When I heard that Little Woodrow’s was about to open their first Dallas location, my Houston-raised heart rejoiced. Its beers were tasty and priced for undergraduate consumption, its patio an ideal spot to shoot the breeze and cheer on sports in every season. If you came on the right night, you could even wager a pint on a turtle race.
Little Woodrow’s on Ross works hard to duplicate that environment of chummy nostalgia, and despite some opening weekend kinks, it succeeds. Its aesthetic is high-brow icehouse, although franchise founder Danny Evans may have raised the arch a little higher with this location. Situated at the corner of Ross and North Hall, the bar covers 8,000 square feet (including its centerpiece patio), built two stories tall in exposed brick and mortar. Craft beer and boutique whiskey dominate the drink menu, which betrays a strong Lone Star bias; you can order a boilermaker of Garrison Brothers and Community Divinity Tripel, if so inclined.
Sports are a big deal at Little Woodrow’s, so both interior and exterior are plastered with flat-screens conspiring to present every college or professional broadcast from at least two vantage points. Two live-work-play developments sit within eyeshot of the patio — the Icon to the west, the Olympus to the northeast — which assure the bar a steady clientele of native and transplanted urbanites looking for their Cheers.
I visited the bar and restaurant on Saturday night, curious how the new incarnation would sync with my mid-aughts recollections. For the most part, they were congruent. Cadres of young professionals and college buddies, most of whom were rolling four to ten deep and decked out in rainbow coalitions of college football regalia, dominated the crowd. The flat-screens were tuned accordingly: A&M went up against Alabama above the indoor bar, while Notre Dame and Michigan State squared off on the patio.
After surveying the beer menu, which subdivides its 46 taps with helpful titles like “Hop-To-It” (IPAs) and “Your Dad’s Beer” (your dad’s beer), we ordered Buffalo Bayou’s More Cowbell Double IPA, a reliable Houston-brewed hop vehicle. Unfortunately, this led to the first hiccup of our visit — the pint lacked the bracing bite we expected, presenting instead a muted, estery flavor more akin to a Belgian than a DIPA. Our second round, a Community Mosaic IPA, also tasted a tad musty.
We had similarly mixed results with our appetizer, fried mac and cheese. Served up in triangles the size of paper footballs, the mac itself was a winner: crispy breading on the outside, gooey cheesiness on the inside. When we dipped a piece in the overly-tangy dipping sauce, however, the dish fumbled. On balance, we chalked up both missteps to opening weekend snafus and resolved to revisit both pint and plate on the next day.
On a second Sunday visit, the crowd was more intimate, mostly couples leisurely noshing, still watching football. The patio’s lack of cover rendered temperatures too high for outdoor seating (according to Guidelive, plans are afoot to remedy this with a louvered roofing system in the near future), so we settled down at an inside table instead. We ordered a Karbach Hopadillo IPA to test the taps a third time — and this time, the hops came on strong. A local stout, the Lakewood French Temptress, tasted just fine.
On this trip, we tried an order of Frito Pie and Mile High Nachos. Both arrived in monster portions that went heavy on the chips. Like the night before, there were some minor gripes — the Frito pie could’ve foregone the chunks of onion, for instance, or the nacho’s toppings-to-tortilla chip ratio — but on balance, it was perfectly acceptable bar food.
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It is good that Little Woodrow’s has come to Dallas. Despite opening-weekend growing pains, Evans and his team have succeeded in creating a space that offers Dallasites an unpretentious gathering place, a well-stocked bar and a taste of that Bayou City easiness. We have it on good authority, too — at the next table over, a squad of Houston natives nursing Miller longnecks declared that the spot had successfully carried the Little Woodrow’s spirit up I-45, even without the turtle races. Slow and steady wins the race.
Little Woodrow's, 3300 Ross Ave.