“It almost feels like we’re in Austin.”
That was an observation made by my partner a couple of Friday evenings ago, as we stepped onto the outdoor patio of Rodeo Goat Icehouse, a gourmet burger-and-beer joint located near the Fort Worth Cultural District. On this warm evening, the wooden picnic tables were virtually all filled with a mix of college kids, young professionals winding down from the work week, and older grownups out for a date night. (Right now, there are chimeneas and a wood-burning stove on the patio for colder nights; and presumably come summer, the misters will be going full blast.)
Inside – which is divided between a bar at the front; casual, first-come-first-served seating with long, cocktail-height tables; and a more traditional dining area that’s open for private parties or when the place gets busy – things were just as hectic.
I could see my partner’s point: Austin has long been known for its funky, unpretentious establishments that seem to attract all stripes. Rodeo Goat, which opened last December, is one of a handful of places new to the Fort Worth dining scene that strive to capture a similar spirit.
We were big fans of the “Nanny Goat” burger, perfectly cooked to a juicy medium, and topped with herb goat cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and garlic mayo. And though it seems almost criminal to do such a thing in Cowtown, we also tried the “Neil Young” – a veggie burger with creamy avocado and a pleasantly spicy sauce. Wash it all down with a brew from one of Rodeo Goat’s expansive beer menu – it includes more than 100 options – and you have yourself a low-key, affordable night out.
And if you’re looking to sustain the hipster vibe, you can head a few miles southeast to Magnolia Avenue: Avoca Coffee, which opened in 2011, offers a sprawl of comfortable couches and leather chairs; locally roasted coffee; and handmade treats from Dude, Sweet Chocolate. Further down Magnolia is Brewed, a coffehouse / bar / restaurant that also where at one table you'll see a group of friends knocking back beers, and at another a tortured writer quietly tapping away on his novel.
Pehaps the best news of all: Unlike our compatriots in Austin, here in Fort Worth we don’t have to deal with chock-a-block traffic, and all those annoying people trying way too hard to be weird.
Rodeo Goat: 11 a.m. to midnight, Sunday to Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Thursday to Saturday
Avoca: 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday; 7 am to 5 p.m., Sunday
Brewed: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday to Wednesday; 8 a.m. to midnight, Thursday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday; closed Mondays
Try the spicy Caca Oaxaca Burger.