Restaurant Review: Jazz Cafe

With Greek specialties, live jazz on Sundays and grotto-style dining, Jazz Café on Magnolia Street maintains a loyal crowd.

| photography by Alex Lepe |

It had been years since I stepped foot in the Jazz Café. This unpretentious lunch spot is frozen in time like the ruins of ancient Greece. Parking was a little tricky, and unless you know where to look, the front door is somewhat hidden just beyond a courtyard filled with items reminiscent of a flea market.

The interior of the Jazz Café is eclectic and eccentric. A hodge-podge of paintings, posters, neon signs and half of a plastic swordfish adorn the walls, and stucco arched windows look out onto busy Montgomery Street. Mismatched tables and chairs inhabit the quaint café with unpolished cement flooring, and the ceiling appears to be failing in a few spots.

In the past I’ve always ordered the amazing Greek Salad that the Jazz Café is famous for, so I decided to venture outside of my comfort zone in hopes of finding new favorites on the menu. Nearly half of the Cafe’s offerings are vegetarian-friendly.

As we sat in anticipation for our Combo Platter of Hummus, Tabouli and Tzatziki ($10.50), we were entertained by some commotion in the kitchen. A few spirited words coming from the staff were heard by most in the dining area, but they shrugged it off as if it were normal.

The hummus, tabouli and tzatziki were spot on. Truly authentic in flavor, we sopped up nearly every bite with fresh warm pita. Of the three, the tabouli was my favorite because of the intensity of the chopped fresh parsley and mint.

Prompt service didn’t seem like a priority on our visit, but we enjoyed the quirky environment in which everyone knew the people sitting at the table next to them. Many regulars visited the owner, Nick Kithas, who was preparing food in the kitchen, and he would stop and hug them before they returned to their seats.

My entrée of Dr. T’s (Needles & Pins) ($9) consisted of thick moist turkey, mozzarella, grilled mushrooms and avocado on whole wheat pita bread. While the flavors were there, the presentation was not what I expected. In my opinion, the insides were disproportionately distributed, and the pita sat atop a small cluster of broken Pringles. When the Falafel was set on the table, I dove in for the first bite. Three homemade patties, grilled in olive oil, were served resting on an enormous mound of hummus. Made mostly with chickpeas, I enjoy falafel as a vegetarian alternative. Perhaps it was just on our visit, but I thought their version lacked moisture and seasoning. We only managed to finish one of the three patties and had already had our share of hummus.

They don’t take credit at Jazz Café, and there is no sign stating that, so don’t forget cash. If memory serves, the best time to visit is on Sundays for the brunch menu and live jazz.

Location: 2504 Montgomery St.
For Info: 817.737.0043
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11am-3pm; Sat., 9am-3pm; Sun., 9am-2pm
What We Liked: The tabouli and tzatziki have authentic fresh flavors.
What We Didn’t: Cleanliness and service could be improved.
Our Recommendations: Visit this Fort Worth institution for Sunday brunch and experience the live jazz and rowdy regulars.