Sansom Park is an incorporated city of 4,181 souls, per the 2010 census. It occupies a whole 1.2 square miles and sits north of Jacksboro Highway at the point where the storied road becomes Lake Worth Boulevard. As I discovered last Friday, Sansom Park still allows smoking in its bars.
At the top end of the tiny city on a hill sits Tricia’s Rock House. Think: a Texas stone house, all 1,000 square feet or thereabouts, turned in to a one-room bar. Inside, there are two pool tables at the front arranged in an L-shape sitting in front of a tiny bar. Bud, Bud Light, and Ziegenbock are on tap with the usual domestic suspects in the fridge. As is becoming common with the neighborhood dive bars that my guests and I are visiting, Tricia’s is BYO liquor. Draft beers are served in chilled 12-ounce glass mugs.
In light of the low ceiling and cigarette smoke hanging in the air, our party of four took a high table and stools at the back of the bar near an open door. Within a minute of taking our seats, the avuncular Andrew, the evening’s karaoke master, was assailing us with his effortless charm. The eponymous Tricia, an elegant hostess in the Southern tradition, followed him in short order. Miss Tricia was clad in an all-black ensemble of a blouse, jeans, and killer pair of boots. Attention to detail was evident in her just-done nails and hair a la early Wynonna Judd. Her greeting was warm and sincere, and she came back to check on our table a number of times during the two hours we spent in her house.
We started chatting with an interesting guy named Rich, an ex-ranch-hand, firefighter, and bull rider. He belted out some classic country karaoke while his partner, Tammy, liked a bit of Afroman. The standard of karaoke at Tricia’s was like nothing I have ever heard. Was this bar settled by retired or would-be singing sensations? Or did people come from far and wide to exercise their considerable pipes? Top of the vocal shop was Andrew, with his mellifluous tones, perfect pitch, and mind-bending range. Turns out, he gets all the practice needed “singing praise” at church every Sunday. It is worth noting at this point that Miss Tricia can count herself among the vocally talented throng. Having quaffed several 12-ouncers, eaten some free pizza, been regaled with tales of cowboy derring-do, and been made to feel like we’d come home, the four of us reluctantly departed for the next bar. Miss Tricia was the first to bid us a “Goodnight,” and we vowed to meet our fast friends again soon.
Dropping down onto Jacksboro Highway, we parked in back of Eight Ball Bar and Billiards and made our entry to a large snaking space of pool tables, slots, karaoke, and yet more pool tables all situated around a U-shaped bar. I bellied up to the well, was served quickly, and then blamed by the barman when he messed up our order. I was standing directly in front of the Coors Light tap as I pointed to it and asked for “two.” We were served bottles. The other two drinks I ordered arrived as requested. The place was smoky and felt like an English Working Men’s club sans bonhomie. I felt as though we had walked into someone else’s house, and they were pissed at the arrival of uninvited guests. Within minutes, five cops showed up, clearly looking for a particular person as they consulted with our blameless barman. We drank up and left, bound for our final stop two doors down.
Jesse’s 50/Fifty is a renowned late bar and karaoke spot. I have visited before a while back. It was closed at 11:30pm on a Friday. The exterior lights were on, and the parking lot was clean and tidy. The interior did not look abandoned or long-closed down. I was confused, so I went by again around 10pm on Sunday. Same scene, different day.
Bottom line? Go to Tricia’s.