Fort Worth: Cowboys, Culture ... and Food!, Take III - Cultural District and TCU Area

By Tom Burke,

"Take I" featured Sundance Square, "Take II" highlighted Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.  Here is "Take III".

Cultural District and TCU Area: Impressive, world-class museums make up the Fort Worth Cultural District, which is just off University Drive, north of TCU.

Now in its sixth decade of operation, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art offers an array of exhibitions, publications, and programs that connect visitors to masterworks of American art. The museum was established through the generosity of Amon G. Carter Sr. (1879–1955) to house his collection of paintings and sculpture by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell; to collect, preserve, and exhibit the finest examples of American art; and to serve an educational role through exhibitions, publications, and programs devoted to the study of American art. Its collections focus on 19th and early-to-mid 20th Century American art, including works by such artists as Alexander Calder, Thomas Cole, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Singer Sargent and Alfred Stieglitz. These holdings are complemented by substantial photographic and archival collections. The museum also houses a research library of approximately 150,000 items, focusing on American art, history and culture. 

The initial artwork for the Kimbell Art Museum came from the private collection of Kay and Velma Kimbell, who also provided funds for a building to house it. The building was designed by renowned architect Louis I. Kahn and is widely recognized as one of the most significant works of architecture of recent times. It is especially noted for the wash of silvery natural light across its vaulted gallery ceilings. By the time of Kay Kimbell's death in 1964, the couple had amassed what was considered to be the best selection old masters in the Southwest. The European collection is the most extensive in the museum and includes Michelangelo's first known painting, The Torment of Saint Anthony. The museum houses a substantial library with over 59,000 books, periodicals and auction catalogs that are available as a resource to art historians and to faculty and graduate students from surrounding universities. In 2013, the museum expanded, with the opening of the Renzo Piano Pavilion, which was designed by Renzo Piano.

The Kimbell features the excellent Buffet Restaurant, featuring homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, quiche and desserts. There's also the Pavilion Cafe, serving beverages, box lunches, light snacks and desserts. 

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is dedicated to collecting, presenting and interpreting international developments in post–World War II art in all media. The building, designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, opened in 2002. The building features five long pavilions set into a reflecting pond. The museum maintains one of the foremost collections of international modern and contemporary art in the central United States. Various movements, themes, and styles are represented, including Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Pop art, and Minimalism, as well as aspects of New Image Painting from the 1970s and beyond, recent developments in abstraction and figurative sculpture, and contemporary movements in photography, video, and digital imagery. 

The Café Modern in the Modern Art Museum is a well-respected restaurant. It uses fresh, naturally produced ingredients, with the food cooked exclusively from scratch, using whole grains and vegetables, cage-free shell eggs, and humanely treated chickens and beef, raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. The restaurant blends seasonal foods from local artisan producers with diverse culinary traditions from around the globe. 

Started in 1975, in the basement of the Deaf Smith County Library in Hereford, Texas, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum moved to Fort Worth in 1994 to plan for and build a new permanent home, which became a reality in 2002. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire. The museum includes interactive exhibit galleries that feature artifacts of the permanent collection, a traveling exhibit gallery, two theaters, gift shop and a research library and archives. The museum’s archives house more than 4000 artifacts and information about more than 750 remarkable women. The 220 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame honorees include pioneers, artists, writers, entertainers, humanitarians, business women, educators, ranchers and rodeo cowgirls 

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History engages visitors through creative, vibrant programs and exhibits interpreting science and the stories of Texas and the Southwest. A new facility, designed by famed architects Legoretta + Legoretta of Mexico City, opened in November of 2009. The 166,000-square-foot museum holds DinoLabs and DinoDig, Innovation Studios, the Children’s Museum, Energy Blast, and the CattleRaiser’s Museum. The Havener Gallery provides a space for changing exhibits. The museum's Omni Theater was the first IMAX screen in the Southwest and, with an eight-story domed screen and 30-degree stadium seating, remains the largest IMAX dome in the United States west of the Mississippi River. The  90-seat Noble Planetarium brings the first Zeiss-manufactured hybrid planetarium system -- an immersive all-dome video combined with a fiber optic dual-hemisphere star projector to see more than 7,000 stars -- to the Southwest United States. The planetarium also features an exhibit area that provides large screens with views of the Sun, as well as downlinks offering the latest information from the Hubble Telescope.

