Tablet Life & Arts

Final Four Day Weekend: the comedy troupe’s guide

This weekend, an army of basketball fans will descend upon Dallas-Fort Worth, to root for Kentucky, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Florida. But that’s not all: NASCAR fans will converge on the city as well, headed to Texas Motor Speedway for the Sprint Cup & Nationwide Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 and Duck Commander 500.

In between games and races, there’s going to be some down time. (For Final Four fans, if your team loses, it will be severely down time.) That means stepping out of your hotel and having some fun. And here’s the part where we’d normally say: That’s where we come in.

But when it came time to constructing a guide for the ultimate Final Four weekend, we decided to go straight to the source … Four Day Weekend, Fort Worth’s much-beloved improv comedy troupe that has kept crowds laughing in Sundance Square (all over DFW, really) for 17 years and 5,000 shows.

They’ve performed for Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush and delivered a keynote address to Congress. And the troupe — co-founders David Ahearn, David Wilk and Frank Ford, with cast members Oliver Tull, Joshua Roberts and Anthony Bowling and music director Ray Sharp — has performed around the world — everywhere from Paris to Malaysia.

They’ve been called “Fort Worth’s Greatest Ambassadors,” and even have the key to the city, but somehow Four Day is still one of those treasures us locals still sometimes take for granted — much like the cool places we only trot out when we have visitors.

So, as we stand on the precipice of a blockbuster sports weekend, who better than the quick-witted, improv comedy denizens to show us all around?

We picked the brains of co-founders Ahearn, Wilk and Ford, who polled their gang of funnymen. They came back with a consensus answer and a Four Day punchline. (In a few instances, we couldn’t resist adding some picks, too.)

We started the free-wheeling conversation by asking the co-founders where they take their out-of-town visitors.

David Wilk: You definitely have your first-time visitors versus your repeat visitors. When my family comes now, we don’t do any of the big tourist stuff. We take ’em to White Rock Lake or the Katy Trail, and real local stuff. My dad loves chicken-fried steak, so we’re always trying to find the new “hot” chicken fried steak. Because that’s what you wanna feed a man who’s 84 years old. You want to give him as much fried food as possible.

Throughout this Final Four Day Weekend guide, you’ll find picks for Tex-Mex, barbecue, burgers, sports bars, celebrate, drown your sorrows, patios, cowboy culture, museums, kid-friendly attractions, and more. (If you’re eager to find a particular category, click on the links in the sentence above.)

Food & nightlife

Best place for authentic Texas barbecue

Their consensus: Hard Eight Bar-B-Q

Four Day: Arby’s

Named after a dice roll, the well-regarded Hard Eight Pit Bar-B-Q started in Stephenville and has locations in Roanoke (just north of Fort Worth) and Coppell.

Wilk: There were three or four barbecue places in the running. And then when we mentioned Hard Eight, everyone went, “Oh, yeah, we forgot about Hard Eight, yeah.” If you bring up barbecue, you’re gonna have a fight. Because people are very steadfast in their beliefs. But we were right.

David Ahearn: I’ve been to the one in Roanoke, and that place is awesome. And every time you go, it’s a hundred bucks. If you bring a family of four, good-bye. It says a lot about you as a Texan, where you like your barbecue.

Ahearn: I would hope so. I picked a place called Hard Eight. Which was my nickname in college.

Wilk: HEL-lo! He’s a big gambler.

Four more picks from

Angelo’s: The granddaddy of Fort Worth ’cue stills serves up blissful brisket and ribs after 55-plus years. 2533 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth, 817-332-0357

Pecan Lodge: The darling of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and Texas Monthly lives up to all the hype. Dallas Farmers Market, Shed 2. 101 S. Pearl Expy. Open Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. or until they sell out, which they almost always do.

Off the Bone BBQ: In-the-know barbecue snobs know about this place in a converted Dairy Queen. Now you do, too. 5144 Mansfield Highway, Forest Hill.

