Dancing Bear Pub

Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

1117 Speight Ave
Waco, Texas, 76706-2135
United States

(254) 753-0025 | map

Notes: Beer bar waiting to get its license to brew & serve on-premise.
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Ratings by txjigen8:
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Rated by txjigen8 from Texas

4.06/5  rDev -10%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Oct 08, 2015
More User Ratings:
Photo of West_Chester_Ale_Tester
Reviewed by West_Chester_Ale_Tester from Ohio

3.75/5  rDev -16.9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75
A nice place to get a beer in a town that, at the time, didn’t seem to have a lot of options. Cool, mostly Texas, beers on tap. Cool enough spot, if you’re in the area.
Nov 03, 2016
Rated: 4.14 by bleeng from Texas

Apr 08, 2015
Rated: 4.19 by JBurnias from Texas

Jan 09, 2015
Rated: 4.25 by JackNip from Delaware

Oct 24, 2014
Rated: 4.75 by jtoledo04 from Texas

Jan 11, 2014
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Reviewed by younglukemoney from Texas

4.98/5  rDev +10.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75
If you find yourself in Waco The Dancing Bear is a place you need to stop in. They have an outstanding selection of beer on tap and in bottles, some of these bottles are pricey but nothing outrageous. The food menu is pizza and pub fare, I had chicken avocado nachos and I highly recommend them. The service is always friendly and knowledgeable, a nice change from some other bars in the area.
Jan 05, 2014
Rated: 4.75 by Matt_C from Texas

Oct 13, 2013
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Reviewed by E_Cox from Texas

4.88/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4
Dancing Bear is a great place to hang out and drink beer. Their selection is always great; I like that they always have Texas breweries on tap as well as beers from all over the US. If you want to try a sample before buying a glass, they usually are more than willing to give you a small glass and get a feel for the beer. The staff are always knowledgeable and never mind discussing the brews on tap with you. They have the option for either a pint or 10oz glass which is nice. The small glasses let me try more beers in one visit which I really like. Food comes from Food for Thought next store which is pretty good (but maybe a little pricy for what you get). The beer is reasonably priced for craft beers. They also have a large selection of bottle beers from all over too which is really awesome. They also have specials all the time which makes the prices even better. If you are in Waco you should definitely stop by even if you are just driving through on I-35, it's worth stopping in for. Also if you ever have work to get done or studying to do, it is a decent place to work on it and enjoy some beers. Smokers are also free to smoke out back in the patio area which I know the smokers like since Waco doesn't let smoking in most bars.
Jul 17, 2013
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Reviewed by Garrettshu from Texas

4.79/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5
Since the Dancing Bear is in the Baylor area of Waco, it's easy to find people digging on the city and everything it doesn't have. The Dancing Bear, though, is testament to a Waco that's more than meets the eye. A world-class pub that rotates their taps out on average every 1.5-2 weeks, the Dancing Bear is quiet (during down hours) and homey. They have a nice outdoor area as well. It's a small pub, with a short bar, but really, the ambiance is not the biggest draw--it's clearly the beer. They stock tons of rare and unique brews, and while they tend to focus on IPAs and Stouts, you can find almost anything you're looking for here.

Also, their bottle selection is fantastic. They didn't have Chimay Red when I asked, but were quickly (and successfully) able to recommend a substitute. They did have a 750 mL of Avery's The Reverend, which was a pleasant surprise.

Basically, the Dancing Bear typifies Waco; doesn't look like much from the exterior, but a pleasant surprise once you take the time to really experience it.
Jun 02, 2013
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Reviewed by TomTown from Texas

4.56/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5
The only place for craft beer in Waco. I've lived here for a few years now, and without the Bear, it's possible that I would have moved by now. The owner is a great guy that loves what he does and all the bartenders are really knowledgeable and friendly. Great food too since the pub is connected to Food for Thought.

My only qualm is that the bottle prices are really high, but being that it is literally the only place in town that you can buy them, I'll take the good with the bad.

If you're in Waco, stop by the Dancing Bear Pub.
May 09, 2013
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Reviewed by Dwtucker90 from Texas

4.78/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4
This is definitely the best place to have a beer within a 100ish mile radius of Waco. I believe they have 16 taps and they are always rotating in new beers, mostly from Texas craft breweries, but also from the staples like Stone, Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues and others.

The atmosphere is very friendly and chill. No loud blaring music, well lit and it is not all that weird to strike up a conversation with a random person (or someone you just always see there!) Although normally the atmosphere is rather quiet and reserved, on Wednesdays ($3 pint night) and during Baylor sporting events it can get pretty fun. One of my best experiences watching sports at a bar was watching the 2012 sweet sixteen/elite eight at the big projector screen here. excellent environment with Baylor students/alum drinking great beer and cheering on our Bears!

