Nowadays in downtown, you can’t find a good dive bar, but it sure is easy to find an upscale steakhouse. In a mere few blocks, you can bust your wallet and your belt at no fewer than 10 restaurants that boast a menu of red meat and jaw-droppingly expensive whiskey. However, at 5pm on a scorching summer afternoon when you want a cocktail without swapping out of your Dallas Stars gear, those options aren’t going to cut it.
When a work colleague mentioned he was headed to his favorite after-work drinking spot, Malone’s Pub, I tagged along due to both geographical convenience and zero motivation to change my t-shirt. I’d been there before, albeit with a 14-year gap between visits, so the bar seemed overdue for a rematch.
My first few ventures into Malone’s Pub in the early ’00s weren’t about cocktails. I was single and have always had a thing for men in the hyper-specific category of left-handed, reddish-haired hockey players. At the time, Malone’s was the hangout for the Fort Worth Brahmas, the long-defunct hockey team that played at the Fort Worth Convention Center. (They’re now known as the Lone Star Brahmas and play in North Richland Hills.) I passed many a post-game night with friends in Malone’s smoky environs being chatted up by some guy who fancied himself the next Jeremy Roenick.
At some point between those hockey days and now, Malone’s added a pleasant patio on its Calhoun Street entrance. I walked past the empty outdoor tables and inside the very dimly lit shotgun-style space. Surprisingly, every seat at the rail but one was already taken by 5pm, which is a good sign for a joint that doesn’t serve food.
As my buddy so delicately pointed out a bit later, “Hey, you’re the only vagina in here!” This was true, as far as we can speculate about what the patrons were sporting in their pants, but somehow stumbling into a testosterone fest wasn’t unexpected. I suppose I’d be remiss here if I failed to point out that a lack of gender diversity isn’t a bad thing for all unattached ladies out there, if you’re playing the odds.
What was missing from my last sojourn to Malone’s was a glut of Canadian beer signs, smokiness, and a non-internet-connected music system. Bartender Brandon said the original jukebox broke a few times, and eventually their vendor made them switch to the digital version. Anyone who has been trapped in a bar near a drunk dude with $20 in his hand and a thing for Staind should pour one out for the loss of the vintage machine that was always loaded with local CDs and tunes.
Other than those insignificant changes, Malone’s Pub remains a damn decent place to post up for a no-frills drink. But don’t let the worn rail and slightly wiggly bar stools fool you. They haven’t stuck around this long because they’ve gone soft. The staff is no nonsense but still steered me toward Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin served on the rocks, instead of the default spirit I was planning to order. It was the right fit for that particular day, and the suggestion was much appreciated.
As downtown dives go, I miss Paddy Reds, Rick O’Sheas, the Black Dog Tavern, and the original Pour House, but at least Malone’s Pub seems to be the right fit for days when dropping $100 on only four drinks isn’t in the plan. There wasn’t a 14-year gap between visits for me this time, however. My very own left-handed, reddish-haired former hockey player and I went back for a nightcap the very next evening.