A relaxing day meandering through a museum is a day well spent. But when you have multiple world-class museums and galleries all within walking distance of each other, as Fort Worth’s Cultural District does, it’s worth strapping on a pair of sensible shoes and hitting the pavement to take in everything the area has to offer.
From dinosaur fossils to history-making cowgirls to some of the world’s most famous works of art and the world-renowned architecture that houses them, the district is aptly dubbed the “museum capital of the Southwest.” Here’s how you can see it all in one day.
Museum Meandering by Jessica Strange
10 a.m. — Amon Carter Museum
of American Art
3501 Camp Bowie Blvd.
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is home to a deep collection of American art from the last 200 years. While the museum was founded initially on Amon G. Carter’s collection of western art by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, it’s current holdings are a broad mix of works ranging from historical to contemporary, from photography and works on paper to site-specific installations.
Shirley Reece-Hughes, curator of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper, says experiencing the Carter in under an hour is absolutely possible.
“We have so many fantastic masterworks that people can see that are on permanent collection view,” she says. “From the beloved works by Georgia O’Keeffe, our famous Thomas Eakins’ ‘Swimming,’ to Grant Wood’s ‘Parson Weem’s Fable’ and Ruth Asawa’s ‘Untitled’ sculpture, Mary Cassatt, Jacob Lawrence — all the classics.”
When you first enter the Carter, you’re greeted by 20th century works like iconic American Southwest painter Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1927 abstract oil painting, “Red Cannas,” and James Surls’ “Seven and Seven Flower.” Next, you’ll want to make your way to the central atrium for Dallas-based Gabriel Dawe’s majestic “Plexus no. 34,” a site-specific commission installation made from over 80 miles of multicolored thread highlighting the Carter’s architecture designed by Phillip Johnson.
“It’s a different experience at different times of day,” Reece-Hughes says of the light-catching technicolor installation.
On the second floor, you’ll find the Carter’s 19th-century American art collection along with its temporary exhibitions and legacy galleries for those still fascinated by the Western works of Remington and Russell.
Before you leave, don’t forget to stop by the research library and archives, where the Carter houses extensive material available to visitors interested in taking a deeper dive into American art. Come back and enjoy its reading room sometime when you’re not planning on hitting five other attractions in a single day.
Hours: Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Monday
Current exhibitions and events to check out:
Natasha Bowdoin: “In the Night Garden” — on view through December 2021
Anila Quayyum Agha: “A Beautiful Despair” — September 25, 2021 – January 9, 2022
11 a.m. — Fort Worth Community Arts Center
1300 Gendy St.
Make your way across the street to Fort Worth Community Arts Center, another architecturally striking building in the district designed by Herbert Bayer, which was once home to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
FWCAC is a venue for local and regional visual and performing arts and events managed by the Arts Council of Fort Worth. While there’s no permanent collection, the center hosts rotating shows in its nine galleries showcasing work from artists in the area.
Outside, visit the Shelia and Houston Hill Courtyard Gallery, where sculptures by emerging artists Ben Munoz and Jihye Han sit atop plinths designed by local artist Kris Pearce, inspired by Bayer’s design.
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Sundays
Noon — Lunch at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
3200 Darnell St.
You’ve likely worked up an appetite by now, so head on over for a patio lunch at Café Modern, where executive chef Jett Mora of Wolfgang Puck Catering serves up seasonal fare with local roots.
Order up a plate of comfort food like the mini po’boy sandwiches, pan-roasted chicken paillard, or the local grind burger. Of course, if you’d like to just sip a cocktail while enjoying the reflection pond and one of the “world’s most beautiful art museums’’ designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, that’s totally acceptable, too.
After you’ve noshed, be sure to check out the 21-foot bronze KAWS sculpture, “Clean Slate,” that overlooks the museum’s pond before heading back inside.
Downstairs, you’ll find permanent collection works like Anselm Keifer’s “Book with Wings” sculpture, Jenny Holzer’s LED installation “Kind of Blue,” Ellsworth Kelly’s “Red Panel,” “Dark Green Panel,” and “Dark Blue Panel,” as well as works by modern and contemporary greats like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Martin Puryear, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Agnes Martin, Cindy Sherman, and Mark Bradford.
But associate curator Alison Hearst is especially excited about a recent acquisition — Wangechi Mutu’s “The Seated III,” a striking bronze female sculpture by the Kenyan artist inspired by the traditions of African sculpture.
If time allows, visit the second-floor galleries to see the museum’s current exhibitions.
