When the National Finals Rodeo hit town, Reata Restaurant had to make one change right away.
“We had a bunch of calls from people wanting to eat at 4” before the 6:45 p.m. rodeos in Arlington, owner Mike Micallef said.
So for the first time in its nearly 25 years, Reata is opening for dinner nightly at 4 p.m. and serving until 10:45.
“We’re looking forward to seeing all these people,” Micallef said.
The cowboy championship events are bringing customers downtown at a time when restaurants desperately need them.
Of all the businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sundance Square and downtown restaurants may have fared worst.
“I think the restaurants downtown have been harder hit,” he said.
The workday office crowd now dines at home, and tourists and conventions have yet to come back.
So when Fort Worth staged an online version of the annual holiday Parade of Lights, the four grand marshals were the operators of downtown’s biggest restaurants: Micallef, Jon Bonnell of Waters, Adam Jones of Grace and Gloria Starling of Capital Grille.
Reata, 310 Houston St., and its sandwich-shop cousin 203 Café, 215 Commerce St., have adjusted by improving online ordering and curbside pickup.
Reata also offers a neighborhood “hot spot” delivery service, serving $49.95 family dinners with chicken enchiladas, tenderloin tamales and more at drop-off sites in Weatherford, Granbury, Brock and outlying neighborhoods in Fort Worth.
The restaurant also will offer a take-and-bake Christmas dinner package of side dishes such as sweet potatoes, bourbon creamed corn, jalapeno-bacon mac-and-cheese and bacon-wrapped green beans, plus pies (everything but the entree).
Meanwhile, the 22,000-square-foot restaurant has enough room for well-distanced dining, and the rooftop patio is heated and has a windscreen to make it a safe winter option.
“We realize some people want to sit inside, some people want outside and some want curbside,” Micallef said.
“We’re just trying to accommodate people with whatever they’re comfortable with.”
At 203 Café, workers will run orders down to cars parked at curbside or in the driveway of City Center Garage One, the easiest garage for parking in all of downtown.
At Thanksgiving, Reata sold take-home side dishes and 203 Café sold pies.
The signature items are the tenderloin tamales with pecan mash, the pepper-crusted tenderloin and the chicken-fried steak, but Reata has broadened the menu.
The choices now include a jalapeno-cilantro-crusted redfish, grilled mahi mahi and weekend game specials, along with Reata’s traditional chiles rellenos and carne asada topped with cheese enchiladas.
At lunch, there’s a choice of $9-$14 sandwiches, salads and a daily bison burger special. (The popular fried chicken dinner with poblano-bacon grits is now a regular menu item.)
Weekend brunch — a good time to go — offers chilaquiles, crab or salmon cake eggs Benedict, carne asada huevos rancheros and banana-pecan French toast.
The signature desserts are the dessert “tacos,” the chocolate bread-pudding tamal or the banana pudding. But don’t miss the fruit cobbler.
Reata is open for lunch and dinner daily, and longer hours during the National Finals; 817-336-1009, reata.net.
203 Café is open for breakfast and lunch weekdays; 817-782-9004, 203cafe.com.
Clearfork steakhouse offers rodeo shuttle
Another rodeo favorite serves dinner with a free ride to Arlington.
B&B Butchers & Restaurant is offering hourly shuttle service to Globe Life Field Thursday through Saturday, and serving until midnight for the late rodeo crowd.
Shuttles leave at 4:15 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. and return at 10 p.m.
B&B is also showing the rodeo in its bar.
It’s open for lunch and dinner daily except Monday; 5212 Marathon Ave., 817-737-5212, bbbutchers.com.
The adjacent Butcher Shop is offering holiday takeout throughout December: beef Wellington ready to bake ($385), roasted prime rib, ham, filet mignon or pork roast, plus sides, hors d’oeuvres and a choice of apple crisp, pecan or Key lime pies.
It’s all available the entire month with 48 hours’ notice: 817-731-5360.