The bull danced alone to a random Miranda Lambert tune. I watched the mechanical beast spin and simmer, as if inviting me to come take a ride.
I declined. The All American Burger, a tower of beef, melting cheese, toppings and challah bun, was the only beast I’d be conquering that night at Tequila Cowboy, the hot new country-rock spot at CityPlace.
Riding the trendy cowboy concept in splashy style, the bar and grill embodies the lively spirit of today’s country-pop culture: the tricked-out bar, neon lettering, ample stage for line-dancing, and, yes, the obligatory mechanical bull. It’s theme-y, fun and spacious, sprawled throughout 11,000 square feet of CityPlace in West Palm Beach.
The sister eatery of Nashville’s original Tequila Cowboy (which made its prime-time appearance in the ABC TV series “Nashville”), the West Palm location makes good sense in a market where country music concerts are hot stuff.
And luckily for those of us who can neither line-dance nor ride mechanical bulls, there are other sensory pleasures at Tequila Cowboy. Namely, that burger.
The TC All American Burger ($10.50 with toppings, $9.75 without) was presented in a seeded bun with two plump olives pinned atop with a toothpick. I topped my burger with caramelized onions, which seemed to melt into the moist, nicely grilled patty. The seared, sweet flavor of the onions mingled with a smear of sweet, mayo-based cowboy sauce to offset the smoky meat. This burger was just right. More would have been excessive.
Excessive, as in The Roadhouse BBQ burger ($12.75), a monumental layering of barbecued pulled pork, peppered bacon, provolone cheese, Fritos — Fritos! — lettuce, onion and Dijon mustard atop a pork-beef burger patty, all bursting out of a seeded challah bun that’s adorned with skewered hot red chile peppers. It’s absurd. It’s overkill. It’s delicious. The pulled pork is tender and well-seasoned and the meat blend in the patty gives the burger added richness.
Served with a tin cup of good, crispy fries and a thick wedge of pickle, there’s a burger here for a variety of tastes. For those who prefer turkey burgers, there’s The Cowgirl ($11.75), topped with blue cheese, turkey bacon, grapes, balsamic mayo, pickled red onion and arugula. For those craving a veggie burger, there’s the No Meat Burger ($11.75), made of black beans, onion, carrots, beets, jalapeños and mozzarella.
If you prefer your hunk of meat without a bun, go for the hefty and satisfying TC Angus Prime Rib ($23.25), a 12-ounce slab of simply roasted prime rib served au jus and draped like a sheet atop green beans and red potatoes.
Had we imagined the heft of our burgers and prime rib dinner, we might have passed on appetizers. That said, we did enjoy the Greens and Artichoke Dip ($9.50) — a hot dip of spinach, crushed artichokes, melted pepper jack cheese, served with corn tortilla chips — as our amiable server predicted. We ignored the odd-shaped and ultimately irrelevant hunk of brown bread propped aside the tortilla chips.
And while we relished the toppings on the TC Beef & Queso Flatbread ($9.75) — juicy braised beef and salty queso fresco — we didn’t care for the cracker-thin and collapsible crust.
Because it was a weeknight and still early, we were able to enjoy dinner without the frenzy of a live-band night. Even Tequila Cowboy’s bar-within-a-bar, a karaoke spot called Wanna B’s, posed no competition in terms of sound and crowd.
Instead, a varied soundtrack of country hits played to a laid-back crowd at Tequila Cowboy. The music did its part to enhance the country theme — and, thanks to a mechanical operator, to induce the bull to a solo dance.
R E V I E W
ADDRESS: 550 S. Rosemary Ave. (in CityPlace), West Palm Beach
PRICE RANGE: Moderate
NOISE LEVEL: Lively to rowdy
FULL BAR: Yes
HOURS: Open daily at 4 p.m., Sunday and Monday to 1 a.m., Tuesday to 2:30 a.m., Wednesday to 2 a.m., Thursday to 3 a.m., and Friday and Saturday to 4 a.m.
CREDIT CARDS: All major cards accepted
RESERVATIONS: Walk-ins welcome
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:
A — Excellent
B — Good
C — Average
D — Poor
F — Don’t bother