Chances are, you know about Fort Worth’s most famous restaurant patios: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, Joe T. Garcia’s, Woodshed Smokehouse, and so on. You may have even familiarized yourself with all the patios at Shops of Clearfork, where restaurants are practically required to have outdoor seating, or on West Magnolia Avenue, where almost every restaurant at least offers a few sidewalk tables.
But there are some worthy-yet-unheralded patios in and around Fort Worth that belong in any patio hall of fame. And some of them have been around for years. Here are a few we hunted down (in some cases, they hunted us down), as well as some new ones to check out.
Bedford Ice House, 2250 Airport Fwy, Ste 300, Bedford, 817-864-9898
Ideally, a restaurant patio should shield you from the parking lot and traffic noise. Bedford Ice House’s substantial patio can’t shut off the nearby Airport Freeway cacophony (at lunch, anyway –– the live music at night can drown it out), and the best way to avoid the parking lot is to take a seat facing away from it. But this is still a pretty cool space, with a fire pit, couches, trees coming up from the deck, and a friendly staff serving burgers, sandwiches, “smoked & fried” items, as well as plenty of beers and Mason-jar cocktails.
Houston Street Bar & Patio, 902 Houston St, 817-877-4727
In downtown Fort Worth, Reata’s rooftop bar gets the glory, while the 12th-floor balcony patio at Branch & Bird (formerly Perch) is the popular upstart. Then there’s Houston Street Bar & Patio, an unpretentious south-of-7th hangout that you can walk by without even thinking of the patio –– it happens to be on the roof –– even though “patio” is right there in the name of the bar. There’s also a modest food menu of burgers, dogs, pizzas, and more. The majority of the downtown action takes place north of 7th, but hanging out on this block can change your perspective –– especially if you’re gazing northward (or staring downward) from the roof.
The Original Mexican Eats Café, 4713 Camp Bowie Blvd, 817-738-6226
The Camp Bowie Boulevard institution boasts that it’s the oldest still-running restaurant in Fort Worth, and yet somehow its patio never seems to come up in outdoor round-ups. It’s in the back of the restaurant and feels like someone’s backyard, with stone walls obscuring the parking area and nearby houses. Festooned by strings of lights and decorated by wrought-iron tables, an attractive fountain, and patio-friendly plants everywhere, the space feels like a miniature version of that other Fort Worth Mexican-restaurant institution’s patios. And the menu is appropriately old-school, with one combo plate named for President Roosevelt (the second one –– the restaurant’s not that old), who occasionally dined there when visiting a son who lived in the Fort Worth area.
Steven’s Garden & Grill, 223 Depot St., Mansfield, 817-473-8733
This downtown Mansfield spot has been around for nearly 20 years, yet it’s often overlooked in these kinds of surveys, despite being set in an old barn with a front porch and a garden that emphasizes its rural feel, even though it’s in downtown Mansfield. According to its Facebook page, Steven’s is about to finish a side-yard, and it’s asking followers for suggestions about what to do with it. So far, patio games such as cornhole are winning out over barbecue-sauce wrestling. The place is currently open Thu-Sat only.
Tres Casas Mexican Grill, 208 N Main St, Keller, 817-753-7003
Old Town Keller, a stretch of U.S. 377 mostly south of where Golden Triangle Boulevard turns into Keller Parkway, offers several restaurants with good (and sometimes even adjoining) patios, including a fairly new one –– The Station Patio Icehouse –– that puts “Patio” in its name. But north of Keller Parkway lies this hole in the wall, a tiny Mexican restaurant that you might not even notice as you drive by it on Main Street. And it supplies one of Keller’s nicest outdoor seating areas, a cozy, covered spot with plentiful plants emitting floral aromas. (Note: It’s also worth hunting down the patio at Café Medi, on a side street on the less-crowded east side of Main Street in Old Town.)
Too new to be underrated
Grub Burger Bar, 3101 Heritage Trace Pkwy, Ste 101, 682-204-0111
The first Fort Worth location of College Station-based Grub opened this year in Parkside at Alliance, a small center in far north Fort Worth that’s also home to a new Shell Shack location. A new location of First Watch is due to open in June, with a Mod Pizza not far behind. All include patios looking out on Bluestem Park –– if you step off the patios, you’re in the park –– but Grub may have the best one, with more space, seating, and TVs. All of them are examples of how patios in busy areas should be done: Although I-35W is less than a mile away, you barely notice the noise, and because the patios are on the other side of the building from Heritage Trace Parkway, you don’t notice that traffic-choked stretch at all.
Heim Barbecue River District, 5333 White Settlement Rd, 682-707-5772
At Heim’s original brick-and-mortar on West Magnolia Avenue, the patio took some time to evolve, but at the recently opened and larger River District location, the patio’s already up and running. Yes, it’s off the parking lot, although it is set back at little. The space also faces west, which is good for sunset views if you’re there at the end (or bacon-burnt end) of an afternoon.
Herencia Texican Cuisine, 1431 E Southlake Blvd, Ste 551, Southlake, 817-873-8800
This new Southlake restaurant takes its name from its philosophy of using cooking techniques from Texas and Latin America, and the patio is part of that: It’s a fairly intimate space, landscaped with desert plants and worlds away from the crowded Central Market parking lot that’s mere steps outside the gate. The patio at the longer-running Howard Wang’s China Grill next door is pretty good, too.
Rogers Roundhouse, 1616 Rogers Rd, 817-367-9348
Behind University Plaza is this new restaurant/bar named in part for the street it’s on and in part for the building’s former life as an engine-repair facility for Union Pacific Railroad. The patio scene is familiar –– picnic tables (with some blessed shade), strung lights, and plants. The unusual location separates you from the city, although you might hear a train or two rumble by.
The Tipsy Oak, 301 E Front St, Arlington, 817-962-0304
Downtown Arlington’s restaurant/bar/brewery renaissance has brought with it some new patios, and one of the best is at this nearly year-old gastropub with its rustic, wraparound space near the end of a relatively quiet but increasingly busy street.