Surprising Fort Worth: Culture in Cowtown

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Fort Worth... The FW in DFW airport. Often overlooked by the glitz and glassy skyline of its neighbor to the east. Most often associated with cowboys and livestock, Fort Worth does indeed offer a glimpse into Texas’ rich western history.

Anyone with a couple of days, or even a couple of hours, to spend in the city can easily be won over by the charming mixture of cowboys and culture. Fort Worth’s main tourist areas are its cultural district, home to most of the museums, its downtown, and Stockyards National Historic District.

Cultural District

Intermingled with the cowboy boots and old-time saloons is a cultural oasis that boasts more than a dozen museums, including the recently opened Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Designed by celebrated Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the space is stately, serene and meditative. All sleek glass and steel, and surrounded by an acre-and-a-half pond, the museum houses a selective, chronological survey of modern art, including works by Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon and Sean Scully.

As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas. Perhaps not surprising, then, that raising the $65 M for the new building and the several hundred million dollars required to install the permanent collection was relatively easy, according to museum officials. Philanthropy is as big as the oil business in this part of the world, resulting in an impressive array of cultural bonanzas for visitors.

The Louis Kahn-designed Kimbell Art Museum — recognized as “America’s best small museum” — and the Amon Carter Museum, renowned for its collection of Western and American masterpieces, have garnered worldwide attention for their collections and exhibits.

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History offers hands-on exhibits that delight children and adults alike, ranging from paleontology to computer science. The popular Omni Theater and a planetarium are also located in the Cultural District.

The newly opened National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors women who embody the spirit of the American West, such as painter Georgia O’Keeffe, author Laura Ingalls Wilder, singer Pasty Cline, and cowgirl Annie Oakley. Interactive exhibits — great for kids and adults alike — include being filmed riding a mechanical bronc. With rodeo footage playing in the background, your bronc ride is posted on the Internet by the museum.

Within walking distance of the museums is the Will Rogers Memorial Center, with 200 days per year of equestrian and cattle events. The Center hosts the oldest stock show and rodeo in the country — the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, held annually in January and February.

The Fort Worth Zoo, consistently ranked as one of America’s best zoos, is world-renowned for its collection and for the natural habitat exhibits that replicate animals’ homes in the wild.


Downtown Fort Worth is a pure revitalization success story. Glittering skyscrapers form a ring around Sundance Square, Fort Worth’s heralded shopping and entertainment district that is now restored to its original redbrick Victorian beauty, filled with restaurants, live theaters, shops, museums and galleries. This 20-block area is also the site of the $67 M. Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, the permanent home for the city’s symphony, opera, ballet and Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In 1999 it was selected as one of the world’s top opera houses by Travel + Leisure magazine, one of only three chosen in the US.

Also located in Sundance Square is the Sid Richardson Collection of Western Art, a small museum that showcases paintings and bronzes by Western greats Remington and Russell.

The Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Fort Worth Convention Center, which recently received a $74 M expansion, occupy what was once Hell’s Half Acre, a brothel- and saloon-packed district where cowhands had their last bit of fun before heading out on the Chisholm Trail. It was also the first stop on the way home, and the first chance to spend wages burning holes in cowboys’ pockets. Many notorious outlaws, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, lay low in Hell’s Half Acre while the law was looking for them.


Stockyards National Historic District

Looking much the same today as it did 100 years ago, the Stockyards is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Catch the Fort Worth Herd, the world’s only daily cattle drive, on its twice-daily drive down Exchange Avenue. The authentically restored Tarantula Train carries visitors daily into Stockyards Station, the former hog and sheep pens turned festival marketplace. Rodeo action and wild west shows take place year-round in the Cowtown Coliseum, home of the world’s original indoor rodeo held in 1918. The new Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, located in the Stockyards’ original mule barns, features the Sterquell Wagon Collection of authentic lifestyle wagons, and honors the top cowboys and cowgirls in Texas.

The Stockyards District is the place to shop for Western souvenirs, from trinkets to $1000 ostrich hide boots. Among the many shopping options is historic M.L. Leddy’s Boot and Saddlery, which has been outfitting cowboys (and cowgirls) in Texas style since 1922. Shoppers can choose from an incredible selection of ready-made hats, boots and belts; big spenders can be fitted for custom selections.

“Texas-sized” takes on a whole new meaning at Billy Bob’s Texas, the “World’s Largest Honky-Tonk.” This hotspot, named country music’s “Club of the Year” eight times, holds up to 6000 people and plays host to country music’s hottest names. Two-step on the dance floor under Billy Bob’s version of a disco ball — a slow-turning mirrored saddle from the movie “Rhinestone.” Live bull riding at Billy Bob’s indoor arena thrills visitors each weekend with an up-close perspective on the wildest rodeo event. Nearby, the White Elephant Saloon is an authentic Old West watering hole, offering live music every night.

More inside skinny on Fort Worth…

Billy Bob’s Texas
2520 Rodeo Plaza
T: 817-624-7117

Cowtown Coliseum
121 E. Exchange Ave.
T: 817-625-1025
F: 817-625-1148

Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo
Will Rogers Center
P.O. Box 150
T: 817-877-2400

Stockyards Station
130 E. Exchange Ave.
T: 817-625-9715

Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame
128 E. Exchange Ave.
T: 817-626-7131
F: 817-626-7171

White Elephant Saloon
106 E. Exchange Ave.
T: 817-624-8273
F: 817-625-9663

Amon Carter Museum
3501 Camp Bowie Blvd.
T: 817-738-1933

Kimbell Art Museum
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd.
T: 817-332-8451

National Cowboys of Color
Museum and Hall of Fame
3400 Mount Vernon Ave.
T: 817-922-9999
F: 817-923-9304

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
1720 Gendy Street
T: 817-336-4475
F: 817-336-2470

Fort Worth Nature Center
9601 Fossil Ridge Rd.
T: 817-237-1111

Fort Worth Zoo
1989 Colonial Parkway
T: 817-759-7555
F: 817-759-7501

Fort Worth Botanic Garden
3220 Botanic Garden Blvd.
T: 817-871-7686

Botanical Research Institute of Texas
509 Pecan St.
T: 817-332-4441


111 E. Third Street
T: 817-336-0880

Ambrosia Restaurant (Inside Care A Lot Inn)
1111 W. Lancaster Avenue
T: 817-338-2500
Home cooking

Angeluna Restaurant
215 E. 4th Street
T: 817-334-0080
World cuisine

Bailey’s Bar B Que
826 Taylor
T: 817-335-7469

Bennigan’s Sundance Square
515 Houston Street
T: 817-335-3646
Irish American grill

Billy Miner’s Saloon
150 W. 3rd Street
T: 817-877-3301

Branding Iron Grill
911 S. Houston
T: 817-332-5153
Burgers, chicken, sandwiches,
salads, potatoes and fries

Burger Junction
Forth Worth Outlet Square
T: 817-877-4420

Cabo Grande
115 W. 2nd Street
T: 817-348-8226

China Inn
114 Main Street
T: 817-336-6242
Chinese buffet

The Chisholm Club
222 Main Street
T: 817-210-2217
Southwestern cowboy cuisine

500 Commerce Suite 100
T: 817-335-0500

Daddy Jack’s Lobster and Chowder House
353 Throckmorton
T: 817-332-2477

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House
812 Main
T: 817-877-3999

500 Commerce Street, Suite 104
T: 817-336-3499
Continental cuisin

Flying Saucer
111 E. 4th Street
T: 817-336-7470
Gourmet sandwiches, pizzas,
sausage, cheese platters

Forth Worth Chop House
301 Main Street
T: 817-336-4129
Steaks, seafood, lamb and pasta

Fox and Hound English Pub & Grille
604 Main Street
T: 817-338-9200
Pub and grille

Fresh Choice Express
777 Main Street
T: 817-335-2137
Soups, salads, baked potatoes
and sandwiches

