Where to drink
Live music is officially back. After last year’s need to avoid large crowds, artists are now performing again and fans are showing up in a frenzy. With plenty of concert stages around town — at outdoor bars with spacious table seating and music venues with indoor pits — there’s a place for everyone who’s ready to dive back into the concert scene. Here are nine of the Fort Worth area’s best bars with live music, from the big venues everybody knows to a few restaurant-bars worth grabbing a drink and a show.
Billy Bob's Texas
Perhaps Billy Bob’s Texas (2520 Rodeo Plaza) inspired the phrase, “everything is bigger in Texas,” with 30 bars, two stages, more than 100,000 square-feet, and its own bull-riding arena. While the concert acoustics and sightlines are hot topics of debate, no one can argue with the big names that the "world's largest honky-tonk" still attracts, including Miranda Lambert, who recently played as part of its 40th anniversary celebration. (Up next: Lynyrd Skynyrd.) Reserved seating is at a table close to the stage, and general admission allows patrons to catch the show from the sidelines and TV screens. Pit tickets are now available for some shows, too. Beer by the bottle is most popular here, and when the live music starts, it’s shots all around.
One of the biggest stars in Texas Country is part-owner of this downtown Roanoke restaurant-bar and live music venue. Randy Rogers of the Randy Rogers Band helped open ChopShop Live, at 309 South Oak St., in 2018. Shows take place on the outdoor stage overlooking rows of wooden picnic tables, all covered. Performers range from local cover bands and Texas country artists to Randy Rogers himself. Order the ChopShop frozen margarita, blended with blue raspberry moonshine.
Lola’s Saloon & Trailer Park
There hasn’t been an indoor show at this much-respected live music venue since March 2020. That will change on June 26 when Lola’s Saloon, located at 2736 West Sixth St., hosts its grand reopening party featuring the Royal Sons. The “saloon,” with its max capacity of 250, has been mostly quiet since the pandemic started while Lola’s Trailer Park out back, with a covered outdoor stage and picnic table seating, has continued to host socially-distant shows. Longtime fans will remember it's a reincarnated version of the Wreck Room, which closed in 2007. Order the popular Carmen Electrolite, which is blueberry acai Vitamin Water shaken with lemon-flavored vodka.
Magnolia Motor Lounge
Mags — as this hangout is known to its regulars — will celebrate its 10th anniversary this summer with a multi-day celebration August 10-15. (Details to be announced.) The live music venue sits on an elevated corner at 3005 Morton St. in a former automotive repair shop. Less flashy and more downhome than its neighboring West 7th-area competitors, the bar and restaurant has kept things mostly the same since opening in 2011: hefty burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs are served daily, longneck bottles are always ice cold, and there are ticketed shows for up-and-coming alternative and American musicians every Friday and Saturday night.
Scat Jazz Lounge
Nestled in the basement of downtown’s historic Woolworth building in Sundance Square at 111 W. Fourth St., Scat Jazz Lounge aims to recreate a New York City vibe of an off-the-beaten-path nightclub. The scene is swanky, with candlelit tables, a red curtained stage, and no TVs or neon beer signs in sight. Ticketed shows with a focus on straight jazz take place Thursday through Saturday. Order a dirty martini and leave the ballcap at home.
The Post at River East
Located in the shell of a former 1940s post office at 2925 Race St., The Post at River East (named for the buzzy district it anchors) offers live music six days a week. Shows range from free acoustic performances in its uncovered courtyard dotted with patio tables and twinkling lights to ticketed shows inside its 2,000-square-foot Trinity Room. Signature drinks are summer-perfect, ranging from the gin and cucumber-infused Dilly Dally to the Peach Please made with Acre Distilling peach whiskey, ginger beer, lemon juice, and rosemary. The venue also serves a lunch and dinner menu of apps, flatbreads, and sandwiches.
Part chili parlor, part live music venue, Tolbert’s sits in the heart of historic downtown Grapevine at 423 South Main St., where patrons visit for the restaurant’s famous “bowl of red” as much as they do for the big-name cover bands. There’s live music here most nights of the week, and there’s hardly ever a cover charge. With dining table seating flanked by a curtained stage, the space offers a “dinner with a show” vibe. Popular tribute bands that frequent here include Texas Flood (Stevie Ray Vaughn), Petty Theft (Tom Petty), and Fastlane (The Eagles) — all ensure a toe-tapping good time. Go early to grab a good seat and order a stout on tap or margarita on the rocks.
Opened in November in the Near Southside at 112 St. Louis Ave., Tulips FTW has mainly hosted smaller shows thus far. But with a capacity of up to 600, owners are ready to put the full space to use. The bar’s official grand opening with the loud and rowdy Band of Heathens is set for July 30, but there are now live shows most nights of the week. Touted as the city’s first mid-sized music venue since the storied Caravan of Dreams of the '80s and '90s, Tulips is also popular for its drinks. Try one of the house cocktails, like the Black Manhattan made with vanilla bitters; or the classic daquiri made with rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. There's also a Jewish deli and coffee menu.
White Elephant Saloon
Locals, tourists, and legit rodeo competitors stop by this iconic Stockyards bar (106 E. Exchange Ave.) for a boot-scoot on the wooden dance floor every day. There’s live Texas music here nightly, from classic country crooning to local Americana and ‘90s country covers. With roots dating back to the late 1800s when it was located in the heart of Hell’s Half Acre, the bar was reincarnated in the 1970s where it sits today. Don’t miss the famous cowboy hat-lined walls and ceilings. Belly up to the vintage brass rail bar and order a draft beer served in a frozen mug or Lone Star Beer in a longneck bottle.