If you are in Waco for any reason and have time to go get a beer then stop here. Crickets might have liquor and more on tap but the Bear's atmosphere, staff and high quality of beers on tap make it THE place to grab a great beer in Waco.
Nov 07, 2012
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Reviewed by wtkphoto from Michigan

4.68/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3
Upon walking up to this place it doesn't seem like much. There's a sign outside that says what it is. There's a glass wall and tinted windows to block the sun when it's low in the sky. Walking in your opinion will totally change. There is ample seating at tables, booths, and bars detached from the main bar, which has only several stools as the bar is pretty short.

As you walk up to the bar you see a good amount of taps. As of this review I think the count is 16. To the left of the bar is a chalkboard with all of the beers on draft listed. They have prices for full pints and half pints. Having half pints is a huge plus in my mind. Usually they have really high content beers and I want to drink more than two or three different kinds of beer sometimes. Boom. Half pint. I also like to try as many kinds of beers as possible and with half pints if I don't like it I either don't have much to drink or I don't waste money by giving it to a friend. They also have Texas stickers next to all the Texas beers. The selection is always nice. Even with 16 taps, you are bound to find a style you like and a great example of that beer.

Ordering is easy. The guys behind the bar are friendly and notice you pretty quickly. That's what nice about having a short bar. They might provide conversation. They might not. Keeping a tab is simple and paying when your done is simple.

Food is from the place next door. You order at the bar and they send the order next door. Then bring it to you when it's done. I've only had a mini pizza and it was average pizza. Can't remember how extensive the menu is though.

Decor inside is good. Tasteful hangings on the walls and a good amount. Not crowded and not sparse. The decor behind the wall is nice as well. Lots of empty bottles of all the bottled beer they have had and tap handles from old drafts. Lighting is good. Low light but not too dark. Volume is nice, even with a crowd. Music is background. A couple TVs and sometimes a big projector screen for sports and even movies sometimes. Bathrooms are clean. There's a deck out back with lots of seating on picnic tables with a tent to block the Texas sun.

There are specials almost everyday of the week. It's not a standard happy hour but a changing discount. Like a dollar off Texas beers. A dollar off big bottles. Pint of the night. Etc. They also have events every so often. Couple months ago they had Can Fest with 30+ craft brews in cans. On IPA Day earlier this month they brought in a good selection of IPAs including Dogfish Head 120.

One thing that I can't speak from experience on is the bottle selection. I hear it's really good, but I can never get past drinking from the taps.

This place would be an awesome bar anywhere. So glad it's in Waco.
Aug 16, 2012
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Reviewed by Kellya from Texas

4.7/5  rDev +4.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3
The exterior impression is completely false, I almost didn't get my husband in - the Non-Smoking sign was my foot in the door so to speak. The place looked defunct and when the door opened, I was a little surprised.

But... It is very clean, smells nice, well-lit and quiet. There is one tv and the music is in the background. It is not fancy but looks like they've recently re-done some things. They have a small bar, a couple of seating bars, chairs and tables and old wooden booths. The bathrooms are remodeled also - yeah!

It is non-descript but it is what you wish the bar down the street would do - turn themselves into a clean well-lit pub, to paraphrase Hemingway.

Beer - that is why we went there - the other reviews cover it, they are very careful behind the bar - everything was fresh. Also, they have half pints, I really like this model because I can try more beers. When the most expensive half-pint is $3, the pressure is off besides, I just cannot physically consume 5 pints of beer!
We had on tap (Texas Beer Fest the day before):
Live Oak Hefeweizen
Deep Ellum *Wit (*this is what we remember but I can't find it on their blog so this may need correcting)
Jester King Le Petit Prince Farmhouse Ale
New Republic Dunkelweiss
Adelbert Scratchin' Hippo Biere De Garde and
Adelbert Dancin' Monk Dubbel
They had a few IPAs, a stout and a couple of lighter beers we didn't try.
We filled our growler and had one of the pizzas from next door which was okay.

I wrote this review because I felt the others, though addressing the quality and selection of beers, did not express that this is an establishment which has a pleasant atmosphere.

April 28, 2012
Apr 30, 2012
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Reviewed by CLBizzle from Texas

4.65/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4
If you love beer and you are in Waco this is a wonderful place for a pint. The staff is very knowledgable about the beer they serve and can answer your questions to make sure you get the right pint. From bombers to bottles there is always something new to try. With a wonderful outdoor beer garden you can enjoy your beer with good company, and still carry a conversation. Their texas craft beer fest is a wonderful seasonal event with great beer, food, and music. If you live in the Waco area, or just need a craft beer fix and are passing through this is a must stop.
Jan 07, 2012
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Reviewed by jhimstedt from Texas

4.13/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4
Was manager there for first year it was open, so perhaps a bit biased...Still the best place for a beer in Waco and better than a good chunk of Austin bars, with the exception of a few brewpubs.