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday/Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Mondays
Admission: $16 general/$12 seniors, military, and first responders/$10 students/free under 18/half-priced tickets on Sundays/Free on Fridays
Current exhibitions to check out:
Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler: Flora — on view through through January 16, 2022
FOCUS: Frances Stark — on view through January 9, 2022, Milton Avery — on view through January 30, 2022
1:30 p.m. — Fort Worth Museum of Science and History/Cattle Raisers Museum
1600 Gendy St.
After you’ve had your fill of modern art, head over to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to explore the past and imagine the future. With cutting-edge science exhibits like the new Current Science Studio, a virtual gallery with interactive media like the new Science on a Sphere display, and rotating history galleries, there’s educational fun for all ages.
If you have little ones with you, swing by the play area in the Children’s Museum, but adults and kids alike can enjoy the neighboring DinoLabs exhibit with towering dinosaur skeletons native to the area.
Don’t miss the Innovation studios, where you get a hands-on chance to doodle, design, and create your own inventions.
Upstairs, you’ll find the Cattle Raisers Museum, where you can learn about the history and science of the cattle industry (you’re in Cowtown, after all).
Hours: Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Monday – Thursday
Admission: Senior (age 65+): $14, Adult (age 12 – 64): $16, Junior (age 3 – 11): $12, Child (age 0 – 2): Free, includes admission to both FWMSH and Cattle Raisers Museum
2:30 p.m. — Afternoon Tea at the Kimbell Art Museum
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd.
You can’t plan a day exploring the Cultural District without a stop at the Kimbell Art Museum. Designed by world-renowned architect Louis I. Kahn, the Kimbell is as well known for its broad collection of masterpieces like Michelangelo’s first painting, “The Torment of Saint Anthony,’’ as it is for the iconic building that houses them.
“The Louis Kahn building is one of the greatest works of architecture in the world,” Kimbell director Eric Lee says. “We’re renowned all over the world for this building. It’s one of our greatest treasures.”
The Kimbell now offers a proper English tea each afternoon with various loose, fragrant teas, pastries, jams, and finger sandwiches. For $25, you and a guest can practice your best pinkies-out tea etiquette while snacking on bites like lavender shortbread cookies and pimento finger sandwiches. Champagne is available for an extra $10 a glass. (We recommend getting the champagne.)
Lee says teatime has quickly gained popularity and highly recommends making reservations.
After wetting your whistle, you should still have time to visit the Kimbell’s most famous works like Caravaggio’s “The Cardsharps,” Michelangelo’s “The Torment of Saint Anthony,” Monet’s “Weeping Willow,” and Picasso’s “Nude Combing her Hair.”
Hours: Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday: 12 p.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: Permanent collection is always free
Current and upcoming exhibitions to check out: Turner’s Modern World — on view through February 6, 2022, The Language of Beauty in African Art — April 3 – July 31, 2022
4 p.m. — National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
1720 Gendy St.
To wrap up your day of exploration, giddyup on over to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. The one-of-a-kind museum is the only in the world dedicated to honoring the women of past and present who helped shape the West. The hall of fame includes over 200 honorees who exemplify the pioneer spirit of the West, like Sacagawea, Annie Oakley, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — just to name a few.
On the first floor, you’ll find the film lounge that shows a rotation of three different short films. You can also check out must-see artifacts like sharpshooter Annie Oakley’s belt or performer Lulu Bell Parr’s beaded vest.
If you look up into the rotunda, you can see Hall of Fame inductees memorialized with portraits and brass stars.
Upstairs in the It’s Never Just a Horse gallery, bedazzled saddles and outfits designed by Nudie Cohn, like country music singer Judy Lynn’s saddle with over 8,000 rhinestones, are on display. You can also learn about famous horses in Hollywood (Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman costume is a must-see), the history of ranching, and the healing relationship between horses and humans. If you’re able, we recommend mustering up enough energy to ride the robotized bronco to complete your day of museum-going in the most Fort Worthian way possible.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., Closed Monday
Admission: Adults: $12, Seniors, Military, and First Responders: $9, Children: $6, Children (0-3): Free, Cowgirl Family Special (2 adults and up to 4 children, ages 4-12): $36
Art Directing by Brian Kendall
Eric Lee has been the director at the Kimbell Art Museum since 2009, only two months before the museum acquired the earliest-known Michelangelo painting — Lee tells us the acquisition of said painting would be an entire feature story unto itself.
Lee, who manages one of the world’s most renowned art collections, was gracious enough to carve out some time for a brief interview. We chatted about how the museum selects exhibitions, specific paintings visitors can’t miss, and some of his personal faves. Think of this as the real insider’s guide.
FW: I’ve always been curious; how does the museum select and curate exhibitions?
