Salsa Fuego reopens in new location

Salsa Fuego has reopened in the old Red Dragon spot.

Salsa Fuego has reopened in the old Red Dragon spot.

Tiny Salsa Fuego isn’t so tiny anymore.

The beloved Mex-Mex restaurant has finally moved to a new location, in the much larger space once occupied by Red Dragon Chinese Buffet (3500 Alta Mere Dr.) It’s just a few feet from its previous sardine-can-size location, which will now turn into a burger joint, Fuego Burger (3520 Alta Mere Dr.), run by the same family.

Owner and chef Carlo Rodriguez said Fuego Burger will focus on the burgers he popularized at Salsa Fuego. It should be open later this spring/early summer. He also said a new menu at Salsa Fuego is coming soon. In the meantime, you can enjoy dishes from the original menu.

Kin Kin Urban Thai opens tonight!

Scotch eggs, given a Thai twist by chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin. Kin Kin Urban Thai/Facebook

Scotch eggs, given a Thai twist by chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin. Kin Kin Urban Thai/Facebook

Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin’s much-anticipated new Thai restaurant Kin Kin Urban Thai opens tonight at 5:00 p.m. in a highly visible West 7th space formerly occupied by MK’s Sushi.

Diners who check in on social media receive 50 percent discount off regular menu prices tonight through Thursday.

This is “Chef Eddy’s” second Fort Worth restaurant. His first one Bite City Grill is located across the street in Montgomery Plaza. If all goes according to plan, two additional Kin Kin Urban Thai stores will open in Dallas.

Kin Kin’s menu features several traditional Thai dishes such as pad thai, pad see ew and various rice and noodle dishes.

Kin Kin's burger made with sticky rice.  Photo: Facebook.

Kin Kin’s burger made with sticky rice. Photo: Facebook.

But behold some really neat twists, such as a burger made with sticky rice instead of a bun, spring rolls made from crepes and a tofu panna cotta dessert. You can review the entire menu here: kinkin_in-house_menu_8-5×11-final.pdf.

Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin. Kin Kin Urban Thai/Facebook

Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin. Kin Kin Urban Thai/Facebook

Kin Kin Urban Thai, 2801 W. 7th St., (817) 984-1363, http://kinkinurbanthai.com/.

Best new Fort Worth restaurants of 2014


Flounder at Clay Pigeon.

Flounder at Clay Pigeon.

1. Fort Worth’s best new restaurant of 2014 is Clay Pigeon. You’d never know it’s chef Marcus Paslay’s debut. That’s because Clay Pigeon comes off like a seasoned veteran, from the spot-on service to the quality of the farm-to-table scratch-made food to even the decor – nothing here screams “first-timer”. I love the bone marrow and each of the pastas I’ve had have been incredible, certainly on the same level with Nonna Tata’s, another resto that makes pasta from scratch. My favorite dish is the flounder (which rotated off the menu a few months ago but may rotate back on soon). They recently opened for lunch and feature several items not available at dinner, like a pork schnitzel that I can’t wait to try. 2731 White Settlement Road, 817-882-8065.

Cowboy risotto at Bird Cafe.

Cowboy risotto at Bird Cafe.

2. Bird Cafe may be old hat to those who live in Dallas, since the menu is nearly identical to Bird’s sister restaurant in Dallas, Meddlesome Moth. But it has been a wonderful addition to Downtown Fort Worth. It’s not very expensive, it’s quick and the American-inspired food has been consistently stellar. For lunch, I highly recommend trying the daily risotto (my fave is the “Cowboy Risotto” made with chili), the smoked chicken salad sandwich and the egg white frittata. At dinner, get the fish and chips, the rabbit pot pie or the crispy tofu. There’s an extensive wine list and craft drinks, too. The restaurant is in the 19th century Land Title Block building, which has been beautifully restored. 155 E. 4th St. 817-332-2473.

Beef tenderloin at Le Cep.

Beef tenderloin at Le Cep.

3. For years Saint-Emilion has been Fort Worth’s go-to for French cuisine. This year in stepped Le Cep Restaurant offering a more modern take on classic French staples. Locally owned by a French-trained chef Sandra Avila and her wine connoisseur of a husband David, the restaurant offers two tasting courses with dishes that rotate monthly. Those dishes have include a phenomenal beef tenderloin, a cauliflower salad, venison tartare and for dessert a lovely raspberry ice cream. A server walks the floor with a cheese tray and they’ll hard sell the wine. You’ll spend a lot of money but you’ll have a truly unique experience. 3324 W. 7th St., 817-900-2468.

