My inspection sticker is out of date again, and I feel a little exposed, which is why I’ve been mostly staying in my neighborhood to drink lately. I definitely wouldn’t risk driving to a place like Keller and getting drinks, because Keller is a small town, and small towns have lots of bored cops. Driving around there at night after beer and before a new inspection seems like a good way to learn about the county jail. But during the day, well, hey, I can always use lunch.
After an interminable lunch-hour slog up the freeway and east on Golden Triangle Boulevard (not including a 10-minute stop for a freight train at Katy Road), I finally turned right on Main Street, passing a handful of places that made an evening in Keller sound enjoyable.
Heading south on Main from Golden Triangle, you’ll see four potential watering holes on the right side of the road. I drove past the first three and parked at Bronson Rock, simply because it had been my reason for trekking to Keller in the first place. Posters on the doors advertised a big Memorial Day weekend party, featuring Le Freak on Friday, the Funk Soul Muthas on Saturday, two other cover bands on Sunday, and long-running Zeppelin tribute act Swan Song on Monday. I wouldn’t drive 15 miles through cop-infested asphalt to watch any of these bands, but if I lived in Keller or, I dunno, Watauga, Bronson Rock would be on my Memorial Day itinerary.
For one thing, the joint has a pretty big patio with a legit stage and an outdoor bar. The place has an icehouse vibe, courtesy of a lot of unvarnished wood furnishings. The atmosphere inside is family-friendly, even though the joint is open ’til 2 a.m. on weekends. Essentially it’s a burger joint with some big cover bands.
I was a little disappointed that Bronson’s taps were pretty tame. There were only about a half-dozen, and they were mostly macrobrews, though the bartender was sweet, and I appreciated the tough-guy cinema posters on the walls (Dirty Harry, The Man with No Name, um, Chuck Norris). And anyway, my burger was good. I paid my tab, reparked my car at the north end of the block, and ambled into Bottlecap Alley next door.
Even more family-friendly than Bronson Rock, Bottlecap Alley seemed like the place where people go to get Friday nights started, at least before getting drinks at the neighbors on either side. In other words, it was nice but didn’t really grab me. I had a $2 schooner of PBR and moved on to the Keller Tavern.
If you’re bar-hopping in Keller, the Tavern is probably where you’d want to end up. It combines rusticity with elegance (marble bar top, hardwood floors, polished wood-plank walls, cathedral ceiling) and carries more than 130 whiskeys. If you try 100 of them, you get your name and your own ridiculous quote engraved on a plaque above the bar a la The Flying Saucer’s plates. I skipped the whiskey and opted for another schooner, this time full of Rahr Summertime Wheat. Out back on the patio, I didn’t see a legitimate stage, but there was a giant Jenga, and Jessica the bartender said they had washers too.
I got to the bottom of the glass and walked next door to Up in Smoke BBQ’s lounge, a gray-walled, motorsports-themed bar with 10-plus taps and an interesting selection of calls, including Johnny Walker Blue and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel. One TV was tuned to Speedvision, yet again playing the Advanced Auto Parts Monster Jam. Grave Digger fumbled a jump and ended up on its side, its monstrous tires spinning futilely. I’d just ordered a draft and a shot of the Single Barrel but thought better of it and paid my tab. I’m pretty sure the Keller cops are just as bored during the day, so I hit the road before I could give them something to do. –– Steve Steward
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