Lee: Well, some exhibitions that we do are inspired by our permanent collection. An example is the early and late Monet exhibitions that we did a few years ago. We have a very important early Monet, and then we have a very important late Monet. We decided to do an exhibition focused on those two paintings, and they were curated by George Shackelford. But we also do exhibitions that are tailored to the expertise of our staff, and George, for instance, is one of the leading experts in the world on French impressionism, painting in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
FW: What are some of the Kimbell’s must-see pieces?
Lee: I mean, everything in the collection is worth seeing, but I guess I’d say the two most famous paintings in the collection are the Michelangelo and the Caravaggio.
It’s the only Michelangelo painting in the Americas, and he was only 12 years old when he painted it. And then the Caravaggio, within the history of art, is an absolute landmark painting. It’s one of the works that established Caravaggio’s reputation and made him famous in Rome, and he became one of the most influential artists in the history of art.
FW: Outside of what you would call must-sees, do you have any personal favorites?
Lee: Well, I’ve got lots of personal favorites. But, the painting that I would say is dearest to me, is the Michelangelo. It was the first painting that the Kimbell acquired after I arrived here, and so for personal reasons, it just means so much to me.
So, there’re works that I love for personal reasons because I was somehow involved with the acquisition, but then there are other great works like the 17th century Dutch view of a church interior by [Pieter Jansz] Saenredam. It’s a white church interior, it’s incredibly modern, and it just looks spectacular in the Louis Kahn building. I also love the little Fra Angelico painting that we have; it’s one of my favorite works in the collection. In fact, I’d say those two are among my favorites.
District Dining by Malcolm Mayhew
The quality of your 24-hour excursion into Fort Worth’s Cultural District hinges greatly on where you eat. Dozens of restaurants, from the upscale to the downtrodden, from shiny and new to dusty and revered, eek out from converted old warehouses and brand-new developments, offering not just food but experiences. For this guide, we’re zeroing in on those places specifically, the restaurants that make Fort Worth, Fort Worth.
Where to breakfast: Montgomery Street Café
Only a few remain — the classic cafés and diners that once roared in numbers in Fort Worth are almost nearly silent now, snuffed out by progress, time, and changing tastes. Montgomery Street Café takes you back to a time when mom-and-pop cafes were lords of the highway, gathering places where locals and tourists and the poor and the rich chowed down on big platters of bacon and eggs and sausage and pancakes with syrup and extra butter, and no one cared about calories and dying too young and all that nonsense. Owned since 1986 by lifelong Fort Worthian and former American Airlines flight attendant Claudette Finley, Montgomery Street stokes those memories to a T, offering egg dishes, pancakes, and gargantuan biscuits, steaming hot when you tear them to open to slather on butter or dunk them in gravy. “They’re still the biggest seller,” says Finley, who at 83, still oversees the place. “People rave about the hashbrowns, too. They’re made to order. They don’t sit underneath a heating lamp and get all mushy.”
The restaurant opened in 1949, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who says it’s changed a bit. Certainly, inflation has caused the cost of bacon to rise from a nickel to a couple bucks, and maybe the café’s various owners through the years tinkered with the recipes here and there. But Finley swears up and down it’s almost a spitting image of itself when it opened seven decades ago. “A lot of people used to come in here and say, ‘My daddy brought me here when I was a kid, my grandma brought my mom here when she was a kid, and it hasn’t changed a bit,’” she says. “It’s one of those things that gets passed down from generation to generation, and each generation remembers it from when they were kids, and then eventually, they bring their kids. Why change something that people love so much?”
2000 Montgomery St., 817.731.8033
Eat here, too:
Hurts Donut Co.: 24-hour doughnut shop serves doughnuts both plain and fancy, plus super-size-me sausage rolls. 901 Foch St., facebook.com/hurtsdonutfortworth
Jazz Café: Originally located downtown, in the 19th century building last occupied by Bird Café, this long-running, eclectically decorated Greek restaurant serves a mean gyro, but the time to go is on the weekends during breakfast when the menu consists of thick, fluffy pancakes; hashbrowns topped with black beans, sour cream, and pico de gallo; and the S.O.B. eggs, the café’s wonderfully unhealthy take on migas. Call before you go; sometimes they’re open and sometimes they’re not. 2504 Montgomery St., 817.737.0043.
Where to Lunch: Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar
No other restaurant in Fort Worth is quite like Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar, which resides in a strip mall on the edge of the Cultural District, along the spine of the West Seventh area. But forget the part where we said, “West Seventh area.” Hatsuyuki is the furthest thing from the fratty hangouts that have given the area a bad name. Instead, this independent restaurant, opened three years ago by Seoul-born sushi chef Jun Mo Yeon, offers a wholly unique dining experience.