The Delia at Cane Rosso.

The Delia at Cane Rosso.

4. Still one of the hottest restaurants in Fort Worth with long waits on weekends, the Fort Worth branch of Dallas-based Cane Rosso has been a delicious education for us all. But even if you don’t like Neapolitan pizza, the restaurant’s other dishes are just as good, like the gargantuan Cuban sandwich and freshly made pastas (my favorite is the meatball lasagna, served on Friday and Saturday night.) Even the salads are great. 815 W. Magnolia Avenue, 817-922-9222.

AF+B's grass-fed burger.

AF+B’s grass-fed burger.

5. The W. 7th district really needed another hit, and it got one when AF+B (American Food and Beverage) opened earlier this year. Former Bolsa chef Jeff Harris reimagines American standards with grace and skill in a warm classy setting. One of my favorite things to do is have AF+B’s burger in the bar area, with its black-and-white tile floor, room-length mirror and windows that let you peer out onto the street. 2869 Crockett St., 817-916-5300.

Crispy rice and chicken at Pho & Grill.

Crispy rice and chicken at Pho & Grill.

6. Go for the pho. Please, go for the pho at Pho & Grill. But go back for the crispy rice dishes, the vermicelli and the specialty drinks like Vietnamese coffee. This tiny resto, housed where Red Door Bistro used to be, has been a godsend to southwest Fort Worth, where chains usually rule. 4938 Overton Ridge Blvd. 817-292-3311.

Pork belly ramen at Hanabi.

Pork belly ramen at Hanabi.

7. It’s been wonderful seeing Fort Worth embrace new ideas, such as the city’s very first ramen restaurant Hanabi Ramen & Izakaya. Chef Ito Takao makes an absolutely beautiful bowl of ramen, in addition to several other standout dishes, like chilled tofu and grilled beef tongue. 3204 Camp Bowie Blvd., 817-420-6703.

Dry Pho Ga at Pho District.

Dry Pho Ga at Pho District.

8. What Kenzo Tran did with sushi with his Piranha Killer Sushi, he’s now doing with Vietnamese food at Pho District – that is, putting a fancy spin on it while also paying homage to the food’s roots. In addition to the four kinds of pho he serves fantastic pork belly buns, a chorizo-topped rice pancake and for dessert ice cream sushi. Decor is sleek and sexy, also like Piranha. 2401 W. 7th St., 817-862-9988.

Pork shoulder omelet with sweet potato & zucchini slaw at Righteous Foods.

Pork shoulder omelet with sweet potato & zucchini slaw at Righteous Foods.

9. I love the Austin spirit and bright colors of Lanny Lancarte’s new Righteous Foods, his tribute to eating healthy (in the space occupied by his shuttered Mexican resto, Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana). Nearly everything is locally sourced and/or organic, down to the ingredients in the booze and cold-pressed drinks. He serves breakfast, lunch and early dinner – from light items like yogurt and waffles to heavier dishes like burgers and flank steak. The sweet potato ravioli is a must. I do wish the prices were a tad lower. I’d eat there every day. 3405 W. 7th St. 817-850-9996.

Sausage and candied jalapeño pizza at Pizza Snob.

Sausage and candied jalapeño pizza at Pizza Snob.

10. Pizza Snob is a fast-casual pizza place that doesn’t taste like a fast-casual pizza place. The ingredients go beyond the typical and the thin crust is highly addictive. They serve a mean kale salad, too. It’s always packed with TCU students but I take my two kids all the time and we always feel comfortable and welcome. 3051 S. University Dr. 817-462-7662.

Tidbites: Changes at Hedary’s, here comes Hoya, there goes Magnolia

Some of the signage is up for Hoya Korean Kitchen downtown.

Some of the signage is up for Hoya Korean Kitchen downtown.

* Some good news & bad news about Fort Worth’s Hedary family. First the bad. Celaborelle Phoenician Restaurant has closed temporarily until repairs are made to the house, owner Youssef Hedary said. Yes, house. If you’ve never been to Celaborelle, you haven’t experienced eating some of the city’s best Mediterrean food in one of the neatest old homes on Hemphill on Fort Worth’s south side.

Now the good news. Youssef has taken over his family’s namesake restaurant, Hedary’s Mediterranean Restaurant on Camp Bowie. Not just the cooking, mind you. But he has taken over the restaurant, doing away with Hedary’s menu in favor of bountiful plates of fresh vegetables, hummus, fruit, gargantuan pita bread, sausages, rice dishes, lamb pizzas and most of his other staples of Celaborelle. Plus he brought the dirt-cheap prices from Celaborelle with him, too.

