“Eat,” says the vintage red sign hanging above the checkout counter at Local Foods Kitchen. Diners have proven very happy to oblige.
Now 10 months old, Tanglewood’s easygoing, garden-inspired eatery is drawing crowds for gourmet takeout and elegant café cuisine, just as owner and veteran chef Katie Schma had hoped. The Carmel, California, native has cooked in kitchens from Napa to Dallas and, most recently, in Arlington as owner of Star Gourmet Catering. She chose Fort Worth to open her restaurant because that’s where her clients were, she says.
But thanks to a modest sign and hidden location off South Hulen Street at the back of a generic shopping center, most folks are likely to miss the virtual food lovers’ paradise unless stumbled upon by accident.
Inside, Schma has created a cheery setting with distressed wooden tables and benches, fresh-cut flowers, colorful jarred vegetables that double as décor and lots of natural light. But the real scene stealers are the three brightly-lit deli cases, where fresh-baked cakes and pastries, vibrant salads and hearty entrees are well-dressed, neatly garnished, and photo-ready.
On a recent visit, all purchased delectables were conveniently ordered to go, as are most dishes here. While many items are pre-prepped and kept chilled in the case, a menu of made-to-order sandwiches is popular. Recent selections included a grilled salmon BLT on sourdough with avocado and lemon aioli ($9.99) and a smoked chicken Panini with mozzarella and basil pesto on focaccia ($8.99). The menu changes monthly.
A hefty egg salad sandwich with smoked bacon ($7.95) came with sliced, ruby red Roma tomatoes and leafy mixed greens on sourdough. Less a creamy, tangy mess, like most egg salads, this one was chunky and savory. Roughly chopped boiled eggs were well-seasoned and scattered with salty bits of bacon, providing for satisfying bites instead of unexciting goop. Pickle haters should note this egg salad is pickle-free.
Pot roast pot pie ($8.99), one of several deli case entrée items, is best reheated at 350 degrees for 20 minutes for extra flakiness, said an employee. She was right. Beneath the crisp phyllo crust, piping hot roast and thick-cut carrots were tender and tangy from a wine-tinged cooking broth.
A multitude of salads, like the Hulen wedge with local blue cheese, bacon and pecans ($5.99 - $7.99) or the kale Caesar with sourdough garlic croutons ($4.99 - $6.99), would have served as well-suited sides, but I opted to explore the gorgeous goodies in the dessert case.
A creamy lemon tart ($5.99) that was probably meant to share wound up devoured by one, thanks to an addicting custard filling that was simply refreshing. Tart, sweet and no doubt made with the fresh-squeezed juice of several lemons, the dessert was made perfect with a large dollop of just barely sweetened whipped cream and garnishes of delicate yet crunchy candied lemon zest and sage leaves.
While the fluffy, multi-layer cakes, including orange chiffon, hummingbird, strawberry-lemon ice and the coconut flake-covered pink snowball (all $4.99 a slice), in the dessert case enticed, the jarred cookies and bars at the checkout counter provided for irresistible impulse buys. Options abound in blondies, brownies and “hello dollies,” but don’t miss the praline crackers ($1 each). Crispy, slightly salty and almost toffee-like, the lightweight, crackery squares are dangerously easy to inhale.
Local Foods Kitchen serves breakfast, too. Starting at 7:30 a.m., Monday through Saturday, diners can choose from tacos, burritos, paninis, and eggs “your way” with bacon and toast. Protein-packed smoothies, dubbed “morning boosters,” come with ginseng and in berry or banana varieties ($7.99). Many visit for fresh-baked muffins ($2.50 - $3), old-fashion oatmeal ($4.49), or the daily tamale special. Coffee connoisseurs should note French roast is the extent of the restaurant’s coffee selection, which is just fine. With a continually evolving menu that seems to grow with every visit, there are already more than enough decisions to be made.
Location: Local Foods Kitchen, 548 Hartwood Drive
For Info Call: 817-238-3464
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
What We Like: The chunky egg salad sandwich with smoked bacon and the fact that it’s pickle-free. ($7.95)
What We Don’t Like: We enjoyed everything we tried, but would have loved for the pot pie to have a bottom crust, too.
Our Recommendation: Don’t miss the dessert case, especially the lemon tart.