Best of 2019 | Food & Drink

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Reader Picks

Appetizer
Riscky's Brisket Bites
Blasphemy, barbecue purists may claim, to deep-fry brisket. But these bite-size cannonballs of deep-fried prime beef, served with a side of barbecue ranch for dippin’, have struck a nerve with a certain circle of hungry BBQ lovers — namely, everybody else. Purists, stick to your Heim and your Angelo’s and let us savor these bundles of crunchy and meaty joy in peace.
Multiple locations, risckys.com  

Atmosphere
Taste Community Restaurant
What a cool concept: This pay-what-you-can, casual American restaurant in the South Main area caters to everyone, and when we say everyone, we mean everyone — even those who cannot pay. Those down on their luck can dine here, in Taste’s colorful, airy dining room, free of charge, all thanks to the graciousness of husband-wife owners Jeff and Julie Williams; our city could use a few more big hearts like theirs. Oh, and you might even get the mayor as your server.
1200 S. Main St., tasteproject.org

Asain
Wabi House
Plopped atop a second-story perch overlooking Eighth Avenue, this stylish Japanese restaurant, manned by Fort Worth-reared chef Dien Nguyen, ventures where few other local Japanese restaurants dare. Chicken hearts on a skewer? Fantastic. Crispy pig ears? A must. There’s also excellent ramen, a wonderful kale and arugula salad draped in a yuzu vinaigrette, and atmosphere for days. Grab a barstool next to the always-bustling kitchen, and you’ll swear you’re anywhere but Fort Worth.
1229 Eighth Ave., Ste. 227, wabihouse.com

Bakery 
Stir Crazy Baked Goods
At Stir Crazy Baked Goods, you can have your cake and eat it too. The fresh-from-the-oven pies, sweet rolls, cookies, tarts, scones, muffins and cupcakes are made daily at this Magnolia bakery that prides itself on using all-natural ingredients like organic flour and real butter and eggs that are produced locally.
1251 W. Magnolia Ave., stircrazybakedgoods.com

BBQ
Angelo's BBQ
As this magazine has pointed out on numerous occasions, times are good for lovers of craft barbecue, the style of ’cue popularized in Lockhart and Austin. For many of us, though, Angelo’s still reigns supreme. From the taxidermy-lined walls to the lean slices of brisket to the goblets of beer so cold your lips will burn, little has changed in Angelo’s 61-year journey. And who the heck wants it to?
2533 White Settlement Road, angelosbbq.com

Beer Selection
Panther Island Brewing
Fort Worth’s craft brewing scene has exploded over the last decade. Panther Island Brewing began as a small warehouse with a group of friends brewing beer. After a few years of perfecting their recipes, it now is a full-scale brewery located on the bank of the Trinity River, offering a vast selection of year-round, seasonal and special series beers.
501 N. Main St., pantherislandbrewing.com

Bloody Mary
Lucile's Stateside Bistro
Brunch is such a thing to do in Fort Worth, good Bloody Marys aren’t difficult to find. The best of the best, in the eyes of our readers, are poured at this long-running Camp Bowie bistro. General manager Mike Fields would scream Bloody Mary Murder if we shared the recipe, but we can tell you this: They’re made with two types of tomato juice, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, a “blend of spices,” Fields says, and a dab of hot sauce. “They’re not the razzmatazz Bloody Marys you see now that have all the stuff in them, like chicken fingers and whatnot,” he says. “What makes ours good is the freshness of the mix. We make the mix ourselves throughout the day, as opposed to using a pre-made mix. It makes a world of difference.”
4700 Camp Bowie Blvd., luciles.org

Breakfast
Esperanza's Restaurant & Bakery
The twin sibling spinoffs of Joe T. Garcia’s both specialize in breakfast — big platters of migas and chilaquiles and huevos rancheros and, our fave, pork chops and eggs, all served with housemade tortillas and chips and salsa. We’re in Fort Worth; it’s never too early in the day for chips and salsa.
2122 North Main St.,
1601 Park Place Ave., esperanzasfw.com

