Driving by the Foundry District, that area in between Montgomery Plaza and White Settlement it can be hard to tell that there’s a lot going on there. However, it does not get more local or funky than the Foundry District with several businesses unique to Fort Worth. This eclectic area exemplifies much of the Fort Worth spirit, old and new.
This guide gives you an insider’s look into what makes the Foundry District and the areas that surround it so compelling and how you could actually spend a day exploring this eclectic enclave of Fort Worth. This series of everyday exploring focuses on mini-itineraries that help you discover the true Fort Worth focusing on our many home-grown businesses and eateries. The walk-ability of the area adds to the appeal of the Foundry District.
Get your day started in true Funky Town fashion with a hearty diner breakfast or with breakfast tacos.
DAY BREAK CAFE
In between auto repair shops in this light industrial area you’ll spot Day Break Cafe. Don’t let the no-nonsense appearance deceive you, there’s some good eats inside that locals love. Day Break Cafe is beloved for cheap and delicious eats and their Tex-Mex breakfast options. Choose from classics like pancakes, go hearty with chicken fried steak or stick to their popular traditional breakfast tacos and burritos.
Coffee afficianados will want to fuel up for the day at Craftwork Coffee. While enjoying the perfect pour-over try their breakfast tacos, supplied by Fort Worth favorite Tacoheads, or a pastry. This light-filled space provides a soothing starting point to your day.
Next head on over to Inspiration Alley to take a glimpse into the creative heart of the city. Colorful murals transform what was once an industrial park into an art-forward area that is now the largest outdoor gallery in Texas. These murals reflect the unique viewpoint of some of Fort Worth’s and the regions most prominent artists in a space accessible to all.
Sprinkled throughout the district you may spot phrases or “mantras”, these are part of the 28 mantras series by artist Brennen Bechtol. You may see inspiring sayings like “I am enough” or “I will smile and impact someone’s day positively” throughout the whole district. Carry these good vibes with you as you go about your day. (Note: to access Inspiration Alley enter through the wood gate in the open area in front of the large mural)
Shopping options don’t get any more eclectic than the Foundry District. Unexpected discoveries include army surplus, records, alternative remedies, vintage clothes and highly curated finds from around the globe. Engage in some retail therapy as part of your exploration of the Foundry.
After exploring Inspiration Alley, continue walking east for a few minutes and you’ll see Omaha’s Surplus.
It’s one of the most unexpected finds in the area but trust me it’s worth a visit. This army navy store has original issue war supplies from WWII, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Afghanistan. Even if you aren’t in the market for a vintage Civil Defense Radio or a Serbian gas mask, it’s absolutely fascinating to walk down the aisles of the store.
If you have kids in tow, they will love having their own custom dog tags printed up. Other fun things to look for are medic and paratrooper bags and tee shirts. I’ve been coming here for many years and my kids love checking things out here!
Doc’s Records and Vintage
Doc’s has a massive collection of vinyl. They’ve outgrown different locations but have settled in to the Foundry District. This large space is perfect for the combination of aisles upon aisles of vinyl. On one half of the store you’ll find vintage clothing and quirky collectibles as well.
Flip through their organized selection of records to discover just the right record to add to your personal collection or to gift. If records aren’t your thing, don’t pass up the chance to shop their vintage vendors. If you want to walk away with some Fort Worth style, hunt for some pearl snap vintage western shirts, denim jackets, old concert tees or even a pair of broken-in cowboy boots.
As soon as you walk into Gifted you know you are in for a unique experience.
This relaxing and almost spa-like space showcases a wonderful assortment of highly curated items to gift to others or to yourself.
This lifestyle and gift shop has everything from the perfect set of earrings to stylish journals and even a nice selection of kids items. Everywhere you look there is a new discovery of covetable treasures and just that perfect gift that you’ve been looking for. As a bonus, if you’re buying an item to gift they will wrap it exquisitely for free.
Have you ever considered your daily ritual of getting ready for the day? Whatever the answer check out The Lathery and you’ll discover unique and luxe grooming products that elevate your morning routine.
Look for curated grooming products for men and women in this stylish spot that will inspire you to care for yourself in the way you deserve. Owner, Jonathan Morris who also founded the Fort Worth Barber Shop fills the need for thoughtfully selected products that aren’t available anywhere else in Fort Worth. They even have in-house barber but it’s recommended you book in advance. (PS. If you want a bead on the vibe there, just check out their Spotify playlists.)
