By: Malcolm Mayhew
There are days when we hop from one air-conditioned bubble to another, but for the majority of the year in Fort Worth, weather is moderate and perfect for enjoying meals alfresco. Remember that stretch of 70-degree days in February when the rest of the nation was shoveling snow? In the last 18 months, the city has prospered from the addition of several new outdoor dining destinations. Don’t worry about those triple-digit days; many of them are prepared with shady seating, giant fans and misters. Whether riverfront, streetside or nestled in a shady garden space, enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner in Fort Worth’s fresh air is pure bliss.
It’s river dining at its finest at Press Café, located at the new Clearfork Trailhead. As one of the premier destinations for fitness enthusiasts, the Trailhead is the hottest spot to begin and end your Trinity Trails adventure. Press Café neighbors include Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop and Pedal Hard Training Center. Free outdoor recreational activities and classes can be enjoyed on weekends before dining on the Press Café patio. Chef and owner Felipe Armenta Jr., of The Tavern and Pacific Table, is behind this new restaurant venture. Breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds are made up of Trinity Trail runners and bikers, as well as brunch-goers seeking out mimosas. The full-service patio is pooch friendly, and an adequately sized fire pit keeps guests toasty as the breeze blows off the water. Rooftop, open-air seating is also available in the upstairs bar.
4801 Edwards Ranch Road, #105, 817.570.6002, presscafeftworth.com
Patio Highlights: Scenic View of the River
Practically a legend in Fort Worth’s culinary scene, Chef Lanny Lancarte is the great-grandson of Joe T. Garcia and has been wooing palates for more than a decade. Transforming his previous restaurant, Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana, Lancarte has catapulted Fort Worth into healthy eating. The cozy eatery is nestled on a less hectic end of West 7th and is easily recognized by its bright orange sign depicting a fist clenching a carrot. Nutritious, responsibly sourced food and beverage options are served in an energized space. On the inside, pops of bright green and orange play against shiny tables and walls constructed of reclaimed pallets, industrial-style seating and potted cacti. But the breezy patio is the place to be when the weather is nice. Lancarte’s hanging herb boxes encompass the space, and fans and heaters are available depending on the temperature. A cinderblock cactus wall sits as a focal point, acting as a divider between the upper and lower levels, and modern, shiny silver tables look stylish accompanied by comfortable woven plastic seating. In Lancarte’s own words, “Righteous Foods is a healthy dose of friggin’ awesome.”
3405 W. 7th St., 817.850.9996, eatrighteously.com
Patio Highlights: Serene Ambiance, Clean Eating
With one of the greatest happy hours and brunch menus in town, Social House’s corner-hugging patio is seldom tame. Nearly 100 beers are offered on tap, including 25 local craft brews. An expansive menu includes everything from casual Buffalo wings to elevated dishes such as Bock Beer Mussels, Rib-eye Steak and Apple Jalapeño Chutney Pork Chops. Social House’s stellar sound system steadily pumps an underlying current that keeps guests energized and content to bask in the patio’s warmth while “staying social.”
840 Curie St., 817.820.1510, socialhousefortworth.com
Patio Highlights: Bustling Vibe, Interesting People-Watching, Hot Brunch Spot
Patio Highlights: Comfortable Couches, Large Fire Pit
Kenzo Tran of Piranha Killer Sushi has changed the Vietnamese food scene in Fort Worth with Pho District. Four kinds of pho are served in addition to pork belly buns, banh mi sandwiches, a chorizo-topped rice pancake and ice cream sushi. The interior is sleek and chic, much like Piranha, with an open kitchen and stellar bar. Tran’s menu is budget friendly, and the Vietnamese street food of his youth in Saigon is among the best in town. The screened-in patio is shady and cool with numerous ceiling fans and a single, large flat-screen TV. Seating includes high-top and low-top tables as well as one table sandwiched between two long comfy couches. Windows from the restaurant are open to the patio during nice weather, and patio dwellers at Pho District have a street view adjacent to Trinity Park.
