Where to drink
With more sunshiny hours in the day (and no mosquitos just yet), patio season is officially here. Thanks to the pandemic, bar patios are more popular than ever as folks seek safe ways to gather with friends again. (Just remember your mask when you walk inside.)
Here are six great new patios, ranging from updated wine bars and new breweries to two new hot spots in the Fort Worth Stockyards. If being "outdoorsy" means drinking outdoors, read on.
The Backyard at Hotel Drover
It’s the backyard that dreams are made of. Creekside bar seating, fire pits, lawn games, multimillion-dollar landscaping, and an outdoor stage make up The Backyard at Hotel Drover, a “rustic-luxe” oasis for both hotel guests and locals. Less than one month old, the glitzy new Stockyards hotel currently offers a pop-up bar in the veranda, but visitors are always welcome to grab a drink in the chic lobby bar and take it outside. Try the Lavender Bee’s Knees, shaken with gin, lemon, and lavender syrup; or the Blackland Distilling bourbon-infused Texas Paper Plane. Look for live music and full outdoor bar service to be added in coming weeks.
Grand Cru Wine Bar
The West Magnolia Avenue wine bar has an outdoorsy new addition. Grand Cru has added a parklet patio, offering brand-new umbrella-covered tables and chairs and large planters placed neatly outside the wine bar’s entrance. The term “parklet” designates a small seating area created along a sidewalk or former parking space, and in Grand Cru’s case, it’s the latter as the tables sit just off the sidewalk. Celebrate the new space with a bottle of bubbly or crisp rosé.
Maple Branch Craft Brewery
Opened last October, this massive Foundry District brewery and beer garden is just hitting its stride as a prime patio destination. Owned by husband-and-wife duo and TCU grads Stuart and Alyssa Maples, the craft beer haven provides plenty of room to spread out — the entire patio is 7,000 square feet, and the interior is another 7,000 square feet. Outdoor seating for 150 combines picnic tables and benches with umbrella-covered patio tables and chairs over crushed granite. Of the 20 or so beers on tap, fan faves range from The 3 Texans golden ale to March of the Mallows marshmallow stout. Save room for barroom bites like giant Bavarian pretzels with beer cheese and chopped barbecue sandwiches.
Neutral Ground Brewing Company
Fort Worth’s newest brewery is only three weeks old and already has one hoppin’ patio. Neutral Ground Brewing Company, located in the up-and-coming River East District, offers covered street-side seating flanked by indoor-outdoor bar seating featuring stools on both sides. The design lets even patrons sitting inside feel as if they are outside, thanks to a large, garage door-style window. Go for the signature King Cake beer, which is not as sweet as it sounds but is garnished with a colorful sugar rim. There are also bar bites provided by Race Street neighbor Brown Bag Club, served via a nifty refrigerated vending machine.
The “best patio for people-watching” award goes to Sidesaddle Saloon, now open in the Fort Worth Stockyards’ red-hot Mule Alley. It’s the latest concept from the Neon Light Hospitality Group, the folks behind restaurants Taco Heads and Tinie’s. This one is primarily a cocktail bar, with a small menu of “Texas tapas” like bison tartare and bacon-cheddar-chive biscuits. While the interior is super cowgirl chic, with a marble-top bar and teal-hued vinyl booth seating, it’s the small patio that provides prime sightseeing. Seating only around 10, the space is enclosed by cacti and horse troughs and gives a glimpse at bustling Mule Alley, where tourists and locals alike mingle and pose for photos. Sit back and watch with The Prairie Rose Henderson, mixed with Old Forester Bourbon’d Texas Tea, raspberry, and rose water; and the Belle Star, made with local Silver Star vodka, mint, strawberry, and lemon.
With a new owner comes a newly revamped patio at this beloved Southside wine bar. Robyn Davis — a regular WineHaus customer — purchased the bar in November 2020 after learning of its impending closure. On her list was updating the quaint back patio, which is now open with a new pergola, new stage for live music, outdoor fans, fresh landscaping, and a 240-square-foot mural inspired by Monet’s Water Lilies, painted by bar manager Monica Wright. (Don’t miss live jazz on Fridays.) WineHaus will celebrate its official grand opening with a three-day event May 14-16, featuring live music, local art, culinary pop-ups, and themed tastings. Reminder: the wine bar offers several wines on tap along with growlers ready to fill.