Brewery/Distillery
HopFusion Ale Works
Five years ago, Macy Moore and Matt Hill were sitting at Malone’s Pub dreaming about opening a brewery and taproom. Both were homebrewers with more than a decade of experience between them. Knowing the Near Southside would be the ideal location, Moore and Hill opened HopFusion Ale Works in late 2016. Today, the brewery has won several national beer awards and distributes to more than 1,300 locations throughout Texas. That deserves a “Cheers!”
200 E. Broadway Ave., hopfusionaleworks.com

Brunch
Hot Box Biscuit Club
Hot Box Biscuit Club is a monthly brunch pop-up dishing up Southern comfort in the form of pillow-soft, baked-to-perfection biscuits with homemade jams and elevated fried fare. Chefs Matt Mobley and Sarah Hooten made a connection at Le Cordon Bleu during their training in Dallas and birthed the idea of this indulgent brunch experience that takes place on the outskirts of Fort Worth in Magdalena’s rustic setting.
502 Grand Ave. at Magdalena’s, [email protected]

Burger
Hooker's Grill
Even though Oklahoma is less than an hour away, “Oklahoma-style” burgers weren’t even on our radar until this Okie-style burger joint opened on the Northside two years ago. Named after the family that runs it, the Stockyards spot zeroes in on burgers that feature fried onions cooked into the patty — a style that, owner Ruthie Hooker says, dates back to the Great Depression when Oklahoma café cooks would beef up their beef with onions to make the patties look bigger. Be aware of Hooker’s unusual hours. They’re closed Monday and Tuesday and open super late Friday and Saturday.
213 W. Exchange Ave., 817.773.8373

Catering
Luckybee Kitchen
Luckybee Kitchen is constantly rotating its inventive menu items, which has its customers buzzing. Chef/owner/operator Jenny Powell Castor is classically trained, and her sophisticated street food offerings include popular items like deep-fried chicken salad, candied onion grilled cheese and crawfish mac and cheese. In addition to the food truck, Castor serves her fare at private parties, wine-pairing dinners and cooking classes.
3121 Stadium Drive, luckybeekitchen.com

Catfish
Campfire Grill
Texas Kitchen
Zeke’s, Flying Fish, Drew’s Place, even Ronnie’s — all local catfish palaces laid to waste by this family-run, four-year-old spot in Watauga. It even bested the nearby Catfish & Company — no easy task. But there’s no denying it: Wrapped in a hand-battered, cornmeal batter, the c-fish here is off the hook (get it?), so much so that waits can be a little on the long side, especially on weekends. 6751 Rufe Snow Drive, Watauga, campfiregrilltx.com

Coffee Shop
Ampersand
Not only does Ampersand roast its own beans using a unique process called air-roasting, but it also pushes coffee to its limits by pairing it with complementary liquors. According to co-owner Mimi Lu, the concept aims to “cater to both avid coffee drinkers and connoisseurs both” with morning coffee and late-night coffee cocktails. We’re fans of any place where you can get a buzz both in the a.m. and p.m.
3009 Bledsoe St., ampersandfw.com

Comfort Food
Fixe Southern House
The fact that this newish gourmet comfort food restaurant at The Shops at Clearfork beat out classic comfort food joints like West Side Café says a lot about how far our city has come, culinary-wise, over the past few years. There was a time when Fort Worth would have laughed Fixe right back to Austin, where it’s from. Times have changed, though. Our culinary horizons broken — sorry, broadened — by time and trends, we’ll now happily, giddily even, tear into Fixe’s wonderful, simple biscuits, chicken-fried rib-eye and dangerously addicting lobster and crawfish pot pie. Forgive us, Massey’s.
5282 Marathon Ave., fixesouthernhouse.com

Craft Cocktails
Clay Pigeon
Everything at Clay Pigeon is made in-house, from breads and desserts to butchering their own meat and fish and preparing their own charcuterie. You can get a taste of this philosophy in Clay Pigeon’s craft cocktails, which incorporate infused liquors and fresh fruit juices and herbs. A winning combination of proper preparation by trained mixologists and potent ingredients makes Clay Pigeon’s libations soar.
2731 White Settlement Road, claypigeonfd.com

