Cover by Ryan Burger

I never went to the original Moon Bar, the legendary TCU-land music venue that has had literally thousands of words written about it in this paper. I felt a little under-qualified when asked to write about its recent revival in a new locale nearly 10 years after the first incarnation shuttered. It’s not my fault I never went — it closed two years before I moved here. But it’s come up more times than I can count, mostly in stories written by my predecessors of this column and even our current editor-in-chief. It always sounded like a place I would’ve gravitated toward. 

From what I understand of the old Moon, the live music venue was beloved by bands and fans alike, hosting artists that comprised the heart of the Fort Worth rock scene of the early aughts, like Burning Hotels, Telegraph Canyon, and Calhoun. It was also described in its 2007 Best Of write-up for Best Bar Bar as “a pretty cool place to hang with your chums, talk about the dating life, or torture people with your horrible musical tastes.” That quote could easily be describing the version of the Moon that I witnessed when I visited last week.

The January weather was spring-like as my guests and I made our way from the huge narrow parking lot to the wall of garage doors that had been raised to expose the bar’s interior to the large, string-light-adorned patio. Local DJ Pop Boy Etc. was spinning indie-pop inside but at a volume that still allowed for conversation, which was just fine with us as we chatted with the bartender about nightly specials ($3 you-call-its and shots on this particular night). The Moon is completely unrecognizable from the last occupant of the space, the short-lived mini food-hall-turned-Mexican eatery Americado, a place best known for hosting a Beto O’Rourke town hall during his campaign –– and for its utter lack of personality.

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Spacey murals and neon stars now adorn the walls, and atomic light fixtures hang from the ceiling. A metal bar and a row of taps housed inside a giant metal pipe invoke the feeling of being inside a super-hip level of Super Mario Bros. The Moon’s owners built a spacious stage into the back wall, completing the transformation from restaurant to true music venue.

As we chatted with the bartender about his recent trip to Montana, a guest sitting next to us received a food order from BirdieBop, a fried chicken joint operating from inside the Moon. Though we had eaten dinner hours before, the aroma of the bar patron’s Asian-inspired chicken sandwich was too good to ignore, so we snagged a menu, which featured several different iterations of the Southern classic, most with an Asian twist. Though the kitchen was due to close soon (it’s open ’til 11pm on weeknights), one of the chefs was around to answer all of my annoying questions about ingredients and dietary restrictions. We ended up with an order of double garlic wings and a side of housemade kimchi, both perfectly executed late-night noshes. BirdieBop stays open until 1:30 am on Fridays and Saturdays and is worthy of a write-up all its own. Curbside pickup is also available if you’re just in the mood for the grub.

As I sipped my significantly discounted Espolon tequila and soda, listening to my friends’ mundane conversation and feeling quite content, I tried to nail down just who this bar is for. It reminded me of bars I went to in college, but, though it is steps from TCU, it doesn’t strike me as a “college bar.” To its credit, the Moon is aiming to be all things to all people.

Though the feel was decidedly adult during our late-night visit, its website hints that it wants to make itself available to the family-friendly crowd during daylight hours, teasing upcoming dog- and kid-friendly festivals, matinee concerts, and even cornhole competitions held on the expansive field abutting the building, dubbed “The Backyard.”

That’s a lot to deliver on, but I can attest that this iteration of the Moon is a damn cool place to while the night away with friends, just like the old Moon was. Now I can finally say I’ve been there.

The Moon/BirdieBop

2000 W Berry St, FW.