Must-Eats in Ft. Worth
I'll be in Ft. Worth a few nights this week, and am in search of whatever bites of food I simply must have during my visit. I eat anything and everything and my main goal is to avoid leaving without sampling the best of the best must-eats - whether from a dive or an upscale joint. After some research on this board, I am considering those below, but welcome any and all suggestions. Thanks!
I haven't been to most of the places on your list... but for the few I have visited:
I enjoyed Woodshed the one time I visited. The food was good, and reasonably creative in a smoke-oriented sort of way. Nice environment too, especially if the weather is nice enough to sit outside.
As far as fine dining goes, I've been to Ellerbe a couple of times, Grace once, and Lanny's (not on your list, but probably should be) once. I'd repeat Ellerbe and Lanny's... Ellerbe has more of a local/seasonal vibe, and Lanny's has a cool approach of combining Mexican ingredients with more European technique and presentation. Grace was nice, but not as good as the other two.
Also not on your list, but possibly should be is Nonna Tata. I have heard raves about this place - and while I was not as impressed as many others seem to be, the food was quite good, and it's a nice little place. If I lived in the neighborhood, I'd visit regularly - they're not open on Sat/Sun, which is when I usually find my self in FTW. I'm not sure if this is still the case or not, but they used to deliver food to the nearby bar, The Usual.
Actually, if you like cocktails, you should definitely visit The Usual. Fantastic bar with excellent drinks. And, if you're a coffee drinker, AVOCA is a great place - they roast their own beans and make good espresso-based drinks (I haven't tried anything brewed).
If you want a Mexican suggestion, I'd try Hacienda San Miguel. I have not been... but the same owners used to have a restaurant in Dallas (Cafe San Miguel - now closed) that I quite liked.
That's all I've got - I've only been to FTW a handful of times, so perhaps someone more experienced will offer additional suggestions.
What area are you coming from? Will you have a car?
Some of the places on your list I would avoid. They are good for Fort Worth but not the best in the Metroplex.
I would knock off Zeke's - Fish and Chips place. It is good and better than Long Johns but I wouldn't seek it out.
Kincaid's is much like Fuzzy's Tacos. People love it in Fort Worth but there are better burgers out there.
Love Shack is better than Kincaid's.
Woodshed was not very favorable on my one and only visit. I would think long and hard about BBQ in FW as it has gotten much more competitive in Dallas these days. If you are in the mood for BBQ the Off The Bone in Forest Hill is your best bet in Tarrant Co.
re: John Galt
Although most locals might poo-poo it, being that you're coming from DC, you might really enjoy the old fashioned Tex-Mex cooking at the long established, (July 4, 1935) Joe T. Garcia's. Especially if it's a nice evening and you can enjoy their very pretty, expansive outdoor patio.
Not "gourmet" mind you, but simple, good old fashioned Texas "Tex-Mex" food with a cold Margherita as the drink of choice. Believe me, you won't get this food in DC!
Check out reviews and pictures on Yelp....
Not on your list and should be ... Brewed. Chicken is very good, burger's good, I usually get the candy bar latte. I know the menu pretty well, so let me know if you want to know more.
Nonna Tata, get the chocolate dessert that comes in a cup, and make sure the chef is present when you visit.
Zeke's--I've been many times, but apparently they've had some health violations. Definitely better than Long John Silver's ... avoid the avocado salad, you don't want that, I always got the fried shrimp, which is very good. You're probably already aware that virtually everything they serve is fried.
Love Shack & Lonesome Dove, quite good
Kincaid's--fun because of the historic location, but this is a very old school burger, in terms of just food Love Shack is better
Goat Rodeo, Aguilera's, Ernesto's--don't know these places
Grace--haven't been yet
For Tex-Mex, recommend Mexican Inn on 8th (do not recommend Joe T's for anything but ambience--the margaritas have a good rep). Love the house-made tortillas & chips & salsa. I usually order the queso loco, nachos, taco salad (half meat half beans off menu, no extra charge), or arroz con pollo. Other items at your own risk ;)
Ellerbe's--do not order the Reuben (it will not be what you expected), and do not indicate in even the mildest way that anything was not to your taste
You might try Drew's Place for soul food. The fried chicken is pretty good ... it's a little mom & pop meat & 3 I like to go to sometimes. They close at dusk, I believe 7 pm this time of year, also open for lunch. Keep your street smarts about you if you go, you'll be visiting a slightly interesting neighborhood, but I go there for lunch or dinner.
