Where to Eat
With Valentine's Day behind us, we can get back to the dinners that really matter: the ones we share with our friends. After all that lovey-dovey one-on-one that's been rammed down our throats, the idea of letting your hair down with a group — whether it's your pals, your workmates, or your boot camp buddies — feels like the perfect antidote.
Here are the best places in Fort Worth to dine out with a group:
The restaurant formerly known as Buffalo Gap, located in a former Steak & Ale, is known for prime rib, steaks, and upscale comfort food. It's a place to go when your group feels like a nice night out. That said, the place is comfortable, not fussy, with an indoor/outdoor patio perfect for year-round dining or listening to local music. And every night, there's some kind of incentivizing special, whether it's free salad bar with entree or a lobster special.
Food Hall at Crockett Row
Food halls — the modern reboot of the food court, with an assortment of restaurant concepts gathered under one roof — are a big thing right now, making them an appealing destination if you like to be up on the cool new thing. But beyond their trendiness, food halls are particularly useful for groups because the variety of dining options means you don't have to agree on cuisine. Fort Worth's newly-opened version boasts poke, smoothies, lobster rolls, pizza, cheesecake, and more. Everyone can order something different, then meet up to share a supersize waffle.
La Playa Maya
Many new and flashy Tex-Mex places have come to Fort Worth, but it's hard to beat the fajitas, queso, and seafood dishes at this mini-chain with four locations, each unique to the neighborhoods they serve. They have one of the best happy hours in town: Margaritas and pina coladas are $3 before 7 pm. Whichever in your group gets there first gets a table and starts taking text-orders from friends who may be cruising in close to 7 pm. The location on the Westside has plentiful parking - a refreshing change from having to park in garages in the major new developments.
Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar
California chain emphasizes its dog-friendly persona, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. This place loves everyone. They're super-friendly and chill, with a warm, Rocky Mountain-high vibe, and booths so long and spacious, they'll fit you and all of your friends. Or hang out on the patio and form a circle around the fire pit. The menu has all sorts of American snacks but with enough of a twist to satisfy the foodies in the crowd.There are three Lazy Dog locations in DFW, but this location at Glade Parks in Euless off 121 was the first.
Bowling/eatery at the Shops at Clearfork has plenty of gathering spaces for groups including a large outdoor patio, making it a popular choice for work gatherings, engagement parties, and the like. The restaurant is an Italian-American bistro with pizzas and flatbreads, plus pastas, sliders, burgers, salads, and sandwiches such as a prime rib dip. If your group is thrifty, they host weeknight happy hours from 3:30-7 pm with $4 wine and $5 well drinks, plus a menu of snacks that are easy to share.
Restaurant in the Cultural District of Fort Worth is noted for excellent, authentic Italian food that draws diners from all around Fort Worth. It also has a gorgeous, huge patio, so inviting for a group. Is it because they've been overshadowed slightly by all the new places that have sprung up in the West 7th area that they're willing and eager to save a big round table for you and your group? Or, more likely, do they just have amazing service? You and your pals win, either way.
Shaw's Patio & Grill
Mom-and-pop restaurant was an early settler on Magnolia Avenue, and its ambitions are modest: burgers in a variety of options including bison along with your typical cheeseburger, plus grilled cheese, fries, and shakes, served in a parfait glass and topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Add beer, live music, and patio on the side, and you have a low-pressure place to kick back after work or a weekend bike ride.
Spinoff of Dallas restaurant in downtown Fort Worth has a fun, festive vibe, thanks to an extensive selection of tequilas, many delicious varieties of margaritas, and a mix-and-match menu that lets you get away with ordering $10 quesadillas while your well-heeled friends order $20 fajitas and no one's the wiser. A big outdoor bar has ample downtown views, and okay, there happen to be some pretty impressive happy hour specials that extend from Monday all the way through to Saturday — a rarity.
Stephanie Allmon Merry contributed to this story.