Dessert 
Lumi Snow Company
What they serve at Lumi isn’t shaved ice, and it’s not ice cream. It’s “snow cream.” Inspired by the Taiwanese concept of “shaved snow,” Cody and Lia Carta, owners and founders of Lumi Snow Company, opened their first location after months of testing recipes in their home kitchen after the kids went to bed. With a city full of national chains of frozen yogurt, gelato and ice cream, it’s nice to have the opportunity to indulge our sweet tooth and support a local business.
7355 Beach St., Ste. 141, lumisnow.com

Enchiladas
Enchiladas Ole
Mary Perez’s cheery east side spot is always a-buzz. People of all ages and races cram their way into her little joint for enchiladas filled with ground beef; house-smoked brisket; silky, pulled chicken; and fresh veggies. Go for the enchiladas; go back for non-’chilada items such as a new brisket-queso cheesesteak and what could possibly be the biggest, baddest burger in Fort Worth, the El Jefe.
901 N. Sylvania Ave., enchiladasole.com

Fajitas
Uncle Julio's
Uncle Julio’s may not have the most authentic Mexican food in town, but the chain’s fajitas are hard to resist. Three words: filet mignon fajitas. Two more words: lobster fajitas. Oh, hang on, three more words: ahi tuna fajitas. Hey, just a sec, two more words: salmon fajitas. Wait, wait ...
5301 Camp Bowie Blvd., unclejulios.com

Food Truck 
Funky Town Food Truck
Often parked in Fort Worth’s Hospital District, Funky Town Food Truck fuels much of the city’s medical staff. This
family-owned and operated modern chuckwagon serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is known in the community for randomly providing free tacos to the homeless.
817.500.3957

French Fries
Lili's Bistro
Is it wrong to go to Vance Martin's Near Southside bistro and tie up one of his tables just to order the fries? Most definitely. Like that’s stopped anybody, though. On a menu with many fine choices, his fries remain the most popular item. They are, of course, real beauties — a small mountain of crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside golden waffle fries, scattered, smothered and covered in Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, green onions and black pepper. So simple, so genius.
1310 W. Magnolia Ave., lilisbistro.com

Grab-N-Go 
Lettuce Cook
It’s easy to justify poor dietary choices after a long workday, but you can say goodbye to dinners that come in flat boxes or buckets. Geared toward the busy lives of locals, Lettuce Cook provides fresh gourmet food that only requires a quick reheat before serving at the dinner table. Just about the easiest way to feed that grumbling belly.
5101 White Settlement Road, lettucecookgourmet.com

Healthy Bite
Local Foods Kitchen
Local Foods Kitchen serves farm-fresh good foods that are colorful, natural, wonderfully flavored and convenient for those times when you don’t feel like cooking or for when you just don’t have time. Chef/owner Katie Schma focuses on developing small-batch soup, salads, sides, sweets, sandwiches and entrees, using the freshest local and regional ingredients, as well as Certified Humane Raised & Handled lamb, beef and poultry.
4548 Hartwood Drive, localfoodskitchen.com

Hole in the Wall
Little Germany
Bratwurst and goulash and schnitzel, oh my! Don’t let outward appearances fool you at this little hole in the wall. Little Germany offers large portions of authentic German cuisine at reasonable prices. Lovers of this culinary category will be hard-pressed to find a better German food restaurant not only in Texas, but perhaps anywhere outside Bavaria.
703 N. Henderson St., 682.224.2601

Ice Cream/Gelato
Creamistry
At Creamistry, ice cream isn’t just dessert; it’s a science experiment.
The ice cream shop uses liquid nitrogen to freeze ice cream orders one by one. The customer chooses a flavor and mix-ins, and then the ice cream is frozen at minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit, which we’ll call “dangerously cold.” The laboratory-like process takes under a minute.
628 Harrold St., creamistry.com

Italian
Nonna Tata
Cozy Italian restaurant in the Near Southside area goes against the grain of most Italian restaurants.
No Frank Sinatra on the PA. No wine list (it’s BYOB). And no pizza. Instead, chef/owner Donatella Trotti delivers freshly made soups, salads and pastas in a wholly unique sardine can of a building that's usually filled with colorful characters. 
1400 W. Magnolia Ave., nonnatata.com

