1. LEGACY HALL
Plano-based Legacy Hall packs a lot—more than 30 creative restaurants—into one cozy, cool food hall. The concept’s layout is partly a play off the mall-based food courts many of us still remember. But there are no generic fast food joints here. Ethnic foods (Asian, Mediterranean and Indian) are popular offerings. I’m a fan of Forno Nero, whose lightly charred Neapolitan pizzas are truly perfetto; Shawarma Bar, famed for its succulent spit-roasted meats served atop pillowy pita bread; and Blist’r, where you can order traditional Indian cuisine and freshly baked naan. Legacy Hall’s third floor is home to Unlawful Assembly Brewing Company. (Personal suggestion: The Blind Justice IPA pairs nicely with Forno Nero’s Il Mostro Rosso pizza.)
Whatever part of the country you’re traveling from, I imagine your home town has a craft brewery, or several, by now. Fort Worth’s craft beer scene is thriving. One of my personal favorites, The Collective Brewing Project, calls the Near Southside home, making it a great point of departure for a night out. The brewpub has garnered an enviable reputation for creating food-inspired artisan ales and sours, among others. Recent popular releases include Cup O’ Beer (beer brewed with ramen noodles, lime, ginger, lemongrass and seaweed-cured sea salt), Tropsicle IPA (tart IPA with guava, grapefruit and Cascade hops), and Macha Do About Nothing (“Brettshake” with matcha green tea and spirulina). The brewery has a rotating art series if you want to scope out what the local creatives are up to and ample board games.
Something about the seemingly endless rows and boxes of used books and records at Recycled Books in Denton invites blissful rummaging. The close quarters and steep staircases gives the space a fun labyrinthine feel. Reading chairs invite you to peruse literary classics and lesser-known works of fiction. We all need the kind of escape great writing can give. While you’re there, visit some of my favorite stops along Denton Square.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth offers far more than tours and exhibitions. The building itself is renown for its pristine architecture and outdoor spaces. The reflecting pool, easily viewable from inside Cafe Modern, is known for imparting a peaceful, meditative state of mind on viewers. Behind the museum, a looming stainless steel work, “Conjoined,” has become one of the most photographed images in Fort Worth. The two metal trees bend toward each other, silver branches included, to portray a curious intersection between nature and industrialization. If you’re looking for something more leisurely, the Modern has a weekly movie series as well.
Also known as LLELA, the nature preserve contains a variety of natural environments, including prairies, forests and aquatic ecosystems. Guided tours include bird walks, kayak tours, log house tours, nature walks and more. This summer, my 11-year-old decided his visit would be all about camping and the outdoors. Although we spent more time with our tent pitched indoors than out, we did walk one of several trails at LLELA, including one that took us to a historically accurate log house. The thickly wooded areas were a welcome way to connect with nature and ponder what life was like in the pioneer days. While visiting my hometown, save time to stop by Witherspoon Distillery and Old Town Brewhouse.
A great way to rub elbows with DFW residents while getting to know the culture here is to spend some time in Bishop Arts District. The neighborhoods are a lovely amalgam of choice dining, entertainment, shopping and cultural offerings. The Wild Detectives has gained wide notoriety since opening four years ago by offering a carefully curated book selection, hosting literary events and selling booze. Hattie’s (American bistro famed for its Sunday brunches), Bishop Cider Company and Lucia (Italian restaurant) are a few of my top recommendations. The Bishop Arts Theatre Center presents numerous quality live theater and music production around the year.