Tidbites: Pho & Grill now open, Six 10 Grille relaunches lunch, other stuff!

A line to the door at new Pho & Grill on southwest side.

A line to the door at new Pho & Grill on southwest side.

* Pho District isn’t the only new pho restaurant in town. Now comes the recently opened Pho & Grill, occupying Red Door Bistro’s old strip mall spot on Overton Ridge Blvd. The restaurant is owned by Tony Tran, who ran a pho restaurant in Arlington called Kim Hong Restaurant.

While Pho District puts a snazzy spin on traditional Vietnamese food, Pho & Grill is straight-up traditional. The menu consists of 13 types of pho, ranging from the usual (meatball, chicken, steak) to flavors many pho newcomers may not be familiar with (fatty brisket, beef tripe, tendon). The huge menu also includes rice dishes, vermicelli, and house specialties like butter fried frog legs, water spinach and bean curd, catfish hot pot, and spare ribs sautéed in fish sauce. For every dish that may seem unusual to newcomers to authentic Vietnamese fare, there are familiar dishes like sautéed beef and rice, egg rolls, spring rolls and fried rice.

It’s nice to see an authentic pho restaurant in the middle of the Hulen area’s gluttony of chains. Locals seems to be loving it, too. This past Sunday there was a line to the door and a 30-minute wait. 4938 Overton Ridge Blvd. 817-292-3311.

* Just a few weeks after the Ashton Hotel’s Six 10 Grille did away with lunch and dinner service, the restaurant has relaunched lunch and also introduced several new items. This new lunch menu includes veggie enchiladas, red fish and rice, steak and potatoes, and an avocado shrimp salad. The new lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Breakfast service remains daily, including Sunday (it’s one of my top picks for breakfast). 610 Main St.

* Onetime Dallas restauranteur Monica Greene is now serving fast-casual Tex Mex on the Bluebonnet Traffic Circle at Pegaso Diner (3516 Bluebonnet Circle). Mi Cocula, in old Texas Grill space, is now open at 6550 Camp Bowie Blvd. A new Mexican Inn has popped up at 5017 S. Hulen St. Every food blogger in North Texas except for me has made mention of two new restos coming to Museum PlaceMi Cocina founder Mico Rodriguez’s new concept Mesero and former Del Frisco’s exec Dee Lincoln third Dee Lincoln’s Steak Bar.

So Pho, So Good: A Quick Look at Pho District

Pho District is now open in the So7 area.

Pho District is now open in the So7 area.

New in the So7 district, Pho District is the latest restaurant from Piranha Killer Sushi founder Kenzo Tran. It’s an homage to the street food of his homeland Saigon and Vietnam. He has taken a similar approach as Piranha, honoring the tradition of these foods but chef-afying them with unique twists and turns.

Dry pho ga.

Dry pho ga.

Without question the main attractions here are the four different kinds of pho. Two are made with chicken, two with beef, two dry and two traditional. Dry pho hasn’t taken a hold in the United States but is quite popular in Vietnam. Basically, it’s pho with broth served on the side, allowing you to control the broth to ingredients ratio.

I tried the chicken dry pho and really liked the dry pho approach. It gave me an opportunity to zero in on the broth, which had strong, clean flavors, and to sample the noodles before they were doused. But even when I poured the broth on, the noodles held up. They were slippery and firm and stayed that way until my last bite. I also liked the simple chicken, which was sliced into hearty chunks.

In addition to the chicken dry pho there’s also a regular pho with chicken breast and quail egg, a beef pho with brisket, meat ball and filet mignon, and a dry version of the latter.

Pork belly banh mi.

Pork belly banh mi.

There’s a lot of pork and pork belly on the menu. I tried the pork belly banh mi and for the most part enjoyed it. It contained slices of soft boiled egg and what I thought was a generous serving of pork belly. The sandwich was too small in my opinion. I’d get this at lunch but probably not dinner again. I loved the presentation – it was served on a Vietnamese newspaper, mimicking how you might get it Vietnam (rolled in a newspaper). It came with a cool and creamy slaw that had a kick to it.

Chorizo pancake.

Chorizo pancake.

