If a pint after work is your five o’clock world, no reason to make it painful on your wallet. On Monday, head west to Crowbar Tattoo Saloon (5840 Jacksboro Hwy). Though local bands rock this cabin-esque joint on weekends, domestic drafts are only a buck on Mondays. On Tuesday, hit Frankie’s Sports Bar & Grill (425 W 3rd St). The downtown location of the Dallas-based franchise offers $2.50 PBR tallboys and free hotdogs from 5 to 7pm. After you’ve struggled to the end of another hump day, try Taverna (450 Throckmorton St), and bring a date –– house reds and whites are only $3 by the glass. Thursdays are always good nights to go out, but start yours off at Baker St. Pub & Grill (6333 Camp Bowie Blvd). Sure, it’s kind of a generic British-type bar, but the margaritas are only $2 during happy hour, and that’s rather brilliant. If by Friday you haven’t left Las Vegas so to speak, the happy hour at Showdown Saloon (4907 Camp Bowie Blvd) is pretty choice, with $2 domestic pints and oddly priced but economical $1.95 wells. (All these places are in Fort Worth.)
Overall Drinking Establishment
Critic’s choice: The Gold Standard, 2700 W 7th St, FW
Though it just opened, this brainchild of veteran mixologist and nightlife impresario Brad Hensarling (The Usual, The Chat Room Pub) is already a hit, greatly improving upon its predecessor, the heretofore unbeatable 7th Haven. For one thing, the bathrooms are much nicer. For another, some thought seems to have gone into the décor, a mix of Looziana noir, Wild Wild West, and ’70s kitsch. (Dig the velvet paintings and glammy gold-colored trim.) Most importantly, The Gold Standard serves up some badass yet affordable cocktails, in addition to your frosty staples.
Readers’ choice: Les Bennett, Zio Carlo Magnolia Brewpub, 1001 W Magnolia Av, FW
Critic’s choice: Katy Cox, M Lounge 835 Foch St, FW
Along with an encyclopedic knowledge of shots, cocktails, and why you should pick this beer over that one, the best bartenders have a knack for managing a crowd without slipping into a red-faced rage. Cox can pretty much handle anything, from a martini menu of nearly 50 flavors to M Lounge’s regular gaggle of young professionals and cash-flashing martini-guzzlers. That scene can be pretty high maintenance, but Cox holds her fort down with aplomb. She recently took a management position but still finds time to shake some drinks.
Readers’ choice: T&P Tavern, 221 W Lancaster Av, FW
Critic’s choice: Bar Louie, 2973 W 7th St, FW
If you like swarms of young, well-dressed, and moderately behaved people with your drink specials, Bar Louie is the place for you. Nearly every happy hour here attracts a thirsty, hungry crowd, but Fridays after quittin’ time are especially booming. The youthful and well-coiffed fill the bar/restaurant’s cavernous interior and intimate rooftop patio to enjoy the massively portioned American cuisine and affordable hooch.
Readers’ choice: The Boiled Owl Tavern, 909 W Magnolia Av, Ste 8, FW
Critic’s choice: Malone’s Pub, 1303 Calhoun St, FW
It’s not the most glamorous joint, but it is hands-down the best place to grab a cold one or several and actually chat with friends. There are no bands, the music from the superb jukebox isn’t so loud you can’t hear yourself, the crowd is mostly regulars and service industry types, the drinks are reasonably priced, the staff is friendly and fast, and it’s one of the only non-smoking bars in town.
Readers’ choice: The Usual, 1408 W Magnolia Av, FW
Critic’s choice: Corporate Image, 5418 Brentwood Stair Rd, FW
Don’t let the name fool you. Corporate Image has about as much in common with business-class pretensions as Karl Marx does with Donald Trump. Everyone’s welcome to disappear into the bar’s quiet, crimson-accented comfort and chill out with a cocktail or frosty beverage. The folks behind the bar are glad to see you, but they won’t intrude if you’re just there to commune with your drink. And when the Image’s regular karaoke nights get going, you’ll be treated to some ringers.
