When the Cowboys aren’t playing on Sunday afternoon, the sports bars in Arlington are as empty as my wallet, which is awesome when your team isn’t the Cowboys and your team is playing.

Usually, drinking around Chez Last Call on the Lord’s Day is confined to the house, the back yard, and, as long as lawn maintenance equipment isn’t involved, the front yard. But last Sunday, during a Cowboys “bye” week, some non-Cowboys fans, one Cowboys fan, and I headed to Sports Bar City, a.k.a. Arlington, to watch a good team play on the tube. First stop, Stars Sports Bar & Grill.

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The small old joint on North Collins Street wasn’t packed, but I wouldn’t say it was empty, either. All of the dozen or so customers sat at the narrow bar, while my guests and I planted ourselves in front of an available tv. The service was Johnny-on-the-spot (or Jane-on-the-spot, in this case), and when we had to get a little rowdy, we did, without generating dirty looks from the regulars.

Stars also gets extra points for being the antithesis of a corporate sports bar. The staff on the day of our visit was, to put it nicely, mature. No attractive young women in skimpy clothing; no stud muffins behind the bar. And the space, thankfully, wasn’t overcrowded with sports-themed video games. If there were any, no one was playing ’em, which was music to our ears. Ain’t nothing worse than trying to curse your team’s head coach’s mother’s eyes while some stranger a couple feet away is complaining about a bad shot in Golden Tee. I mean, seriously. Get a life. (Everyone knows that tv’s are much better listeners than stupid video games.)

For the record: There isn’t anything inherently wrong with corporate, stadium-sized sports bars, nor with the accoutrements they all offer: cute staffers, beer posters and signs, and the indelible glow of a billion cathode rays burning at once. But the X factor, the thing that separates the great sports bars from the good, is service. Service, service, service.

At Box Seats, a Terry Bradshaw toss from Stars, the service was, once again, Jane-on-the-spot. The most we had to wait between rounds was about a minute, and when our order of wings and quesadillas arrived, it all was fresh and hot. The food quality was good, too, BTW.

Box Seats is mainly one cavernous box with a patio, a tiny but comfortable spot that has two tv’s and faces the parking lot of the strip mall in which the club is located. Inside, the bar is dark, and the angst bubbling up from the fantasy leaguers there created a deadly quiet, noxious anxiety. Outside was beautiful, cool, and crisp, so we sat there. We commandeered the two tv’s, and even though my team lost, looking back later, a nice Sunday afternoon spent watching football at two nice sports bars in A-town almost made me forget my team’s pitiful performance.


Non-Smoking Gun

Long story short: If you’re a smoker and you like hanging out in bars, you need to speak up. If you don’t, then don’t bitch and moan once the city passes its ordinance that will ban smoking in bars.

The issue will be presented to City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 10. There will not be a vote, but the citizens are welcome to come and state their minds.

On a related note, in last week’s column (“Non-Smoking Nonsense,” Sept. 27), we incorrectly stated that City Vending general manager Jeff McKenney had created an ad hoc steering committee and conducted a survey on its behalf. Fact is, McKenney didn’t create a steering committee but was appointed to the city’s. The survey he conducted was for his own purposes. The Weekly regrets the error.

As general manager of a company that owns 40 bar properties in Fort Worth, McKenney is definitely against the proposed law; as are most of the respondents to his questionnaire. (See: “Non-Smoking Nonsense.”)

Many club owners, McKenney said, don’t realize the impact of the ordinance if passed, especially financially. “Look at Billy Bob’s [Texas],” he said. “There’s a security problem. People are going to go outside to smoke.

“And neighborhood associations,” he continued, “are going to complain about smokers outside of neighborhood bars.”

McKenney and the owners of some of City Vending’s properties gathered yesterday (Tues.) to make sure they’re all on the same page, and that page is for smoking in bars. “Bars and restaurants aren’t the same thing,” McKenney told the attendees, suggesting that, while a vast majority of people believe a smoking ban in restaurants makes sense, a similar law for bars doesn’t. “Get in touch with your city councilman,” he urged.

Mia Culpa

Miabella figured that getting the Weekly staff’s nod as best exotic dancer in our Best Of 2006 issue was a good news-bad news thing. Good news because, as her fans have pointed out, she is one of the most highly respected belly dance performers and instructors in North Texas. Bad news for a couple of reasons: First, the term “exotic dancer” is one that folks like Miabella and her colleagues shy away from. They figure that, in many people’s minds, “exotic dancer” is a euphemism for stripper. And while belly-dancers are the first to admit that the moves and costumes involved in their art can be seductive, belly-dancers aren’t strippers. Second, the Best Of item, after mentioning the pole-dancing, also noted that Miabella offers classes for kids. She just wanted to make clear that those last two things are very separate. The kids’ classes she offers are belly-dancing only.

Contact Last Call at

Stars Sports Bar
& Grill
814 N Collins St, Arlington. 817-461-9422.

Box Seats Sports Grill
1301 N Collins St, Arlington. 817-274-5171.