The Rodeo Bar certainly has a lot to offer. Not only does it occupy ground-floor space inside the beautiful Adolphus Hotel, but it also offers excellent views of the AT&T Discovery District, which looks a bit like Dallas’ Times Square.
The Rodeo Bar got a makeover last year. It opened in 1981, full of Texas bluster and sports banter. It was the kind of place where you made peanuts on the floor. The bar closed in 2020 as part of a major overhaul of the 110-year-old Adolphus Hotel, which was built by Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch. The Rodeo Bar reopened in January, cleaned up with a nice starch shine.
On a recent Friday night we stopped at the valet at the Adolphus because why find a parking space downtown when they will validate your ticket inside at the bar? No matter where you park or how you arrive, be sure to enter through the hotel’s main entrance. It’s full of smooth marble, brass, cozy fireplace nooks, and stunning artwork. Then stroll through their coffee bar, over the black and white tiled floors and look for the dark red neon glow announcing that God saved the rodeo bar. It’s the perfect punch of Texas swagger.
The bar was packed the night we went, a Friday during happy hour. There wasn’t an inch to squeeze in for a drink. After wandering around for a minute, a waiter told us we could order at a separate counter in front of the kitchen and they would bring our food and drinks to us, like in a fast casual restaurant. Not as fun as the bar, but it did the job.
As mentioned, the Rodeo Bar is up to the AT&T Discovery District at the corner of Commerce Street and Akard Street. Guests inside can glimpse the bustling, bright space across the street through passing cars.
It strikes a retro chord; some walls are lined with different memorabilia, like a ribbon from the 1975 State Fair and ’80s swag from Steak and Ale.
The music definitely sets the tone with old blues tunes like “Tennessee Boogie” by Zeb Turner and not-so-old blues by Justin Townes Earle (if that hurt a little look it’s a gem of Letterman).
Happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. with a $5 menu that includes their Rodeo Burger, Queso, Chili Fries, Chili, Draft Beer, Boilermakers, Slow Fashion and house wine.
We went with a burger and Lone Star with a side of fries which was also $5 which is a bit pricey for a potato paper boat. The burger is of the broken trend variety. It’s probably a love or hate story; personally, I love it. Smashed beef on the grill makes delicious charred morsels, and it doesn’t sit on your stomach like a brick.
Overall the bar has a fun energy, benefited from a good soundtrack, decent happy hour offerings and great people watching outside. It’s hard to “create” a honky tonk or retro vibe; just trying can ruin it. But, if visitors are in town and you want to show them a little Texan swagger, valet to the Adolphus and woo them with this chic space, then bring it down to earth with a Lone Star and smash a burger.
Again, Rodeo Bar will validate your ticket with the valet, but don’t forget cash for a tip.
Rodeo Bar, 1321 Commerce Street (Downtown), 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday