Within 10 minutes of arriving in the Fort Worth Stockyards, I spot no fewer than 10 cowboy hats on the men and women swaggering down crowded sidewalks.
But this is no Cowboy Convention—it’s just a regular Friday evening in a place everyone is quick to remind me is “cowtown.” And the joint is jumping.
Home to one of the largest livestock markets in the nation from the early 1900s to the mid-’50s, the Stockyards later fell off the radar. In the following decades, the area was mainly a destination for tourists in search of cheap souvenirs, late-night honky-tonks, and the free, twice-daily longhorn cattle drives parading down East Exchange Avenue.
But in 2020, the Stockyards began a new chapter. In the area known as Mule Alley (so-called because of its historic use as a horse and mule market), the Marriott Autograph Collection’s luxe retro-cowboy–themed Hotel Drover opened, joined by a handful of new boutiques, restaurants, and cocktail bars.
With more shops and restaurants slated to open through 2022, the full transformation has yet to be realized. However, the fresh vibe is unmistakable. Read on for some new faces, as well as old favorites, at the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.