By: Brian Kendall
Named after two West Texas ghost towns, the Trinity River hideaway Thurber Mingus is billed as a border town-style cantina with a Tex-Mex inspired menu.
Driving down a quiet stretch of White Settlement, it’s easy to miss the understated metal-and-wood shed exterior of Thurber Mingus. Despite its modest size, the casual burger (and taco) eatery has a secret. Tucked behind the building is one of the larger garden patios in Fort Worth.
Taking over the space formerly known as Froggy’s Boat House, executive owner and chef Coby Baumann opened his West Texas-inspired cantina just over a year ago. The dive bar underwent a complete renovation and now has a more polished, rustic yet modern feel. Froggy’s sand volleyball lots have been replaced with a spacious, multi-level patio area complete with a music stage and garden bar.
When we first walked into Thurber Mingus, staff welcomed us and made sure we ordered at the bar before sitting down. A sign at the entrance explains the “West Texas cantina” concept and how to order. Large chalkboards above the kitchen and bar highlight drink specials, Texas beers on tap and local brewery tour schedules.
Thurber’s minimalist menu is divided into a handful of starters, burgers, “not burgers” and sides, and the kitchen uses Texas-sourced ingredients whenever possible. After ordering, patrons take a number and seat themselves. Full service is only available at the bar.
Starters include tortilla chips, queso blanco, guacamole and “border tacos.” We opted to try the pulpusas—two overstuffed, fried tortillas filled with pulled pork and white cheddar and served with smoked tomato and Mexican oregano relish ($9). The portions were generous enough to share, and the braised pork shoulder was tender and smoky, but the tortilla was a little heavy with oil.
My suggestion is to skip the starters in favor of a side of herbed ($3) or border ($3.50) fries. Thick-cut fries are served either with a fresh, herby vinaigrette or lemon crema, lemon wedges and cilantro. I loved the heavily peppered flavor of the border fries with crema, though fans of crispier fries may find them a little too soft.
Although the menu includes one salad and a couple of tacos, it’s apparent that Thurber Mingus is really all about the burger. The burger patties are thick, juicy and cooked to perfection, and the menu boasts toppings you likely won’t see elsewhere—candied jalapeño, Oaxaca-stuffed poblanos, white cheddar pimento cheese, chimichurri, and sous vide pork belly.
A favorite at our table was the goat cheese and bacon jam burger ($11), which has a salty-sweet umami flavor. I was also pleasantly surprised by the steamed asparagus, local ricotta, egg, truffle oil and bacon burger ($11.50), which managed to be over the top without going overboard.
The featured taco wasn’t available on either visit, so I sampled a regular taco offering. The agave, ancho and lime marinated chicken thigh is served with pickled vegetables, crema, queso Oaxaca and cilantro in a flour tortilla ($4). The chicken was tender, and the pickled carrots and onions were a nice contrast to the queso and crema.
For dessert, we tried the banana pudding served with a shot of bourbon and cinnamon whipped cream in a Mason jar ($7). Designed to share, the rich pudding included large chunks of banana, but mix up the bourbon and whipped cream before diving in.
It’s worth noting that Thurber Mingus is family-friendly. The crowds were relaxed, not rowdy during our visits, and Thurber has a wall for children with paper and crayons featuring artwork from young patrons. Thurber Mingus also hosts a farmer’s market and has live music scheduled on Saturday nights. We suggest finding a spot on Thurber’s patio, grabbing a Texas brew and enjoying one of their standout burgers with friends.
Location: Thurber Mingus, 4400 White Settlement Road.
For Info Call: 817.570.0537
Hours: Tues.-Thurs. (Lunch) 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., (Bar) 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., (Dinner) 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.; Sunday 10:30 a.m. to Dark
What We Like: Thurber Mingus is proudly Texan, and features Texas beers and spirits.
What We Don’t: They were out of several menu items during our first visit, and service was friendly but spotty on the patio. We were also surprised there aren’t any outdoor ceiling fans.
Our Recommendation: Weather permitting, definitely take advantage of Thurber’s large patio, and opt for the burgers and fries over other menu items.
By: Brian Kendall