Pour Judgment: You Can’t Help But Have Texas On Your Mind at The Rustic

The Rustic Dallas
The Rustic’s patio (photography by Louie Solomon)

The night that The Rustic opened, my Facebook feed exploded. It seemed like all of my friends were there, checking out the scene and watching part-owner Pat Green strum his heart out on the outdoor stage. Obviously, my curiosity was mounting, and after hearing my friend Courtney talk about the “calf fries,” I had to stop by for myself.

The Atmosphere: This is Texas, y’all! And you won’t forget it when you’re inside the Rustic, from the iron longhorn greeting you at the door to the gratuitous saddle replacing one of the restroom’s toilets. The owners, who brought you Mutts Canine Cantina and Bowl & Barrel, have a whole lot of Lone Star pride. It makes sense that they partnered with country singer Pat Green, who has numerous tunes about our fair state.

The crowd: We spotted everyone from biker babes to yuppies while chilling outside at a picnic table by the fire. If you’re interested in making friends, there are communal tables both outdoors and at the bar. Both times I visited, the crowd has been relaxed and not too loud.

The Rustic Dallas
A beer-can American flag sculpture over the bar (photography by Louie Solomon)

Where to sit: The Rustic has large indoor and outdoor seating areas. If you want to enjoy the cool fall weather, head to “Pat’s Backyard,” the outdoor concert space. It’s open seating and the fenced-in space gives little ones the freedom to run around. For upcoming shows, check out their website for the music lineup. Indoors you’ll find a large, horseshoe-shaped bar, booths, and more Texas-themed art. Expect a little bit of a wait.

What to drink: If you want to go local, there are loads of Texas brews. If you aren’t a beer fanatic (guilty), there’s a small but mighty list of cocktails. Looking for something refreshing, I started my Sunday off with the Indian Paintbrush, a vodka and boysenberry concoction. This drink had strong notes of lemon and boysenberry, and but wasn’t overly sweet. Next I tried the Dunson cocktail, which tasted like chocolate with a bourbon kick. Cacao bitters and bourbon seem an unlikely pair, but this was my favorite cocktail of the day. Bloody Marys were a popular order among my group, but many were left unsatisfied—the regular was too bland for their taste buds, but the spicy version was overwhelming.

The Rustic Dallas
(left) A Tequila Mockingbird cocktail and (right) owners Kyle Noonan and Joshua Sepkowitz (photography by Louie Solomon)

The fare: I expected more from The Rustic’s chow. My friend and I split the dip trio, the grilled chicken breast sandwich, avocado salad, and side of hominy. The dips lacked any sort of defining flavor, but the accompanying chips were my favorite part of the experience. The sandwich was fine, and the avocado lacked direction—there didn’t seem to be spices or seasoning on the plate. The hominy was delicious, but a little too creamy for me. If you’re feeling adventurous, The Rustic also offers “calf fries” for $6.95 (Rocky Mountain oysters) but I didn’t have the balls to try them. (See what I did there?)

What to wear: This crowd is laid back. There was a mix of everything from biker-chic bandanas and leather to jeans and chunky sweaters. A word from the wise: don’t sit outside unless you’re okay with smelling like a campfire.

The service: The Rustic has only been open for two weeks, so they’re probably still working out their kinks. Service was sporadic. Our waitress would stop by multiple times in a short period, then not be seen for a while. While a few minor mistakes were made with our orders, she was quick to correct them. If you’re a stickler for service, give them a few more weeks to get things in order.

The verdict: I’ll be back to hang out and enjoy a Dunson cocktail, but I won’t plan on eating. Pat’s Backyard looks like the perfect place to catch a concert, so you’ll find me by the fire there one night soon.