But really, that indoor coffee & cigarette alcove.
Traveling means experiencing the truly authentic aspects of the city the region, the country, whatever. Driving into Amarillo, all thoughts are on experiencing anything that feels Texan, from the terrain to the architecture to the beer. Broken Spoke Lounge delivers on every aspect, from the screaming eagle mural outside to the wagon wheel-dominated décor to the duplicated indoor and outdoor wood shingle walls. There is nothing more Texas dive bar than Broken Spoke Lounge, which is kind of the point.
Route 66 runs through Amarillo and that lifeblood comes with it the benefits of timeless structures, long-standing institutions, the dive bars with roots that make them more meaningful. And while Broken Spoke Lounge may not date to the days of settlers along the Oregon Trail, 30 years of heritage is no small feat. Outside, the red roof and wooden shingle façade hints at what is inside and the epic, aforementioned eagle mural only heightens the anticipation.
Inside, Broken Spoke Lounge looks to have packed an entire Texas town into the confines of the bar, an open, expansive footprint that stretches from a convenience store-looking cigarette and coffee alcove back to a pool table seemingly off in the distance. In between, countless metal and neon bar signs flood the space with just the right kind of rosy ambient light. Behind the bar, the visual stimulus is intense, from the middle finger salute carved in wood to a knife labeled Broken Spoke.
The bar itself has a bit of wind to it, snaking across the wall opposite the front door to provide a handful of sectioned-off seating opportunities. The beer cooler bears the image of the American flag and, as this reviewer appreciates, the underrated Coors Banquet logo alongside a handful of tributes to the United States Armed Forces. Beer pricing is relentlessly simple, Average Joe pours (a pint) running $3.50 and Big Boys (something materially bigger than a pint) running $4.00.
For those capable of withstanding the Texas heat, a small patio extends off the main room, dotted with red plush chairs and round tables. A museum-grade collection of weed-related stickers pairs with a plastic case filled with a vast array of lighters and matchbooks. The origins of the collection are a bit unclear, put provide the outdoor area the same kind of uniqueness seen inside.
In some ways, Broken Spoke Lounge feels like Texas in a dive bar box, a visual explosion of beer signs and cold drinks and Budweiser posters and wooden shingles that may not date to the beginning of Route 66, but certainly live up to the location. From the eagle-dominated mural out front to the star-spangled lettering proclaiming “Broken Spoke” above the cigarette vending machine, the Texas dive bar Venn diagram that is the Broken Spoke Lounge plays every aspect perfectly.