My favorite dish was the chorizo pancake. The “pancake” was a flash fried rice patty – a spin on a Vietnamese tradition of using burned rice as the pancake. It was a little like banh xeo, but served flat, like an traditional pancake (as opposed to being folded over like a taco, which is how banh xeo is often served). It was dotted with tiny chunks of spicy chorizo and dusted with shredded pork jerky. I definitely recommend it.
Sushi ice cream.

Sushi ice cream.

The sushi ice cream sounded tempting for dessert. Much to our surprise, instead of rice, Rice Krispies came wrapped around vanilla ice cream, all topped with chocolate and strawberry syrup. It was a nice, light dessert. Next time I’m getting the pandan creme brûlée, which our server highly recommended. Other desserts include a sesame donut and banana spring roll.

If you ever visited the space’s previous tenants, Bayou Jack’s and/or So7 Bistro, you won’t recognize the place. The restaurant has been completely revamped with dark colored woods and an enclosed patio. Lighting is soft and decor consists of Vietnamese artwork.

There’s also a full bar and specialty drinks. Judging from this meal alone it’s one of my favorite new restaurants of 2014.

2401 W. 7th St. 817-862-9987.

Fort Worth’s best breakfasts

No matter what type of breakfast you want, there’s a restaurant in Fort Worth that has it, from simple and cheap to artfully crafted and high dollar.

Below are my picks for the city’s top breakfast spots. Feel free to chime in with your own by leaving a comment.

Flour tortillas being made at Anakaren Bakery on the west side.

Flour tortillas being made at Anakaren Bakery on the west side.

Who has the best breakfast tacos in Fort Worth is the source of endless local debates. A sure-bet are the breakfast tacos at Anakaren Bakery on the far west side. With a recently expanded dining room, this location is the fifth in a locally owned chain, but everything is made on the premises, including the fresh flour tortillas used for the tacos. Said tacos come stuffed with your choice of egg, ham, chorizo, bacon, potato, PLUS refried beans, tomato, onion and grated cheese, if you choose – it’s a lot of food for under $2. In addition, there’s menudo, tortas and other Mexican breakfast dishes, along with a huge selection of Mexican pastries, freshly made rice pudding and cases and cases of tres leches cake. Cake for breakfast? Why the heck not? Breakfast hours: 6:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. every day. 8751 Camp Bowie W. Blvd., 817-244-0600.

A mountain of breakfast treats at Black Rooster Bakery.

A mountain of breakfast treats at Black Rooster Bakery.

Fort Worth is ripe with bakeries and pastry/donut shops but Black Rooster Bakery is a cut above the rest. Owner Marche Ann Mann offers treats that are as sweet as they are creative (must get: lemon coconut bread pudding), along with heavier breakfast items like ham and havarti quiche, all freshly made. The menu rotates and is posted daily on their Facebook page. Breakfast hours: 7:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Tuesday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Saturday. 2430 Forest Park Blvd., 817-924-1600.

Brewed's Belgian waffle.

Brewed’s Belgian waffle.

From the arty Mad Men-meets-Antiques Roadshow interior to the laid-back service, Brewed feels plucked right out of Austin. Each room is decorated with knick knacks and repurposed oddities, like a bedspring that serves as a chandelier. Go for the cool decor and great patio, stay for breakfast and get the Belgian waffle covered in fresh berries and bacon. You can also get it topped with chicken tenders for a more savory meal. As the name implies Brewed’s specialty is coffee. As such, they offer a full coffee menu of hot and cold drinks. Breakfast hours: 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Tuesday-Friday (some of the breakfast dishes are also featured during weekend brunch). 801 W. Magnolia Ave. 817-945-1545.

Carshon's Deli

The sun rises over Carshon’s Deli. Locals swear it sets over it, too.

Carshon’s Deli, a kosher-style deli open since 1928 is best known for mile-high lunchtime sandwiches, but unbeknownst to many the restaurant serves breakfast, too, most notably egg plates made with their famous cuts of beef. Get the egg and corned beef, a mix of scrambled eggs and diced corned beef. It comes with a bagel, a thick slice of cream cheese and homemade strawberry jam. It’s never crowded for breakfast, either, so you can relax and read the paper. People still do that there. Breakfast served 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Monday-Saturday. 3133 Cleburne Road. 817-923-1907.

French toast at Jake's Hamburgers.

French toast at Jake’s Hamburgers.