2401 W. 7th St., 817.862.9988, phodistrict.com
Patio Highlights: Ample Shade, Comfortable Couches
Fixture Restaurant and Social Lounge
Southern charm oozes at Fixture much like Chef Ben Merritt’s chipotle-infused maple syrup that he drizzles over his mouth-watering rendition of Chicken and Waffles. Its warm atmosphere makes it perfect for a casual date night or lunch with the girls. Fixture carries only American boutique wines, local craft beer and American spirits in an attempt to infuse the local economy, promote community and accrue more in-depth knowledge on the products served in the restaurant. The social lounge features a cool bar, exposed brick walls and giant windows that open out to one of the best patios in Fort Worth. Vintage lights are strung above outdoor tables, and planter boxes bloom with greenery and colorful flowers. Neighboring patios belonging to Proper and Spice create the sense of a community party.
401 W. Magnolia Ave., 817.708.2663, fixturefw.com
Patio Highlights: Well-Crafted Cocktails, Laid-Back Atmosphere
Offering two patios for the price of one, Varsity Tavern is like a year-round college mixer. The lower level features a stage for live music, DJ booth, dance floor and a set of sideline bleachers for watching the 90-inch flat screen TVs. Thirteen garage doors open to the outdoor space also offering bar games like corn hole, ping pong, ladder golf and giant Jenga. The theme of the menu is concession-stand inspired with popcorn, chips, nachos, burgers and waffle fries doused with ground meat and cheese. Upstairs the vibe is more upscale with a lounge, giant pagoda bar, fire pit and a view of the city.
1005 Norwood St., 817.882.6699, varsitytavern.com
Patio Highlights: Prime Game-Watching, Live Music, Upstairs View of the City
Located in downtown’s Flatiron District, La Perla is the joint endeavor of three veteran restaurateurs. Ramiro Ramirez of Salsa Limon, Andrew De La Torre of Embargo and Imran Khan of The Lunch Box culminated their talent and experience to create a sophisticated atmosphere with an island cantina feel. Libations are the focus at La Perla, with hand-crafted cocktails using freshly squeezed juices and small-batch mezcals and agave, as well as a well-thought-out wine list. The menu offers Latin-inspired coastal cuisine such as seafood entrees, salad bowls, ceviches and artisan sandwiches. Twenty seats are available on the streetside patio with sleek tables, chairs and shade umbrellas. An iron fence lined with ivy and ferns acts as a divider between those dining on the patio and pedestrians on the sidewalk, making it excellent for people-watching.
910 Houston St., 817.882.8108, laperlafw.com
PATIO HIGHLIGHTS: Heart-of-the-City Location, Expansive Tequila Selection
Open for a decade, Lola’s is most well known for hosting shows for many of the best underground bands on the verge of making it big. Co-owners Brian Forella, Ryan Higgs and Jon Carney wanted to bring more to the community by expanding its space to nearly double the size. An expansive back patio addition, dubbed Lola’s Trailer Park, includes a massive stage, large shade trees and parking for food trucks. The existing Saloon got a facelift too, with fresh paint on the exterior. Parking shouldn’t be a problem because the expansion includes a new lot with around 50 spaces.
2736 W. 6th St., 817.877.0666, lolassaloon.com
Patio Highlights: Live Music, Inexpensive Drinks
If you enjoy Fort Worth’s nightlife, it’s probable that you know about Taco Heads. What started out as a popular food truck in 2009 has quickly matured to a brick-and-mortar location near Fort Worth’s Cultural District. Due to customer demand, Taco Heads Founder Sarah Castillo soon had to add multiple food trucks along with catering and drop-off options. Promising customers it will “always provide clean food from product to presentation,” Taco Heads has no man-made chemicals or additives in any of its drinks, tacos and snacks. Its gravel patio is comprised of a handful of picnic tables with bright blue umbrellas to protect taco enthusiasts from the sun. A row of industrial stools provides additional seating along Taco Heads’ streetside cement wall. Open from 7 a.m. to midnight, Thursday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., the rest of the week, the Taco Heads’ patio is perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night bites.
1812 Montgomery St., 817.615.9899, tacoheads.com
Patio Highlights: Quality Thrifty Tacos, Open Late
Everyone can thank Mash’d for bringing moonshine to Fort Worth. Cool, shady and inviting, the patio at Mash’d is spacious and nestles up to the indoor/outdoor bar. Guests can claim one of the many outdoor picnic tables that sit beneath giant fans for combatting summer heat and enjoy elevated menu items like The Shank, tender braised bone-in lamb shank that have been marinated in moonshine and red wine. Patio-goers are also welcome to bring their four-legged friends.
2948 Crockett St., 817.882.6723, mashd.com
Patio Highlights: Shady Seating, Strong Beverages, Dog-Friendly
By: Malcolm Mayhew