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Mockingbird Taproom offers a grown-up, sometimes sterile, sports-watching experience

Mockingbird Taproom at Mockingbird Station in Dallas
Located in the north end of Mockingbird Station, Mockingbird Taproom is a high-end sports bar that takes its food and beers seriously.  Mockingbird Taproom/Facebook
Mockingbird Taproom, La Pina
Taproom's La Piña is made of muddled jalapeno, pineapple and mint with rum, pineapple and cranberry juice topped with soda. We'd drink that. Mockingbird Taproom/Facebook

Mockingbird Taproom is going through its soft opening right now, so we figured we’d stop by and see what all the emails were about. It hasn’t even been open a week, so we’re keeping an open mind.

Taproom is a high-end sports bar in Mockingbird Station by way of the owners of Primebar and Park Tavern. The layout is largely the same as those places, with pseudo-industrial touches, from the steel chairs to the exposed brick walls. It’s a little sterile, but not uninviting.

But a sports bar must be good for sports, first and foremost. It’s just science. Taproom sports 20 flat screens and 5,800 square feet; it’s impossible not to be in the sight line of one wherever you are.

 If Mockingbird Taproom is still around next football season, it’ll be a strong contender for watch parties.

Can I say I liked it? I liked it. Perhaps the only thing that could change is that there isn’t one main, bigger TV over the bar. It wasn’t an issue for me, but some of my bar research associates begged to differ. 

The biggest downside to Taproom is that it opened so late in football season. It has happy hour all day Sundays, with half-price appetizers and $3 Texas drafts and wells. The beer selection is mostly crafts, many of them local. Being able to get a Peticolas Royal Scandal, followed by a Revolver Blood & Honey and a Deep Ellum IPA, all for $9, is a great design for keeping people around.

I usually leave the food to Teresa Gubbins, as I usually should, but I know a thing or two about wings, so we’ll talk about wings. We went with the Texas Asphalt, one of Taproom's third-tier spices. This dark, thick sauce is what every spicy barbecue wing sauce wants to be. It’s that good kind of burning that doesn’t need a doctor, with a nice smoke quality that tempers the spice until you realize you’ve chugged your beer and water — and your mouth is still watering.

There’s a spicier level called “Y.G.H.U.T.” that stands for You’re Gonna Hate Us Tomorrow. It requires a waiver, and our waiter said he would never recommend it to anyone. If you’re a masochist, it might be worth a shot.

The strangest part of our trip to the Taproom was the service. Our waiter was perfectly nice and helpful, but his timing was all over the place.

Beers took a while to show up, but our food arrived right away. The place wasn’t even busy, so it doesn’t seem like the bar was overwhelmed or that they had the food waiting under a heat lamp. Chalk it up to soft-opening hiccups for now.

If Mockingbird Taproom is still around next football season, it’ll definitely be a strong contender for watch parties. Until then, it remains to be seen what kind of sports bar this will be. It lacks a certain personality, which needs to be cultivated before it can be the kind of place that attracts regulars.

Between Taproom, the People’s Last Stand and Trinity Hall, Mockingbird Station now has a strong trio of bars with independent styles. Still, Mockingbird Station is not the kind of place that encourages rowdiness. The whole thing is so corporate and clean.

But for a good post-work happy hour or as the bar before you actually go out? Yeah, Mockingbird Taproom is good for that. And playoff games, if the Cowboys can keep it together

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