By: Courtney Dabney
If your New Year’s resolution is to try a new restaurant, you’re in luck. Times are good for Fort Worth’s new-restaurant scene, as a dizzying number of new spots have opened over the past few weeks. And more are coming this year. Like, a whole lot more.
From new hot spots to coming attractions, here’s a look at where to dine in ’19.
Ashim’s Hibachi Grill
424 Taylor St.
A terrific addition to downtown’s dining scene, this family-run spot features a hibachi grill, sushi, bento boxes, poke bowls and Thai ice cream. Owner and longtime restaurateur, Assamad Ashim, takes the “fast” part of this fast-casual concept literally, striving to have your food ready in 10 minutes or less. Clubby and contemporary music keeps the atmosphere upbeat, and way-friendly employees help you maneuver the waters of the sizable menu. What to eat: A salmon bento box comes with a hefty plank of juicy salmon, fresh off the hibachi grill, along with veggies, rice, gyoza and three pieces of sushi, all for around $10.
2000 W. Berry St. (at Americado Food Hall)
The success of craft barbecue joint Heim Barbecue has opened the door for other local ‘cue rock stars, including Brix BBQ, led by one of the city’s newest and brightest barbecue maestros. Pitmaster Trevor Sales churns out Central Texas-style ‘cue with impassioned precision: brisket perfectly crusty, fatty and smoky; spare ribs wrapped in an addicting cloak of spices and seasonings; pulled pork that melts away at the touch of your tongue. Sales’ rotating specialty items include beef cheek tacos, brisket corn chowder and the almighty Sweet James Jones, a gargantuan sweet potato (named after famed Houston rapper Pimp C) topped with chopped brisket, honey-Sriracha sauce, green onions and chipotle crema. You can find him Saturdays and Sundays at Americado Food Hall and on other days at pop-up events around town. Follow him on Instagram at @brixbarbecue. What to eat: A sliced brisket sandwich, piled high with top-quality beef from 44 Farms, jalapeño-cilantro slaw and housemade pickles. Gotta try the sausage, too, a housemade beef/pork-mix recipe dotted with three kinds of cheddar and candied and pickled jalapeños.
El Bolero Cocina Mexicana
2933 Crockett St.
The first of two new restaurants from Dallas-based Apheleia Restaurant Group to open in the Crockett at West 7th area, El Bolero takes over the space once occupied by Tillman’s Roadhouse. Slated to open late December/early January, the third location of this mini-chain features a wide-ranging menu that goes beyond the Tex-Mex norm. Dishes include four varieties of queso fundido (melted Oaxaca cheese served in a cast-iron skillet), tempura lobster tacos, barbacoa enchiladas and braised achiote pork with a black bean purée, chef Jacob Barrios’ unique rendition of cochinita pibil. Sibling restaurant Pakpao Thai will open this spring, directly across the street. What to eat: Try the lobster fajitas; wash it down with a lavender-rosemary margarita.
Food Hall at Crockett Row
3000 Crockett St.
Fort Worth gets its own version of Plano’s Legacy Hall with this food court-style eatatorium, featuring a dozen different food vendors under one roof. Vendors include Knife Burger, celeb chef John Tesar’s burger spot; Abe Froman’s of Fort Worth, local chef Victor Villarreal’s pizza and charcuterie stall; and Not Just Q, a barbecue spot from former TCU football player David Hawthorne and local ‘cue guy Eric Hansen. There’re also high-end sandwiches from Butler’s Cabinet, from notable Dallas chef Josh Harmon, as well as elote, poke, Mediterranean food, seafood and desserts from others. What to eat: Abe Froman’s signature pizza, topped with housemade pear relish and pork sausage, is a good place to start, followed by an Ozersky burger from Knife — the best $6 burger you’ll ever have.
1001 S. Main St.
Former Shinjuku Station and Tokyo Café chef Tuan Pham recently opened this stylish Vietnamese spot, naming it after his two older and two younger sisters. In step with the family vibe, many of the dishes come from family recipes, from lemongrass tofu to shaken beef. But Four Sisters is anything but old school. Many of the dishes have cool twists and turns: Braised pork belly is served with hard-boiled quail eggs in a soy and sugarcane broth over rice, and lobster is given a divine, stir-fry treatment, resulting in bites that are both rich and crunchy. There’s a snazzy bar with craft cocktails, too.
What to eat: Crab fried rice is one of the city’s it-dishes right now.
5276 Monahans Ave.
This New York-born pizza chain opened its first Fort Worth location last month in the Shops at Clearfork, in a space decorated with red-and-white tablecloths, chandeliers made out of wine bottles and old black-and-white photos of Brooklyn, where the restaurant originated. The restaurant’s namesake dish, cooked in a coal-fueled brick oven as you watch, using a 100-year-old dough recipe, comes two ways: build your own, using ingredients such as spicy chicken sausage, pepperoni and anchovies, or a specialty pizza, such as Brooklyn Bridge, topped with oven-roasted red peppers, ricotta cheese and Italian sausage. There are also salads; big, fat calzones; and a craft beer and wine list. What to eat: The restaurant’s specialty cheese pizza is made with asiago, gorgonzola, pecorino Romano and housemade mozzarella.
1907 Eighth Ave.
Only took, oh, 30 years for Fort Worth to get an i Fratelli’s. Founded by a quartet of brothers in 1987 in Irving, the mini-chain specializes in oblong-shaped, thin-crust pizza that many prefer over the similar Campisi’s. A diverse menu includes vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. The recently opened Fort Worth franchise is takeout/delivery only, although there’s a small seating area for to-go orders. What to eat: The Del Bianco pizza, topped with bacon, fresh spinach, Roma tomatoes and the restaurant’s signature Bianco sauce, an absurdly addicting Alfredo sauce.
King Pho Sushi Bar
2701 Bello Hill Lane
This lively, upscale pho and sushi restaurant is an undiscovered gem in far north Fort Worth, where good pho is hard to find. The small menu focuses primarily on the restaurant’s namesake dishes. Pho comes in a half-dozen options, in three different sizes — perfect for sampling and sharing. There are numerous sushi options for both purists who don’t like sauces and those who would love to bathe in it. Love the “Blade Runner” —like lighting. What to eat: Can’t go wrong with the straightforward beef pho, dotted with pieces of eye of round steak. Spend the extra $3 for a bowl of meatballs and dunk away.
3011 Bledsoe St.
This Dallas import is going head-to-head with another Dallas import, the nearby Velvet Taco. But OMG’s tacos are vastly different than VT’s: They’re of the street-size variety and super-cheap; most cost $2-$3. Fillings include all the usual suspects, along with a couple nice surprises, including cow tongue. The space itself is nothing to admire: It’s one small room with communal seating. For such a small spot, a lot of food is churned out, from the tacos, to tortas, to quesadillas, to elote. Pandora station seems set to “Annoying EDM” channel, but on the plus side, it’s open late every night. What to eat: The OMG elotes come topped with a dusting of hot Cheetos.
Swad Indian & Nepalese Cuisine
8333 Sohi Drive
Indian restaurants are so few and far between, it’s cause for celebration whenever a new one arrives. Opened in May, the family-run Swad Indian & Nepalese Cuisine is a quaint and quiet spot in far north Fort Worth, with a vast menu made up of Indian cuisine staples, along with a handful of less-common Himalayan specialties. Featured dishes include chicken tikka masala, lamb korma and fish curry. Dishes inspired by the cuisine of the Himalayans include chicken thukpa, a noodle-based chicken soup, and several varieties of momos, Himalayan dumplings filled with pork, vegetables and other ingredients. Naan bread — five varieties — is freshly made, and for dessert there’s malia kulfi, Indian ice cream made with saffron and nuts. What to eat: There are plenty of veggie options, including the “potato tornado,” a deep-fried, spiral-cut whole potato on a skewer brushed with herbs.
1229 Eighth Ave.
One of the city’s best new restaurants is this izakaya-style Japanese eatery, located on the second floor of a new Medical District building that also houses Super Chix. As he does at the original location in Dallas, Fort Worth-reared chef Dien Nguyen specializes in ramen — there’s a half-dozen varieties — and unusual small plates, such as crispy pig ears, bone marrow with shiitake mushrooms and chicken heart skewers, all served in a warm, inviting atmosphere. When the weather’s nice, grab a seat on the killer outdoor patio. Or better yet, snag a barstool next to the kitchen, where you can see Nguyen and his kitchen team in action. What to eat: It’s a toss-up between the dry garlic or tsukemen ramen, the latter of which is simmered 36 hours. Delightfully chewy crispy pig ears are a must.
sixteen of the most anticipated new spots:
Bearded Lady: Shannon Osbakken is moving her popular brewpub/hangout from cool Magnolia Avenue digs to a bigger and better spot in the burgeoning South Main area. Mirroring the original, the new place will put an emphasis on the patio — it’ll be a big, sprawling beast, with enough room for a firepit. There will be several new menu items, including new burgers, plus live music. Opening: Spring. 300 South Main St. facebook.com/thebeardedladyfortworth
Ben’s Triple B: Coming to the east side, Ben’s Triple B is Fort Worth Magazine Top Chef winner Ben Merritt’s ode to burgers, beer and biscuits. This’ll be restaurant No. 2 for Merritt, who also owns Fixture Kitchen and Social Lounge on the Near Southside. Part of the revamp of East Rosedale near Texas Wesleyan, Ben’s will be open morning, noon and night, serving biscuit-forward breakfasts and chef-inspired burgers, along with craft brews; there will also be a full bar. Opening: March/April. 3016 E. Rosedale St.
Black Cat Pizza: For the past several months, former 44Bootlegger chef Jamie Fernandez has been slinging pizzas after-hours at Stir Crazy Baked Goods on Magnolia Avenue. But soon he’ll open his own spot, where he’ll serve cool pies like the TMNT (topped with feta, arugula, kale, zucchini, pepitas, green onion and almonds), whole and by the slice, late into the night. He’ll share a spot with Funky Picnic Brewery & Café, a brewery and artisan sandwich shop. Opening: Spring/summer. 401 Bryan Ave. facebook.com/blackcatpizzaftw and funkypicnicbrewery.com
Buffalo Bros: Fort Worth chef Jon Bonnell and biz partner/Buffalo, New York native Ed McOwen open a second location of their popular TCU food and drink dive in the space recently vacated by In the Sack. A less fratty, more family reimagining of the original, the new spot will include all the original’s staples, from deck oven pizza, to made-to-order subs, to wings, to signature items like beef on weck and Sahlen hot dogs. Opening: Spring. 415 Throckmorton St. buffalobrostexas.com
Derek Allan’s Texas BBQ: After running a popular food truck in the Grapevine area, Panther City native Derek Allan comes home to serve Central Texas-style barbecue in the old Paco & John’s spot. Opening: January/February. 1116 Eighth Ave. facebook.com/derekallansbbq
Dwell Coffee & Biscuits: A second location of Burleson’s Dwell Coffee & Biscuits will open in the TCU area in the old Sovereign Bank. Husband-and-wife duo Jeff and Stephanie Brannon’s new location will mimic the original, which means a huge menu of specialty coffee drinks and housemade buttermilk biscuits stuffed, topped and drenched in all sorts of glorious wonders, from gravy, to Nutella, to scrambled eggs. Opening: Early 2019. 3113 S. University Drive.