Lockhart Smokehouse: A delicious slice of Texas Hill Country barbecue here in DFW. 400 W. Davis St., Dallas (A second location just opened in Plano.)

Best place for authentic Tex-Mex

Consensus: Joe T. Garcia’s

Four Day: You want authentic Tex-Mex? It’s North Texas. Just pick a door and knock.

Joe T. Garcia’s is the north-side restaurant famous for its fajitas, oasis-like patio and potent margaritas. 2201 N. Commerce St., Fort Worth. 817-626-4356; So you went straight down the middle on this one.

Wilk: I don’t think a trip to Fort Worth is complete without a trip to Joe T’s. I don’t think it’s the best Tex-Mex, but the experience wins out.

Including the experience of waiting in line for an hour to get a spot on the patio?

Wilk: Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes the wait.

Frank Ford: Also, if you wait that long in line, your appetite grows. You’re really, really hungry by the time you get your food, so it tastes that much better.

‘Pick a door and knock’ — have you tried that strategy for Tex-Mex?

Wilk: That was a line from an improvised scene in one of the shows, and it stood out in everybody’s mind. It was [Four Day cast member] Oliver Tull. He said: ‘Tex-Mex? Tex-Mex? Hell, this is North Texas. You want good Tex-Mex, just pick a door and knock.’ If someone said something in the show that really makes us laugh, we write it on the wall in our dressing room. That made the wall a couple years back, so we thought we’d tip our hat to Oliver.

Four more from

Marquez Bakery: Family-owned spot makes fresh tortillas, bunuelos and great Mexican breakfasts, across from AT&T Stadium. 1783 E. Division St., Arlington. 817-265-8858;

Pepe’s & Mito’s Mexican Cafe: Authentic spot in Deep Ellum famous for tacos norteños and wowing Guy Fieri. 2911 Elm St., Dallas. 214-461-8357; Facebook page:

El Asadero: Humble north-side restaurant serves rich mole, spicy salsa and delicious seafood dishes. 1535 N. Main St., Fort Worth. 817-626-3399;

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine: We could live on the creamy black beans and fried plaintains alone. Eat at the original at 600 N. Bishop Ave., Dallas, although it has locations throughout DFW. 214-942-1831;

Best place to get a bodacious burger in DFW

Consensus: Twisted Root

Four Day: The Men’s Club; everything there is bodacious.

Twisted Root is the funky, attitude-infused joint that started in Dallas’ Deep Ellum but now serves chef-driven burgers and yummy shakes in nine North Texas locations.

Ahearn: I’m a Twisted Root fan. I ate there last night — the one in Roanoke. I live in far north Fort Worth.

What’dya have?

Ahearn: I’m a simple man. I had a bacon cheeseburger with an egg on top of it. I like to eat my breakfast and lunch all at the same time.

Wilk: The burger was a tough choice, because I have the palate of a 12-year-old boy. [Lakewood’s] 1st and 10 has a great burger, Lakewood Landing has a great burger, Company Café has a great burger. That was a tough one. We figured you had the burgers covered.

We’ve eaten our share, yeah.

Four more from

Rodeo Goat: The Goat won’s burger battle with creations like the Caca Oaxaca, a chorizo-beef patty with avocado and egg on top. 2836 Bledsoe Street at Currie Street. 817-877-4628;

Chop House: A former steakhouse chef does wonders with a brisket-infused patty and housemade steak sauce. 1700 W. Park Row Drive, Arlington. 817-459-3700;

Kincaid’s: If you want a classic burger experience, this former grocery is the place. 4901 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth. 817-732-2881;

Hopdoddy: The Austin import grinds its own meat, makes its own buns and delivers a symphony of vivid flavors, like the mystical Magic Shroom burger. 6030 Luther Lane, Dallas. 214-363-2337;

Best place for an obscenely expensive and/or delicious steak

Consensus: Reata

Four Day: Appleby’s (but only during happy hour — 1/2 price meat)