As for Celaborelle, the roof needs to be repaired, among other things. “It’s going to be a while (before
it’s back open),” Youssef told me.

* Downtown, Hoya Korean Kitchen , a new fast-casual Korean spot in Sundance Square is still hoping to open by the end of the year, says Sundance rep Tracy Gilmour. A block over ViVo 53, a new pizza concept, is taking over The Vault’s old space in The Tower. Cheesecake Factory is still on track to open Dec. 9. Nearby Embargo, home to downtown’s best late night eats, is closing tonight according to its Facebook page.

* Magnolia Cheese Company, one of Fort Worth’s best restaurants of 2013, is closing to make way for a new concept from owner Elizabeth Northern. An announcement on the restaurant’s Facebook page says she’s repurposing the space as a market and wine room. Thus, the name of the space has been changed to Magnolia Market & Cheese Company. Hopefully, this won’t be a repeat of Ryan’s Fine Grocer & Deli. The new place will open in the coming weeks.

Magnolia Cheese Co.’s acclaimed chef Jennifer Williams, one of a dozen people who lost their jobs, has already landed on her feet at the excellent Sera Dining & Wine (she’s replacing departing chef and co-owner Brandon Hudson). I can’t wait to see what she does at Sera.

* Two recent casualties in W. 7th – Hacienda San Miguel and The Fish (formerly MK’s Sushi). Bite City Grill’s chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin will open a new Korean resto called Kin Kin Urban Thai in MK’s old spot, according to Bud Kennedy. Hacienda San Miguel’s space will soon be home to the second location of Mash’d (the original is in Frisco), a bar/restaurant from TruFire Kitchen & Bar’s brain trust that will no doubt go head-to-head against forthcoming neighbors Social House.

ViVo 53 Pizzeria coming to downtown

Coming soon to The Tower: ViVo 53 Pizzeria

Coming soon to The Tower: ViVo 53 Pizzeria

Another restaurant is taking a stab at The Tower condominiums in downtown Fort Worth. ViVo 53 Pizzeria will take over the spot once occupied by chef Jean Michel Sakouhi’s The Vault at 525 Taylor St.

According to a LinkedIn page, ViVo 53 is being opened by entrepreneur Paul Daneshrad, the CEO of a California real estate company called Starpoint Properties. Paul didn’t return my calls, but the LinkedIn page says the restaurant will offer “wood fired pizza” and will be “a Pizzeria experience that captures the guest’s imagination and engages their senses.” Seriously. That’s what it says.

A Tower receptionist said it is slated to open sometime early next year but had no other details. Tower management didn’t return calls, either.

A Facebook page indicates a location in Dallas is opening soon, too.

Fort Worth New Restaurant Preview Fall 2014

Cheesecake Factory arrives in December.

Cheesecake Factory arrives in December.

Fall is always a good time for new restaurants to open. They get a few weeks to get their feet wet and kinks smoothed out before the busy holiday season begins.

This fall has to be one of the busiest our city has seen for new restaurant openings in years. I think some may end up opening in 2015 but here’s who is banking on arriving by year’s end.

Cheesecake Factory: The popular chain is opening a sixth location in Sundance Square in the old Barnes & Noble and Ferre spots across the street from Bass Hall. I haven’t been to a Cheesecake Factory, so I can’t attest to the quality of the food. But the menu is absolutely huge. There are pizzas, burgers (I counted 8 different kinds), salads, steaks, pastas, flatbread and traditional sandwiches, coffee drinks and of course different kinds of cheesecake. I stopped counting at 20. A manager at the Arlington location said the menu at the Sundance location will pretty much be the same as the others. Sundance Square marketing director Tracy Gilmour said it will open Dec. 9. 455 Commerce St.

Construction continues at the new Hoya Korean Kitchen.

Construction continues at the new Hoya Korean Kitchen.

Hoya Korean Kitchen: Sundance Square will also be home to a new fast-casual Korean restaurant, Hoya Korean Kitchen, which takes over the vacated Quizno’s spot at Taylor and 3rd Streets. It’ll be run by Odes Kim, who also has a sushi restaurant in Dallas called Little Katana. But at Hoya he’ll focus on food – with a healthy slant – from his homeland. The interior, which will include an indoor/outdoor seating area with a retractable roof, is being designed by Hatsumi Kuzuu, who also designed Tei An, FT33 and Urban Taco. Tracy Gilmour from Sundance says it could be open in November.