Heim Barbecue: Easily one of 2019’s most anticipated openings, the second location of Travis and Emma Heim’s barbecue spot should open in the first quarter of the new year. Located in a former VFW Hall, the 8,000-square-foot restaurant will undoubtedly attract throngs to the growing River District area, where new condos and retail spaces are quickly rising. Opening: Winter/spring. 5333 White Settlement Road. heimbbq.com
Mariposa’s Latin Kitchen: Fear not: Crystal Padilla and Irma Gamez’s popular Latin spot on the west side is returning to the west side – the far, far west side. Willow Park, to be exact. The mom-daughter team will reopen in a brand-new, to-be-built building, decked out with a lavish patio area and full bar. Opening: Fall/winter.
Pakpao Thai: Upscale Thai food comes to Crockett Row at West 7th, courtesy of this Dallas concept, whose exec chef is Jet Tila, a judge on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” The Fort Worth branch, taking over the old Rafain space, will be the mini-chain›s third location.
Opening: Spring. 2932 Crockett St.
Poke-Poke: The Venice, Cali restaurant that helped launch the raw sashimi craze opens a Fort Worth branch in the old Bentley’s Hot Dogs space on the Near Southside.
Opening: late December/early January. 1515 W. Magnolia Ave. poke-poke.com
Rogers Roundhouse: New burger/beer spot from Curly’s owner Bourke Harvey and Dallas restaurant consultant Tom Koons will be located in an old air-conditioning service warehouse behind University Park Village. Railroad enthusiasts are going to go nuts over the place, as a row of windows will offer Insta-worthy views of the Union Pacific rail yard. Opening: Spring/summer. 1616 Rogers Road
Tinie’s Mexican Rotisserie: Among the half-dozen or so restaurants coming to the South Main area this year is this ambitious concept from Taco Heads owners Sarah Castillo and Jacob Watson. The two-story spot will take over the historic W.A. Powers Company building. Top floor will be devoted to the cocktail lounge, which will feature craft cocktails, Latin-American beers and 60 tequilas and mezcal. The dining room will occupy the bottom floor. Menu items will include whole or half fire-roasted chickens, served family-style with sides, salsas and tortillas, as well as tortas, salads, tacos and breakfast items. Opening: Spring. 125 South Main St. facebook.com/tiniesfw
Toasted Coffee + Kitchen: Another Dallas concept heads to Crockett Row at West 7th, this time in the form of a gourmet toast and coffee shop. Toasts are both sweet and savory, with toppings ranging from chocolate and raspberry jam to lox and, of course, avocado. There are also all-day breakfast platters and artisan sandwiches.
Opening: Spring. 2972 Crockett St. toasted.coffee
Wishbone & Flynt: Fort Worth Magazine Top Chef winner — and chef about town — Stefon Rishel opens his first restaurant in Fort Worth in the South Main Street area. His globetrotting menu will include dishes such as pork and shrimp shumai with black vinegar and Thai chile; grilled prawns over saffron risotto; and pepper jack tater tots with caviar and crème fraiche. Opening: Spring/summer. 318 Bryan Ave.
Zoli’s: Cane Rosso owner Jay Jerrier’s homage to New York-style pizza is on track to open later this year, in a brand-new building on Hulen Street. Can’t wait to bite into the thick-crust pies, but man oh man, those appetizers may be where it’s at: crispy Brussels sprouts tossed with bacon marmalade; waffle fries topped with pepperoni, smoked mozzarella and cherry peppers; and housemade smoked mozzarella pimento cheese, served with tomato jam, herb focaccia and horseradish pickle dip. We swear we’re excited about the pizzas, too. Opening: Summer/fall. 3501 Hulen St. zolispizza.com
Stockyards Heritage Development: Forthcoming $175 million Stockyards renovation and ground-up development will feature a boutique hotel, retail space and restaurants, including a still-unnamed, smoked-meats concept from Clay Pigeon and Piattello executive chef and owner Marcus Paslay; Fort Worth’s first Shake Shack; and Second Rodeo Brewing Co., a brewpub and live music venue from Twisted Root Burger Co./Truck Yard founder Jason Boso. Opening: 2019-2020.
By: Courtney Dabney