A new restaurant and bar in Fort Worth’s buzzy Near Southside area is charming locals with a trifecta of food and beverages: gourmet pizza, coffee, and craft cocktails.
Opened this past spring at 609 South Jennings Avenue, High Top Pub & Grub is an independently owned pizza joint that specializes in pies made with unusual ingredients. It’s attached to a bar and cocktail lounge, called Low Key Tavern, whose back room will soon double as a home for a local coffee roasting company called 817 Coffee Roasters.
The three-in-one concept comes from local business partners Chas Taipale and Drew Boatman, who also own Bodega, a speakeasy-themed bar in the West Seventh area.
High Top's menu is made up of nearly a dozen signature pizzas. They include:
- Foghorn Leghorn, made with shredded chicken, Colby jack cheese, and pepperoncinis, with a housemade barbecue sauce as a base
- The G.O.A.T., topped with goat cheese, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, thyme and balsamic vinegar, with garlic butter sauce as a base
- Vegged Out, an all-vegetable pie with broccoli, artichoke, red cabbage, tomatoes and black olives
- Baked Potato, made with sour cream, bacon bits, green onions, potato chips, and garlic butter
One of the restaurant’s best-selling pies is one of its simplest: The Best Maid, topped only with colby cheese and diced pickles from Best Maid, the iconic, Fort Worth-based pickle company whose profile was majorly boosted last year when it opened a retail shop in the Near Southside neighborhood.
“People go nuts for that pizza,” Taipale says. “A lot of people grew up on Best Maid pickles, so I think there’s a sentimental attachment to anything related to Best Maid. Plus, it’s a killer pizza.”
Taipale describes the pizza crust as “Texas-style.” “It’s somewhere between floppy like a New York slice and a more thin and crispy crust,” he says. “It’s both chewy and crispy. It has its own style.”
In addition to pizza, High Top’s menu includes appetizers such as house-ground meatballs and sun-dried tomato dip, and entrees such as sausage and peppers, classic spaghetti, and a Philly cheesesteak. Desserts consist of peach cobbler pizza, made with peaches, cream cheese, and honey butter, and a root beer float with vanilla Blue Bell ice cream and draft Abita root beer.
“The menu brings together the types of food I’ve been around my whole life, but in an elevated way,” says Taipale, a lifelong restaurant worker whose resume includes stints at Cork & Pig Tavern, American F&B, and 62 Main in Colleyville, where he studied under acclaimed chef David McMillan.
Taipale developed High Top’s food menu with lead cook and kitchen manager Marlon Huezo. The two had some help: Local chef Christian Lehrmann of Sidesaddle Saloon, Taco Heads and Tinie’s Mexican Cuisine lended a hand in developing some of the recipes, Taipale says.
Taipale and Boatman took over the restaurant from the owners of the previous business, Bar None. The two gave the one-room dining a complete makeover, jazzing it up with new high-top tables and chairs, new paint and a revamped patio area.
When the building next door became available, they quickly snagged it, reopening it as the Low Key Tavern. Lined with snug booths, it’s a casual bar with an impressive list of cocktails, beer, and wine.
“High Top is kind of a rock and roll place – the music’s loud, it’s high energy,” Taipale says. “Low Key is the opposite. It’s a good place to chill and relax.”
Set to open in July inside Low Key is 817 Coffee Roasters, a local coffee company run by Velton Hayworth, a Fort Worth-based photographer, blogger, and self-proclaimed coffee geek. He specializes in small-batch craft coffee, made with single-origin beans, which he'll roast on-site. His coffee beans will be available for purchase at High Top. Hayworth is also planning on hosting pop-up events at Low Key, where he'll offer complimentary coffee drinks.