It’s a typical afternoon in southwest Fort Worth. There are jackhammers outside ripping the once quiet residential street into an open crater of busted concrete, under the guise of infrastructure improvement. In spite of the heavy metal, I’m building a case for a business owner that this area is Fort Worth’s best-kept secret in bar/restaurant space. When the Chisholm Trail Parkway opened, downtown became a mere seven-minute commute, and young families headed in this direction for homes with big backyards near top-notch private schools.
West Magnolia and West 7th bar businesses know how to attract their kind of patron, but the construction dust hasn’t settled here yet.
The identity of southwest Fort Worth is still in question beyond being the location of chains like BJ’s Brewhouse and the new home of Whole Foods and REI. So when I walked into the bustling, locally owned Lone Star Oyster Bar on Friday night and a screeching toddler headbutted my left kneecap, I was justifiably confused why a “bar” over here means tiny humans inside.
All outside clues, including neon signs, point to Cityview Center’s Lone Star Oyster Bar being a stiff-drinks-first, shellfish-in-case-of-emergency kind of joint. After evading the little bouncer, it became evident this dining room is a family spot. I instantly recalled an awkward date many years ago at a kid-friendly sports bar, Beef O’Brady’s. A random 9-year-old girl wanted to talk to me about my awesome pink heels. I explained Mike Ditka and single-malt scotch to her before heading home. Kids in bars are often party-kryptonite, so I had already prepared to reach my threshold at Lone Star after half a drink.
A friend and I snagged two spots at the long, patron-packed wooden bar, where the restaurant feeling ends. At the helm of the booze side of Lone Star during our visit was an exceedingly likable bartender named John Birdwell. He and the customers appeared congruous in a college-town dive doing Jägerbombs, and I forgot all about the children behind me.
TCU was setting fire to SMU to win the Iron Skillet trophy, and the game was easily viewable on the flat screens hanging throughout the space. The tables are short, yielding a bit more neck craning than many fans favor, but mostly the setup works as a sports bar.
My single girlfriend was here for a different kind of game-watching, however, and found herself pleasantly diverted by the attractive men around us. I’m not single, but the unexpected blips on her heat-seeking radar made my wing-woman duties a breeze. A man broke the ice early by buying us a round of drinks, which cemented my gal pal into that seat for the remainder of a delightfully fun Friday night.
Most people like to know what kind of vibe to expect when walking into a place that serves alcohol. I’m rarely surprised, but Lone Star Oyster Bar proved difficult to define, much like the southwestern Fort Worth area it has served for so long. Is it a sports bar? A drinking dive? A family-friendly restaurant? All of the above? Personally, I vote for their $6 generous pour of Glenlivet over the Gymboree crowd, but there’s room for both to co-exist here peacefully as the area finds its new identity. –– Susie Geissler
Lone Star Oyster Bar
4750 Bryant Irvin Rd, FW.