Readers’ choice: The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, 111 E 3rd St, FW
Critic’s choice: The Boiled Owl Tavern
For a lot of Fort Worthians, stepping inside the Owl is like stumbling into an old friend’s rec room. Though the Near Southside haunt just opened, it seems as if it’s always been there. It’s just that inviting, especially if you prefer your pubs dark and comfortable, your music progressive (the jukebox rules), and your servers fast, friendly, and unpretentious. With 15 taps and a fine selection of craft beers, the Owl will be your new favorite watering hole too.
Readers’ choice: Buffalo Bros., 3015 S University Dr, FW
Critic’s choice: Frankie’s Sports Bar & Grill, 425 W 3rd St, FW
With more than 20 giant HDTVs, there’s not a bad seat in the house. But you don’t have to be into sports to dig Frankie’s. The downtown bar/restaurant has awesome daily drink specials and scrumptious food creatively named after athletes and sports teams. Plus, pool tables and frequent live music make Frankie’s a great hangout any time.
Readers’ choice: Yucatan Taco Stand, 909 W Magnolia Av, Ste 10, FW
Critic’s choice: Dos Gringos Restaurant & Cantina, 1015 University Dr, FW
The neon and black lights give this place a distinctly inner-city feel, but it’s the tangy ’ritas that really set Dos Gringos apart. When that sweltering 100-plus-degree summer sun is beating down, the top-shelf margarita –– a mix of Jose Cuervo Gold, Grand Marnier, lime juice, and orange juice –– is always a good call. Add some frozen strawberries or mango, and you’re well on your way to a better, cooler place.
Readers’ choice: The Usual
Critic’s choice: The Usual
Wherefore art thou, Romeo? He’s mixing it up with Juliet, of course, in The Usual’s Juliet & Romeo, a sublime concoction of mint, cucumber, Hendrick’s Gin, rose water (yes, rose water), and some other unusual Usual ingredients that shan’t be named. It’s for neither the faint of heart nor the light of wallet –– one will set you back 10 bucks. But after only two of these delicious darlings you’ll be feeling pretty romantic yourself. The drink isn’t on the menu, but all the bartenders know how to make it. Just ask.
Critic’s choice: Winslow’s Wine Café, 4101 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW
Surely there are bars and restaurants in the 817 with longer wine lists. But there are none warmer or friendlier than Winslow’s, nor with a more interesting selection of wines or a better food menu. (And a full bar and beer selection to boot.) From Oregon’s Acrobat pinot noir to Napa’s Darioush “Caravan” cabernet and Trefethen chardonnay, the wine list gets taste-tested by the staff, winnowed down by customers, and never taken too seriously. To borrow a few phrases from the long list of adjectives of a wine connoisseur, Winslow’s has notes of spicy warmth, hints of lobster ravioli, and a lovely (though too early on most nights) finish. Besides, where else do they direct you to the loo by saying, “Turn right at the oven”?
Critic’s choice: Whiskey & Rye, The Omni-Fort Worth, 1300 Houston St, FW
Posh yet rustic, plush yet accessible, Whiskey & Rye has an easy elegance that is a great reflection of Fort Worth’s friendliness, giving locals and out-of-towners a good impression. Carrying beers from Rahr and a selection of some of the world’s best whiskeys (come for Whiskey Wednesdays, featuring a different elixir each week), Whiskey & Rye continues to charm the hair off anyone who bellies up to its bar.
Readers’ choice: Rick’s Cabaret, 7101 Calmont Av, FW
Critic’s choice: Bucks Cabaret, 2345 Meacham Blvd, FW
First off (pun intended), there are Bucks’ specials: Two-Buck Tuesdays ($2 longnecks, you-call-its from open to close), $1 beers on Sundays after 8pm, $1.50 beers from open to close on Mondays and Wednesdays, and free admission anytime by texting the word “free” to 817-908-1790. More importantly, there are Bucks’ ladies, who are not only good-lookin’ but also insanely talented.
Readers’ choice: Magnolia Motor Lounge, 3005 Morton St, FW
Critic’s choice: Willie’s Fort Worth Icehouse, 2456 N Houston St., FW
With the cost of a bike these days, and with the real biker gangs having been decimated years ago, you’re not gonna get your head bashed in anywhere you go in town. What you’ll find instead are nice places where motorcycle enthusiasts get together to talk shop and drink beer. Willie’s beer is ice-cold, and the parking lot will hold nearly two dozen hogs. The service also is fast and friendly.