Downtown’s best kept breakfast secret can be found at the last place you’d think to look – Jake’s Hamburgers. Seven days a week, the Dallas chain’s downtown Fort Worth location serves a full breakfast menu, featuring items like oatmeal pancakes, chicken fried steak and eggs and some of the very best French toast in town, made with grilled French bread and drizzled with cinnamon, powdered sugar and vanilla icing. So much is drizzled on, you can’t tell where the bread ends and the plate begins. Breakfast hours: 7:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m.-Noon Saturday-Sunday. 515 Main St. 817-332-5253.

The SOB at Jazz Cafe.

The SOB at Jazz Cafe.

If you haven’t been to Nick Kithas’ Jazz Cafe yet, you’re missing out on several things starting with the most eclectically decorated restaurant in Fort Worth, from the weathered statues that guard the front door to the funky mismatched furniture to the trinkets and relics strewn about inside, many from the restaurant’s original downtown location (back when it was called “Daddios”). You’re also missing the SOB (chile con carne mixed with eggs and crisp tortilla strips), wonderful biscuits, and house hashbrowns topped with sour cream and black beans. Sometimes there’s live jazz Sunday mornings. The Jazz Cafe is a truly unique Fort Worth experience. Note: cash or check only. Breakfast served 9:00 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sunday only. 2504 Montgomery Street. 817-737-0043.

Biscuits and coffee at Montgomery St. Cafe.

Biscuits and coffee at Montgomery St. Cafe.

From Moe’s Cafe to Benbrook Cafe to West Side Cafe to the Dixie Houses, mom-and-pop home-cooking cafes are scattered all over Fort Worth. My pick for the best is Montgomery Street Cafe. The nearly 30-year-old spot is beloved for its charming, itty bitty size, waitresses that call you “Sweetie,” and checkerboard tablecloths. But more importantly, the food is solid, especially the crisp on the outside, flaky on the inside biscuits, which go spectacularly well with a big bowl of cream gravy. Breakfast served 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Monday-Saturday. 2000 Montgomery St., 817-731-8033.

Blueberry pancakes at Old Neighborhood Grill.

Blueberry pancakes at Old Neighborhood Grill.

Old Neighborhood Grill is one of those cheerful restaurants that will put a smile on your face the instant you walk in. The staff is unflinchingly kind, even when the place is packed and there’s a line out the door. The go-to breakfast dish at this casual American spot is the pancakes, thick and fluffy and dotted with blueberries and other toppings. You must try a biscuit, too. They’re made with Miller Lite beer. Prices are reasonable. There are tables outside when the weather’s nice. Breakfast is served 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Monday-Saturday. 1633 Park Place Ave. (817) 923-2282.

Salmon and avocado  omelette at Paco and John's.

Salmon and avocado omelette at Paco and John’s.

Located in the Medical District Paco and John’s is a great place to go if you don’t want the usual breakfast staples. You can build your own omelets, using a variety of ingredients like salmon, avocados and gorgonzola cheese, or indulge in a generous torta breakfast sandwich filled with black forest ham, or play it light with spinach and egg white tacos. With less than a dozen tables, the place is tiny and since everything is made on the spot, it can take a little while to get your food. But it’s always worth it. Breakfast is served 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. 1116 8th Ave., 817-810-0032.

Fort Worth's beloved Paris Coffee Shop.

Fort Worth’s beloved Paris Coffee Shop.

If it’s a straightforward breakfast you want with a side of good people watching, nothing else will compare to Paris Coffee Shop, an historic restaurant on Fort Worth’s south side that has been open for more than 50 years and hasn’t seemed to have aged a bit. The old school menu at this Fort Worth institution includes grits, eggs, waffles topped with strawberries and biscuits and gravy. If you time your morning visit right, you may be first to get a slice of freshly made pie. The great old photos of Fort Worth are alone worth enduring the sometimes crazy crowds. Open 6:00 a.m. daily (closed Sunday). 704 W. Magnolia Ave. 817-335-2041.

Riva's Mexican Restaurant serves some of the city's best Mexican breakfast dishes.

Riva’s Mexican Restaurant serves some of the city’s best Mexican breakfast dishes.

