Has any city ever experienced as dramatic a transformation as the one witnessed in Fort Worth with the opening of Sundance Square Plaza?
In 2012, when construction on the project commenced, this stretch of downtown consisted of roadways and surface parking lots. Now it’s a public square, which stretches two blocks long and two blocks wide, complete with a jetted fountain (where little kids like to run and get soaking wet); a performance stage for outdoor concerts; and four retractable, thirty-two foot umbrellas that – when opened -- create a shaded pavilion.
Of course, the transformation hasn’t happened overnight, and those of us who have been pining for more dining options in downtown Fort Worth have had to be patient. Del Frisco’s Grille, on the east side of the plaza, turned up last November, followed by its next-door neighbor Bird Café in January.
But it wasn’t until late March, with the opening of Taco Diner, that Sundance Square Plaza felt truly complete. Now you can head to the area and find a meal that should satisfy just about any taste.
Indeed, when we visited Taco Diner for lunch on a recent Friday, the outdoor patio was packed with office workers; ladies-who-lunch types; and young families enjoying the perfect springtime weather. We begrudgingly settled for an indoor table, but nonetheless learned a valuable lesson: On warm days, plan on either a very early or very late lunch, so you can nab an outdoor table.
The Fort Worth Taco Diner is actually the seventh of the chain’s North Texas locations (though the only other Tarrant County location is in Southlake). The same company operates Mi Cocina restaurants – though the dishes here tend to feature more grilled meats and fresh vegetables than the food at Mi Cocina.
Indeed, I’ve long been addicted to the salsas that come with the complimentary tortilla chips: a lightly smoky roasted tomato salsa, and a marvelous avocado-tomatillo blend -- and so I was thrilled to finally enjoy it right here in Fort Worth. For our entrees, we opted for the al pastor pork tacos, which features grilled, marinated park and fresh pineapple – one of more than a dozen different taco options available. (Some of the more idiosyncratic menu choices include the Baja cod and the “crispy fried avocado” tacos.)
Having skipped breakfast that morning, we also ordered the chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican breakfast menu item that features chicken, scrambled eggs, tortilla strips and cheese. Both dishes – with such accompaniments as black beans, rice and fresh fruit – proved perfect for lunchtime: Bright and flavorful, but not at all heavy.
In addition to its prime downtown location, the other great thing about Taco Diner is the atmosphere: Even if you’re unable to find a place on the patio, the gleaming white tables -- offset by splashes of pastel color in the décor – and friendly and polished service make this one of Fort Worth’s most inviting and welcoming spaces.
And when lunch or dinner is done, you can pop next door to Starbucks for a cup of coffee, or just enjoy a leisurely stroll around Fort Worth’s Sundance Square Plaza. And marvel at how America’s best downtown areas just got even better.