With summer about to disappear in the rearview mirror, our quintet of curious drinkers set out for the putative wrong side of the tracks. As we weaved our tightly packed Jeep through stragglers of meandering homeless guys and a couple of people who looked plain lost and not too happy about it, our high spirits were given a frisson of the excitement of otherness. The craic was rolling good and early.
Pulling off East Lancaster Avenue to the derelict-looking old homes around our first stop, some of our group grew disquieted. Having grown up on some genuinely mean streets in the north of England, I was not in the least bit concerned nor discouraged while I sensed at least three of the other four push back in their seats as I unbuckled my seatbelt, keen to advance toward the soiled-looking red door of Lefty’s Texas Beer Joint (6002 E Lancaster Av, 682-301-3777).
On the saloon side of the door, we discovered a delightfully careworn single chamber with a pool table up front, a wall of guitars to our left, and a long bar patronized by two good ol’ boys shooting the shit, mainly about sports. Our server Jesa flashed a broad, sincere smile, initiated a bit of a chat about us being Lefty’s virgins, and took our drink order. We opted to make use of the billiards setup and nested at the high table to its side. Jesa furnished us with very attentive table service, regularly checking in and restocking bottles of Coors Light and potent mixed drinks. After a couple of rounds, our genial host showed us to the patio and chatted some more, mostly about her professional wrestler daughter who happened to be grappling in London that weekend. The outdoor space was cozy, clean, and quiet. There’s a big-screen TV for occasions such as the Super Bowl –– and some wrestling, perhaps.
Less than a mile east along the ramshackle thoroughfare was the much talked about Ozzie Rabbit Lodge (6463 E Lancaster Av, 817-446-9010). Somehow, I had never visited the much-vaunted dive, likely down to its location on the far side of town from my regular haunts. The place is surprisingly large inside with a visual overload of wall signs, pool tables, a long snaking bar, and a jukebox. My favorite wall sign read in all caps, WE AINT CARRYING NO FUCKIN WHITE CLAW DRINK A BEER PUSSY [sic].” Having had the highly dubious honor of being paid to flog White Claw when it was first released in stores around North Texas, I echo heartily the earthy sentiments of the signage. Rabbit’s was half-filled with a range of locals, a small band of bearded hipsters, and some large-hatted ladies. The bartender was a big, beardy sort who was more efficient than friendly. We decamped to the large multi-level patio, as the smokers in our contingent were becoming buzzed and needed to chain-induce cancer.
The outside space was the epitome of chill, and we quaffed a couple more rounds of mixed drinks and craft beers. Among the latter, the standouts were an offering by Arlington’s Division Brewing and a bunch of well-kept domestics, including Shiner. I could see myself being an irregular at this place if only it was a few miles closer to “everything.” This is the kind of bar that the increasingly vanilla West Magnolia Avenue needs.
The last stop of the night was certainly the place that offered the most flavor. Pepper Mill Lounge (6825 E Lancaster Av, 817-446-0310) was a delightful, dimly lit shamble of furniture, folks, and comically terrible karaoke. To one side of our chosen table, two hot dog vendors lazily vied for the attention of the drunken few. One of our fearless five scoffed the penultimate link of mystery ingredients. A biker club 20-some strong showed up, thronging our area and elbowing for position as the last cab off the rank –– all to the various atonal tunes slurred or belted from the stage. This place was East Lancaster Avenue in a glass: Mix one part terrible with one part potentially violent and two parts welcoming, stir without privilege and add a dash of perspective. It’ll knock your socks off. –– G. P. Kennedy
Contact Last Call at LC@fwweekly.com.