The mission of the Fort Worth Community Arts Center is to provide an affordable and quality event, visual and performing arts venue for all of the community. The Arts Center is a distinctive venue with office space for nine arts organizations, nine galleries and two theatres. It functions as a venue for the purpose of exhibiting art, and presenting local and national educational and cultural events. Designed for adults and children alike, the Center offers a place for the celebration and creation of ideas including: dance; theater; studio art; music; opera; and poetry. 

Located outside of the cultural district, closer to TCU, the Log Cabin Village educates the public through the collection, preservation and interpretation of artifacts, representative structures, and other items of social and cultural significance to Texas’ pioneer era (1840-1890). The Village consists of six restored log houses, dating back to the mid 1800s, the Foster Cabin, an impressive 1850s plantation log house, the 1870s Marine School, and the Reynolds Smokehouse. Each of the historic structures, furnished with authentic artifacts, provides a vivid look at life in the nineteenth century North Texas frontier. Each log house displays different aspects of pioneer life. There also is a water-powered gristmill, a blacksmith shop and an herb garden. Historical interpreters, who are City of Fort Worth staff and volunteers, depict the lifestyle of the people who lived and settled the area in the mid to late 1800s.

Fort Worth's Botanic Garden, consisting of 109 acres, is the oldest botanic garden in Texas, with 2,501 species of native and exotic plants in 21 specialty gardens. It is open daily. An admission fee is charged for the Conservatory and Japanese Garden; the other gardens are free. The Gardens Restaurant is located in the historic Rock Springs building. An ever-changing menu has recently included a new Garden Sampler, Tequila Chicken Panini Sandwich, Grilled Portobello Wrap, Herb Encrusted Salmon, Aztec Fettuccini, and desserts of New York cheesecake, tiramisu and a chocolate mousse cake. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 am to 3 pm. A Sunday brunch is served from 11 am to 3 pm.

The oldest zoo in Texas, the Fort Worth Zoo was founded in 1909 with one lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote, a peacock and a few rabbits. From these humble beginnings, the Zoo has grown into a nationally ranked facility, housing nearly 7,000 native and exotic animals. Since 1992, the Zoo has opened 16 permanent exhibits and support facilities, including Texas Wild! in 2001, which houses seven distinct exhibits within an eight-acre complex. In 2010, Museum of Living Art (MOLA) opened. MOLA is a premier Herpetarium that brings guests eye-to-eye with some of the most exotic and endangered species on the planet. The 30,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor facility houses more than 100 amphibian and reptile species, representing more than 850 animals.

The Fort Worth Zoo is one of the most popular attractions in the area. The Zoo has been ranked the No. 5 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide, a top zoo by Family Life magazine, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today, one of the top zoo’s in the South by Southern Living Reader’s Choice Awards, and named the number one attraction in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex by Zagat Survey U.S. Family Travel Guide. The museum is open 10 am to 4 pm daily.

Hungry? You can find upscale dining throughout the cultural district and TCU area. 

Piola offers home-cooked Italian favorites served in a repurposed '40s-era cottage. Michaels Restaurant and Ancho Chile Bar specializes in contemporary ranch cuisine, with the main dining room featuring a collection of contemporary art. With each season comes a fresh harvest of delicious ingredients to work with at Winslow's Wine Cafe, where chef features are available nightly and the menu changes two times a year to incorporate the ingredients and palates that accompany each particular season. 

Open since 1985, Saint-Emilion, set in a cozy house, is an upscale bistro that delivers refined takes on homestyle French cuisine, specializing in prime beef, duck, lamb and fresh seafood. Eddie V's Prime Seafood offers fresh seafood, prime steaks, live jazz music and hand-crafted cocktails. The Blue Sushi Sake Grill High is a high-energy restaurant serving sushi, sake and happy-hour specials in a dramatically decorated space. The Silver Fox Steakhouse serves USDA Prime steaks and ocean favorites such as Atlantic salmon, jumbo sautéed scallops and succulent cold water rock lobster tail.

