinks and company before catching up on sleep. On their way out, they may see the noon regulars, who come for a light sip on lunch breaks. Early afternoon regulars stay until dinnertime. Variations of these ins-and-outs happen all day and night, leaving the late-night regulars to finish off the mixed nuts and request one more tune on the jukebox before closing.

“The best thing about The Goat is the people.”

The Goat has held its ground in East Dallas as the bar scene evolved. Originally called the Office Club in the 1970s, Lota Dunham bought the bar with a specific vision. She loved Pontiac GTOs, a car often called “the goat” because of its reputation to eat anything on the street, and wanted her dream car on top of the bar. The plan didn’t work, so she settled for the animal as the bar’s official mascot. Lota’s Goat was the name during the ’80s and ’90s until Sandy and Bill Weiss renamed it The Goat in 2004. Sandy died, and Bill has remained the owner.

The bar’s ambience attracts a coterie of regulars who live across the country. Leslie Zinn resides in New Jersey and visits The Goat on every trip to Dallas.

“My daughter took me to The Goat when I was in town visiting a few years ago, and I fell in love with the place,” Zinn says. “Great live music, dancing and a fun environment with a laid-back and diverse crowd keeps this Jersey girl coming back whenever I’m in town.”

Karaoke night, a relatively new addition, brings people from all over Dallas on Sunday evenings for their chance at the mic. Karaoke nights have garnered an international reputation. It’s so popular that travelers from Germany show up to belt their favorite tunes.

Locals and travelers rave about The Goat, but the musicians who perform there bring another level of passion. Greg Walling is a longtime band member of The Boogie Men, a group that plays blues, funk and classic rock to make people dance. Playing on The Goat’s Buddy Guy-inspired polka dot stage since 2006, Walling recalls the pure joy of performing for such a quirky crowd.

“I’ve seen lawyers dressed in their pressed, business-casual clothes sitting at the bar with a guy in painter’s overalls, talking about life and listening to music,” Walling says.

The Boogie Men thrive on the crowd’s dancing and cheering.

“You can tell the crowd listens and really loves the music,” Walling says. “The best thing about The Goat is their people.”

The Goat temporarily closed because of the coronavirus.