Three Cheers

Varsity Tavern, Photo credit: Ben Garrett

New spots are arriving in groups in Fort Worth, and the latest is a hodgepodge of bars and restaurants from owners Josh Reagan, James Hoffman and Micah McDonald.

The largest of the three concepts, Varsity Tavern, opened its doors on New Year’s Eve at the corner of Norwood and Morton in a space previously occupied by an abandoned auto body shop. Two million dollars later, now the 8,000-square-foot bar and restaurant boasts two levels that combine a sports bar with a rooftop tavern. The multi-tiered space is reminiscent of The Den, a popular three-level sports bar in Uptown Dallas, co-owned by Hoffman.

The lower level is ideal for game-watching with 90” flat screens, a set of bleachers and an outdoor space accessible through garage doors that will remain open during warmer months. This area plays host to bar games, an increasingly popular West 7th concept, including giant jenga, corn hole, ping pong and ladder golf.

There’s no shortage of fare either. Varsity Tavern has a cafeteria-style line manned by Chef Brian Fanzman, formerly of J. Blacks and Eddy V’s. Open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week, the menu includes traditional Philly cheesesteaks, popcorn, candy bars, chips and ballpark nachos. Customers can also order at their table from an extensive menu stocked with standard bar fare including Varsity Dip (the restaurant’s version of loaded queso), burgers, salads and wings.

Chances are when the weather is nice, crowds will move to the upstairs portion of the bar with views of downtown and West 7th. Dubbed as “The Tavern,” a four-sided bar covered by a pergola appears ready for the masses. Upstairs also boasts a fire pit and lounge with a VIP entrance that can be reserved for parties of up to 50.

Next door sits Funky Sound. Under the same ownership, this small bar and lounge will play exclusively old-school hip-hop. To set the scene for the unique space, owners tagged well-known, Dallas-based graffiti artist Jerod Davies, whose work has been seen throughout Deep Ellum, to create murals that feature artists including Willy Nelson and The Notorious B-I-G.

Completing the trio of new spots from these owners is The American Pub (or T.A.P.) two blocks down. The pizza concept, scheduled to open in January, has a full bar and street-facing windows so patrons can grab a New York-style pizza by the slice. T.A.P. plans to stay open late, no doubt to catch people stumbling out of Varsity Tavern and Funky Sound.