There’s no shortage of good Mexican breakfast spots in Fort Worth. Anyone who’s ever been to Esperanza’s or Hemphill’s Restaurant can attest to that. But there’s another little Mexican breakfast joint that has flown under the radar but is well worth visiting – Riva’s Mexican Restaurant in the River Oaks area. Open for 20 years and family owned, it’s inexpensive and very, very good, with breakfast burritos big enough for two, daily egg plate specials for under $5 and homemade flour tortillas. It has a local neighborhood vibe and there’s usually live music Sunday mornings. Breakfast served all day starting at 7:00 a.m. (closed Monday). 5442 River Oaks Blvd., 817-377-2424.

Bananas Foster French toast at Six 10 Grille.

Bananas Foster French toast at Six 10 Grille.

For a white tablecloth breakfast in a quiet, low-key atmosphere, try the Six 10 Grille at the historical Ashton Hotel; a boutique hotel housed in a six-story, 1915 building that served as the original home to the Fort Worth Club. The Bananas Fosters French Toast is sweet tooth heaven. There are also omelets, oatmeal pumpkin pancakes and steak and eggs. Elegant food in a classy environment. Breakfast is served 6:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday and until 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. 610 Main St., 817-332-0100.

A waitress runs food at Vickery Cafe.

Jalapeño flapjacks, andouille sausage and hollandaise-topped scramble at Vickery Cafe.

Jalapeño flapjacks, andouille sausage and hollandaise-topped scramble at Vickery Cafe.

West Vickery Boulevard has several breakfast options – Melis Taqueria, Swiss Pastry Shop and the newly opened Railway Cafe. But more and more people are rediscovering Vickery Cafe, a revamped diner full of surprises. There’s now a huge breakfast menu, packed with out-of-the-norm dishes like house brined corned beef hash, turkey bacon and hollandaise-topped eggs, a direct reflection of chef Curtis James’ 2012 takeover of the place. He mixes his chef-inspired dishes with classic American breakfasts like traditional omelets, chocolate chip pancakes and ham and eggs. The food is exceptionally good and service is diner-style friendly. “Whatcha want for breakfast, honey?”

Also see my late night dining guide for a few places that serve breakfast all day (and all night), such as Ol’ South, Salsa Limon and Cafe Brazil.

Rockin’ Ramen: A quick look at the new Hanabi Ramen & Izakaya

Kara Miso ramen at Hanabi Ramen & Izakaya.

Kara Miso ramen at Hanabi Ramen & Izakaya.

The new Hanabi Ramen & Izakaya isn’t the first restaurant in Fort Worth to serve ramen - Ume, Little Lilly’s Sushi, Temaki and even Woodshed Smokehouse have been serving the trendy Japanese noodle soup.

But this small, attractive restaurant, opened last month by the same owners as Hanabi Hibachi and Sushi in north Fort Worth is the first to devote so much of its menu to authentic ramen.

The restaurant serves eight variations. I recently tried the tonkotsu Kara Miso ramen, made with spicy pork, and it was everything good ramen should be – a well flavored broth, silky noodles that were neither too thick or thin and toppings that worked together well and alone.

Its quality wasn’t much of a surprise. After all, the chef Ito Takao ran a ramen restaurant in Tokyo before he made his way to the United States.

In addition to ramen, the restaurant also serves small plates such as yellow tail cheek, tako yaki (pancake balls with bits of octopus), chilled tofu, variations of tempura (including squid) and skewers of grilled meat. The small plates are available at dinner only. Additional lunch options include a handful of salads and side dishes (I loved the mini gyu don, a rice bowl topped with shaved beef).

The interior is styled after a Japanese “izakaya”, with low lights and subtle colors. It’s an atmosphere that’s similar to Shinjuko Station.

The restaurant is sandwiched between Great Outdoors and Wild Rooster.

3204 Camp Bowie Blvd. (817) 420-6703.

Wild Salsa and Chop House Burger coming to downtown Fort Worth

Wild Salsa is coming to downtown Fort Worth.

Wild Salsa is coming to downtown Fort Worth.

A second location of chef-inspired Mexican restaurant Wild Salsa will open in downtown Fort Worth’s One City Place development later this year. A sign is already in the window and an employee at the original downtown Dallas location confirmed it’s coming.

