The Cultural District has traditionally been known for its world-class art museums and architecture. Increasingly, though, the sprawling district is drawing locals and tourists to a growing selection of events, festivals and concerts.
Fortress Festival occupies the heart of the Cultural District for two music-filled days each April. Each summer, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra holds its popular Concerts in the Garden outdoor music series at Fort Worth Botanic Garden. The district will become even better known for live music when Dickies Arena opens later this year. Whether you are looking for nightlife fun after a concert in the Cultural District or any Fort Worth music venue, these hotspots offer unique ways to mingle and enjoy an adult libation.
Ampersand (in the West 7th neighborhood) moonlights as a tame coffee shop by day. It’s no speakeasy, but there is a surprise in the back. A large dance space and full-service bar await behind the coffee bar. Things generally start picking up around 9 p.m. when the music starts and the bartenders start slinging beers and cocktails. The Patron XO Cafe (cold brew coffee and orange liqueur topped with sweetened milk) is a popular drink. The West 7th club is the perfect place to get #amped after an evening concert.
Taco Heads (near Dickies Arena) is open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturday. The main draw here is the food, of course. A few of my favorite dishes are the elotés (fire-roasted corn and crema plus other goodies), charred avocado and roasted corn taco (Blue Zones-approved), wild caught fish taco (marinated in chimichurri) and Write bacon and egg breakfast taco (served all day). The taqueria has an outdoor bar station, ample outdoor seating and a great view of the Cultural District.
If you’re looking for a swanky downtown location to unwind (and arguably the best cocktails around), Thompson’s Bookstore is your place. The main floor has a long bar, lounge seating and quirky decor. If you make your way to two bookshelves near the entrance, you can gently push one of the cabinets to access a stairway down to the bottom floor where another bar awaits. Thompson’s Bookstore has some of the most skilled mixologists in town, and the service has always been top-notch in my experience.
Knife Bar services customers at Food Hall at Crockett Row with craft cocktails, select cocktails on tap, wines by the bottle (and on tap), a rotating selection of frozen cocktails (French 75 or Moscow mule, among others) and local beers. The new bar has plenty of seating and is only feet away from some of the best dining in Fort Worth.
Foundry District-based Blackland Distillery is shaking up the local spirits scene. You can view their hi-tech distilling equipment from inside the adjacent bar. “Dimly lit and sophisticated” is how I would describe the drinking environs. The cocktail menu uses Blackland spirits, which are sourced from local grains (i.e., grains from the Blackland Prairie that envelopes North Texas in rich, black soil). Expect big things from this modest-sized distillery in the coming years.
Deep Ellum Funkytown Fermatorium
Yes, we’re not above giving some love to Dallas transplants. Deep Ellum Brewing Company recently branched out into the 817 with this brewpub. The brick oven pizza is amazing, with just the right blend of chewiness and char. Several Forth Worth-only beers are beginning to be brewed on-site, and the barbecue-themed menu is a perfect fit for Fort Worth.
Magnolia Motor Lounge
Magnolia is THE go-to venue to visit to watch local musicians strumming on their guitars. The easy vibe invites you in while the affordable grub, drinks and good music keep you hanging around all night.