Reata is the Sundance Square restaurant known for its cowboy cuisine and one-of-a-kind rooftop patio overlooking downtown Fort Worth. 310 Houston St., Fort Worth, 817-336-1009,

Four more from

Lonesome Dove: Celebri-chef Tim Love’s Western bistro is famous for the wagyu tomahawk rib-eye ($120 serves 2). 2406 N. Main St, Fort Worth. 817-740-8810;

Pappas Bros.: As good as advertised. Just ask Cowboy Dez Bryant, who picked up a $54,000 tab here for his teammates as a rookie. 10477 Lombardy Lane, Dallas. 214-366-2000;

Del Frisco’s: The gold standard in downtown Fort Worth. 812 Main St., with a location in Dallas as well. 817-877-3999;

Trail Dust: It’s not the price but the buttery fillet and kitschy Western atmosphere you’ll love. 2300 E. Lamar, Arlington. 817-640-6411;

Best place to celebrate after your team wins

Consensus: The Flying Saucer

Four Day: Your bedroom

You’ll find a slew of local craft beers and imports — all sorts of great stuff on tap (and in bottles) at Flying Saucer, the beer palace in downtown Fort Worth, Addison and on Lake Lewisville.

Four more from

The Local: West 7th’s hottest new watering hole. 2800 W. Bledsoe St., Fort Worth. thelocalwest7th.

Bowl and Barrel: This is how we roll, with booze and bowling. 8084 Park Lane, Dallas.

Brass Tap: Shiny new bar boasting more than 300 beers. 901 Houston St., Fort Worth.

Velvet Taco: Gourmet taco shop open till 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Locations on Henderson Avenue in Dallas, West 7th in Fort Worth.

Best place to drown your sorrows after your team loses

Consensus: Ships in Dallas

Four Day: Your ex-wife’s bedroom

Ships Lounge is an authentic Dallas dive bar — cash only, great jukebox, characters aplenty. 1613 Greenville Ave. 214-499-5600;

Four more from

The Usual: Cool cocktail den specializing in Prohibition-era drinks with hardly any TVs in sight. 1408 W. Magnolia Ave. Fort Worth. 817-810-0114;

Bearded Lady: Sweet beer garden, and great local craft brew selection. 1229 Seventh Ave., Fort Worth. 817-349-9832.

Lee Harvey’s: A laid-back dive bar in Dallas that has history and a relaxing backyard patio. 1807 Gould St., Dallas. 214- 428-1555;

Stumpy’s Blues Bar: Harleys in the lot, hard-driving music inside — what else do you need? 2811 W. Division St., Arlington.

Sports bar that’s almost as good as going to the Final Four

Consensus: Frankie’s

Four Day: Going to the Elite Eight?

ESPN will be broadcasting from Sundance Square on Final Four weekend, and Frankie’s downtown location (there’s also one in Lewisville) should be a required stop for fans after watching SportsCenter. 425 W. Third St., Fort Worth. 817-870-9090;

We noticed a few downtown places — Frankie’s and the Flying Saucer — on your list. Do you guys hang out there quite a bit?

Wilk: Yeah, our date night isn’t with wives or girlfriends. It’s with each other. And every single night, we go through the same question at 5 o’clock. Where do you guys wanna eat? Boy, have we spent some money in Sundance. We are very well-versed in the restaurants downtown.

What should we get at Reata?

Wilk: You want the flank steak with the enchilada on top. Good stuff.

The restaurant you never thought you’d find here …

Consensus: Saviano’s Euless. Best Italian anywhere.

Four Day: Chef Point Café, Watauga. No joke here — 5-star food in a gas station.

Saviano’s: 300 N. Main St, Euless, 817-283-3121,; Chef Point Café, known for its “Better Than Sex” fried chicken: 5901 Watauga Road, Watauga, 817-656-0080,

Ahearn: We had a Saviano’s downtown across from us (until late 2012), and I’d been to both. But that one in Euless, I think it’s great. It’s a special little place.

