The Bar Tab: A lucky night to stumble into Stadium Club

Stadium

Mr. Bitters and Olive

The Stadium Club had much to recommend it, including an outdoor fireplace.

We want to start by saying we are not Heights dwellers. It’s not that we have anything particularly against the Heights or its residents; we just live on the West End and don’t often make the long trek down Highway 3.

Because of this, we generally do not find ourselves in the Heights after work. However, on one (truly) fateful night we needed to be in the Heights, had some time to kill, and decided to stop for a drink.

Located at 1029 Main St., the Stadium Club is pretty easy to spot from the street. In front there is a liquor store and casino, and behind that a large patio with an outdoor fireplace; the entrance to the bar is in the back. The parking lot is pretty big and should offer ample parking; we were surprised that it was a little hard to find a spot. We are no connoisseurs of the Heights’ various watering holes, but we were struck by how full the place was.

We entered to find a packed and lively bar. Nearly every high-top table was full, all of the pool tables were occupied and all kinds of people were up and mingling about. We were slightly overwhelmed, but we managed to find two recently vacated seats at the bar.

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The interior has a high-ceilinged industrial club vibe. It features exposed steel rafters and beams throughout, several couches, lots of neon lights, concrete floors and a few beer signs. There was a stage for live music and a beer trough at the entrance, and someone was setting up a taste test (more on that later).

It was clear that quite a bit of thought went into the design. As opposed to the typical dive where random crap is plastered on the walls with no consideration for aesthetics, this place had a plan. It was not a perfect execution—the position of the bar seemed a little awkward for food service and some of the design elements clashed—but it was a pleasant surprise.

The bartender was prompt, asking for our order seconds after we sat down. We scanned the options: a full bar is available, a couple of micros on tap, several varieties of bottles and they have wine (although nothing worth mentioning). Olive ordered a beer and Mr. Bitters had his usual, an old-fashioned. The old-fashioned was fine; nothing special, a little light on the bitters—they may have been omitted—and a bit watered down from some soda water. Mr. Bitters prefers no soda water in his old-fashioned and is content to let the ice do its job and melt.

From our perch at the middle of the bar we got a flavor of the crowd. They were mostly middle-aged, regular folks. Men wore baseball caps, jeans and T-shirts. The women seemed to try harder, but certainly nothing we would consider fancy or party-ready.

The bar was so crowded that we couldn’t help but ask the bartender if this was normal. Apparently not. The Stadium Club was giving away a trip to Mexico, an annual promotion, and the winner had to be present to win. Nice move, Stadium Club.

Intrigued, we asked our bartender about the tasting that was being set up by the pool tables. He told us it was a free whiskey tasting; now we were in business. This is not a normal occurrence, and the bartender said it was the first he ever heard of it. After finishing our drinks we thought we owed it to our readers to find out more about this free tasting, you know, for research purposes.

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The tasting was not really a whiskey tasting, although there was a whiskey available. It was a tasting of various offerings from Willie’s Distillery in Ennis (side note—their tasting room in Ennis is worth a visit). Although we had had some of their offerings before, we are not ones to turn down another sample. Especially when it’s free.

The gentleman manning the table knew his stuff, and was prepared to talk shop. After talking his ear off about obscure New Orleans cocktails and where to find Petchard’s bitters, we found we had worked our way through their offerings. Mr. Bitters recommends their whiskey. The moonshine is interesting; it shoots like tequila and has a very distinct corn aftertaste. The ladies next to us really liked the huckleberry cream liquor.

At this point the server at the beer trough informed Olive that she had left her purse by the bar; sure enough, we looked back to our seats and they had been appropriated. We appreciated that the staff was observant enough to notice and took the time to save us from our own absent-mindedness. Olive retrieved her purse and we made a standing order at the bar.

Drinks in hand, we moved to the back wall for some people-watching and observation of the rest of what the Stadium Club had to offer. A gentleman at the bar paid for his drinks with a pile of change, generic bar fare of burgers and pizza was consumed and generally people seemed to be having a good time.

We finished our drinks and closed our tab. In all, the Stadium club was a bit unexpected, but definitely enjoyable. Nevertheless, we caution that this review is a bit of an outlier. We happened to visit on a night that there was a major promotion and a free liquor tasting, so your results may vary.

Pros:
Interesting, unexpected atmosphere
Nice fire pit
Engaging wait staff
Product tastings and giveaways (we hope these continue)

Cons:
Difficult to determine owing to the night we reviewed

Previous reviews

Chapter 1The Squire Lounge.

Chapter 2The Alpine Casino.

Chapter 3Buck’s Bar.

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