Feeling stressed? Check out Fort Worth’s only doctor-owned CBD business, Thrive Apothecary. They carry high quality CBD oils and their well-trained staff can guide you through selecting your best options. They have even have products for pet health.
If you’ve worked up an appetite and it’s around lunchtime get ready to make some difficult dining decisions. If you want a true taste of Fort Worth, barbecue has to be on the menu. On Saturday’s, you’ll have to make a choice between traditional style barbecue that has put Fort Worth on the map and the new-wave of craft barbecue that is exploding in the city.
Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
This Barbecue upstart makes up just one of the many local up and coming craft pitmasters. Owner Dayne Weaver began in true Fort Worth fashion as a pop-up operation, initially out of his house and then other locations around town. He’s found a permanent weekend venue at Lola’s much to the relief of his many fans. Join local barbecue aficionados as they ‘cue up for ‘cue and be there early because there will be a line.
Craft barbecue has several hallmarks which pit master Dayne Weaver is a practitioner of. Craft barbecue starts off with a premium quality meats like prime-grade brisket and Dayne’s uses prime black angus brisket and other high quality meats. Craft pitmasters also choose their seasonings carefully focusing on creating or using high-quality seasonings with no preservatives. The meat then gets the royal, high-touch treatment while being cooked over pecan and post-oak in an offset smoker. The pitmaster masterfully watches over the meats and knows by touch just when everything is done.
This is a small batch, time consuming process that is a labor of love for most modern purveyors of craft cue which is why it will generally cost more than traditional barbecue and why they quickly sell out. The proof is on your platter of barbecue which must include the brisket and ribs and don’t forget the sides which include frito pie beans. Also, if they have a special like tacos or bacon burnt ends, it’s always a good idea to get it!
PS. If you happen to be in The Foundry area on the Second Sunday of every month there’s a Farmers Market and live music at Lola’s Trailer Park.
Angelo’s barbecue is as iconic as it gets in Fort Worth. This spot has been a Fort Worth favorite since the George family opened in 1958. Expect tender brisket and nearly legendary ribs. The George family still runs the restaurant and they continue to use the same tried and true recipes and techniques that have built their loyal following since opening. They smoke everything slowly over hickory wood using their proprietary seasonings.
This restaurant maintains its throwback interior, unironically, with a large stuffed bear greeting you at the entrance and a multitude of animal heads adorning the walls.
In the same breath that most people talk about their barbecue there is always mention of their ice-cold beer, so enjoy your meal accordingly with a refreshing beverage. Once you decide on your smoked meats, you order cafeteria style at the entrance where you pay before seating yourself.
Meyer & Sage
If you are looking for something healthier, check out Meyer & Sage for chef-inspired and delicious selections. This spacious grab and go market and culinary studio is full of charm and grace and has been described as “Neiman Marcus meets Anthropologie”.
Locals love their chef prepared meal delivery service full of creative and healthy options. Owner and Chef Callie Salls creates show-stopping charcuterie and grazing boards as part of their boutique catering services.
Look beyond the stylish digs and grab a bite from their cold selections for seasonal hummus or protein snack boxes, sandwiches and mini cheese boards. All items are expertly made by chefs using organic, high quality ingredients. This welcoming spot is the perfect place to stay and chill and don’t forget to check out their retail gift section that features local vendors. If you are ending your day here, grab a chef prepared pre-made meal or a mini charcuterie board and snacks to enjoy later.
M&O Station Grill
You’ll find a diner vibe and award-winning burgers at M&O Station Grill along with a bit of Fort Worth history. M&O refers to a subway train that used to transport shoppers to Leonard’s Department Store in Downtown Fort Worth in the early 1960’s.
Adjacent to the restaurant is a small museum dedicated to the history of Leonard’s Department Store. Leonard’s has a significant place in Fort Worth history because it opened in 1918 as one small storefront and expanded over the years to encompass several city blocks and flourished until the late 60’s when it was sold.
The restaurant is a destination on its own thanks to the hard work, dedication and talent of Chef Danny Baldilla and his family who opened the restaurant over 10 years ago in 2008. The added bonus of a bit of Fort Worth history makes this place a special spot in town.
The Grand Berry Theater
After lunch you’ll want to head over to Fort Worth’s only art house movie theater, The Grand Berry Theater. This newly founded single screen art-house cinema focuses on indie and local films. The intimate viewing space for the films is a mix of leather chairs and loveseats for a total of just 50 seats. Check their website for their movie schedule.
