Beacuse a stage and a Shiner is probably enough.
Life is filled with existential questions, riddles that perplex mankind for decades, perhaps never finding any hint of resolution. And this is what came to mind for this reviewer when pondering whether a classic Texas roadhouse-style bar qualifies as a dive bar. Finer minds than this one may need to jump into the fray to offer some compelling arguments for or against, but while that debate rages, suffice to say that Texas Café & Bar is a roadhouse or dive bar or both worth sparking the debate.
Known to locals as The Spoon, Texas Café & Bar was the most frequently-referenced recommendation when I asked those in Lubbock where the most dive bar-like experience might be found within the city. And quick were those recommendations to come with the asterisk that though the sign on the door says Texas Café & Bar, calling it The Spoon would demonstrate a clearer understanding of the bar. Turns out that Texas Café & Bar opened up at as the Texas Spoon in 1980 before a name change in the 1990s that has only marginally stuck.
Regardless of the name, the space is one that anyone might conjure up when thinking about what a Texas-style roadhouse might entail. Dusty parking lot, vast open floorplan, stage up front, tables in back, dance floor in between, the elements are all there and expertly arranged. Classic bulb lighting trims the front entrance, with large red lighting screaming “Bar-B-Que” arguably given more visual weight than the name of the bar itself. Motorcycles dominated the front row, positioned in front of simple red paneling and a single black door.
Inside, the space unfolds into a wide open space dotted with a handful of pillars that separates the stage-dominated front room from the pool tables and high top seating that make up the bar’s secondary space in back. Up front, the Texas state flag serves as backdrop to a well-lit stage that the Texas Café & Bar’s web site reveals has played host to artists like Stevie Ray Vaughn. Such a scene is easy to picture, a classic Texas outpost in a classically Texan town.
A short bar runs partially down one of the space’s interior walls, the kind of seating area that makes it clear that while there’s no shame in sitting at the bar, the real action is out on the floor. Elevated liquor bottles and TVs dominate the bar area, really more a pitstop on the way to music-oriented table seating in front or the game room of sorts in back.
So while there is probably a debate to be had around the nuances between dive bar, Texas roadhouse and any number of options in between, Texas Café & Bar checks all of the dive bar boxes. 40-plus year history, unpretentious presentation, a pseudonym known only to the locals, a clear preference for ice cold domestic beer, these are the elements that make for a great experience no matter the label, with a dash of Lubbock biker bar for good measure.