Wilk: Every time you go there, you get to see the whole family in action, it’s like a big Italian soap opera; it’s great. Then you resisted the urge for humor with Chef Point Café — which is in a Conoco gas station, and has been featured on the Food Network.

Wilk: You don’t expect to see something like that here. That is a gas station and it’s 5-star food.

Ahearn: And Watauga’s quite a hotbed of activity, too … I don’t know if you know that. Has anyone ever bought gas there? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone ever fill it up.

Patio(s) not to be missed

Consensus: The Belmont Hotel in Dallas

Four Day: My aunt Thelma, her patio is immaculate. My uncle’s dead and she has a lot of time to work in the back yard.

The name might sound fancy, but the Belmont is an old-school, renovated 1940s hotel whose modest pool area boasts a spectacular birds-eye view of the city. During the spring and summer, you can catch a show at KXT 91.7’s Barefoot at the Belmont concert series.) 901 Fort Worth Ave., Dallas. 214-393-2300;

So this is another hotly debated topic — why the Belmont?

Wilk: It’s the one place in DFW that, in my opinion, transports you to the Hollywood Hills. You just feel like you’re out looking over the big city. It’s just got a great vibe to it. Smoke is there, too. They’ve got GREAT barbecue.

Four more from

Woodshed Smokehouse: The nouveau, open-air barbecue joint overlooks the Trinity River. 3201 Riverfront Drive, Fort Worth. 817-877-4545;

Joe T. Garcia’s: Hacienda-style patio and gardens are breathtaking, and the atmosphere is pure Fort Worth. 2201 N. Commerce St., Fort Worth. 817-626-4356;

The Glass Cactus: A nightclub with a 13,000-square-foot deck with 180-degree views of Lake Grapevine. 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine. 817-778-2805

Katy Trail Icehouse: A vibrant scene and beer garden on the tree-lined Katy Trail. 3136B Routh St., Dallas. 214-468-0600;


Best place to see and act like a cowboy/cowgirl?

Consensus: The Stockyards

Four Day: In the red zone at a Dallas Cowboys game. (You can see them both there.)

The Stockyards, Fort Worth’s historic destination for all things Western, includes bars, souvenir shops, a twice daily cattle drive and Billy Bob’s, the world’s largest honky-tonk. 500 N.E. 23rd St., Fort Worth. 817-626-7921;

Do you often get to dress like a cowboy?

Wilk: I don’t think I own a pair of boots or a hat. Oh, in the show I do. Maybe that’s what it is. I get my fill of that every weekend.

But definitely in the Stockyards, right?

Ahearn: I was there a few months ago, it was nice. I went to the White Elephant … they have a great burger, too. It was date night, baby.

Best place to get Western gear and souvenirs?

Consensus: Leddy’s

Four Day: Hudson News DFW Airport

M.L. Leddy’s is the area’s premiere Western wear outfitter; it ain’t cheap, but it’s authentic. With locations in the Stockyards and a smaller branch in Sundance Square. 888-565-2668;

Must-see museum(s)

Consensus: the Kimbell and the Perot

Four Day: You’re not gonna believe this, but Ripley’s Believe It or Not (in Grand Prairie).

The highly esteemed Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth (3333 Camp Bowie Blvd.;) just expanded last year, adding a pavilion designed by Renzo Piano; the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas (2201 N. Field St. is about a year old, and its “World’s Largest Dinosaurs” exhibit opens Sunday.

Four more from

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth: The Tadao Ando building is one of the most beautiful in DFW. Collection includes Warhols, Pollacks and Lichtensteins. 3200 Darnell St, Fort Worth. 817-738-9215;

Amon Carter Museum of American Art: Remingtons, Russells and current exhibit, Art and Appetite, features Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth. 817-738-1933;

Dallas Museum of Art: Only U.S. stop for an exhibition of rare Islamic art. 1717 N. Harwood St. 214-922-1200;

Nasher Sculpture Center: Renzo Piano-designed building and sculpture garden provides 360-degree art experience. Matisse, Rodin and Serra are among the heavy-hitters. 2001 Flora St., Dallas. 214-242-5100;

Must-see artwork or public art

Consensus: Sculpture garden at Nasher

Four Day: The facelifts and boob jobs in Dallas are a must-see.

