Take a drive down Rosedale, Evans or Terrell Avenue and you are guaranteed to pass a piece of history. Although the neighborhood is comprised primarily of simple wood frame homes with a range of architectural styles and family-owned businesses - some old, some new - there are also a group of multi-level Victorian homes and Craftsman Bungalows once occupied by prominent members of the community.
Terrell Heights boasts being home to the first middle-class Black neighborhood in Fort Worth and became home for such notable figures as Ms. Hazel Harvey Peace and William McDonald, to name a few. Historical landmarks like Evans Plaza and the Lenora Rolla Heritage Center Museum help to preserve the African American historical contributions of Tarrant County and are worth a visit to learn more.
The Historic Southside is not just a remarkable African American neighborhood full of rich culture, but one of Fort Worth’s newest communities on the brink of revitalization. We've listed a few of the places drawing locals and visitors to the neighborhood today.
Savory Barbecue Joints
Everyone knows everything in Texas is bigger and better, right? The art of barbecue is no exception. We have so many different cooking techniques that were influenced by a myriad of beautiful cultures such as: enslaved Africans, Native Americans and Mexicans educated German and Czech immigrants on their cooking techniques (smoking in ground and preservation methods) and fragrant spice blends. If you need a quick reference guide to the different styles of Texas bbq referenced below, read more here. So, who are some businesses you should know about that call the Southside home?
Mama E’s Bar-B-Q and Homestyle Cooking
Look for the mustard yellow signage and steeple-like rooftop with the red trim at the corner of Rosedale and South Freeway. She’s been open since 2006 and serves hefty portions of saucy barbecue similar to the East Texas style, perfectly seasoned traditional soul food and teacakes like grandma used to make. Mama E’s namesake, Ms. Ernestine, also serves a red drink aka Koolaid, because what good is an authentic soul food restaurant if it doesn’t offer this iconic cultural nectar of the gods.
Smoke-A-Holics BBQ is located east of Mama E’s at 1417 Evans Avenue, and is one of the new kids on the Southside block. Owners Kesha and Derrick Walker are up for the challenge, though. After opening a year ago to lines wrapped around the street, the crowds don’t seem to be letting up. Derrick, a southeast Fort Worth native uses pecan wood for his popular Central Texas-influenced smoked barbecue and offers a wide array of outstanding traditional sides. Stop by and don’t worry about the lines, it goes fast.
Best Made Pickles
Best Made Pickles is a family owned business that needs no introduction. The business was founded over a hundred years ago in Mansfield but it relocated production to its current city of Fort Worth just one year later in 1927. What started as a pastry and mayonnaise business soon blossomed into a thriving pickle empire complete with an annual parade and soon-to-be opened museum and emporium. Their online shop offers unique flavors like beer and Bloody Mary or standard briny selections. The Best Maid Pickle Emporium will be a brand new Pickle Museum, visitor experience and retail sales outlet for Best Maid Pickles products and is located at 829 W Vickery Blvd.
Located slightly outside the Historic Southside is a well-known a nightclub and live music venue called Club Ritzy. I couldn’t explain it better than their website does: “…the metroplex’s new, upscale home for grown folks’ entertainment! With over 11,000 square feet of space to move, groove and mingle there’s finally a local spot for the area's professional community to call home." The venue welcomes patrons 27 years and older to celebrate any occasion while offering VIP and table reservations, food and bottle service, and even have an in-house party planner. As with the other businesses, always call ahead and confirm hours during the pandemic.
Places of Worship
Rounding off our list are historic churches that have withstood the test of time while not only serving as places of worship but, at times, a place to convene for political strategizing, a social gathering venue and much more throughout the years. Presently there are dozens of churches in the area and a few historic churches you should learn more about. Southside native and community leader Ms. Opal Lee, suggested the following : Baker Chapel A.M.E., Wayside Church of God in Christ (presently not operating but the family is attempting to re-open as a museum), Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Greater Love Chapel Church of God in Christ, and Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church.
The beloved Southside community was once equally occupied by both the elite and working class, and throughout the years has undergone tremendous ups and downs. Today, its proximity to downtown Fort Worth and interstates I-35W and I-30 make it attractive for investments and developments like restaurants, shops, clubs and churches. Southside's future is as bright as its past.