Fort Worth: Cowboys, Culture ... and Food!, Take I - Sundance Square

By Tom Burke, www.armedforcesbowl.com

'Tis the holiday season and the week before the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl and all throughout Fort Worth there is great clatter and anticipation of the arrival of the California Golden Bears and Air Force Falcons. And I imagine there is much excitement among California and Air Force fans of soon experiencing all that the great city of Fort Worth has to offer.

You will hear Fort Worth referred to as the City of Cowboys and Culture. That's much more than just a marketing slogan. There's a lot of truth in those words. But, man can not live on western heritage and culture alone. So, I like to think of Fort Worth as the City of Cowboys, Culture and Food!

You could spend a lot of time in Fort Worth and not experience all that the city has to offer. I've been in Fort Worth most of my life, thankfully, and I encounter something new just about everyday. If you ask 10 folks from Cowtown what's the best thing to do or where's the best place to eat, you'll most likely get 10 different answers. So, knowing that you are in town for a mere few days and you don't want to spend precious time driving around in circles, trying to find something fun to do or delicious to eat, I've narrowed for you the focus on cowboys, culture and food down to five areas of the city, making it easy for you to experience much of the best of Fort Worth.

Have fun in Fort Worth, and bon appétit!

Downtown: Since downtown hotels are hosting the University of California (the Worthington Renaissance) and Air Force (the Omni Fort Worth) football teams, many fans also may be staying downtown. Excellent choice! Fort Worth's downtown is vibrant, diverse, fun and safe, and it is colorfully lit and beautifully adorned for the holidays. Downtown also features historic Sundance Square, a dazzling, 35-block development filled with boutiques, restaurants, night spots and art galleries, making it one of the finest entertainment and shopping districts in the Southwest.

Relax in Sundance Square Plaza, where you can people-watch under the enormous umbrellas, grab a bite to eat on a patio or take a selfie in front of the whimsical water fountains. See Bass Performance Hall, which is known for being acoustically perfect and for its towering angels carved in limestone. Explore the gorgeous and unique Fort Worth Water Gardens, next to the Fort Worth Convention Center. Visit the JFK Tribute in General Worth Square, which honors President Kennedy’s historic stay in Fort Worth. Take a break in Burnett Park or Hyde Park, home of the sleeping panther. Hop aboard Molly the Trolley, a free bus service that circulates between downtown hotels and hot spots.

The incredibly fascinating and popular Sid Richardson Museum is located in Sundance Square. The museum features an impressive and significant collection of works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, as well as some additional late 19th-century works about the American West. There also is a museum store, offering unique gifts. Admission is free.

There is live theater, live music, a comedy club, improv comedy and a recently renovated movie theater, with reserved seating. Fort Worth's Central Library is at the intersection of Third and Lamar, two blocks west and two blocks south of the Tarrant County Courthouse. 

Check out downtown's most iconic public art, the Chisholm Trail Mural, which serves as a reminder of Fort Worth's rich cultural roots. This three-story Richard Haas mural spans the 1908 Jett Building’s southern facade in Sundance Square and commemorates the Fort Worth segment of The Chisholm Trail cattle drives of 1867-1875. The mural is one of the most photographed images of Fort Worth. 

Hungry? With many highly rated restaurants, downtown Fort Worth has what you’re craving. Steaks. Fresh seafood. Deli food. Burgers, barbecue, pizza, sushi and fondue. Plus, Mexican, Italian, Cajun and Asian food. Fast. Casual. Elegant. Whatever your mood.

For a unique barbecue experience, visit Bailey's Bar-B-Que, at 826 Taylor Street. Established in 1931 by a Navy cook, the tiny Bailey's features some of the finest sliced brisket in Cowtown. Get your meal to-go or find a seat at one of the few tables that are provided.

A downtown Fort Worth restaurant can be the ideal place to celebrate your team's appearance and/or win in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. 

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House offers prime steaks, fresh seafood and more, including jalapeno bacon macaroni and cheese, in an atmosphere of mahogany-lined walls that showcase hundreds of photographs. 

Bob's Steak and Chop House at the Omni features prime beef, gigantic shrimp, fabulous salads and decadent desserts. 

Ruth's Chris has sizzling, butter-topped steaks. The Cast Iron restaurant in the Omni captures the true flavor of Fort Worth through an emphasis on local ingredients and southern style, with a twist on hometown classics. Plus, there's a Sunday brunch. 

GRACE delivers prime steaks and creative modern American classic fare in a comfortable, modern setting that embodies the city’s energy. Mercury Chop House is where southern fine dining meets an upscale chophouse that specializes in aged prime cut choices of beef, fresh seafood and sinful desserts. Reata rustles up a western setting with the best that Southwestern food has to offer, from steaks to Creole and Southern dishes. Try the rooftop bar and dining patio and, if you dare, the calf fries and elk sausage. Don't even try to resist the tenderloin tamales or the dessert tacos. Yes, dessert tacos! 

Daddy Jack's has steaks and seafood, including lobster and chowder, in an old-school checkered-tablecloth environment. The Worthington Renaissance's Vidalias is a popular restaurant that offers its own fresh, unique perspective on authentic Southwestern cooking. Texas de Brazil is an upscale Brazilian eatery featuring a gigantic salad bar and all-you-can-eat grilled meat, carved tableside. The Cheesecake Factory is new to downtown Fort Worth. It features more than 200 menu selections made from scratch each day. It is known for generous portions and, of course, cheesecakes! 

Additional Sundance Square information: http://sundancesquare.com/

Additional downtown Fort Worth information: http://www.dfwi.org/