Oh, there is also a Dude, Sweet Chocolate outpost in FW now, you should check that out. It's in the 7th street restaurant area. You could combine with a visit to any restaurant on Magnolia. You could also visit Fred's in the 7th area, next block over from DSC, for a great burger (blue cheese is great) & possibly an extremely large dose of local culture. Lanny's is also nearby but not walking distance.
I agree with Brewed as being a place you should probably hit up. Very cozy atmosphere and at least for me a well thought out beer selection. My wife seemed to enjoy the coffee drinks too.
Live Oak is also very nice and right behind Brewed if you want to have live music with a nice selection of about 70 taps (most local). I have not eaten at Live Oak but the burgers looked pretty solid.
The Cafe at the Modern is really nice and one of the best in Fort Worth. Menu is seasonal so always changing it up. The view is spectacular and the museum isn't half bad either, about on par with the Hirshhorn.
If you get tired of steaks, mexican/tex-mex, or burgers there is always Muang Lao in north Fort Worth that is a bit of a cab ride but I still cannot get their Nam Kow dish out of my head. The larb salad is also very nice but beware it is not dumbed down (contains tripe and other bits of offal). Their rendition of larb is also one of the spiciest dishes I have had in a long while. The Lao Jerky was also one of the best versions I have had in the metroplex. I did not get a chance yet to try their Lao sausage. Solid menu but I stuck only to the Lao dishes. I am sure they are pretty solid on their Thai dishes as well.
I have been a few times out to Chubby's Burger Shack and I think it is one of the better affordable burger places, meaning there are high end options but Chubby's keeps it under $15.
If it is tacos in Fort Worth you desire then you should probably check out The Taco Trail for options or even email Jose Ralat-Maldonado for recommendations. I believe your best bet is Revolver (high end) and Taqueria San Luis (street).
Breakfast or lunch you might want to check out Swiss Pastry Shop. I haven't been yet but just the FB posts alone make me want to go. Smoked Ribeye and Hatch Chile Queso cheesesteak sandwiches, Black Forest Cake and4 Berry Strudel. The list is endless. I would check it out
I have heard of Rodeo Goat only because it is owned by the folk who brought us Flying Saucer and Meddlesome Moth two of Dallas's best beer haunts. The food menu looks pretty good and they will have a decent beer selection. I think the selection at Live Oak or the Flying Saucer in Sundance Square will be better.
Isn't much Asian food in Fort Worth but these are probably the best right now, with the exception of Muang Lao.
Little Lilly - get the pork belly ramen or the duck and oyster okonomiyaki
re: John Galt
Fries--regular rather than sweet potato (they fall apart)
Chicken--this is sourced from an Amish farm and is quite good. Fairmount Bird or chicken & waffles.
The eggs are good, bacon is excellent, housemade sausage I'm not into. Pork belly preparations have not impressed.
Burger's good as I mentioned ...
House salad, cookies skippable
Coffee's good ... I haven't had it but they have a very fragrant hot tea that some dining companions raved about, have been meaning to try it (but somehow I always order coffee)
Donut dippers are good, and you can get the blueberry compote on the side with other things (there's basically no fruit on the menu). There's also a veggie mix available that you can order with whatever off-menu
Jalepeno grits, not crazy about them. They use farm eggs of course, they're good
Housemade ice cream is good, as is the salted caramel sauce
The vibe is very laid back here & everyone loves how the place is decorated. I'm not a beer drinker so no comments there ... believe I've had a decent glass of wine here. There's a patio so you can sit outside--perfect weather for it right now.
Enjoy ... let us know how you fare.
re: John Galt
Life-changing is not really our thing here in Fort Worth.
I'd go for Love Shack, Lonesome Dove, and the aforementioned dessert at Nonna Tata for life-changing, or as close as we can get. If you like foie gras, the sliders at Lonesome Dove as well as the elk are quite good. I'd also not miss the tortillas, etc. at the Mexican Inn. Lanny's was not life-changing for me, but some people have had really good experiences there, or with Lanny elsewhere (he's part of the Joe T's family & used to have a tasting table inside).
Some of the options on your list are so far from life-changing that I think we're having a tough time comprehending that that is the goal ;) It looked more like you were looking for local color.
In response and with all due respect to my fellow poster foiegras, I still think my suggestion for Joe T. Garcia's would be an experience unlike anything you'd probably get in DC.
