Are you itching to get away, but time and money won’t allow? Well…relief could be as close as your own home town. Such was the case for me and my family when we set-out to visit my oldest daughter in Dallas and our trip was canceled at the last minute. We’d planned on catching the TRE (Trinity Railway Express) from Cowtown to Big D’ Union Station where we would walk the rest of the way to our destination. But sometimes plans turn-on-a-dime and you simply have to make the best of things. Determined to make a weekend of it, we decided to re-acquaint ourselves with downtown Fort Worth in a non-tourist kind of way.
After getting a refund on our unused train-tickets to Dallas, my husband and I headed west from Jones Street where the TRE/Amtrak Station is located. We walked about 6 blocks past Main Street to search for a landmark I had always wanted to visit-The Park Central Hotel. Located at 1010 Houston Street right across from the Fort Worth Convention Center, The Park Central has a nostalgic flavor all-its-own, and for less than a hundred bucks a night you can get a stylishly decorated, clean…comfortable room with a view. The hotel also offers a courtyard pool with lush flower pots surrounding, chase lounge chairs, and bistro tables. A fitness room, meeting facility, and courteous employees top it off to make this retro-vintage hotel quite a bargain!
Our stay at Park Central began with a speedy check-in and a brief freshen-up in our room, and we were off to Mambo’s Tapas Cantina, conveniently located in the hotel…on the Houston Street side. Dark and mysterious, this eclectic mix took me quite by surprise. Especially the bar: never have I seen a more beautiful piece of artwork in the lighted Italian Marble bar, curving around three sides of something that is usually easy to miss. The bartender was pleasant company and the drinks-a frozen margarita and a dirty martini-were a refreshing splash on a hot afternoon. We look forward to checking out the live web-cast as soon as we have the chance.
Leaving Mambo’s Cantina, we headed down Houston Street toward Sundance Square, where something fun and lively is always happening. We had in mind to find a place to buy some wine or beer to take back to the hotel so we could sit out on the second-story terrace and enjoy the view of downtown as the sun went down. Over an hour and more than ten blocks later, we lugged our purchase up to our room to chill on ice while we rested a bit. The one thing I think downtown FW could use more of is convenience or grocery stores. It would’ve saved us having to trek all the way to Walgreen’s at the far edge of town. Even still, all was well, we knew we needed the exercise.
A short while later, dark had fallen on downtown and the city lights were glittering all around us as we sat on the rooftop patio at Park Central…sharing a six-pack of imported beer. We watched as the many club-goers passed by on the sidewalks below; a horse and buggy carrying passengers to their desired destination or the many cars cruising the streets. To us, it was like seeing a free show in real time. People watching-free entertainment that kept us up past midnight.
The next morning-or at least before noon-we checked out of our hotel and were given a significant discount because of a disturbance that had taken place some time in the night. All we did was make-mention of it and were immediately offered $20 off our room. We didn’t argue, but neglected to say we really hadn’t been bothered by it too much. These things happen at all hotels at one time or another I’m sure.
Brunch was the next thing on the agenda, and we knew just where to go: The Corner Bakery at Main and Fifth Streets. I had always wanted to dine there, and after the lovely panini and coffee to-die-for, I know I’ll be returning as often as I can in the future. Hubby was quite happy with his breakfast as well-I didn’t hear a peep out of him until his plate was clean and he was eye-balling my remnant of a sandwich. He polished my left-overs off a short time later as we sat and enjoyed the early afternoon breeze. Our only gripe…? People smoking a few yards away from us while we were still eating our meal. No worries! They were gone before we knew it, and all was right in our world once again.
With a little time on our hands and full bellies, we headed back up to Sundance Square. We strolled leisurely, noticing the changes that had taken place since the last time we’d visited downtown. The 8.0 Restaurant & Bar was undergoing a remodeling of sorts out on the patio, where a huge solarium canopy was still under construction. What a beautiful and very functional addition to an already great place to sit and dine, or enjoy the Texas Music Series Concerts with your friends!
Seeking out a cool spot to sit a spell and escape the Texas heat, we ended up in the Courtyard of Cabo Grande sipping Bloody Marys, and feeding a little bird who seemed to take a liking to me. More than three hours later, feeling a hankering for a bite to eat, we ordered some chips and queso for a quick-fix…before we decided to call it a day.
We left downtown Fort Worth with a new feeling of appreciation for what we so-often pass up without even noticing or recognizing. To us, downtown Fort Worth is like a whole new city; an old acquaintance we can now call a friend.
Cost Breakdown of Fort Worth Weekend
*Hotel Room: $79.00 after discount
*Drinks at Mambo’s Cantina: $11.00 apx (minus tip)
*Six pack and snacks from Walgreen’s: $15.00 apx
*Breakfast from Corner Bakery Cafe: $15.00 apx (including drink refills)
*Drinks and appetizer at Cabo Grande: $20.00 apx (2 mixed drinks, one beer, chips and queso–minus tip)