Have a seat at the horseshoe-shaped bar, and within seconds a server will drop off a paper menu. Using tiny, putt-putt-size pencils, you fill out the form, selecting your rolls of choice. Ten minutes later, you’re eating, and about five minutes after that, you very well could be on your way. The restaurant specializes in hand rolls — sheets of seaweed wrapped in a cone, enclosing a filling of fish, rice, and vegetables. They take minutes to make and seconds to eat.
Yeon wanted to open a concept that would be unique to Fort Worth, he says, not another sushi restaurant whose rolls are drowned in people-pleasing sauces. “Simple, fresh flavors,” he says, emphasizing the freshness of his fish, which is flown in from around the world daily. The restaurant also offers daily and weekly specials that incorporate mussels, clams, oysters, and scallops.
In May, the restaurant was parked at No. 11 on Yelp’s list of Top 100 Places to Eat in Texas — but in Fort Worth, it’s still a hidden gem. “We have people who come in from all over Texas to eat here,” server Francisco Salazar told us earlier this year. “But sometimes people who live here in the city will come in and say, ‘Gosh, I never knew you were here.’”
907 Foch St., 817.720.5330
Eat here, too:
Café Modern: The Modern Art Museum’s restaurant extols exquisite views of the museum’s grounds and edgy takes on classic dishes by recently hired chef Jett Mora of Wolfgang Puck Catering. 3200 Darnell St., themodern.org
Hanabi Ramen: The nearby Kintaro Ramen is one of the city’s best new restaurants, but don’t sleep on this cozy ramen spot, which may serve the best bowl of tonkotsu in the city. 3204 Camp Bowie Blvd., ramenhanabi.com
Rodeo Goat: If you’re cool with venturing into the heart of the West Seventh area, put this popular burger and beer joint on your list of must-eats. Safe for veggie burger-lovers, too. 2836 Bledsoe St., rodeogoat.com
Where to Beer:30: Michael’s Cuisine
Beer:30 is that all-important slice of time between lunch and dinner, usually around 5:30 or 6, when you get off work and dinner’s not ‘til 8, and the last thing you ate was at noon. The bar at Michael’s Cuisine, playfully called the Ancho Bar, is the perfect place to sate your happy hour desires: The drinks are inexpensive, and the food goes against the grain of typical happy hour food.
That’s because it comes from the hands of longtime chef Michael Thomson, whose hidden gem of a restaurant, opened in 1992 in The Chicotsky shopping center in the Upper West Seventh area, is known primarily by area foodies, other chefs, and those who long ago fell in love with his white tablecloth odes to Americana dishes.
Thomson’s bread and butter is his dinner service, no question, when he brandishes what he calls “contemporary ranch cuisine,” served in an elegant dining room that could be mistaken for an art gallery, so much local and regional art hangs from its walls.
But you could make a night of it, and many of us do, hanging out at the Ancho, passing around plates of Oysters Rockefeller, smoked beef brisket wonton tacos, and baked goat cheese with raspberry chipotle vinaigrette and basil pesto toast. Dinner, schminner — we’ll save you a seat at the Ancho.
3413 W. Seventh St., michaelscuisine.com
Where to Dinner: Paris 7th
Another unique dining experience can be had at Paris 7th, one of the city’s only two French restaurants. The other one, Saint-Emilion, is located just a block or two from here and is owned by the same family, French chef Bernard Tronche and his wife, Karin Kelly, a former news reporter and anchor at WFAA.
But the two restaurants don’t monopolize one another as much as they feed off each other. Paris 7th is a classy affair — a suit and tie to Saint-E’s more laid-back button-down and khakis. Either can fulfill your night on the town; dress to the nines, though, when you go to Paris 7th.
From beginning to end, Paris 7th is a plush, high-end affair: dim lighting, roses on every tableclothed table, white-glove service, foie gras, and caviar. There’s a dessert tray, a cheese tray, and charcuterie, along with a lovely wine selection. You haven’t had French onion soup until you’ve had it here; you’ll scrape the bottom of your bowl, looking for more of the melted gruyere.
Entrées include melt-in-your-mouth dover sole, roasted duck served on a bed of spinach, rack of lamb.
It’s food made for special occasions and moments of triumph, but it’s not as crazy-expensive as you might think.
“Nice doesn’t automatically mean expensive,” Tronche told us a few years ago when we profiled his restaurants. “People sometimes get scared if they hear a restaurant serves caviar — they think they can’t afford it. But look at our prices — they’re not as high as you may think.”
