A Delicious Brunch at Fort Worth’s AC Hotel

AC Hotel Fort Worth

After receiving an invitation to a Kentucky Derby Progressive Brunch at the AC Hotel in downtown Fort Worth, I had to have a quick chat to convince my husband to join me and a group of bloggers (all women) at this festive event to connect. The invitation suggested we wear our Big Derby-style hats and pointed out that “that obviously means women, not me.”

But we both love Fort Worth and he was also intrigued by the opportunity to tour the host hotel in downtown Fort Worth. The AC Hotel Downtown Fort Worth is an upscale new Marriott centrally located just steps from Sundance Square, Bass Hall and the Convention Center. After promising that he could wear his favorite Ducks Unlimited hat instead of a large hat, he agreed to go with me.

AC Hotel

When we arrived at the AC Hotel at 101 West 5th Street, we left our car with a valet and entered the foyer on the ground floor. We were greeted there by friendly staff (including the GM in a colorful jacket) and a Mint Julip in honor of Derby Day. Then we took the elevator to the reception area on the second floor, where there is also a well-stocked bar, a supermarket and a lounge. Plus great people watching from the windows!

View from the AC lobby

Since we wanted to stay that night, we left our bag with the helpful lady at reception before taking the elevator to the 16th floor. The progressive derby party was in full swing in one of the meeting rooms. At several tables stood women in hats nibbling starters, sipping their mint julips and visiting with friends.

Kentucky Derby Progressive Brunch

As I expected, my reluctant spouse had more fun than anyone at the event. A retired school teacher and born storyteller, he was in his element with all of these young bloggers. He quickly forgot that he was the only man there and at one point even agreed to put on a fedora and pose with the hat-wearer group.

We visited the hotel with Sales & Marketing Director Jillian Lehmann and Catering Director Jennifer VanZandt. Both women were smartly dressed in Kentucky Derby-style hats for this special occasion. On the way we enjoyed a progressive brunch, which ranged from salads to starters and desserts. My favorite dishes were the shrimp deviled eggs, a unique twist on one of my favorites, and the lobster bisque shooter.

All rooms were modern and elegant, especially the corner suites. We were all (except maybe my husband) particularly keen to see the honeymoon suite. There’s even a suite for bachelorette parties. Fort Worth is a great place for a bachelorette party. I remember having mine there a few years ago. I can’t remember which hotel, but I do remember stopping over at Joe T. Garcia and Billy Bob’s in Texas.

Distilling tomorrow

We were also treated to a whiskey tasting in the lounge area on the second floor of the AC Hotel, as well as a dessert. Tony Formby, managing partner / owner of Acre Distilling, Fort Worth’s award-winning distillery, led the tasting. After saying goodbye to most of the bloggers and our lovely hosts, my husband and I went to our room for a nap before exploring Sundance Square and other downtown attractions that evening.

Tony Formby, Jillian Lehman and Jennifer VanZandt

We took a hat-free stroll around Sundance Square with blogger Brittany Ryan, aka The Jet Set Blonde. The three of us had dinner reservations at the nearby Reata Restaurant thanks to Visit Fort Worth. The Reata on Sundance Square is one of the best restaurants in Fort Worth (or anywhere in Texas). The rooftop terrace offers great views of Sundance Square and is a very popular spot for happy hour visitors.

Brittany on the Reata terrace

Reata Restaurant Sundance Square

Reata’s extensive menu, as well as the decor, reflects the Spanish influence. Reata is Spanish for rope and was named after the ranch in “Giant” (the 1950 film Texans either love or hate). The restaurants (including one in Alpine) have been popular Texan eateries for several decades, and the food and service show no signs of slowing down. My jalapeno and coriander soup ($ 6) was so good that I almost canceled my starter and ordered a larger bowl of soup. Glad I didn’t respond to that impulse as my entree of Chicken Chile Rellenos with Roasted Corn Soup ($ 19) was just as delicious.

My husband was just as happy with his CFS, which was perfectly cooked and seasoned and included a Texas steak platter ($ 19). For a shared dessert, we ordered the signature dessert tacos with caramelized bananas and chocolate sauce ($ 8) that were just as decadent as they looked.

Reata dessert tacos

While the evening menu may be a bit expensive for every day, it’s perfect for special occasions like Mother’s Day, birthdays, or anniversaries. As I reminded my husband, I am a mother and Reata has a special brunch menu for Mother’s Day in May. We also have both birthdays in June and an anniversary in August!



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