There also are many unique restaurants in the cultural district and TCU area.

Lucile's Stateside Bistro, opened in 1993, is a landmark family restaurant serving traditional American fare in a homey, historical building that was constructed in 1927 for a restaurant. J&J Oyster Bar has been in the cultural district since the early 1970s. As one of Fort Worth’s first purveyor of fresh shucked oysters, today it is a Cajun-style seafood shack supplying crawfish, oysters, gumbo and shrimp in laid-back digs. Many of the regulars prefer sitting at the counter, but there also is table and patio seating. 

Going on 70 years, the family-run Kincaid's serves all-natural, handmade, black angus beef hamburgers. Try a bacon-jalapeño-pimento cheeseburger. And don't pass up the crinkle-cut fries! Eat at communal picnic tables or stand at counters located among grocery items. Since 1926, the Original Mexican Eats Cafe has used the best and freshest ingredients to make some memorable Mexican food that is served in a friendly atmosphere. 

Angelo's and Railhead are two of Fort Worth's legendary BBQ restaurants, serving tender brisket, succulent ribs and other meats. Fries are available at Railhead, but not at Angelo's. If you want to impress the locals, tell 'em you remember when there was sawdust on the floors at Angelo's. Also legendary are the German pancakes at Ol' South Pancake House, which is open 24 hours a day, has been family-owned and operated since 1962 and voted best breakfast and late-night restaurant several years in a row. The Montgomery Street Cafe is a small, bustling, longtime diner that serves homestyle food for breakfast and lunch. Since it sits behind Will Rogers Coliseum, you're likely to be seated next to a cowboy or a horseman. Fuzzy's Taco Shop serves Baja-style tacos and other Mexican eats. Mama’s Pizza specializes in an “East Coast” style pizza. The dough is made daily and the pies are topped with 100 percent real cheese made from milk, quality meats and fresh produce. Mama's pizzas are baked in hot brick ovens, giving their pizzas a browned crust that is brushed with melted garlic butter. Publications have named it Fort Worth's/Tarrant County's "Best Pizza" and "Pizza of Choice."

Located in University Park Village, just north of TCU is Blue Mesa Grill. Blue Mesa features Mexican food and is renowned for its unique, hand-cut sweet potato chips, as well as its red chile salmon, jalapeno relish, Sunday brunch, blue margaritas and sweet corn cake. It's tequila bar features over 100 tequilas.

Overlooking the Trinity River, across from the zoo and close to Colonial Country Club and TCU, the Woodshed Smokehouse is chef Tim Love's homage to all things grilled, roasted and slow-cooked, featuring a daily rotating selection of beef, lamb, pork, cabrito, wild game, fish and vegetables, all cooked over a variety of woods and fire sources. Take a break from the traditional and chow down on a smoked game hen taco, grilled pei mussels or brisket stuffed piquillo peppers.

Carshon's Deli is one of the oldest restaurants in Fort Worth, and the city's oldest deli. Established in 1928 by a Jewish immigrant, Carshon's is the only kosher-style deli in Fort Worth. Family-owned and operated since its beginning, Carshon's offers sandwiches, meat and fish platters, franks, soups, salads, toasted bagels and desserts that are baked fresh daily, including a chocolate pudding cake and a cappuccino ice cream cake.

Located across from the TCU campus is the Buffalo Bros., a sports bar, specializing in televisions and wings. Next door is Dutch's, the namesake of which is Leo “Dutch” Meyer, a TCU grad who became a successful Horned Frog football coach. Dutch's also is successful. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently named its burgers the best in Fort Worth and Dallas. Try the Vaquero, with shredded cheddar, bacon, fried jalapeño and onion strings, barbecue sauce and chipotle mayo. The Lineman is a double-meat burger with cheese and bacon. The Bacon Bleu features, of course, bacon and bleu cheese. All of the burgers are served on sourdough buns that have a hint of sweetness. Dutch's also offers a chicken burger and a veggie burger, plus hand-cut fries, hand dipped onion rings, salads, nachos and chips, griddled sandwiches, and gourmet hot dogs.

Additional cultural district information is here: