Don’t get me wrong: I like-a de sports bars as much as the next soccer hooligan. They just all seem kinda the same to me. The walls of tv’s, the buffalo wings, the Golden Tee video games, the talented bartenders, those buzz-killing Texas Hold ‘Em tourneys – why does every joint cater to the lowest common denominator? Who says sports bars can’t be sophisticated, even if only slightly?

I remember a guy who worked at The Moon, near TCU, a couple of years ago, and on slow nights he’d bring in his dominos. Before long, those of us who regularly gathered to drown our sorrows in booze by our lonesome ended up regularly crowding his table and carrying on like old friends.

Modern Lights

Maybe my time spent laying chips at The Moon is what made me so glad I happened into Lucky Break a couple of weeks ago. Evidently, the Westside sports bar has a domino tournament every Sunday. Coordinated by a regular who, like Madonna and Prince, is known only by a single name, Tank, the tourneys get going around 6:30 p.m., and winners are , uh, rewarded.

What I also love about what Lucky Break’s doing is the fact that, unlike at a poker competition, customers can actually behave as if they’re in a friggin bar. A couple of months ago, I stumbled into a Stockyards joint where a Texas Hold ‘Em tourney was going on. By the deafening silence that greeted me, I thought I’d accidentally stepped inside one of those churches whose façades are painted to look like bars. The reverential quiet drove me nuts. I got my ass outta there and quick.

At the Lucky Break dominos tournament, the players talked, laughed, and otherwise acted like people in a bar.

I guess we could call Lucky Break a sports bar for blue-collar sophisticates, non-judgmental folks who like to nurse some brew, hang out, and maybe do some math under the aegis of playing a simple ancient Chinese game. The bar won’t ever be mistaken for a swanky tapas lounge: On the night of my visit, the cocktail waitress paraded around in a pair of Dickies, and the menu included the words “battered mushrooms” (you think the ‘shrooms pressed charges?) and “corn dog.” Maybe no matter which way you cut the concept of “sports bar,” you’re always gonna have to deal with cheap beer – lots of it – and cheap, greasy snacks to soak it all up. A small price to pay for a groovy joint like Lucky Break.

Bowling for Soup

For a couple of months every year, Don Carter’s, out in Cityview, brings in some local food service industry folks for the bowling lane’s annual Restaurant Challenge (a bowl-off, not a cook-off). Last week’s big showdown had teams from Michael’s Restaurant and Ancho Chile Bar, Saltgrass Steak House, and others. I didn’t hang around long enough to see who won, but I gotta tell ya: As cheesy and forced as professional camaraderie may seem nowadays, I got a kick out of seeing combatants in the marketplace of competitive commerce step outside of survival mode and just enjoy themselves.

DC’s recently became BYOB, and I spent as much time with my hands in a cooler of suds as in my bowling ball, which may have had something to do with my rosy perspective, I dunno. Regardless, DC’s is always open to ideas for professionally based leagues. I was thinking about calling up the Star-Telegram, CBS-11, and some other area news outlets to start a Local Media Challenge. But I’m sure the bloodshed wouldn’t go over well with the good folks at DC’s.

Contact Last Call at

Lucky Break
8648 Camp Bowie West, FW.

Don Carter’s CityView
6601 Oakmont Blvd, FW.

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