Le Cep Restaurant is scheduled to open Oct. 30.

Le Cep Restaurant is scheduled to open Oct. 30.

Le Cep Restaurant Next to Burgundy Pasture Beef will soon be this quaint French and modern European restaurant from local couple David and Sandra Avila, who were inspired by trips to France. Sandra also worked and studied in France, for a while at the Eiffel Tower’s restaurant 58 Tour Eiffel, according to an article in Indulge magazine. A menu hasn’t been released yet, but various stories have mentioned dishes such as seared duck, scallops with almonds and champagne vinaigrette and that there will be an 8-course tasting menu. It is slated to open Oct. 30. 3324 W. 7th St.

Pho Hung, coming to Camp Bowie.

Pho Hung, coming to Camp Bowie.

Pho Hung: Authentic pho is coming to Camp Bowie, courtesy of the Pham family, who also runs Pho Hung locations in Haltom City, Portland and Vietnam. I love how they have three different levels of pho – Beginners, Everyday Favorites and Adventurers Choice. The latter includes pho made with honeycomb tripe, brisket fat and tendons. Beginners pho selections feature pho with meatballs, chicken and beef brisket. Owner Charlie Pham says the new location should be open in December. It’ll be nice to see the old Wan Fu space brought back to life. 6399 Camp Bowie Blvd.

Righteous Foods opened Tuesday.

Righteous Foods opened Tuesday.

Righteous Foods: Opened Tuesday, Lanny Lancarte’s new “clean living” restaurant is the first of its kind in Fort Worth – a “healthy” restaurant that emphasizes “responsibly sourced” and organic food that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (although you gotta get there quick for dinner; it closes at 7:00 p.m.). Breakfast dishes include coconut and quinoa oatmeal, smoked salmon and eggs and pork shoulder omelete, while lunch and dinner features smoked pistachio guacamole, pork tacos, a variety of salads and an organic burger. You can also get fresh fruit drinks, cold pressed drinks and coffee from Stumptown out of Portland. When I swung by last week to check out the interior, I didn’t even recognize the place. The space has been opened up to one room and its interior is now brightly decorated with vivid and striking color schemes. I really hope this place does well. 3405 W. 7th St.

Social House will open in Brownstone's old spot in the W. 7th area.

Social House will open in Brownstone’s old spot in the W. 7th area.

Social House: Dallas restaurants continue to move into Funkytown. This one at least comes from a good pedigree. It’s a spruced-up bar food concept dreamed up by Chef Brian Olenjack of Olenjack’s Grille in Arlington.
This will be the third Social House location. Two others are in Dallas. A manager at the Uptown location said the menu will be nearly identical, so expect chicken fried oysters with horseradish sauce, pizzas, burgers, salads, sliders, steaks and speciality dishes like a three-meat meatloaf, rosemary bourbon butter chicken and apple jalapeno chutney pork chop. If you look on their Facebook page, you’ll see a lot of photos of people partying and drinking. It could be Brownstone all over, but I’m willing to give that bourbon chicken a shot. Opening Nov. 6. 840 Currie St.

In the old Ray's spot will soon come The Wild Mushroom.

In the old Ray’s spot will soon come The Wild Mushroom.

The Wild Mushroom Steak House and Lounge: If you haven’t been to The Wild Mushroom in Weatherford yet, no need to make that drive now – it’s coming to Fort Worth. Chef Jerrett Joslin is closing his 5-year-old steakhouse on Saturday but will barely miss a beat as it will reopen next month in the space recently vacated by Ray’s Prime Steak & Seafood in the Ridglea Village Shopping Center, next door to Little Lily Sushi. Joslin won’t be the executive chef, however (he’s focusing on another endeavor in Weatherford, the soon to open Vintage Grill & Car Museum. Instead the chef will be Darrin Green, who has worked at the Omni Hotel in downtown Fort Worth and Central Market. A manager at the Weatherford location said the menu will be scaled back to steakhouse essentials, including several cuts of steak, pasta, salads and seafood dishes, and that the wine list will be expanded. It’s scheduled to open November 6. 3206 Winthrop Ave.

Other new restaurants coming in early 2015 – Fuego Burger, long awaited burger spinoff from owners of Salsa Fuego, Dee Lincoln Steak Bar in Museum Place (scheduled to open in March) and Wild Salsa and Chop House, a pair of Dallas restaurants that’ll be side by side in the new One City Place development downtown. Rumors continue to swirl about a new location for Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ. I’ll keep tabs on that one, too.

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.