Kolache 
Pearl Snap Kolaches
Fort Worth friends Wade Chappell and Greg Saltsman couldn’t find an acceptable kolache anywhere in Fort Worth and decided to fix that. For two years they traveled far and wide across the state of Texas, speaking to experts and learning the craft of kolache making. Thanks to places like Pearl Snap, locals are ditching doughnuts and bailing on bagels and making kolaches a part of their morning rituals.
4006 White Settlement Road,
2743 S. Hulen St., pskolaches.com

Margarita
Joe T. Garcia's
You will find the margarita at Joe T.’s on nearly every Best Of list, and for good reason. There’s no secret method that makes this basic margarita so amazing; it’s simply the quality ingredients. Nearly every native Fort Worthian will have an abundance of happy memories linked to sharing a pitcher of margaritas on Joe T’s primo patio. Remember to treat this potent amigo with respect.
2201 N. Commerce St., joets.com

Mediterranean
Terra Mediterranean
One of the longest-lasting restaurants in the Crockett Row at West 7th development, Terra Med still attracts huge crowds for its sidewalk patio and bar, affordable lunch buffet and stellar cocktails. Despite a menu heavy on the Greek, don't ignore its brilliant hybrids; you won’t find a better lamb burger anywhere in the city.
2973 Crockett St., terramediterranean.com  

Mexican 
Mariachi's Dine-In
This bodega taqueria opened last year on the emerging side of Interstate 35, just east of downtown. Composed mainly of traditional Tex-Mex fare, Mariachi’s small menu consists of street tacos, tortas, quesadillas and a few unexpected offerings like grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers. With four tables nestled in the corner of a convenience store, some may shy away from the humble atmosphere. That would be a foolish mistake.
301 S. Sylvania Ave., 682.760.9606

New Restaurant
Wabi House
See "Best Asian" 
1229 Eighth Ave., Ste. 227, wabihouse.com

Queso
HG Sply Co.
HG Sply Co. is nestled above the Trinity River in the WestBend development. There is nothing on the primal menu that you couldn’t hunt or gather in nature, meaning dishes feature only unprocessed ingredients. HG Sply’s spicy vegan queso with guacamole, green onion, salsa and cilantro is to die for. It will have you baffled at how something with no cheese can taste so … cheesy.
1621 River Run, Ste. 176, hgsplyco.com

Patio Dining 
Joe T. Garcia's
What began in 1935 as a tiny Mexican restaurant with a seating capacity of 16 has grown into this legendary dining destination that can now seat more than 1,000. There’s dining space indoors, but the real charm is outside on Joe T.’s lushly vegetated patio.
2201 N. Commerce St., joets.com

Pizza
I Fratelli Pizza
It was a glorious day, late last year, when Dallas’ I Fratelli Pizza opened in Fort Worth. Finally, after a batch of false starts, the locally owned mini-chain — founded in ’87 by a quartet of brothers in Irving — would school our city in the ways of oblong-shaped, thin-as-paper, cracker-crisp pizza — done so, so right. Oh, but we still love ya, Campisi’s.
1907 Eighth Ave., ifratellipizza.com

Pub 
Abbey Pub
Once known as the Shamrock Tavern, Abbey Pub has been wetting patrons’ whistles for nearly 20 years. Founded by an Irish expat from Longford, Abbey has undergone a few name changes throughout the years, but much has remained the same: ice-cold beer and warm, friendly service. 
2710 W. Seventh St., abbey-pub.com

Salsa 
Crack Salsa
Crack Salsa Owner Amber Tinsley said her spicy business venture came about by total accident. Selling salsa to family and friends in order to raise money for a surgery, Tinsley had nearly $1,000 worth of orders in a week. Nicknamed “Crack Salsa” by her customers, she decided to turn up the heat and make her special 11-spice habanero blend available to the public. Sunflower Shoppe and Panther Island Brewing are currently peddling Tinsley’s product if you want a taste.
817.875.6654

Sandwich 
Butlers Cabinet
Chef Joshua Harmon is slinging some of the city’s finest sandwiches at his coffee shop/deli/marketplace in Food Hall at Crockett Row. At Butlers Cabinet nearly everything is done in-house: syrups for coffee and tea, smoked and cured meats, pickles, jams, hot sauce, cheeses and breads. Inventive “Sandos” include The Izzy Pop (Swiss wiz, white American cheese, aged Provolone and milk bread slathered with smoked tomato dip) or The Jeffrey (smoked ham, figgy jam and boursin cheese). Pro tip: Grab a cup of joe (or a Taro Latté) at its neighboring Counter Culture coffee bar.
3000 Crockett St., butlerscabinet.com

