On its way through the Mid Cities, the Trinity Railway Express snakes behind warehouses before finding its way up a small berm that offers unobstructed views to the south. The bone-white curve of AT&T Stadium sits off toward the horizon, a reminder of the usual monotonous drive to Fort Worth along I-30. On the TRE, the ride from Dallas really does feel like a journey, which helps underscore the cultural distance that exists between these two sister cities.
My traveling companion and I began the day with lunch at Cafe Modern. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out from the retro, midcentury dining room toward Ando’s museum, which floats on a shallow pool of water. A cup of Chinese mushroom soup followed by steak and beet salad and a glass of Nielson Pinot Noir fortify me for an afternoon in the galleries.
Five or six years ago, this neighborhood didn’t exist. Its emergence is a testament to Fort Worth’s shale-fueled boom. West 7th is now a mini-city of cookie-cutter apartment buildings. It can feel over-branded (“Movies Never Tasted So Good” brags the marquee at Movie Tavern), and many of the new shops and restaurants are chains. Still, the antiseptic, corporate vibe is undone by anachronistic holdouts and new spots that capture the city’s laid-back, nonchalant Western vibe.
After quaffing beer at Fred’s, we crossed 7th and found our way to Revolver Taco Lounge, a modern Mexican taqueria located in an old storefront. Two older women worked busily in an open kitchen, producing plates of duck tacos, Michoacán-style roasted goat, and Chile en Nogada served alongside handmade corn tortillas on plastic floral tablecloths. Despite the trendy new apartments across the street, Revolver is chic but subdued, striking the perfect balance between sophisticated style and homespun authenticity. I liked Revolver Taco so much I told my traveling companion that I wished we could strap it to the back of the TRE and drag it back to Dallas.
But then it would be in Dallas, she said. It wouldn’t be the same.