There’s just something about a rooftop patio bar that says “Life is good,” right? I mean, other than hanging out on the beach, what beats looking swell and sippin’ swill in the fresh, open evening air – and essentially up in the evening air?
For us lubbers, I can’t think of a darn thing. The king of rooftop patio bars here in Fort Worth is Reata’s. Except for the obnoxious, gigantic desert of black tar that serves as a parking lot nearby, the view from atop the cowboy-cuisine joint is pretty cool – that golden dome nearby gives everything a trashy, Eastern-European feel, and, while you can’t hang over the ledge and throw shit at people a la Bourbon Street, you can do some people-watching. Just crane your neck up at The Tower. I’ve heard that more than a few goofy tenants are willing to put on some sort of show for onlookers below. (Haven’t heard of anything sexual yet. More of the crazy-dancing, mooning, and laser-pointing variety.)
Reata’s rooftop hang-out also gets points for being classy, with masonry, dim lighting, and vines all around, and for being partially covered. Even better than drowning your sorrows in a glass of hooch and watching the rain streak gently down your mansion windows is drowning your sorrows in a glass of hooch and feeling the rain mist against your tear-stained cheeks. Next time you’re down and out and the rain – and tears – are falling, I’m telling you, the covered part of Reata’s rooftop patio is the place to be. In a few months, a couple of blocks away, Houston Street Bar and Patio’s roof will become a rooftop patio bar, and it’ll probably complement Reata’s nicely.
Whereas Reata’s is reserved, Houston Street’s will probably be rowdy; where Reata’s is shielded from the street below, Houston Street’s will be hanging, basically, overhead. Based on the way Houston Street looks now, its rooftop patio won’t be far behind Reata’s in the class department. If there’s a cleaner, more elegant sports bar in town, I haven’t seen it. I mean, you could eat off Houston Street’s floors – the stained wood trim and crisp black stools appear to have arrived directly from IKEA or Pier 1 minutes before you walked in, and the bathrooms are spotless. The décor could use some help, though.
Seriously, high school-caliber painted portraits of – I believe but am not absolutely certain – African-American and Hispanic celebrities on the wonderful, exposed-brick walls? Generic neon bar signs? In a place as pretty as Houston Street and in between several gorgeous plasma-screen tv’s? C’mon. I understand that all bars sort of have to hang signage – its presence connotes a sense of familiarity, meaning that as soon as you walk into a new joint, you feel as if you’ve been there before (because every other bar has similar signage). And I know that all bars need to support their suppliers of booze, but there has to be a better way.
Maybe just by using brand-name-labeled coasters and matchboxes. Or putting up brand-name stickers on coolers and other bar equipment and stuff. Or maybe even setting aside a certain section of the bar – like, say, a small wall in the corner – for the express purpose of hanging brand-name schwag. But nothing says “Ordinary” like neon signs. And for an extraordinary place like Houston Street, “ordinary” could be a step toward the grave, killer rooftop bar or not. The joint is within blocks of a million other sports bars and pubs whose insides are covered in signs.
Houston Street would do well to use its gorgeous interior and completely non-pretentious, regular-guy vibe to its advantage. There are a lot of classy hang-outs downtown (Aqua Lounge, Bar 9, Bent, Embargo) and a lot of homey ones, too (Durty Murphy’s, Rick O’Sheas, Paddy Red’s, Fox & Hound, The Pour House). But there aren’t many places that are both – let alone have a rooftop patio bar – leaving Houston Street in an enviable position: on top looking down. Contact Last Call at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Houston Street Bar and Patio
902 Houston St, FW.