Lotsa people just get too caught up in categorizing stuff. Is this “authentic” Mexican food or Tex-Mex? Is this “authentic” blues or “white-boy” blues? Is this “real” pea soup or Soylent Green? It’s all enough to make Last Call wanna stand atop The Tower and shout, “Who gives a crap! If you like it, who cares what you call it!”

But that’s just me. Most people, understandably, want to know what to expect from a bar before they go there; hence, fancy little appellations, such as “bar,” “sports bar,” “night club,” and – my personal fave, ’cause it’s so damn intriguing – “pub.”

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What the heck is a pub? The origin of the word can be traced back to Old Blighty, where bars were referred to as “public houses.” So, OK: Maybe a modern-day pub should at least tip its hat to Britain. A lot of ’em around here do and have other stuff to recommend them. Finn MacCool’s is clean and borderline highfalutin’ (Fancy a Guinness martini, lassie?). Ye Olde Bull N Bush is hip and grunge-y. Sherlock’s is where you go to watch soccer on tv and throw darts (at the fans of your team’s opponent, if you like). The famous Tanstaafl (an acronym for There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch), which has made a name for itself by regularly hosting live local music, is probably one of the weirder pubs here. No darts. No Dropkick Murphys on the juke. More like the frat house from Old School – walls covered in beer posters, shaky tables on which random puddles of alcohol mysteriously form, drab carpeting. The regulars probably call it “comfortable.” To me, it’s more like “too comfortable.” Like, “why-doesn’t-somebody-remove-the-buffalo-corpse-in-the-middle-of-the-room-already?” comfortable. On the dole, indeed.

But one of the most oddly enjoyable pubs that Last Call has come across in a while has absolutely nothing to do with the Union Jack or soccer or hooligans or soccer hooligans. It’s even more of a private club than a “public house” (the place is BYOB). But if you spell “pub” f-u-n, then the River Bottom Pub is Grade-A bona fide.

A couple of miles from Temple Christian High School, the River Bottom rises up from the scorched northeast Fort Worth earth like the rickety boat house at Camp Crystal Lake (from Friday the 13th, FYI). And the watering hole does give off a mildly menacing vibe.

Inside is a whole different story. The walls are all soft wood. The ceilings low. And the clientele is more Frisbee-golf than either real golf (read: uppity folk) or Frisbees-as-fine-China-plates (read: rednecks). Everyone’s cool, mature, and personable but not intrusive. Makes me think that the River Bottom may be the best bar for people who normally hate bars.

There’s also a huge field o’ green out back for grazing-in-the-grass-is-a-gas-baby-can-you-dig-it – patrons can play horseshoes, chill in the lawn furniture, or just grab a machete, put on a hockey mask, and wait for the Temple Christian teens to come play hooky. (Um, did I say that out loud?)

There are no Union Jacks on the walls, nor are there any cricket matches on the telly, but River Bottom is worth visiting – no matter what you wanna call it.

Contact Last Call at

Tanstaafl Pub
409 N Bowen Rd, Arlington. 817-460-9506.

River Bottom Pub
7920 Randol Mill Rd, FW. 817-860-3270.