Spiritually, South Main is a soul sister to Austin’s SoCo and Dallas’ Bishop Arts, minus the nerve-wracking traffic and crowds – for now.
Panther City BBQ co-pitmasters Ernie Morales and Chris Magallanes prepared a Southside Slammer sandwich comprised of (from bottom) smoked bologna, brisket, pulled pork, jalape–o cheese sausage and topped with pork belly.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)
Fort Worth has seen its share of neighborhood dining explosions. In the past decade, Cowtowners watched Magnolia Avenue, in the heart of the Fairmount Historic District just south of downtown, blow up with local restaurants. We’ve checked out the recent boom in restaurants — often Dallas exports, many well received — along Seventh Street, in the shadows of the Cultural District.
But just in the past year or two, Fort Worth has witnessed a fire spreading along South Main Street like no other before it. The Near Southside’s main drag — the heart of what’s now called South Main Village, taking in a few blocks on either side of the thoroughfare — is unrecognizable to anyone who looked away for a moment. Savvy investor-developers began snapping up property, many of them solid 1920s buildings that held everything from pharmacies and light industry shops to offices and corner grocers, and renovating so quickly it made your head spin.
Mixed in with a host of new medical practices, apartments and boutiques, an entirely new homegrown restaurant row has arisen. While it’s just around the corner from Magnolia Avenue, South Main’s indie vibe is just a little more funky and low-key, with murals aplenty and other great street art. Spiritually, it’s a soul sister to Austin’s SoCo and Dallas’ Bishop Arts, minus the nerve-wracking traffic and crowds.
Here’s a snapshot of eating along the route, much of it walkable from one end to the other (just wear the right shoes). Bicycling is especially popular (Fort Worth’s BCycle sharing program has four stations right in the district), and parking is rarely an issue — so far. With growth still underway, that may change.
Panther City BBQ
The vibe: A truck that grew into a brick-and-mortar joint next to the hospitable Republic Street Bar, this smokehouse offers seating inside said bar, inside the new ‘cue pavilion and on a covered patio. Simple and comfortable, it’s a place to hang with others who love smelling like wood smoke.
What to order: Pork belly burnt ends are sweet, salty and sinful, and there’s little chance you can find a more tender brisket with a better spicy smoke ring. Massive beef ribs are a thing of beauty, and the chopped brisket-topped elote cup is pure genius. Note that it’s only open Wednesday through Sunday from lunch till the meat runs out.
201 E. Hattie Street, Fort Worth, 214-532-3657. panthercitybbq.com.