In between Craft & Growler and the Pizza Lounge, merely a few squinting, unsteadied steps from each, stands Eight Bells Alehouse, the brand new baby brother of Ten Bells Tavern in Oak Cliff.
Like any adorable baby brother, they resemble their sibling while still having room to grow. What's similar about the two is the style: While the Eight Bells crew is still tweaking the indoor decor, the bar area is something to behold — beautiful exposed brick bursting through the barely flickering lights.
Seriously, it's dark in Eight Bells; this is drinking-alone-in-order-to-
Sardines are served up, cool, swimming in their own brine and olive oil, dotted with capers and red peppers, alongside a generous helping of bread. And these guys are not shrimpy; thick, and imported directly from Spain, the sardines are substantial. They're just the right amount of slimy, and they're stinky — but in a fantastic way, the way sardines should stink.
Much of the menu carries with it this same Spanish flair. Bonito, which I reckon is a Spanish mackerel, comes stuffed inside piquillo peppers. Plus there's Galician octopus and mussels from northern Spain. This gambit indeed does fascinate: heavy and unabashed Spanish and European influences, food at fairly expensive (it's 26 bucks for those mussels) prices — it's borderline high-brow fare in an otherwise casual, everyman outfit. You can, after all, get Velvet Hammer on tap — and pop tops on High Life and Lone Star — just like you can at many other popular places that serve, say, burgers and wings instead of cuisine de espana.
Time will tell whether East Dallas embraces the dichotomy, but regardless, right now, Eight Bells is nothing if not worth checking out.
Behold the rest of the menu, below: