Pickleball Takes Over North Texas

Chicken N Pickle Grand Prairie photo by Holt

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country, and several new places in North Texas are eager to welcome players with craft cocktails, good food, and courtside fun. We recently attended two DFW area openings, starting with a sprawling Chicken N Pickle in Grand Prairie that opened in late December. This week we attended a ribbon cutting at the smaller but locally owned Courtside Kitchen in Fort Worth.

It seems impossible that until a few months ago we had never even heard of Pickleball, and now it’s everywhere. My daughter and her husband are living in Panama, and have started playing there. But when we attended our first Chicken N Pickle opening in Grand Prairie, my husband kept asking our waiters “where are the pickles?” (Someone finally brought him a side of fried pickles).

pickleball takes over
Holt photo

We watched players on several Pickleball courts, and decided the fast-paced game looks like a cross between ping pong, badminton, and tennis. Racquet-wielding players use a green plastic “pickleball” that explains the strange name. They all seemed to be having a fabulous time, even laughing at their own mistakes.

Chicken N Pickle in Grand Prairie

The Grand Prairie location is a partnership with the City, who lease the property to Chicken N Pickle’s owners. It’s located in the new Epic Central entertainment area off S. Highway 161. The Chicken N Pickle complex features a fast-casual dining restaurant, 11 pickleball courts, shuffleboard courts, a bar and entertainment space, and an outdoor game yard.

pickleball courts plus family fun
Holt photo

We watched families with small children happily building LEGO castles, while the large game room featured teens playing ping pong tables, plus a multitude of TV screens. Live entertainment will be scheduled for their rooftop bar. Chicken any way you like it (baked, broiled, fried, jerked, barbecued) is prominent on the menu, along with BBQ pork and ribs, sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts.

We were impressed by Chef James Ash’s plans to source everything on the menu from local farms and vendors. As the company’s regional chef, Ash will also oversee the menu for another soon-to-open Chicken N Pickles in Grapevine.

Chef James Ash greets customer

For more information about the Grand Prairie Chicken N Pickle, please call 469) 943-1410.

Courtside Kitchen in Fort Worth

Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce members cut the ribbon Feb. 1 for the new Courtside Kitchen, just off I-30 and University Drive in Fort Worth. Featuring over 7,500 square feet of indoor and 23,500 square feet of outdoor dining and entertainment and family fun, Courtside Kitchen is Fort Worth’s first dedicated pickleball facility.

pickleball takes over North Texas
Courtside Kitchen Ribbon cutting with Fort Worth Chamber

The menu is created by Executive Chef Christian Lehrmann, a veteran of Fort Worth-Dallas restaurants such as Tinie’s Mexican Cuisine, the Porch, and CBD Provisions at the Joule Hotel. The familiar but fun meals range from poke bowls to Nashville style hot chicken sandwiches to flat iron chimichurri steak and fries.

Executive Chef Christian Lehrmann

“We want to provide items that you crave on a normal basis but reinvented in a new and fun way,” says Lehrmann. “Both the food and beverage menus are eclectic and interesting. Everyone will enjoy having fun with us!”

Courtside Kitchen serves playful and inventive craft cocktails, like the spicy Margarita and saucy frozen Pimm’s Cup we tried. They also feature a large selection of draft and local beers, and extensive wine and tequila lists. Chef-inspired brunch entrees and drink specials are on tap for weekend brunches.

Pickleball takes over North Texas
Courtside Kitchen Chef and investors photo by Holt

Pickleball has captured the hearts of Fort Worth’s active community. The game offers an opportunity for players of all levels and generations to have a great time together. Part of pickleball’s charm is how easy and fun it is to learn, as evidenced by all the laughter heard on and around the court.

“As America’s fastest growing sport, pickleball has really taken Fort Worth by storm,” says Zach Nichols, the League Coordinator of Fort Worth Pickleball. “We have more than 200 players participating in the ladies and mixed leagues now and it’s only our first season!”

CH Design Build

Courtside Kitchen features ambiance and design by Cody D. Henderson of Fort Worth’s CH Design-Build, known for creating inviting and interesting spaces. People of all ages are invited to play on one of seven outdoor or two covered pickleball courts. Lawn games like Cornhole and Texas-sized Connect 4 are also featured, along with live entertainment onstage. An outdoor beer garden features festoon lights to enjoy starry Texas nights. As the weather gets warmer, shade trees invite hanging out on a beautiful afternoon. Outdoor fire pits help keep Courtside Kitchen’s patrons warm in cooler weather. Multiple TV sets are scattered throughout the property so sports fans don’t miss a minute of their favorite game.

Pimm's Cup
Dixie Baker with frozen Pimm’s Cup

“All I know is that Fort Worth loves to have a great time! We saw a need for an exciting and fun place where people could be active and social at the same time,” says Matt L. Johnson, equity partner and owner/operator. “Courtside Kitchen is truly unique in ways that only Fort Worth can be. It’s a lively and fun place to bring your family, meet your buddies after work, or even get a workout!”

Courtside pickleball court
Holt photo

Courtside Kitchen is located at 1615 Rogers Road in Fort Worth. For more information, please call 682-255-5751 or visit courtsidekitchenfw.com.