After last week’s harrowing voyage to Sports Mountain, a.k.a., the Fox & Hound at Cityview (“Kissing the Frog,” Oct. 28), I decided I needed a break from giving things I patently dislike the benefit of the doubt. On Friday night, I steered my booze cruise toward the comparatively friendlier lands east of 820. This is a fancy way of saying I went looking for a new bar on Division Street.
I’ve always been a proponent of Division Street’s haunts, and so I spend a lot of time selling them to my friends. Most of them exhibit a fervent Cowtown snobbery about Arlington. I agree that certain aspects of Arlington are depressing and crappy, but bear in mind that most of the real estate along Bryant-Irvin Road is a cultural wasteland and downtown is frequently a nightmare of hair gel and chinstrap beards. So I like Arlington, and I wish more people west of Eastchase would give it a chance. I was standing atop this particular soapbox one night when my friend Mel told me about her parents’ bar, the Tanstaafl Pub, located on North Bowen Road about a block north of Division.
“Sounds Dutch,” I said. She looked at me funny and explained how There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Still totally obtuse, I figured she meant there was a kitchen and asked if it was open until two. Mel promptly told me about these clever things called acronyms, and I felt like a doofus.
True to its name, the Tanstaafl does not give anything away free (lunch or otherwise), but damned if it isn’t cheap. Domestic drafts are $1.75, and imports are $3.75. It’s one of those places that’s a little dusty, comfortably old, and full of regulars guffawing at one another’s stories. There were a lot of spider cobwebs, though this probably had more to do with getting ready for Halloween than arachnid infestation. Low lighting, ancient decorations, friendly service, classic rock on the jukebox – it hit all the high points of a killer ’70s-esque neighborhood dive. And there were a couple of cats cruising around. I asked about them, and the bartender told me that their names are Frankie and Fargo, adding, “Well, it’s pretty much an old hippie bar.” And as if on cue, The Dead‘s “Uncle John’s Band” spilled out of the jukebox. If Jerry Garcia‘s ghost gets around, I know a place where he should drop in, at least when he’s not trying to catch a 49ers game.
— Steve Steward
That massive brick building smack dab on North Main Street that’s part of the Rodeo Plaza/Billy Bob’s complex seems to be cursed. No recent business operation there has been able to last longer than a couple of months. The Wild West Saloon, The Rockyard, and, most recently, Fubar are just three of the places that have come and gone in that location, victims of the hobgoblin of insufficient capital, according to the building’s owner, Mike Costanza. However, the building’s next tenant stands to be around a little longer.
The Stockyards Event Center will be available for concerts, corporate events, weddings, parties, you name it. The space is fully furnished and, for live performances, includes state-of-the-art lighting, stage, and sound equipment. Renters who wish to serve booze can contract with a nearby establishment like Billy Bob’s, whose liquor license allows for serving alcohol on a per-event basis. — Jimmy Fowler
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