Boots & Beers

Where to drink: 6 hot bars near the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Where to drink: 6 hot bars near the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Magnolia Motor Lounge, boots on bar
Time to shine those boots. Photo by Grayland Smith

Polish your turquoise and shine your boots — it’s officially Stock Show and Rodeo season in Fort Worth. With thousands of visitors expected to attend the annual event, bars and restaurants near the Will Rogers Memorial Center will welcome guests with a Texas-sized “howdy.” While the official 2019 dates are January 18-February 9, there's plenty of action leading up to opening day, too. Saddle up and settle in to these six hot spots near the rodeo grounds.

Reata at the Backstage Club
This year is not only the last that the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum will host rodeo performances (Dickies Arena is set to open by the 2020 season), but it’s the last year for members of the Reata at the Backstage Club to get a birds-eye view. The upper level coliseum bar and restaurant, with its dark wood bar and nostalgic Western decor, is the be-seen spot before and after the rodeo, having been frequented by celebs, politician,s and stars for more than 50 years. Cowboys donning felt hats and cowgirls dripping in rhinestones meet for martinis and cocktails — like Reata’s Show Pig, made with Knob Creek single barrel bourbon whiskey, bitters, and Grand Marnier. Find membership info here or enjoy the drink at Reata’s flagship location in Sundance Square.

Ancho Bar at Michaels Cuisine
Chef and owner Michael Thomson says after 27 years in business, his tony “Ancho Bar” is still the closest cocktail lounge to the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. Step inside the restaurant and turn right to find the dimly lit drinking establishment, which is dotted with flat-screen TVs around well-stocked shelves of liquor. Wash down a platter of Thomson’s Ancho Bar “poker chips” — nachos piled with sirloin or smoked chicken — with a South Texas margarita, shaken with white tequila, fresh orange and lime juices, and a splash of simple syrup. Plan now for Michaels’ annual Stock Show brunch on February 9, where patrons can indulge in brunch cocktails and dishes from 10 am-4 pm.

Fred’s Texas Café
We mean the original Currie Street location here, with its vinyl barstools inside and covered, heated patio outside. Thanks to its close proximity to the stock show grounds and easy-going atmosphere, the 40-year-old watering hole has been hosting event participants and spectators for cold beer and burgers for decades. Check the events calendar for live music on the patio stage — musicians start at noon most Saturdays and Sundays. As for pre-rodeo drinks, it’s hard to go wrong with one of Fred’s “cold-ass beers.”

Kent & Co.
Rodeo season pairs just as well with wine. That’s why the folks at Kent & Co. are launching a new wine menu in time for the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and invite guests to stop by before heading to the coliseum. General manager Rachael Ramirez says a girls’ rodeo night should start with bubbles and recommends J. Schram Sparkling Rosé or Pol Roger Brut. Red wine lovers will want to pre-game with Syrah, and Ramirez’s favorite is Krupp Brothers Black Bart.

Magnolia Motor Lounge
The night is still young when the last rodeo performance ends around 9 pm. That’s when spectators can head over to this Cultural District live music venue, bar, and restaurant for talented Texas country and Americana acts. The kitchen will be open late during rodeo season, so refuel for a late night with tacos, burgers, or gourmet hot dogs and wash it all down with a craft beer from Mag’s extensive selection on tap. Check the music calendar for show times and any cover charges.

Rodeo Exchange
If you wind up at this Stockyards institution for boot-scooting and beers after a night at the rodeo, you did things right. More than 30 years in business, Rodeo Exchange is a true cowboy dance hall, with its railed dance floor, live country cover bands, and cheap longneck bottles. Go prepared to two-step at one of the most popular post-rodeo hangouts in the Stockyards. If a little liquid courage is needed, act like a regular and order a shot of Fireball.