Perfect Touch Day Spa
If you are looking to treat yourself get over to the award winning Perfect Touch Massage and enjoy a manicure or pedicure. If you are feeling really indulgent, book yourself a reflexology session or a massage.
The day does not have to end though! You can continue your Foundry discoveries by visiting Blackland Distillery for a pre or post dinner cocktail. Their tasting room is a sumptuous space that features lots of luxe touches, with a large bar in the middle of the space where you can watch your drinks being carefully crafted by an elite crew of mixologists.
The Grapefruit Punch and Hibiscus Fizz are just a few of the drink options they offer that feature the Blackland Spirits which are produced on-site in their technology forward facility.
Grains for the spirits are sourced from Fort Worth based Tex Malt which partners with local Texas farms. They offer small bites from nearby Meyer and Sage that include a grazing board, spiced nuts, seasonal hummus or marinated olives.
Your dinner options range from casual to fine dining. Casual options include tacos, hot chicken and seafood. Fine dining in the Foundry focuses on from-scratch food in a rustically refined setting.
Austin City Tacos
Don’t let the name Austin fool you, local celebrity chef Juan Rodriguez created the menu at Austin City Tacos with plenty of Fort Worth flair. Take a stroll from the Foundry District to the growing University corridor for your taco fix. Chef Rodriguez’s signature bi-colored hand-made tortillas wrap around generously stuffed tacos with fillings that range from brisket to vegetarian.
This instagrammable spot exudes funky vibes with multiple murals and backdrops on the exterior. Order the Bohemian taco which showcases the 12 hour smoked brisket (you’ll smell that familiar smoky aroma when you walk in) and the cheat day queso with a mix of fries and nacho chips, yes fries, trust me! If you are looking for something on the lighter side, the Baja Shrimp taco is not to be missed. Frozen margaritas are $5 all day if you want to indulge in the official “unofficial” cocktail of Fort Worth. Leave room for their soft-serve ice cream as a dessert. For my full review, click here.
There’s a hot chicken craze happening and it did not miss Fort Worth. At the recently opened Cook Shack you’ll find another Fort Worth home-grown concept. This location is also a short walk from the Foundry in the University restaurant corridor. Get your spice fix with their spicy fried chicken and ribs. Local chefs crafted the menu and use high quality chicken for their generously sized tenders that are fried to perfection with a crispy skin. You choose your spice level, but be careful because hot means hot here. Their sides include sweet potato fries and mac and cheese. Don’t overlook their salads, the kale salad is one of the best in town.
J & J’s Oyster Bar
Locals love J&J’s Oyster Bar and that’s why it’s been around for over 40 years. It’s a true Fort Worth institution. 25 years ago they moved from their Cultural District location to an old Taco Bell building which they renovated. It’s worth the walk from the Foundry District to University. Look to J&J’s for seafood po-boys, gumbo, fish tacos, fried seafood and raw oysters (of course) in a super casual almost kitschy throwback environment. You will want to try their chili on cold days, it’s considered one of the best. Check them out during their happy hour for specials on beer, wine and oysters.
Clay Pigeon is the fine dining star of the Foundry District. Foodies who want to experience exquisite service and exceptional food will want to make a reservation at Clay Pigeon. Accomplished chef, Marcus Paslay, graduated from the Culinary Institute of American and then honed his craft at some of the finest restaurants in the country. He returned to his hometown of Fort Worth and opened Clay Pigeon in 2013. The concept is simple, this is a from-scratch kitchen with an evolving and changing menu that uses seasonal, local and organic ingredients. The bar program receives just as much attention as the food with expertly prepared creative cocktails. Just like Fort Worth, Clay Pigeon has a rustic yet refined aesthetic that have made it a standout in the fine dining scene since it opened.
This exciting district continues to attract innovative and dynamic business. Look for these new establishments opening soon in The Foundry: 38 & Vine (wine bar and tasting room), Tulane’s (cocktail bar) and Maple Branch Craft Brewery.
So grab some walking shoes and gear up for a day of discovery in the Foundry district and the surrounding areas. It exemplifies so much of Fort Worth from wildly creative art to entrepreneurial pioneers in culture, food, beverage and retail. All this innovation mingles well with all the places that still make Fort Worth, well Fort Worth.
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