The Grape Escape Wine Bar
500 Commerce Street, Suite 102
T: 817-336-9463
Tapas and wine tasting

Kalamata’s (inside Worthington)
200 Main Street
T: 817-870-1000

LaMadeleine French Bakery & Café
305 Main Street
T: 817-332-3639
Authentic French baked goods, breads, desserts, entrees

Mi Cocina
509 Main Street
T: 817-877-3600

Mikado Sushi
299 W 5th Street
T: 817-336-9100

Pappadeux Seafood Restaurant
2708 West Freeway
T: 817-877-8843
Cajun style seafood

Pappasito’s Cantina
2704 W. Freeway
T: 817-877-5546

Paradise Chicken
150 Throckmorton
T: 817-335-1876

401 N. Henderson Street
T: 817-810-0800

Picchi Pacchi
512 Main Street #106
T: 817-870-2222
Italian, pizza

The Pour House Sports Grill
209 W 5th Street
T: 817-335-2575
Burgers, sandwiches, American

Razzoo’s Cajun Café
318 Main Street
T: 817-338-2866

Reata Restaurant
310 Houston Street
T: 817-336-1009
Cowboy cuisine

Rio Mambo (inside Park Central Hotel)
1010 Houston Street
T: 817-336-3124
Mexican food

Riscky’s Bar-B-Q
300 Main Street
T: 817-877-3306

The Rodeo Steakhouse
1309 Calhoun Street
T: 817-332-1288
Steaks, seafood, chicken

Sammy’s Pizza & Deli
402 Houston Street
T: 817-348-0085
Pizza, pasta and subs

Smoke Pit
2401 E. Belknap Street
T: 817-222-0455

Terry’s Grill
902 Houston Street
T: 817-332-0753
Home cooking

Texas de Brazil
101 N. Houston
T: 817-882-9500
Brazilian, steak

Water Gardens Café
(inside the Ramada Plaza)
1701 Commerce Street
T: 817-335-7000

Zoe Italian
450 Throckmorton Street
T: 817-870-8885

Cultural District

Angelo’s Barbecue
2533 White Settlement Road
T: 817-332-0357
Barbecue, South/Southwest

Bistro Louise
2900 South Hulen Street, Suite 40
T: 817-922-9244
American cuisine

The Bull Ring
112 East Exchange
T: 817-624-2222

Byblos Lebanese Restaurant
1406 N. Main and Central
T: 817-625-9667

Cattlemen’s Steak House
2458 N. Main Street
T: 817-624-3945
Steak, shrimp, chicken fried steak

Costa Azul
1521 N. Main Street
T: 817-624-3199
Mexican and seafood

El Rancho Grande Restaurante
1400 North Main Street
T: 817-624-9206

Hunter Brothers’ H3 Ranch
105 E. Exchange Avenue
T: 817-625-6427
Steaks, home cooking, Texas

Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant
2201 N. Commerce Street
T: 817-626-4356

La Playa
202 West Central Avenue
T: 817-626-8720

La Playa Maya
1540 North Main Street
T: 817-624-8411

The Lonesome Dove
2406 North Main Street
T: 817-740-8810
Western cuisine

Los Vaqueros
2629 North Main Street
T: 817-624-1511

Margie’s Original Italian Café
120 West Exchange Avenue
T: 817-740-1288

Mercardo Juarez
1651 East Northside Drive
T: 817-838-8285

Riscky Rita’s
140 East Exchange Avenue
T: 817-626-8700

Riscky’s Bar-B-Q
140 East Exchange Avenue
T: 817-624-8662

Riscky’s Catch
Stockyard’s Station
140 East Exchange
T: 817-625-1070
Seafood, chicken and burgers

Riscky’s Steakhouse
120 East Exchange Avenue
T: 817-624-4800
Steaks, chicken fried steak, chicken

Shuck A Peel
2513 Rodeo Plaza

Star Café
111 West Exchange Avenue
T: 817-624-8701
Steaks, chicken fried steaks, burgers