It’s sort of heartbreaking to see a mechanical bull sitting off in a dark corner of a bar, slouching against an empty booth. You’re used to seeing them in action, surrounded by crash pads and laughing drunks and bucking against a girl with expensive shoes or a college guy about to go sneer-first into the padded earth. So to see one of the poor things tucked away like the biggest forgotten toy ever, why it feels like one o’ them metaphors about lost potential.
Redland Roadhouse, sharing space in a strip mall along U.S. 281 with the likes of Mulligans, Klusoz Martini & Tapas Bar, a tattoo shop, and a wings place, is a big old high-ceilinged country bar. It’s a fancy barn for drinking, weekly karaoke, and bull riding. There’s a big Texas flag painted on the ceiling, maybe so if you fall on your back you can remember where you are. The mounted longhorn head hanging behind the taps has a sinister look about the eyes, like a livestock Fu Manchu. Wagon wheels hang from the ceiling, as does a mirror ball. Somebody’s made chandeliers out of bottles.
It’s a sizable place, and benefits from big crowds packing in for Redland’s many scheduled events. There’s bull riding on Monday and Thursday, karaoke Tuesday, and a DJ who spins alongside the bull, plus Saturday. Oh, and a band Friday. It’s hard to find a night where something isn’t going on. Wednesday, I guess, is the day of rest. On a quiet night, you’ll see a mix of folks in flip-flops and expensive jeans at the tables, and real-life cowboy types, or at least guys in hats, up at the bar. I take this as a good sign that the bar has managed to find the right spirit for all kinds of people. That spirit, most likely, is “alcohol.”
The year-old place feels like a countrified version of the adjacent Mulligans, which makes total sense since it used to be the non-smoking section of that franchise sports bar. Like Mulligans, Redland has flat-screens and a boxing game, but deviates in theme by adding hay bales out front and a saddle here and there.
And that’s what’s weird about Redland — while it wants to be a country joint, it can’t do “country dive.” Its ceilings are too high, its wood slices are too fresh, and when it’s not crowded, it feels practically empty. Places like this grew out of the honky-tonks of yore — think of Gruene Hall, which is big too, but also lived-in enough to hang out with a couple of friends on a quiet night of dedicated drinking. Redland is something else, some new breed evolved in the nightlife ecosystem outside of 1604 — where places are stylized and themed and have to sort of be something. Redland seeks that dance-hall energy all the time. It’s a place designed to be Saturday night, every night. When it is Saturday (even if it’s Thursday), it works. And when it’s not, that bull looks so sad. •
19314 U.S. Hwy 281 N, Ste. 107
Vibe A good-looking place that attracts cowboys and people who like cowboy music (and bull riding).
Best Use Pick one of those nights where drinking and physical exertion (or exhibitionism) are on tap.
Prices $2 drafts and $2 wells until 11 p.m.