Rodeo Bar in the Adolphus Hotel closed for renovations in 2018 and never opened back up. In pandemic pacing, those three or so years feel like a lifetime since the Texas tavern floor had been coated in peanut shell detritus. The Adolphus now sends word that on January 10, Rodeo Bar will finally reopen.
This was supposed to happen back in the fall as the final piece of the hotel’s years-long remodeling campaign. Such a facelift includes a mix of vintage and refurbished seating, plus the addition of a downstairs space aptly dubbed The Back Room, where ephemera of the 1980s prevails: all original neon beer bar lights, vintage rodeo posters, photos, and memorabilia preserved from the original Rodeo Bar.
There, play a round of pool or throw darts. You can plunk down into a plush sofa with a disco ball casting refracted light above while a jukebox cranks out jams. Perhaps Rodeo Bar can transport you to its early days in 1981. Perhaps this is a sign that we really do not want to be in the year 2022.
But it’s the resurrection of Rodeo’s smash burgers that has bewitched the particularly food-obsessed crowd (hi, it’s me). Will those famous burgs live up to the hype and former glory? We shall soon find out.
Inside the 95-seat tavern, beyond the refreshed look, the menu has also been updated. Said Rodeo Burger is made with 44 Farms beef, American cheese, onion, B&B Pickles, and “RB Saucy Sauce.” The Hook ‘em is calling to me; it comes with crispy fried onions, cheese, and that so-called saucy sauce. There are other iterations, like the Tommy Ranger, which has Texas chili. Bacon jam gets involved in the Big Tex and smoked brisket and jalapeño ranch round out the El Tejano.
Beyond burgers–no, not the plant-based sort—Rodeo Bar peddles fried chicken sandwiches, burnt end sandwiches, foot-long hotdogs (show off), corn dogs, nachos, and chips with queso. All of the bar food essentials.
And so, the ’80s are back, baby—think smash burgers and blue plate specials and not frizzed-out bangs and leg warmers. The Adolphus Hotel’s redo could feel like a wacky time-warp or it may be just the classic comeback we need: a dose of nostalgia with casual yet elevated tavern fare.