Each issue, we’ll be traveling to a nearby town and helping you figure out how to spend your day. We’re starting with Denton. We hope you enjoy.
At the greatest dive bar in North Texas, I am drinking something cold, eating something greasy, and saying something stupid to my college roommates. My friends roll their eyes. It’s been awhile, but we’ve been here—this situation, Cool Beans, Denton, Texas—many times before.
There’s a ground-floor patio now, a brunch menu that makes no mention of the waffle fries I once held dear. But I recognize a Bowling for Soup poster on the wall, and the faces in the daytime crowd look so familiar that I feel I could greet them each by name. Eavesdropping on a table nearby, I hear two guys chatting about The Flying Tomato, the legendary Fry Street pizza joint that burned down not far from here in 2007. It was already a fading memory by the time I showed up a year later. I know I’ve heard previous versions of this conversation.
In Denton, nostalgia competes with the forgetfulness of youth. There’s annual population turnover from the colleges (UNT and TWU), and there are plenty of people who like the place so much that they stick around long after graduation. If folks here reminisce a lot, it’s because this is a town where it’s remarkably easy to do things worth remembering. If the music venue you loved in college has closed, well, there’s a new venue and a new band you’re going to love. The drummer has never even heard of The Tomato. And that’s OK.