For many of us, the holidays mean getting out of town. But someone's gotta be on the receiving end of all those people.
If that someone is you and you're about to welcome a crowd, we've found the best restaurants in Fort Worth to soak in the holidays. We've found Christmas lights that would make the Flaming Lips envious. Christmas ice cream. Christmas pancakes. Plus lots of Christmas kitsch. Here are our suggestions:
Babe's Chicken Dinner House, Burleson
Communal tables and family-style fried chicken and all the fixin's make this small chain a smart choice for holiday gatherings. Hit the Burleson location, which is more Christmas-y than the others, thanks to its Hansel and Gretel-inspired décor. Life-size replicas of colorful cottages are strewn with streams of garland and twinkling Christmas lights. Singing servers randomly break out into Christmas carols, and diners are encouraged to carol along. Soak up the scene while nursing a ginormous slice of pumpkin pie, served only during this special time o' year.
With shops and restaurants aglow with Christmas lights, downtown Fort Worth is a must-see during the holidays. In the center of it all is Sundance Square's 59-foot-tall blue spruce Christmas tree. You and your clan can get a bird's-eye view at restaurateur Shannon Wynne's gastropub Bird Café. The patio offers prime views of the festively decorated Sundance Square Plaza, although good views can also be found inside the restaurant's bar overlooking Sundance Square. A menu loaded with shareable plates such as the signature moth balls is just the thing for a big group.
The Fort Worth branch of this laid-back North Texas chain is always a safe bet for gatherings, but especially since it rolled out a new menu with seasonal holiday dishes. Consider cinnamon pumpkin pancakes, chai oatmeal served in a hot skillet, and pumpkin cheesecake with a brownie-walnut crust. Even better are the holiday-themed drinks: s'mores latte, pumpkin-spiced latte, and caramel apple cider topped with whipped cream.
Many restaurants primp for the holidays but not like this Arlington Tex-Mex restaurant. Its beloved Christmas decorations are so dazzling, people wait up to two hours to sit among them. More than 100,000 lights dangle from the walls and ceiling. Everywhere you look, there's Christmas trees, garland, and a model train that chugs from one end of the restaurant to the other. The menu has combo plates, fajijtas, and a queso dip that's a festive orange. Margaritas are a must.
Whenever in doubt about where to go, there's always the Fort Worth Stockyards, and during the holidays, the area delivers big, with a mammoth display of Christmas lights and decorations that are best appreciated on foot. There are numerous restaurants to choose from, but one of the prettiest during the season is this long-running steakhouse, decorated head to toe in holiday lights. Carnivorous menu includes spit-roasted chicken and wood-fired steaks.
La Choza Fine Food
Be the person in the know and take your group to this New Mexico-inspired restaurant in north Fort Worth. Very casual-like, order the Christmas enchiladas, an off-menu special known only to regulars. The enchiladas get their name from the two kinds of sauce used to blanket the rolled or flat enchiladas: a mild red sauce, made with dried red chile pods, and a spicier green sauce, made with Hatch chiles.
Melt Ice Creams
Lick up some sweet cheer at this brightly colored family-friendly gourmet ice cream shop on the Near South Side, now serving special holiday flavors. Snowflake is white chocolate ice cream flecked with peppermint. Santa's Helper is vanilla ice cream spiked with Avoca espresso and housemade kahlua. Merry Marshmallow mixes Dude Sweet Chocolate's frozen hot chocolate with Melt's housemade marshmallows.
Tiny, family-owned pizzeria on the west side is famously stuck in a time warp, circa 1968 — basically when the place opened. We're talking red and white checkerboard tablecloths, red booths, heart-shaped chairs, and a red tile floor. The restaurant fills the place with Christmas decorations that fall in step with the vintage vibe. Inflatable Santas, light-up reindeers, and vintage lights take you back in time to the '70s when Parton's was one of the only pizza games in town.
The West 7th district has initiated a holiday event called Starlight Symphony, with music, lights, animated holiday stars, and other seasonal sparkle synchronized to your favorite Christmas songs. A five-minute show on Crockett Street plays nightly on the hour from 6-10 pm and runs through January 4. For a great place to catch the action, hit Social House, a newish bar-restaurant which brings the spirit with new holiday drinks, including two martinis — candy cane and pumpkin pie — and peppermint hot chocolate, with or without booze.
These days, every family gathering seems to have at least one vegan in the crowd. Show off Fort Worth's award-winning Spiral Diner, home to grateful vegans from all over North Texas. The cafe brings back its annual Festivus sandwich, a unique play on boring ol' turkey and dressing. The sandwich comprises sliced faux-turkey, cranberry-pecan stuffing, cranberry sauce, dairy-free cream cheese, served on toasted multi-grain bread. It comes with a brown gravy dipping sauce and a side of whipped coconut sweet potatoes.
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