Seafood
The Dock
If you love East Coast seafood classics like lobster rolls, chowders and lump crabmeat, steer your ship toward The Dock. Starting as a popular food truck before dropping anchor in the Food Hall at Crockett Row, The Dock serves up responsibly sourced seafood that is so fresh its landlocked guests will be transported to the rocky, lighthouse-lined shores of the Atlantic.
3000 Crockett St., thedocktexas.com

Service 
GRACE
In a restaurant with a fine wines list that would make any connoisseur drool (their transparent wine rack could be a tourist attraction) and a menu that isn’t the friendliest to a Texas twang, it takes phenomenal service to ensure one of Fort Worth’s best dining experiences. Dressed in ties and vests, its wait staff is as serious as the food it serves.
777 Main St., gracefortworth.com

Soup 
Café Modern
A popular lunch and brunch spot, Café Modern serves its innovative dishes against the backdrop of Tadao Ando’s iconic architecture of The Modern Art Museum. Culinary works of art on the menu include sandwiches, salads, light entrées and soups. In addition to the soup of the day, Café Modern offers a soup that changes seasonally.
3200 Darnell St., themodern.org/cafe

Steakhouse
The Capital Grille
In a city where beef is king, winning in this category is quite a feat. What makes The Capital Grille’s steak really sizzle? Long before the meat ever meets the grill, it is dry-aged on the premises for nearly 20 days to achieve its flavor and texture. Each cut is then hand-carved by in-house butchers and then grilled to carnivorous perfection.
800 Main St., thecapitalgrille.com

Sushi
Little Lilly Sushi
Since opening in 2012, this quaint neighborhood spot on the west side has been one of the city’s best sushi restaurants. There’s always a cool, interesting special — recently, they offered dishes comprised of butterfish and geoduck clams, both rarely seen on Fort Worth menus. There’s plenty for less adventurous eaters, too, including bento boxes at lunch, stir-fry dishes and traditional sushi rolls. Nice patio and good sake, to boot.
6100 Camp Bowie Blvd., littlelillysushi.com

Taco Heads
Fort Worth native Sarah Castillo started out in her food truck by tempting the late-night TCU crowd with her delicious street tacos. She has since transitioned into the sleek and fun brick-and-mortar on Montgomery Street and opened a location in Dallas. In a city that is serious about its tacos, Taco Heads leads the way in this tortilla-cradled category.
1812 Montgomery St., tacoheads.com

Tapas/shared Plates 
Cannon Chinese Kitchen
Few Fort Worth restaurants are as nonstop busy as this Chinese spot on the Near Southside, opened in a 1935 home by the same local families behind Tokyo Café and Shinjuku Station. Tables turn at a slower pace here, as guests take their time sharing Chinese pork ribs, marinated in a bright-red beet and honey sauce, pastry-like scallion pancakes and the must-get mapu tofu, soft squares of tofu mixed with ground pork. Cannon is always worth the wait.
304 W. Cannon St., cannonchinesekitchen.com

Vegetarian Dish 
Righteous Foods - Curried Rice Noodles
Known for his culinary creativity, chef Lanny Lancarte took on the challenge of making the vegetarian/organic movement sexier. Meatless options abound at Righteous Foods, but the Curried Rice Noodles got an astounding number of votes. Rice noodles swim in coconut milk curry, egg, broccoli, organic tofu, zucchini, bean sprouts, toasted peanuts and lime juice.
3405 W. Seventh St., eatrighteously.com

Vietnamese
Four Sisters
Former Shinjuku Station chef Tuan Pham honors his sisters with his latest hip new eatery in the South Main Street area. Menu options range from more traditional Vietnamese fare such as shaken beef and lemongrass tofu to trendier items like crab fried rice, bao buns, pho and stir-fried lobster. Handmade noodles, as well as the nuanced stock, raise the bar for all pho in town. Pro tip: Go in a group and split some of their splendid appetizers/tapas — we like the spicy fried wings and Banh Mi Bao (they might even customize order sizes based on the number of people in your party).
1001 S. Main St., foursistersfw.com