Best place to see a live theater show

Consensus: Four Day Weekend

Four Day: Four Day Weekend

The troupe has its own theater in downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square, at 312 Houston St. The guys are performing their hilarious high-wire improv act Friday and Saturday nights (7:30 and 10 p.m., tickets $20). 817-226-4329,

Now how did you ever come up with that answer?

Wilk: I don’t know if you’ve ever seen those guys, but I gotta tell ya. There’s a reason they have the key to the city and were named small business of the year. Those guys are incredible.

Ahearn: Turns out you can compliment yourself.

What exactly do you do with the key to the city?

Wilk: Well, you have to be locked out. I’m gonna be honest.

Four more from

Jubilee Theater: Founded in 1981, this Fort Worth theater celebrates the African-American experience. Now playing: Ain’t Misbehavin’. 506 Main St., Fort Worth. 817-338-4411;

Stage West Theatre: Fort Worth institution produces everything from classic American drama to Shakespeare and contemporary Broadway shows. Now playing: Orlando, by Virginia Woolf. 821 W. Vickery Blvd, Fort Worth. 817-784-9378;

Theatre Arlington: Doubt: A Parable. 305 W. Main St., Arlington. 817-275-7661;

Dallas Theater Center: Fortress of Solitude. 2400 Flora St., Dallas. 214-880-0202;

Best place to see/hear live music

Consensus: The Rustic in Dallas

Four Day: My next-door neighbor’s garage. Guys seriously, keep it down after 10 p.m., I have kids!

The Rustic is a new restaurant-bar in Uptown Dallas that’s co-owned by Texas singer-songwriter and Fort Worth resident Pat Green. 3656 Howell St., Dallas. 214-730-0596;

Four more from

The Granada Theater: 3524 Greenville Ave., Dallas. 214-824-9933;

Live Oak Music Hall, 1311 Lipscomb St., Fort Worth. 817-926-0968;

House of Blues: 2200 N. Lamar St., Dallas. 214-978-2583;

Lola’s Saloon: 2736 W. Sixth St., Fort Worth. 817-877-0666;

Best place to laugh your a** off

Consensus: Four Day Weekend

Four Day: Dallas City Council Meeting

Three more from

Hyena’s: Comedy clubs in Dallas and downtown Fort Worth.

Improv: Locations in Arlington and Addison.

Backdoor Comedy Club:


Best place to take the kids between games

Consensus: The new Sundance Square

Four Day: Their grandparents

The downtown Fort Worth entertainment area underwent a $110 million renovation to turn it into a popular pedestrian-only town square, completed late last year.

Ahearn: Since they opened that up, it’s amazing how much it changed the energy of downtown. People are milling around that square. It made downtown become even more alive, I think.

Wilk: I agree. That’s an example of people getting it right.

Frank: People hang out there now for different reasons, versus hanging out in the parking lot.

Four more from

Fort Worth Zoo: A world-class zoo, with baby elephants. 1989 Colonial Parkway. 817-759-7555;

Dallas World Aquarium: A tropical rainforest right here in Big D. 1801 N. Griffin St.

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History: Don’t miss the Indiana Jones archaeology exhibit. 1600 Gendy St, Fort Worth. 817-255-9300;

Six Flags: Roller coasters, rides and more a few steps from the stadium. 2201 Road to Six Flags St. E, Arlington. 817-640-8900;

Best place for some adult fun after the games

Consensus: Del Frisco’s Grille

Four Day: Bar Louie

With locations in Sundance Square, Dallas and Southlake, Del Frisco’s Grille is the more casual bar-and-grill spinoff of fancy steakhouse Del Frisco’s,; Restaurant-bar Bar Louie has DFW locations in Fort Worth, Arlington and Hurst,

Best reason to drive from Dallas to visit Fort Worth

Consensus: Four Day Weekend

Four Day: You left your phone at Four Day Weekend last night.

