Fort Worth: Cowboys, Culture ... and Food!, Take IV - West 7th Street District, and the Near Southside

By Tom Burke,

"Take I" featured Sundance Square and "Take II" highlighted Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.  "Take III" showcased the Cultural District and TCU Area, and now here is "Take IV"!

West 7th Street District: Sitting across University Drive from the Fort Worth Cultural District, West 7th is a premiere shopping, dining and entertainment destination that encompasses nearly five pedestrian-friendly blocks. The West 7th district features a holiday event called Starlight Symphony, with music, lights, animated holiday stars and other seasonal sparkle synchronized to Christmas songs. A five-minute show plays nightly on the hour from 6 to 10 pm and runs through January 4. 

For entertainment, there is the Movie Tavern, which provides in-theater dining with chef-driven menus, premium quality food, drinks and luxurious seating. The menu includes appetizers, burgers, wraps, pitas, hand-tossed pizzas, desserts and a full bar, as well as movie house must-haves like popcorn, candy and soda.

There is a wide-range of dining options in the West 7th area.

Social House is a newish bar-restaurant that brings the spirit with new holiday drinks, including two martinis -- candy cane and pumpkin pie -- and peppermint hot chocolate, with or without booze. Social House offers over 100 beers on draft, all of which are held at a chilling 32 degrees. Created by Chef Brian Olenjack from the renowned Reatta and Olenjack’s Grille, the food focuses on southern and Texas flavors, with all food made from scratch. Favorites include brick-oven pizzas, seared Ahi Tuna Salad, buffalo calamari, Texas shrimp and grits, Guinness braised short ribs and natural-cut French fries. At Terra Mediterranean Grill, entrees include chicken roasted and served with saffron rice, or sautéed with mushrooms and a creamy curry sauce, a Rib eye (Kibbie) baked or fried, grilled New Zealand lamb, oven-roasted trout and much more. Sweet Tomatoes offers a rotating menu of more than 100 original recipes, made fresh daily, featuring signature salads, soups, bakery goods and hot pasta sauces, at an all-you-care-to-eat price. All food is prepared without the use of artificial flavors, colors, additives or artificial trans fats. A different food theme is featured each month and the most popular menu items are rotated every two weeks. Items are showcased on a 45-foot salad bar and prepared exhibition style every twenty minutes. 

Waters, Bonnell's Coastal Cuisine has redefined the Fort Worth seafood restaurant scene. A raw bar lines the main dining room where patrons can sample a vast selection of fresh oysters, clams, shrimp and crab. Chef Bonnell also offers numerous daily specials based on the freshest wild fish available from waters around the world, delivered directly from fishermen. While seafood is the restaurant’s signature, the menu also features game, beef and vegetarian options. FW Market & Table serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Table offers tasty, local fare in a relaxed, casual-dining atmosphere. The rotating menu, created with whimsy, exemplifies the chef's culinary imagination. La Familia is a family-run Mexican eatery that serves familiar fare and specialty drinks, including flaming margaritas, in festive quarters.

Get inventive variations on house-ground burgers and a lengthy craft beer lineup at Rodeo Goat. Fort Worth Star-Telegram readers picked Rodeo Goat in 2015 for best burgers in Fort Worth and Dallas. There also are hand-punched fries and homemade chips, plus a homemade vegetable patty with sprouts, tomato and avocado. Nearby is Fred's Texas Cafe, a laid-back, iconic veteran Fort Worth burger and steak joint known for live music, beer and outdoor seating. Cowboy chef Terry Chandler provides specialty burgers, sandwiches, tacos, quesadillas, a ribeye, chicken-fried steak, calf fries, salads and hand-cut fries. This location is the original. There are newer ones, including one in the TCU area.

There's also an In and Out Burger, the classic California-based burger chain, serving customizable patties, hand-cut fries and thick shakes. 

Additional West 7th Street District information is here.

Near Southside: The near Southside of Fort Worth is a burgeoning cultural hub where small businesses dot busy streets. Former houses and gas stations have been converted into bars and farm-fresh, fine-dining cafes. The songs of musicians performing at local venues resound throughout the neighborhood on an almost-nightly basis. On vibrant Magnolia Avenue, there are trendy restaurants, most of which are locally owned.

You can't go wrong with Lili’s Bistro, Shinjuku Station, Ellerbe Fine Foods and Cat City Grill. The Yucatan Taco Stand attracts diners with signature margaritas and Latin American favorites. What many people consider to be Fort Worth's best vegetarian restaurant, Spiral Diner, is on Magnolia. Temaki Sushi offers Japanese options and King Tut has Egyptian cuisine and vegetarian options. There are burgers at Shaw's Patio & Grill, and authentic Mexican food at Benito's and Tina's Cocina. The Bearded Lady features a patio and Avoca Coffee has coffee beverages made from single-origin, house-roasted beans. Brewed offers coffee drinks, craft brews, pub-style fare, a patio and a fire pit. 

For Italian tastes, there is the BYOB, cash-only Nonna Tata, which serves fresh Italian fare in quaint quarters and at sidewalk seats. Cane Rosso is a pizzeria specializing in wood-fired Neapolitan pies, plus Italian sandwiches, pastas and desserts. Mamma Mia offers pizza, sandwiches and chicken wings. Chimera Brewing Company has pizzas, craft beers and a patio.

Some of the best home cooking in Fort Worth is at the Paris Coffee Shop, which has been in the Smith family for 85 years, is open for breakfast and lunch and features daily specials. Leave room for the fabulous desserts, including fruit and meringue pies. There is even egg custard pie! Sit at the counter or at one of the booths or tables. Don't be surprised if you find yourself sitting next to the Mayor of Fort Worth, a TCU coach, a country singer, a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a pro athlete or any other celebrity.

Melt Ice Creams is a bight, cozy craft ice cream shop that makes American classic ice cream, including vegan varieties, using fresh and seasonal fruit for made-from-scratch sauces and compotes. Special holiday flavors include: Snowflake, a white chocolate ice cream flecked with peppermint; Santa's Helper, a vanilla ice cream spiked with Avoca espresso and housemade kahlua; and Merry Marshmallow, which mixes Dude Sweet Chocolate's frozen hot chocolate with Melt's housemade marshmallows.

Additional near Southside information is here.

Of course, the best entertainment and the best food in Fort Worth on December 29 will be served in TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium, when the California Golden Bears take on the Air Force Falcons in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

Happy holidays, and see you soon in Fort Worth!