The inside is kinda dark but alot of wood and low lighting makes for a relaxing atmosphere. No blaring music or TVs everywhere. Just some tasteful games on behind the bar.

16 taps and prob. about 80 or so bottles? No BMC on tap ever, and most the time none in bottles either. It is a craft-centric bar. Bottles to go and growlers...plenty of good locals and special releases/ferkins on occasions. Paxton does a good job of acquiring kegs of stuff intended for bigger markets. regular monthly tastings either focusing on a style, a brewery, or season. Regular appearances by Texas brewers at tastings for Q&A.

Food served from Food for Thought sandwich shop next door (owned by Paxton's sister and brother-in-law).

Pretty solidly informed staff and helpful/friendly crew.

Stop by on your way to Austin or Dallas
May 26, 2011
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Reviewed by texasclimber from North Carolina

4.88/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5
I went to and graduated from Baylor so, for me, the bear was a light in the lame darkness that i came to know as Waco. The bear also holds and will always hold a special place in my heart because my now fiancée and i feel in love with each other over pints here. enough about the sentimental aspects of the bear, as a beer pub, it is far and away one of the best in the state IMO. their selection is constantly being updated and will always feature Texas rares and out of state hard to finds. the atmosphere is fantastic with the dimmed lighting accented by the soft glow of a flat screen that seems to always be featuring BU giving some poor team a pound down. food from next door (food for thought) amazing, breakfast pizza BEST IDEA EVER. And finally the staff, they are amazing, enough can't be said for them (props Paxton).

anywho point is, the bear is amazing and my fiancée and i miss it a whole whole lot. Sic' Em Dancing Bear
May 12, 2011
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Reviewed by BgThang from Texas

4.6/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4
I rode with another BA up to WACO to attend beer church that was held at Dancing bear by a fellow BA that used to be in austin.
The place is not much to look at from the outside. Once you find parking and enter you will not regret it. The 20 or so taps were all great craft beers including Double Pecan PorterWB which sells out very quickly in austin. Also had stone, live oak, bear republic just to name a few taps. THey also fill growlers here. THe bottle selection was great also. Paxton was an awesome host and we had a great time. Ordered the chicken BBQ pizza upon paxton's recommendation. It was really good. Sundays they have a dollar off all drafts. I think most pints run about 4.50 which is on the reasonable side for great craft beers. If I am traveling between Austin and Dallas this will be a great place to stop after stopping by vitek's for their gut pack of course./
Mar 07, 2011
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Reviewed by fastricky from New York

4.78/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5
One of the biggest surprises I've encountered in my beer travels - well I'm not from Texas for starters so I wasn't sure what I'd encounter on a quick road trip between Dallas and Austin. All I can say is Paxton, Greg and the rest of the locals (not to mention the superb selection of beers) make this a must visit if you're within 100 miles of this place. Truly one of my favorite beer experiences to date! And the food is superb. What else can I say, I'd wished we planned a night in Waco to take full advantage of this experience.
Sep 30, 2010
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Reviewed by goster from Texas

4.45/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5
The Dancing Bear Pub is a great place to go for a pint in Waco. The dimly lit atmosphere is small enough for conversation and large enough to gather a good crowd during peak times.

The Bear's twenty or so beers on tap are consistently of high quality and most of the time are all craft brews. Aside from their great selection of draft brews, their bottle selection is of equally high quality.

Tastings are held monthly and if you are lucky enough to reserve a spot, you'll be treated to 8-10 beers of either a single style or a single microbrewery.

In addition to the monthly tastings, The Dancing Bear Pub holds brunch on Saturdays at noon. There is usually live music on the back patio and breakfast pizza is available (it's delicious).
Apr 16, 2010
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Reviewed by Duttonic from Texas

4.35/5  rDev -3.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4
This place is definitely the best Waco has to offer. It has a pretty good selection the majority of the time, with around 15-20 drafts and a fairly impressive bottle selection.

They do beer tastings fairly regularly for around $20. Usually about three pints worth of many different tasters and hors d'oeuvres to boot. Great patio outback, ample seating for a smaller establishment on the inside, and they only have one TV that is never blaring.

Also, get to know Paxton, the owner, he is awesome and has conducted all the beer tastings I've been to.
Dec 03, 2009
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Reviewed by htomsirveaux from Texas

4.03/5  rDev -10.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5
Stopped in here Friday, 27 Feb 2009.