It’ll be side by side with a new location of Chop House Burger. Both come from the same restaurant group, Dallas based DRG Concepts.

The original Wild Salsa opened three years ago at 1800 Main St., in downtown Dallas’ Mercantile Building, with Nova’s Kelly Hightower serving as the original chef (he has since left).

According to their web site, Wild Salsa makes much of their food from scratch using locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes tacos and enchiladas, along with unusual items like shrimp and bacon quesadillas, guacamole with pumpkin and sesame seeds and lamb shank barbocoa. Brunch offerings include a “taco omelette” and barbocoa potato hash.

Tidbites: Artisan popsicles coming, 24 Plates open, new Mex, Mex, Mex

Now open in W. 7th area: Rafain.

Now open in W. 7th area: Rafain.

I have much to tell you:

* Two new Mexican restaurants are opening on the west side of Fort Worth. Mexican rotisserie chicken empire El Pollo Regio expands to a location near the Camp Bowie traffic circle, in the old Cowtown Bar & Grill spot. Should be open in the few two weeks. Down the street in the old Texas Grill space will be Mi Cocula, a new Tex Mex resto from the Moreno family of Weatherford’s now-shuttered El Ray Taqueria.

* Sombrero Mexican Food will open its first Texas location later this year at 201 W. Rosedale St. Sombrero is a Cali-based fast-food chain that specializes in “San Diego-style” Mexican food. The menu consists of burritos, tacos, tortas and enchiladas.

* W. 7th area has some new tenants. In Patrazio’s old spot is now Rafain, a Brazilian steakhouse chain. Bud Kennedy recently reported that Brownstone’s former digs will be taken over by another Dallas import – the third location of Social House, a concept by Brian Olenjack of Olenjack’s Grille in Arlington. If the menus at the Uptown Dallas and Addison locations are any indication, expect pizzas, burger, steaks and cheffed-up bar food. A few blocks over, Landmark Bar & Kitchen has opened at 3008 Bledsoe St. Menu’s not posted on their website and all they’ve been Facebooking about is drink specials. Proceed with caution.

* The long awaited tapas spot 24 Plates is now open at 407 W. Magnolia Ave. in the Magnolia May area of the Near Southside. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

* Construction has started on the new Cheesecake Factory downtown, coming to Ferre’s old spot across the street from Bass Hall in Sundance Square. It’ll also take up some of the old Barnes & Noble space.

* Sundance Square also announced a new fast-casual Korean restaurant Hoya Korean Kitchen will open later this year in the old Quizno’s spot at Taylor and 3rd Streets. Owner Odes Kim also runs sushi restaurant Little Katana in Dallas’ Highland Park area, but at Hoya, he’ll focus on food from his homeland. I can’t wait to see the place. The interior is being designed by Hatsumi Kuzuu, who also designed Tei An, FT33 and Urban Taco, according to Sundance. The restaurant will have an indoor/outdoor seating area with a retractable roof.

* Just in time for summer are two new treat shops – Sugar Biscuit, a catering company that will also offer cupcakes and whoopie pies to the public, will open soon on the Bluebonnet Traffic Circle, right next door to forthcoming Pegaso Diner. Steel City Pops, a sweet and savory pop sickle chain promises to open this month at 908 Currie St. in the W. 7th area.

* I sure do hate to see Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana go, but I’m excited about Lanny Lancarte’s upcoming Righteous Foods.

Dallas restaurateur Monica Greene headed to Fort Worth

Monica Greene/Facebook

Monica Greene/Facebook

Two years ago Monica Greene posted a message on her Facebook page that hinted she would open a restaurant in Fort Worth.

Now that hint is becoming a reality. She’s opening a new spot on the Bluebonnet traffic circle, as reported today by CultureMap’s Teresa Gubbins. The place will be called Pegaso Diner – the same name of a shortly lived restaurant she opened in 2003 in Big D.

The restaurant will open in the long vacated Tiff & Andi’s spot, not far from where Fred’s Texas recently opened a third location.

Monica has owned or been involved in several restaurants over the years, including Monica’s Aca y Alla in Deep Ellum and BEE Enchiladeria in Oak Cliff.

The original Dallas location of Pegaso served burritos, tacos and tortas, in a fast-casual atmosphere. The Fort Worth location may open by July, Gubbins wrote in her story.