Are there better Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants in the DFW area? Sure. However, I really think coming from out of town, you'd love the Joe T. Garcia experience and food very much.
No, no, if you have the cajones to mention Joe T's in a life-changing food thread, I bow to you ;) And will only say that indeed, perhaps one of the OP's best chances for life-changing may very well be at Joe T's. I would suggest consuming a number of their margaritas, and then taking some action that will change your life, such as proposing to your girlfriend (or boyfriend, as the case may be) of 5 years' standing. I can only hope you have been provident enough to have such a person standing by for this life-changing exercise ;)
Failing that idea, I came back to say that Dude, Sweet Chocolate could perhaps be life-changing. Recommend the hot chocolate mix with house-made marshmallows (you make it stronger than the package instructions for best life-changing effect, I believe by about 2x), and the stingray fudge (hope they've made it nice and strong).
I was starting to get that sense, as no one I've asked has tried to grab me by the collar and insist you MUST eat ____ before leaving Ft. Worth. I was thinking of easing in with Love Shack and White Elephant Saloon for my first night, and then I 'll go from there. Thanks for the help.
Lived in Dallas many years, and ate lotsa FW grub. IMO, three places deserve primary consideration. La Piazza, in the museum district, is excellent upscale Italian; owner Vito Ciracci is on the premises, and a master host. His restaurant functions as a clubhouse for the FW rich and famous. Van Cliburn, Rainwater, Bass...seen 'em all there. Out/towners can sometimes feel excluded. So, if you go, tell Vito you are sent there by Dick in Kerrville, Texas, who had his cancer surgery and will be in for dinner soon. That will break the ice. Has website. You could argue, hey, I can get great lasagna in forty places in DC; why go to La Piazza? and so the other two recommendations are Ft. Worth Institutions. Ya meet some guy from Ft. Worth in the Hong Kong airport and he asks eagerly, "Didja go to Joe T's?" Joe T Garcia's has been serving good Tex-Mex for at least 70 yrs. Casual, fun, bustling place. Health dept made em stop bringing customers in through the kitchen. Angelo's is barbecue, and damn good. Mega casual. Both these latter places capture the Essence of FW. The guy at the next table in the jeans, boots and hat may look like a vagrant, but may have millions. Dallas is where the East ends; Ft. Worth is where the West begins. No flash, lotta cash. FW folks made their downtown--led by the Basses- into one of the very best in US; walk around and have a drink; check out the Museum of Western Art or the nearby Louis Kahn-designed museum.
I can't believe no one has mentioned Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine!!
Go there, trust me!
Buffalo tenderloins, elk tacos, Texas quail, tres leche creme brulee, and much much more.
You wont be dissapointed.
And I second Twinwillows suggestion on Nonna Tata for authentic homemade pasta/italian food.
I considered it ... most memorable thing I've had there was the caramelized banana sundae, but I've discovered how good it is depends on exactly who did the caramelizing. It's definitely a good place to find something you've never had before. The chef specializes in wild game, and there are usually lots of specials that you won't find on the menu online. They use sous vide, etc., which is not mentioned on the menu.
We would be much the poorer without twinwillow's input for DFW. He/she eats out so much I am beginning to believe he/she is one of the Dallas Morning News' food critics! Keep up the good work!
BTW come to Forney and check out Crumbzz Tasting Pavilion for awesome brunch and coffeecake made from an ancient family recipe. Also The Hole Thing for donuts that you never thought existed; Godfather Fritters and Savannah Smiles donuts to name two.
I can gurantee that they are two different people. One because I have met Twin and two becuase I don't think Twin would give a two star rating to TJ's Seafood market.
@Twin - I don't think of it as flattery as more of educating the masses on what good food is an where to find it. I am by no means an expert blogger (haven't seen a dime for any of these reviews and I don't get any invites to press events).
I am now curious about this Crumbzz and The Hole Thing in Forney. I used to work at a bank that was on Beltline and 80 in Mesquite but we also had a location in Forney. Forney was not much of a town back about 10 years ago. I guess it has grown quite a bit it sounds.
Thanks to randyjl for mentioning Crumbzz. We always appreciate guests who enjoy our little european bistro. We're located in historic downtown Forney. Our breakfast and lunch cuisine is quite unique with dishes you won't find anywhere else. You can find our menu at www.crumbzz.com. Love to see Chowhound foodies come on out to Forney and visit us.