Rogers Roundhouse, 1616 Rogers Rd. 817-367-9348. 10am-2am Sun, 11am-2am Mon-Fri, 10am-2am Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Although there’s no shortage of Fort Worth restaurants boasting patios with actual views – of the sky, downtown, the Trinity, or its trails – there’s a niche market for restaurants with urban patios. On these inner-city vistas, you’re not really looking at anything other than more patio, but at least there’s a shady space for you and maybe even your pup. Rogers Roundhouse near University Drive is the latest entry into the urban patio scene. If you’re sitting in the right spot, you might actually see trains heading into neighboring Davidson Yard.
The Roundhouse has three discrete sections: inside in the light-drenched building with bar-top seating and tables high and low, outside on a pleasant, fan-cooled, covered concrete patio, or farther outside on the gravel ground where there are picnic tables shaded by umbrellas. The last is pup-friendly, assuming your canine companion (and you) can behave decently in public.
You won’t find fine-dining choices on the menu, but there is a nice selection of upscale bar food. At $10, the wagyu double-patty burger may be the swankiest thing on the bill of fare, which has more choices for beer, wine, and mixed drinks than food options.
The loaded tot starter was probably the best thing my guest and I sampled during our visit. Thumbnail-sized tater tots arrived covered in a flavorful salty-spice mix and were as tasty as they were crunchy. Add a large, gooey portion of mild, addictive queso on top and decorate with sour cream, fresh jalapeño peppers, and a sprinkling of good bacon, and you will hit sensory overload. We kept the appetizer plate on the table until dessert arrived because, although we were fairly full, sneaking a single perfectly crispy tot covered in truly delicious queso with a little sour cream was a treat to be savored.
Chicken nuggets seemed like a decent bar food choice. The menu advertised that these were fried chicken nuggets, so we pictured thick, crispy batter covering the white meat pieces. Unfortunately, the fried chicken was more Chick-fil-A-esque than deep-fried goodness, and the texture of the chicken bordered on rubbery. The choice for dipping included a decent sweet-hot barbecue sauce and the Rogers house sauce, which turned out to be a Thousand Island-type dressing with a kick of what tasted like mustard. Both paired nicely with the bird and the accompanying shoestring fries.
Fortunately, the entree portion of the meal was redeemed by three amazing Tex-Mex tacos. Thick corn tortillas cradled spicy ground beef and a healthy amount of shredded cheese. Topping the tacos were piquant sweet-tart pickled onions, shredded lettuce, and a delightful avocado crema sauce. Two was more than enough for lunch. Vegetarian, chicken, and shrimp tacos are also available. Sadly, I wasn’t quick-thinking enough to ask the kitchen for a combo.
Because Rogers Roundhouse is co-owned by the owners of the locally iconic Curly’s Frozen Custard, there’s an ice cream sandwich on the dessert menu. The fist-sized cookie-swaddled frozen custard was plucked straight from a freezer, which meant the confection had to sit for about 10 minutes before we could cut into it. There may be better dessert options than still-crisp chocolate Oreo-style cookies and creamy frozen Curly’s custard, but on a warm early summer day, I’m not sure what those would be.
For day-drinking opportunities, Rogers offers a generous happy hour from 2 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Are there local places that you can get a fabulously spicy Tito’s Bloody Mary for less than $10? Absolutely. Do any of those places come with a dog-friendly patio, a view of colorful shipping containers, or trains lazily coasting into the train yard? Nope. The afternoon my dining companion and I went day-drinking, I wished I’d brought my mutt dog along. Hank likes people, trains, and bar food, and there’s plenty of all that at the Roundhouse.
Loaded tots $10
Chicken fried chicken nuggets $8
Ice cream sandwich $10
Tito’s Bloody Mary $10