Fort Worth/Dallas in March
I'm visiting your city in March 2014 and would love a foodie itinerary. Last year, I travelled to Milwaukee and was had my mind blown by what that city had to offer in the way of food, beer and entertainment.
Criteria is pretty open:
- I'm an adventurous omnivore, but love me a well-cooked vegetable. But I'm banking on the stockyards' promise of beef.
- I like food wrapped up in butcher paper as much as food served atop fine china on white linens -- so long as it's quality.
- And I want it to be something that I could only get in Fort Worth (or at the very least, something I could only get in Texas). Basically, I'm looking for a flavorful souvenir of Fort Worth when I leave.
I got three days/nights and wouldn't mind cabbing it from downtown Fort Worth if it was really worth it.
Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana for fine dining, we went the other evening for Dia de los muertos, food and service were wonderful. For near-fine dining ; Ellerbe’s is wonderful. The rest of my favorite spots in town are a bit more… down home.
For tried and true West Texas; try the Calf Fries and tenderloin tamales at Reata.
Paco and John’s for breakfast; the migas are wonderful.
For lunch, Esperanza’s; a ceviche appetizer and a chicken gordita. I have to agree about Shinjuku Station.
Lord, I wish we had a place that served excellent BBQ, but as you can see form my name, any place not related to Louie Mueller’s is difficult to justify. That said, the best brisket in town is new ; Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ on Las Vegas Trail. Take friends, drink beer in the backyard. It is one of the few places with sides that are more just great.
It looks like you're from D.C. so I will no longer recommend Ethiopian (it's good here, it's not D.C.).
I lived in D.C. for four years, here are the items I missed from Dallas while I was there:
Tacos - They're everywhere, they're fantastic, you should get some. Search here for the best but you can't go too wrong and it will almost assuredly be better than anything in the metro area.
BBQ - Already covered above, but a second for Pecan Lodge.
Cajun/Creole - LA natives will say it's terrible here, and they're probably right, but it's still way better than in D.C. I like Big Easy in Plano but I'm sure you can find some Ft. Worth options.
Steak - this one is tricky because high end steakhouses get the same quality beef all over the country. Where I believe you'll find a difference here is in the mid-price/cheap steaks, which don't exist in non-cattle areas. Charco's Broiler in Oak Cliff is an experience and you get a steak, loaded baked potatoe and salad for under $10. I'll qualify by adding, it's not phenomenal but a good souvenir of Dallas as it's also located next to the Texas Theater where Lee Harvey Oswald was captured.
Gulf Coast Seafood - You'll be here in the heart of crawfish season and it would be a shame not to take advantage. Boiling Crab is the best.
As far as steak, I already mentioned Lonesome Dove, and I think it's a good place for a Texas experience (and the rabbit-rattlesnake sausage should prove a talking point ;). Others here like Cattleman's in Fort Worth for a traditional steak experience. I haven't been there, but I believe them.
Fred's (hamburgers and diner food) is a cultural experience unto itself. You don't want to look too fancy if you go ... dress down.
Oh, forgot about Dude, Sweet Chocolate (based in Dallas). We now have a store in the west 7th area--that is not to be missed, and right across from the museums (the Kimbell is world-class).
To piggyback of demigodh,
Tacos - Here are the places I would highly recommend for tacos: Tortilleria La Nueva Fresh & Hot in Dallas by Bachman Lake/Love Field airport. Get only the two guiso (stewed pork in green sauce and stewed cactus in red sauce) tacos as those are the best and really their specialty - $1.25. If in Irving by DFW stop by Dona Lencha on Story and 183 for cheap tacos, $1. I like the lengua (tongue), mollejas (sweetbreads), fajita and al pastor. If in FW you will have to go to Revolver Taco Lounge on 7th and Currie. High end but the tortillas are amazing (freshly made to order) and the fillings are very well prepared. 4-6pm is their happy hour $6 margaritas (awesome) and $2 tacos. If I didn't live so far away I would be here everyday.
BBQ - Add Slow Bone in Dallas on Industrial and Wycliff. I haven't been yet but I have heard great things about FM Smoke House in Irving close to MacArthur and 114. If you have to stay in FW your BBQ choices are rather limited and not up to the quality in Dallas. That said the best place in FW is in Forest Hill (SE Fort Worth) at Off The Bone BBQ.
If you must stay in town close to downtown I would suggest looking at the Full Custom Gospel BBQ site. That is our official state authority on Texas BBQ
Cajun/Creole - Only place I know of that has gotten some praise is Gogo Gumbo out in Boyd....rather far but FW is rather lacking on Cajun/Creole.
Items to take home from FW. If you can manage to take some beer home there are some good local beers that you might want to pick up (let me know if you would like that option). FW is home to a great product that I have used several times to make enchiladas (both red and green), Enchiladas Ole. They just recently opened up a restaurant and I believe you can get the sauces there at the restaurant or at Central Market. More products are tamales and salsa, I would suggest calling Tommy Tamale in Grapevine. It is a great tiny store that has very good salsas (We practically drink the Roasted Green) and excellent tamales (Habanero Pork!!). That is all Tommy Tamale specializes in but the products are so good my 14 month old daughter eats them (regular salsa and bean and cheese tamales). I recently tried Jrs BBQ Sauce at a brewery tour in my hometown. They are located in Roanoke but I am sure they would ship, very nice folks. If you want a bit of a kick with a well rounded sauce I would highly recommend the Below is a pretty good guide at what products are from Fort Worth specifically. The second link might have some outdated information but it is a good overall list of DFW.
Since you have your heart set on the stockyards, suggest you visit Lonesome Dove (and perhaps Love Shack) in the Stockyards, and be sure to be there for the cattle drive at lunchtime.
If you want to make it a trifecta (three of the same chef's restaurants), you can eat at the Woodshed. The best thing to do is take a nice long walk along the Trinity Trails ... food and drink never tastes so good as after working up a healthy appetite outdoors. The patio is great.
Other worthwhile places to eat in Fort Worth include Brewed, Shinjuku Station, and Rodeo Goat. For Tex-Mex, I like the Mexican Inn.
Places in Dallas I think you should not miss include Belly & Trumpet and Pecan Lodge (BBQ).
For Texas style BBQ brisket, I still prefer The Slow Bone to Pecan Lodge. The brisket at TSB is downright melt in your mouth tender and not as heavily smoked with Mesquite wood as it is at Pecan Lodge. Pecan Lodge is moving out of it's current location in Shed 2 at the Dallas Farmers Market to the Deep Ellum area of Dallas sometime soon so check their website closer to the time you'll be in Dallas. If you do go to Pecan Lodge, get there early before they run out of their wonderful beef ribs. They're the best in town. But, I really prefer the smoked brisket at The Slow Bone.