Ask any longtime Cowtowner where to take out-of-town guests for true Fort Worth flavor, and Joe T. Garcia's will come up within the first three suggestions.
If it doesn't, you might want to check that person's address.
Joe T.'s is Fort Worth, with its disarming charm, surprising beauty and kick-ass fajitas and margaritas.
On Sunday, July 4, the beloved Mexican restaurant celebrates its 75th anniversary. Cue the fireworks.
My first Joe T's experience was wondrous, if a bit career-threatening. I'd just started working at the Star-Telegram in January 2001 and one of my first big stories was covering The Cliburn Competition, another Fort Worth institution. After the piano playing was all said and done, the S-T threw a party for the Cliburn coverage team at Joe T's.
Being relatively new, I wanted to make a good impression so I arrived at the restaurant early. My wife and I wandered around, amazed at the lush gardens. Eventually, we settled at one of the back bars to wait for others to arrive. The margaritas looked great, so we ordered a couple ... and then a couple more.
Sweet as candy and more lethal than a paid assassin, the margs made us loopy before the party even started. I don't remember much after that. I know that I did not to insult the editor or publisher, thank goodness, but I did end up in pool somehow.
Since then, I've always kept a low-profile at Joe T's. But I've always loved the atmosphere and what it represents. Hard-core foodies will tell you that better Mexican food can be found only a few blocks away on the North Side, and they may be right.
Pure Cowtown cool, however, lives at Joe T's.
Happy birthday, big guy. We raise our margarita glasses to you.