Waterside Dining
Woodshed Smokehouse
Chef Tim Love’s restaurant on the river features a large patio with a backyard barbecue vibe. Offering all things grilled, roasted and slow-cooked, Woodshed Smokehouse also stakes its claim as the best spot for a sunny afternoon in the Fort.
3201 Riverfront Drive, woodshedsmokehouse.com

Wine List
Paris 7th
Taking over the nearby shut-down Le Cep space, Saint-Emilion flexes its Provencal prowess with a posh and elegant dining concept, Paris 7th. While Saint-Emilion was closed for repairs and to revamp its new casual bistro approach to French cuisine, Paris 7th serves classical dishes of escargot, caviar, duck foie gras and beef bourguignon. With more than 200 labels to choose from, Paris 7th offers an incredible wine list. Expert staff is standing by to help you perfectly pair a fermented flavor with your meal.
3324 W. Seventh St., paris7th.com


Editors' Picks

Appetizer
Buttons Restaurant Fried Green Tomatoes
buttonsrestaurants.com

Asian
Tokyo Café
tokyocafefw.net

Atmosphere
MUTTS Canine Cantina 
muttscantina.com/fort-worth

Bakery
The Black Rooster Bakery
roosterbakery.com

BBQ
Billy's Oak Acres
billysrealtexasbbq.com

Beer Selection
Pouring Glory
pouringglory.com

Bloody Mary
Bread Winners Bakery
breadwinnerscafe.com

Breakfast
Best Donut (North Tarrant Parkway)
817.750.2378

Brewery/Distillery
Wild Acre Brewery
wildacrebrewing.com

Brunch
Fixture
fixturefw.com

Burger
Kincaid's Hamburgers
kincaidshamburgers.com

Catering
Bistro Louise
817.291.2734

Catfish
Tommy's Hamburgers
tommyshamburgergrill.net

Coffee Shop
Craftwork Coffee Co.
craftworkcoffeeco.com

Comfort Food
West Side Cafe
817.560.1996

Craft Cocktails
The Usual
817.810.0114

Dessert
Rise No. 3
risesouffle.com

 

Enchiladas
The Original
originalmexcafe.com

Fajitas
Benito's
benitosmexican.com

Food Truck
The Beignet Bus
817.881.4814

French Fries
Tokyo Cafe Tok Fries
tokyocafefw.net

Grab-N-Go
Meyer & Sage
meyerandsage.com

Healthy Bite
Righteous Foods
eatrighteously.com

Hole-in-the-Wall
River Oaks Cafe
817.625.7337

Ice Cream/Gelato
Melt Ice Creams
melticecreams.com

Italian
Café Bella
cafebellaftw.com

Kolache
Kenner's Kolache Bakery
kennerkolachebakery.com

Margarita
Taco Heads
tacoheads.com

Mediterranean
Istanbul Grill
istanbulgrilltx.com

Mexican
Los Asaderos
817.626.3399

New Restaurant
Food Hall at Crockett Row
crockettrow.com/food-hall-crockett-row

Patio Dining
La Zona
817.489.5055

Pizza
Cane Rosso
canerosso.com

Pub
Ye Olde Bull and Bush
yeoldebullandbush.com

Queso
Fred's Texas Cafe
fredstexascafe.com

Salsa
Esperanza's
esperanzasfw.com

Sandwich
Carshon's Deli
carshonsdeli.com

Seafood
Waters
waterstexas.com

Service
Bird Cafe
birdinthe.net

Soup
Four Sisters
foursistersfw.com

Steakhouse
B&B Butchers & Restaurant
bbbutchers.com

Sushi
Shinjuku Station
shinjuku-station.com

Tacos
Tacos Cantu
tacoscantufw.com

Tapas/Shareable Plates
La Zona
817.489.5055

Vegetarian Dish
Spiral Diner & Bakery - Grilled Portobello

Quesadilla
spiraldiner.com

Vietnamese
Pho Noodle & Grill
phonoodlegrill.com

Waterside Dining
Press Cafe
presscafeftworth.com

Wine List
Ellerbe Fine Foods
ellerbefinefoods.com