We all have a bar or three that is entirely familiar. Perhaps we walk the dog by the place each day. Maybe we drive by these spots on our daily commute, communing with their visages at least twice daily, their edifices as familiar as a colleague’s face. Just like most workmates, we know them only by appearance. What lies beneath are depths we’ve never plumbed. There are two such dive bars south of Bluebonnet Circle that I have encountered at least twice daily for the past four-plus years, but I’ve rarely deigned to explore.
The Poop Deck (3570 W Seminary Dr, 817-921 4861) sits in a tiny strip mall, sandwiched between a Mexican restaurant and a disheveled convenience store. On a recent weekend evening, my guests and I pulled into the parking lot and found one of only two spaces and were flanked on either side by pumped-up trucks. When we first opened the glass double-doors, a waft of warm air and the low buzz of a half-full bar rose out of the darkness. My immediate sense of the interior on first look was that of a neighborhood watering hole entirely comfortable in its own skin. Dudes shot pool, groups sat around pulled-together tables, and couples sat on high stools snuggled closely around high-top tables. The bar was dotted with regulars who were served promptly by bartender Joe, who had learned their drink orders by rote.
Around 10pm, the bar started to fill with excited groups of mostly ladies in their 30s and 40s. A few more seasoned couples hugged the walls. Behind us was a big ol’ boy donning a shabby polo shirt and pants accompanied by a Hispanic guy dressed and coiffured like a young Elvis. The buzz in the then-cold room was like nothing I have experienced at a karaoke night. Surely there is money on offer for the best singers, we mused? There was not. These guys simply loved to sing. Drinkers-turned-crooners mostly belted out classics. Studded between these vocal gems were songs by Tenacious D, Fall Out Boy, and a host of novelty bands. Song choice and performance of the night went to Joe, who nailed Digital Underground’s “Humpty Dance,” as the ever-smiling bar-back Chris took care of customers. The mic drop was heavily implied at the end. With temporary sadness, we chose this as the moment to drive up to our next venue.
Yupps Karaoke Bar (4111 Wedgway Dr, 817-346 2449) is best noticed while gassing up at Granbury Station QT. Otherwise, it is the sharp-eyed only who will see the bar sitting alone, with long-forgotten arrogance, a couple hundred feet from the incessant thrum of Granbury Road traffic. I had been there a few years ago for a birthday bash few can distinctly remember. On entering, a stern-faced big unit checks IDs. There is no craic with this guy. I know because I tried, as did others.
The space between the bar and nearside wall is narrow, made more so by barstools. The single-chamber opens out but never feels less than cramped with tables and chairs. The bartender boasts a neat range of tricks –– tossing and catching glasses and bottles –– but little by way of chat. Frosted mugs hold 10 ounces of domestics on tap, and the bar carries a good range of bottles, cans, and liquor.
Last Saturday, the place was infested with a group of around 20 TCU students on an epic drinkathon. That’s fine, as I bet our group looked that way on that birthday night. The DJ – “or KJ” – was amusingly snarky as shitfaced teen after shitfaced teen slaughtered early 2000s hip-hop, mainly. The “KJ” insisted on a change of tone as he took the stage to sing a tune of choice, but two students commandeered the spare mic, attempting to drown out our host, finishing the song by imploring the audience to “give it up” for him. We had seen enough. We left and, on immediate reflection, could see no persuasive reason to return.
We will, however, be making the Poop Deck our new local. I will continue to drive by the place daily, but each time it will be with a smile and the knowledge that countless return visits await.