Over my years here at OU and traveling the Big 12, one town in particular stands out to me as the clear favorite: Fort Worth.
Yes, yes, I know it’s a city. And while it might be cheating to put a major city as my favorite place to visit in a conference full of one horse towns, the TCU area is sequestered enough to give you a legitimate college-town feel without feeling like a metropolis. It’s a fantastic combination.
Anyways, for those of you who are headed to the game Saturday, here are a few recommendations from someone who has been to Fort Worth and TCU far too many times to count.
How to do Gameday
11 AM games suck for the gameday atmosphere, as we know all too well. The Frogs have plenty of tailgate space, which makes the kickoff time feel more like a waste due to the fact that they’ll probably not utilize it for an early kick for a 3-3 team. At least you can be comforted by the fact these are private school kids, so you know the mimosas and White Russians will be flowing.
Amon G. Carter Stadium is in the middle of a massive renovation, so some gates might be inaccessible. This is extremely pertinent as the visiting sections are on the side of the renovations. This might jam up entry, so plan accordingly. TCU also has the increasingly standard clear bag policy, but you all are probably prepared for that by now.
While alcohol isn’t sold in stadium, re-entry is allowed at Amon G. Carter, so if you want to skip the Pride and TCU band for a little mid-game pick-me-up, go for it.
Where to Eat
There are plenty of great options in Fort Worth, with plenty of high quality, nice restaurants in the downtown area. However, these suggestions are for the common man that you can’t miss.
Heaven is a place on Earth, and that place is called Haim. This spot is a little outside the TCU bubble, but is 100% worth the visit. I fancy myself a barbecue aficionado and this place might have my favorite barbecue on Earth (Jack Stack in Kansas City is a legitimate competitor).
While this place is FAR from a dive, the process is certainly modeled after one, yet in slightly more upscale package. As with any true barbecue restaurant, Haim only offers what it hasn’t sold out yet. In other words, take an early dinner to beat the line and get some delicious brisket and the absolutely can’t miss bacon burnt ends.
Is this a chain? Yes. But since it isn’t in Norman or OKC, I’m letting it pass. Formerly R-Taco, this place is a perfect pregame spot. While the tacos are just fine (think Torchy’s level), what really boosts this place to the next level are the margaritas. These things are cheap, delicious and can get you perfectly revved up for your night out.
This place is the move after the bars, especially if you are hitting the bars near the TCU campus. Sure, you might regret it the next morning, but these are some of the best wings I’ve had in my life. They also allegedly have a concession stand at Amon G. Carter stadium.
Where to Drink
Fort Worth has an abundance of great places to drink; I know this all too well. They have a drinking district, West 7th Street, that is somewhat like a spin on Sixth Street in Austin. There are a few bars near campus, but most tend to hit or miss. With that being said, here are a few of my favorite watering holes.
Wild Acre Brewing
While the brewery taproom is only open on Thursday and Saturday, this could be a great option to unwind after game, given the fact Saturday’s game kicks off at 11. For 15 bucks you can four hefty pours and keep the glass, which is a phenomenal deal with beer this good. The taps are always rotating, but I suggest a nice Billy Jenkins Bock or Moonlight Shine Golden Ale. Of course, you can find pretty much any Wild Acre beer in Fort Worth liquor stores, so you can take the experience with you.
Only an idiot would forget to put a location of the greatest Norman bar of our time, right? The legendary Campus Corner bar, Chimy’s, actually got its start in Fort Worth, where the original location is still kicking. While you’re in town, make sure to pay your respects to an absolute legend with an iconic DP Shootout for old time’s sake.
This is one of the newer spaces on West 7th, but might be my favorite. Plenty of places along West 7th focus on a multi-bar layout with a focus on outdoor space and yard games. Given the name of this, you can clearly tell this is one of them. The drinks are reasonably priced, the games are fun and overall it’s probably my favorite space on West 7th. The Yard also has a stage with frequent concerts.
Honestly, you could just copy and paste my Yard description and you would understand the type of place this is. Yard just edges out America Gardens, but both are worth a look.
Looking for a more upbeat venue? This is it. Varsity is a tower of bars and in a way, a conglomerate of atmospheres. You could be out in a yard type atmosphere one moment, then be in the middle of night club the next. It’s a fun change of pace.
This is not just my favorite bar in Ft. Worth, it might be my favorite college bar ever. A little hole in the wall just across the street from TCU Pub is, simply put, a damn icon. It isn’t “lit”, but it has everything I want in a college bar; Shiner signs, two pool tables at the back, a wide (and affordable!) beer selection, pitchers, a juke box and free (yet questionable) Shiner Bock brats in a crock pot in the corner. This is a place to gather your crew, grab some beers and talk about football, life and anything else under the sun. In a place full of highly marketed, well researched patio bars, Pub stands out by focusing on the basics; good beer, good friends and good atmosphere. Campus Corner could learn some lessons.
Just wanted to give a huge shoutout to everyone who has shown me around Fort Worth the past few years. Some of my best times in college have happened with Chris Dorr, Andrew Wilson, Chris Ilenstine, Jake and Jordan Agajanian, Jack Bosworth and obviously and most importantly the guy who introduced me to them all, the Crowleyman, Blake Crowley.
Blake, thanks for letting me (and on one occasion, my girlfriend and Mike) crash at your place intermittently for the past four years. I loved every trip and every stop, even my only road loss ever in 2014. I’ll down a Salty Lady in your absence for you this weekend.