Best reason to drive from Fort Worth to visit Dallas?

Consensus: Klyde Warren Park

Four Day: Four Day Weekend has a gig in Dallas.

Klyde Warren Park is the $111.7 million green space built on a deck spanning the Woodall Rodgers Freeway. It’s lined with food trucks, games like badminton, croquet and miniature golf, a kids area; the well-reviewed restaurant Savor sits inside the park. Just off the edge is Lark on the Park, from DFW restaurateur Shannon Wynne. 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Dallas. 214-716-4500;

Wilk: The big gag at Four Day Weekend was: you go to Sundance Square at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday, and it’s jumping. You’re in downtown Dallas and at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday, your bus is late. But that’s not the case anymore.

Best place to see that isn’t in Dallas or Fort Worth

Consensus: Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve

Four Day: Ikea

Cedar Ridge Preserve, 7171 Mountain Creek Pkwy, Dallas, 972-709-7784,; Ikea Dallas is actually in Frisco, at 7171 Ikea Drive.

Best place to stop and smell the roses?

Consensus: Japanese Garden at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Four Day: The guy selling roses on the corner.

The seven-acre Japanese Garden, tucked inside the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, is an oasis filled with waterfalls, a zen garden, scenic bridges and hungry koi. 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd. 817-392-5510;

Best place for a Kodak moment?

Consensus: The Dallas Arboretum

Four Day: 1988 (Is Kodak still in business?)

The sprawling Dallas Arboretum, on White Rock Lake, is a great place to experience spring in DFW, and it just extened the Dallas Blooms festival through April 20. 8525 Garland Road. 214-515-6615;


Best sports alternatives if your Final Four team craps out early

Consensus: Dallas Derby Devils

Four Day: Watching the stoners play Frisbee golf in Heritage Park  

The women’s flat-track roller derby league has its season opener at 7 p.m. Saturday at NYTEX Sports Centre (8851 Ice House Drive) in North Richland Hills. Tickets $12-$35.

You like roller derby?

Ahearn: Who doesn’t? Quite frankly.

Wilk: They came out to the show one night, and we became fans immediately when we saw their uniforms.

Ahearn: And realized they could kick our a**. So those two things made us become instant fans.

Best golf course(s) to play when your teams not playing

Consensus: Top Golf

Four Day: The Colonial/Dallas National if you can’t afford Top Golf.

Top Golf is a driving range/nightclub chain with locations in Dallas, Allen and the Colony,; the Colonial Golf Course in Fort Worth,; Dallas National Golf Club, are two of the most prestigious private country clubs in DFW.

Wilk: Here’s how we golf. We have clients who golf. We get access — we’re just enough of celebrities, I mean on the bottom rung that we can get on the golf course, which is nice. So when we go out to play, here’s how we golf. We buy a dozen balls. And if we can finish the round, we win.

Ahearn: And then, whoever has the most balls at the end, is the winner.

Wilk: That’s the great thing about Top Golf. You just swipe your credit card and they keep comin’.

Four more from

Texas Star: 1400 Texas Star Parkway, Euless. 817-685-7888;

Water Chase Golf Club: 8951 Creek Run Road, Fort Worth. 817-861-4653;

Cowboys Golf Club: 1600 Fairway Drive, Grapevine. 817-481-7277;

Stevens Park: 1005 N. Montclair Ave., Dallas. 214-670-7506;

Care to leave our readers with a special ambassadorial welcome?

Ford: I’m gonna quote my friend Troy Grant (a founding Four Day member). The thing I would like to tell everybody is: Take your trash when you leave.

Wilk: Divvy up your time, divvy up your time! It’s a Metroplex — see it all — don’t just camp out in the city where your hotel is. Get out and about, see it all.

Don’t be afraid of I-30?

Ahearn: No, be afraid of it. But don’t let that fear keep you from, you know, sitting in traffic on it.

Ford: And have yourself a Final Four Day Weekend.