In Fort Worth, Rodeo is a season — just like spring, summer, and “holiday.” After last year’s Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo was COVID-canceled, folks have waited patiently to break out the turquoise and shine their boots for this year’s edition. Dickies Arena is where all 25 rodeo performances will take place, but fans will be found all over town over the next three-and-a-half weeks. For those comfortable going out, here are some of the best bars to partake in the "rodeo scene," whether before or after a visit to FWSSR, or even boot scootin’ late into the night.
There’s lots of opportunity to bar-hop within the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo without even leaving the grounds. Don’t miss the Bud Light Roadhouse, a tented tradition that spans before the days of Dickies Arena. Admission is free with grounds admission or a rodeo ticket, and there are popular live music acts here most evenings after the last rodeo performance.
The Corkyard wine tent, located on Simmons Bank Plaza outside Dickies Arena, debuted in 2020 and is back this year for wine and light fare before or after evening rodeo performances.
A rite of rodeo season passage in Fort Worth is a visit to the long-celebrated Backstage Club, which overlooks Will Rogers Coliseum and is operated by Reata. For more than 50 years, the once-private club has catered to well-dressed rodeo-goers and even some celebs. Today the club is open to the public and reservations are recommended.
Newest, nearest hot spot
A pre-rodeo Dryced Tea — made with whiskey, smoked black tea, and orange peel — may be in order at The Lobby Bar at Hotel Dryce, a hip new hangout located literally steps away from Dickies Arena. Here, potted cacti, colorful cowboy photography, patterned rugs and concrete floors create modern Western vibes, while potent craft cocktails keep clientele coming back. Find a seat in the string-lit courtyard if the weather is nice, and note the bar is open late on Friday and Saturday nights.
Easy “starter spots” close to the FWSSR grounds include mainstays like Chimy’s and Taco Heads. The first two are standards for strong, salt-rimmed margaritas and tacos that are easy to inhale. Both are order-at-the-counter. Reminder: Taco Heads also has a still-new Stockyards location, and there it serves portable "big-effin’" 24-ounce margaritas in to-go containers that make for easy sipping and strolling.
Magnolia Motor Lounge, or “Mags” to its regulars, has been a rodeo season hot spot for more than a decade, both for its proximity to the grounds and its post-rodeo concerts. Big name acts include the likes of Jack Ingram and Jason Boland & The Stragglers.
Stockyards: drinks and food
The Fort Worth Stockyards will no doubt be a premier destination for rodeo-goers both before and after performances. Pre-game with drinks and good grub at places like Second Rodeo Brewing in Mule Alley. Here, there’s live country music all day to get in the rodeo spirit along with gourmet wings, cheesesteak sandwiches, and nachos served conveniently from a window on the enclosed patio. Don’t miss the Grapefruit Ranch Water on tap.
Steps away is Sidesaddle Saloon, where cocktail hour is elevated with beautifully crafted drinks like the Wilma Mankiller made with local Silver Star vodka and hibiscus syrup. It’s on happy hour from 3-7 pm daily and all day Sunday. There are also Texas tapas, like pork rinds with pickles and hot sauce, sliders, chili, and smoked brisket flatbread.
When Tim Love’s rooftop bar Atico opened atop the Springhill Suites in the Stockyards in early 2020, it was immediately a premier destination for dressed-to-the-nines rodeo patrons. Take the elevator to the sixth floor and find sweeping, panoramic views of Fort Worth along with Spanish tapas and cocktails, like blood orange sangria and the Spanish Manhattan.
Expect a younger, college-age crowd at dance destinations like The Basement Bar and PR’s Saloon, especially the latter. PR’s has long been known as one of the Stockyards’ wildest party bars, where the shots flow all night. The Basement Bar comically touts itself as the “world’s smallest honky tonk.” Look for the steps leading below street level on Exchange Ave. for this hidden hot spot.
Tried-and-true watering holes include the historic White Elephant Saloon and The Cantina Cadillac, where a more mature crowd goes for two-stepping. The White Elephant has live music daily and a small wooden dance floor that gets busy. There’s a little more room to spread out at Cantina Cadillac, which offers mostly DJ music.
A quick Uber ride away
Known for having a long list of regulars — many of whom have their very own beer mug hanging from the ceiling over the bar — The Showdown on Camp Bowie Boulevard always welcomes rodeo fans for cheap drinks and good times. It’s an old-school dive bar, so don’t expect anything fancy; that’s the way they like it. Speaking of Camp Bowie dive bars, an even later-night crowd then gathers down the street at Sarah's Place for some final strong drinks, conversation, and pretty entertaining karaoke.
In the opposite direction is the new Rabbit Hole Pub, which took over the former VIP’s space on White Settlement Road last year. Less of a dancing destination and more of a sports bar, the pub has an open-air setting when the glass garage door opens on nice days. There are lots of TVs, billiards, darts, and plenty of tables to grab a seat and a longneck and stretch your legs.