Eat here, too:
Maestro Tacos: Out of all the gringo-friendly taquerias that have opened over the past few years, this tiny spot on the outskirts of the West Seventh area reigns supreme. Tacos with fillings such as trompo and beef fajita come cradled in housemade tortillas, with showers of fresh onions and cilantro; wash ‘em down with housemade agua frescas. 3011 Bledsoe St., maestrotacos.com
Piola: Charming, family-owned Italian spot, housed in a 1940s cottage, is among the city’s best restaurants, with a beautiful, lush patio, excellent wine list, and housemade Italian classics. 3700 Mattison Ave., fwpiola.com
Saint-Emilion: Paris 7th’s sibling restaurant, located just a few blocks away. Two words: steak frites. Two more words: You’re welcome. 3617 W. Seventh St., saint-emilionrestaurant.com
Where to late-night nosh: Kintaro Ramen
There was a time when late-night grub was an easy find in this area. Post-pandemic, not so much. While most sit-down, full-service restaurants in the neighborhood close around 10 or 11, even on weekends, Kintaro Ramen is open until midnight, giving late-night diners an after-hours ramen option.
Opened last year by popular Fort Worth chef Jesus Garcia, who made a name for himself among Fort Worth diners as a sushi chef at several local restaurants, Kintaro is the brick-and-mortar version of a ghost kitchen of the same name. Garcia, who has always been on top of or in front of dining trends, was the first chef to open a ghost kitchen in Fort Worth. Now, there are dozens.
The Kintaro ghost kitchen (and original brick-and-mortar store in Arlington) was itself an offshoot of another Garcia ramen concept called Oni Ramen, which, coincidentally, occupies the same space as the brick-and-mortar version of Kintaro. Garcia closed the Fort Worth location of Oni to focus on the Deep Ellum location but got the itch to reopen a Fort Worth ramen spot. Enter Kintaro.
Techies and introverts will dig Kintaro’s ordering process, in which diners place their orders at standing kiosks. Servers do come into the picture eventually, though, as they deliver your food and drinks.
You can’t go wrong with any of Garcia’s half-dozen or so bowls of ramen. Some are permanent fixtures; others, he rotates on and off, depending on the season and his whims. Recent specials have included thai red curry ramen, made with a chicken broth spiked with red curry and coconut milk, and Dracula’s Bane, a ramen made with garlic-infused broth, pork belly, and peppery bean sprouts.
He also does off-the-cuff, nonramen specials, such as chilled noodle salad topped with smoked brisket and surf and turf okonomiyaki.
2801 W. Seventh St., kintaroramen.com
Eat here, too:
Trinity College Irish Pub: One of the city’s best new restaurants has late hours — every day of the week. The kitchen usually stays open until at least midnight through the week, later on the weekends. The corned beef and cabbage rolls are outtasight.
Where to Brunch: Righteous Foods
For many Fort Worthians, brunch is still the most important meal of the day, and many choose to spend it at chef Lanny Lancarte’s stylish tribute to healthy, clean eating.
Lancarte, a member of the same family of restaurateurs who own Joe T. Garcia’s, opened Righteous Foods in 2014, in the same space where he ran, for nearly a decade, a popular, upscale Mexican restaurant. Lancarte will gladly tell you the story of how he became more health-conscious and how that decision affected the direction in which he would take his restaurant. Lancarte had the right idea at the right time, as Fort Worth was slowly beginning to take more notice of healthy eating.
That’s not to say all RIghteous serves is smoothies and celery. Lancarte will make you a burger for sure, a good burger, too, but it’s going to be made with super-fresh ingredients, sourced with all-natural meat that hasn’t been through the processing ringer, and topped with top-of-the-line, organic veggies.
For brunch, you’re going to want to get to know the superb green eggs and ham bowl — basically, Lancarte’s imaginative take on chilaquiles, made with organic eggs, corn tortillas, pork, and queso fresco. The housemade granola’s monstrously popular, too, and for heartier appetites, there are burritos, so many burritos. Those with veggies on their mind can indulge in the aptly named veggie burrito, but meat-lovers can go hog-wild, literally, with a meaty burrito filled with bacon, pork, chicken-apple sausage, and cheese.
3405 West Seventh St., eatrighteously.com
Eat here, too:
Blue Sushi Sake Grill: Fancy sushi served in a pretty, atmospheric environment, accented with cool lighting and thumping trance music pitter-pattering in the background. 3131 W. Seventh St., bluesushisakegrill.com
The aforementioned Café Modern is also among the best brunch options in the area.