When I moved back to Fort Worth after college, my knowledge of the local bar scene, or any local nightlife, was nil. My spirited education had begun on the streets of Northgate in College Station, where every bar fathomable conveniently bordered the north side of campus on two parallel roads spanning four blocks.

As I explored Funkytown’s scene, not only did I finally gain legal access to bars I’d only cruised past, but I also discovered several places that had sprouted around town while I was losing brain cells at university. These new-to-me establishments I mentally noted as one of two types: bars frequented by drunken TCU students and those that aren’t. 

While I certainly can’t fault the Horned Frogs for any actions I’d also witnessed at my own alma mater, I do, however, choose to avoid particular places where history has proven that a rambunctious group of college kids will ruin the chill ambiance I crave. Say what you will about my purported age, but this girl prefers her bars low-key and her cocktails well-crafted yet affordable. The Frogs may be out for summer, but it’s never too early to start game-planning for the fall. 

T&P Tavern.

Which brings me to T&P Tavern (221 W Lancaster Av, 817-885-8878), a diner-style bar in the historic Texas and Pacific Railway Station. If you’re on a budget, T&P offers a pretty dope happy hour. Recently, I spent only 30 bucks on two appetizers and three beers. With plenty of brews on tap, a fairly robust kitchen, and a partially outdoor area below the T&P lofts that features large wooden picnic tables and bar games like Jenga and cornhole, the tavern attracts people of all ages and walks.

With a similar setup of picnic tables, Shipping & Receiving Bar (201 S Calhoun St, 817-887-9313) boasts a fully outdoor area with strung lights and a covered stage — and a much different vibe. S&R resides within the former Supreme Golf Warehouse, now converted to high-end lofts, and its rustic exposed brick, vintage chandelier, and odd accoutrements exude a grungy hipster vibe. With a handful of beers on tap, you go to S&R for the mellow atmosphere — or to support local artists in the Near Southside community. If there’s one thing S&R does well, it’s helping promote its neighbors.

In the same ’hood, Twilite Lounge (212 Lipscomb St, 817-720-5483) sits just off the beaten path near South Main Village. Far enough away from Magnolia Avenue and hidden among the smattering of buildings just south of I-30, Twilite must be sought out rather than happened upon. New Orleans-themed, the bar serves po’boys and often features live music. Though the drink selection is enough of a draw, the vast, open patio might just be the reason to sip outside, no matter what the temperature.

Photo by Christina Berger,

What WXYZ lacks in a patio, it makes up for with huge sliding window panels that open to the bustle and faint sounds of Third Street. Since I last wrote about this bar on the ground floor in Aloft (334 W 3rd St, 817-885-7999), I’ve returned several times — each occasion presenting a different crowd yet the same affable bartenders. Offering fancy cocktails and an upscale millennial vibe, WXYZ feels much too sophisticated and laid-back to attract your typical TCU hordes. It’s become my go-to for casual drinks with friends.

When I’m feeling über-classy — and confident enough in my savings to branch out — Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar (5289 Marathon Av, 817-764-0025) in Clearfork fits the bill. I had never met a martini I liked until I tried an exquisite cucumber-basil concoction from Twigs. Refreshing like a mojito, with a distinct taste of fresh herbs, Twigs’ cocktail was my gateway drug to the world of martinis. 

If you’re like me, you’ve probably conducted your own research into the matter. By no means comprehensive, this is my short list of drinkeries that provide just the right combination of drinks, ambiance, and lack of horny toads — collegiate and otherwise.