From the outside, not much to look at. On the inside nice (if pedestrian) standard dark wood furniture and beer signs/tins on the walls. A smaller beer list than Crickets but with a number of items not available there. On tap were several Live Oaks (Pilz, Vitus, Hefe), Real Ale, DFH, Brooklyn and several others, maybe 20 total (according to the chalkboard). Bottle list is good too, Local 1, DFH 120, and several Victorys, Left Hands and Belgians, about 70 total overall.

A menu is available but food comes from next door (we had a 25 minute wait for a single plate of nachos). A small wine list is available if needed. Prices are a little on the high side for draught selections but not unreasonable for the bottles.

The only two drawbacks are that service was crummy except for at the bar (which was tiny, seating maybe 4 people) and the noise level was excessively loud considering that it was about 1/3 full with pretty subdued people.

Parking sucks in the immediate area, if you want to walk a couple of blocks it isn't too bad.
Feb 28, 2009
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Reviewed by sirnoze from South Carolina

4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5
Whoa. This place is impressive no matter the city in Texas. And we are talking WACO. The tap list is strong with Avery Maharaja, Left Hand Imperial Stout (nitro), Dogfish 60/90, Allagash White, and other top-notch popular craft & Belgian beers.

The decor is minimalistic dark wood heavy. A patio is out back. Parking is tight.

There's talk they are gonna start brewing beer on-premise. Interesting. (We'll see, space seems limited.)

As a beer geek and Baylor grad ('92), I'm surprised at this place. Maybe times have changed but college kids in Texas just don't have the appreciation (or the pocket change) for high-quality beers. Back in my Baylor days, I was sipping on $1.25 Rolling Rocks from Bill Bill's.

Dancing Bear Pub is within stumblin' distance from Baylor University and all the off campus housing. So the location for the college kids is prime. And the tap list is sublime. Very nice to see this place in Waco.
Jul 10, 2008
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Reviewed by EPICAC from Massachusetts

4.28/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5
I was pleased to see that a new beer bar/brewpub had opened in my hometown, so an evening there was a must when I was back in Waco over Christmas.

The Dancing Bear opened recently, and as a consequence doesn't yet have the permits from the TABC for brewing. According to the menu there will be 5 beers: Dancing Bear Pale, an American Pale Ale; Black Bear Stout, an Irish Dry Stout; 12th Street Wheat, an American Pale Wheat Ale; Barron Estates IPA; and 76 Magnum IPA, a Double IPA. I was a little disappointed the brewery wasn't up and running yet, because I don't know when I'll be back to Waco.

The Dancing Bear is near the intersection of 12th St. and Speight Avenue near the Baylor campus. The outside isn't much, it's half of a small building with two retail spaces. The other half is a restaurant called "Food for Thought." I've never been, but you can order their food at the bar. The inside is much nicer. There was a long bench along the left side of the bar with tables and chairs next to it. There were booths along the right side of the bar and taller tables and chairs on the right side at the rear. The walls were half wood-paneled with greenish-beige paint on the top half. The bar was lit by hanging lights, that were somewhat dim, but could have been dimmer. The walls were a little bare. They had some stuff up, but it definitely looked a bit sparse. There was an L-shaped bar with shelving against the wall displaying a variety of bottles. It was raining, but there was a large fenced in patio with tables and a space for a band (live jazz on Thursdays) out back.

The night I went it wasn't crowded, a few people at the bar and a few at a table. I think Win said that the other times he's been it's been busier, but this was the first day it was open after Christmas. Maybe it's sampling error, but it seemed to attract the Waco hipster crowd.

There were about 18 taps and about 50 or 60 bottles available, with a lot of good, craft breweries represented like Real Ale, Great Divide, Avery, Left Hand, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Victory, New Belgium, Chimay, Unibroue, Allagash, Bear Republic, Ommegang, Dogfish Head, Rogue and Stone.

I didn't have much interaction with the bartenders, but on previous trips Win was given samples to help him decide on what to order, so the service seems pretty good.
Jan 09, 2008
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Reviewed by trappist from Texas

4.33/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5
This is the best bar/pub in Waco. That does not say a lot though, given Waco's beer scene. Nonetheless, the DB has a great selection of quality beer. They serve some in proper glass ware. The atmosphere is good and doesn't have an obnoxious see and be seen frat crowd. It still has some developing to do/character to gain, indoor and outdoor Probably has some of the most unique food options around for a bar, as you can order from Food For Thought next door. Paxton, the owner, is waiting for ATF approval to begin brewing ten gallon batches to have on tap. If you want a beer in Waco, this is the best place to go.
Jan 05, 2008
Dancing Bear Pub in Waco, TX
Place rating: 4.51 out of 5 with 26 ratings