Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Downtown Cowtown

This week’s travel starts by getting in my car and driving exactly 19 miles from my home to downtown Fort Worth for my company’s annual conference.  I know people do it but I find something inherently wrong about sleeping in a hotel when I could be in my own bed.

The Tarrant County Courthouse is directly behind our hotel.  I presented myself here to obtain my marriage license 25+ years ago and continue to present myself here when I get a jury summons. 

I think people come to Fort Worth expecting everyone to be wearing a cowboy hat and to have their horse tethered to the hitching post out front.  That is a little bit stereotypical, but not entirely wrong.

I own 2 pairs of cowboy boots but mine definitely don't look like these.  I bet these don't even come in my size.  These are in a storefront down the street from the hotel.

After all, Fort Worth is nicknamed Cowtown.  They still have an active stockyards.  If you have ever been to Dallas, don’t assume they are the same because they are not.  They may only be 60 miles apart but they are completely different cities.  Dallas is more urban, more hip and cool.  You won’t see many men in cowboy hats and the horses belong to the police department.  Fort Worth really is still Cowtown at heart.

How very Cowtown that we are sharing the hotel with a Grain & Feed Convention.  It was pretty easy for us to tell the participants in our event from those in the Grain & Feed event when someone was accidentally lost.  Guy in the overalls?  Definitely not at the correct event.

We are in an area of downtown known as Sundance Square.  Sundance Square has lots of restaurants, bars, theatres (of the live variety) and shops. 

Once upon a time I briefly worked downtown at this building.  The building was later damaged in a tornado and repurposed into mainly condos.  Ironically, if I had never worked here, I wouldn't be in Fort Worth now since I met the person who hired me for my current job while working at that job.

It has been a long time since I worked downtown but one thing that stood out as I walked around the first day was how clean it looks, something several other people here have mentioned to me.

A topiary bull guards this corner.  You aren't supposed to ride him so I didn't.

The first night some colleagues and I wander out for dinner and end up across the street from our hotel at Cabo Grande.  It was very nice, not too pricey and best of all, not too loud.  They have “tableside” guacamole, which I personally find weird – I don’t need to see you prepare my guac, just bring it to me already made.  Trying to get 5 people to agree on the ingredients you are allowed to put in the guac when you prepare it tableside is an issue as well.  We ended up with what amounted to smashed avocados. 

Risky's BBQ is probably the most sought-after restaurant Downtown.  I abstained because I don't care for BBQ and it is the catered meal later in the week.

The hotel we are at is the Renaissance Worthington which is very large, very nice and decidedly western-themed. 

This skull was lurking outside of the room where I taught my class.  The wallpaper in the halls looks like leather and I have an ostrich-hide bench in my room.

We had our event here about 5 years ago and we took everyone to Billy Bob’s Texas for a night out.  A bar fight broke out over a woman (what else?) and some of our customers thought we might have staged it (we didn’t). 

Back to Billy Bob's.  No fight this time, just some friendly-ish games of pool.

This year we head over to Circle R Ranch in Flower Mound, TX for Texas BBQ, armadillo races and a mechanical bull.  In other words, likely humiliation will follow in future posts so stay tuned.


  1. I only object to the characterization of Dallas as hip and/or cool. No way. Cowtown wins at both of those!

  2. Let's modify my statement then to Dallas THINKS it is cooler.