One random weeknight not long ago, I got my after-hours snack on at Snookie’s, the South Hulen bar/restaurant that’s just far enough away from TCU to attract working stiffs but not too far to keep away the bubbly frat joes and sorority janes.
In other words, Snookie’s is Bennigan’s-ish but with a classy, Cheers-y vibe. The place was just about empty, though at the elbow of the hockey stick-shaped bar a few troopers sat sipping on drafts and chatting while occasionally pausing to rub their bloodshot eyes. Almost as soon as my compatriot and I took our seat at one of the high-top two-seaters, a waitress materialized, menus in hand. (Great idea, BTW, thrusting a menu into every new customer’s face. Even if they don’t think they’re hungry, they may glance at Snookie’s list of upscale grunt-food and – miraculously? – change their minds.)
Other late-night dining spots are better for people-watching, no doubt. On weekends, Ol’ South Pancake House on South University Drive and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop on West Berry Street are, basically, live sit-coms. Ah, college.
But what’s good for a few furtive giggles doesn’t always make for a good bite, especially when you had the kind of night my friend and I had pre-Snookie’s. We had started partying about six hours and, no kidding, a case of beer earlier. We needed big food and fast.
Snookie’s did the trick. The hamburger that thudded down in front of me within minutes was about as big as a small manhole cover but perfectly cooked to order and tasty. My dulled taste buds could have had an impact, but whatever. We also dined on an appetizer order of fish tacos … I think. Whatever they were, they had a hearty zing to ’em and were extremely tasty – and gone in 60 seconds. At one point, I paused, certainly not to wipe my mouth or anything, but probably to take a swig of beer, and out of the corner of my eye, I spied two guys looking at me weird. I was about to start some shit, but then I felt a chill on the tip of my nose. There was a huge dollop of mayo on it.
Fine. I respectfully take back what I said about Snookie’s not being a good place to people-watch. – Anthony Mariani
Sloppy behavior is highly frowned upon at the Glass Cactus, the gorgeous zillion-dollar nightclub at the Gaylord Texan complex in Grapevine. Sloppy eating also is probably considered somewhat déclassé there, which sucks because the Cactus apps I tried last Friday – devoured, I should say – brought out my inner garbage disposal. Fish tacos, slices of crimson tuna steak, fried calamari, these White Castle-like, mini-meatball-hoagie-thingies – each bite was a gastronomical fireworks show in yo’ mouth. There was a lot of oooh-ing and ahhh-ing going on where I was standing, bent forward with my full, churning jaws on overdrive and about five inches from the spread.
The club itself is amazing: two floors, each with an outdoor patio that hugs Lake Grapevine; a massive stage; and enough multicolored lights to give an anime character a seizure. Security guys were never out of sight, and about a dozen servers buzzed around happily but never intrusively. (Because they were decked out in all black?) I was with a decently sized crowd, and when I found out we had only one waitress, I guffawed. Well, not only did our gal never screw up an order (as far as I know), but she also worked a table or two nearby. Unbelievable.
Most of my peeps and I spent the entire night inside upstairs, peering over the balcony and trying to do (or, in my bad-ass case, doing) The Robot and The Molly Ringwald to the ’80s-pop cover band The Spazmatics onstage below. Having lived through the Me Decade, I don’t recall anything particularly happy about “Don’t You Forget About Me,” “I Ran,” “The Safety Dance,” and pretty much every other ’80s hit the Spaz’s played – I mean, I was in high school when those songs came out. A bad hair day or giant zit had the capacity to “ruin my life!!!” Back then, every song, whether I wanted it to or not, carried some sort of epic emotional weight. (“I can dance if I want to, Mom! The night is young and so am I! And so am I!” Good God. Hormones.)
How cool then that none of the Spazmatics’ covers sent me into an emotional tailspin. I had never seen the band before, and, based on the hundreds of people there (not dancing with themselves), I was probably the only person in Texas who hadn’t. Dressed like total geeks (circa Revenge of the Nerds), the Austin quartet did a DJ or jukebox one better by playing like rockstars rather than geeks and busting some totally dorky choreographed stage moves. Nothing sloppy about dem boys. – A.M.
Contact Last Call at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2755 S Hulen St, FW.
(at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center)
1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine. 817-778-2800.