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.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 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: 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, 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: 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.
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.
* 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 Place – Mi Cocina founder Mico Rodriguez’s new concept Mesero and former Del Frisco’s exec Dee Lincoln third Dee Lincoln’s Steak Bar.
Below are my picks for the city’s top breakfast spots. Feel free to chime in with your own by leaving a comment.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new food park has arrived on the north side. This one’s called Hay Lot Food Park. Located on the west end of Exchange Avenue, it had a soft opening this past weekend. This Saturday, May 10, the park will host a Grand Opening Party.
One of the owners Todd Runnels told me he’s hoping to attract tourists walking through the Stockyards and hungry club-goers looking for something to eat before or after club-hopping.
“There aren’t a lot of restaurants in the Stockyards that stay open late,” he said. The park will be open until 2:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
The park can accommodate up to six trucks or trailers. You can eat on picnic benches or on a nice wooden deck that overlooks Exchange Ave. Like Fort Worth’s other two food parks, you can also buy beer and wine (pending the park getting its liquor license).
Trucks will rotate in and out. This past weekend, Enchiladas Ole introduced its trailer sibling, The Saucy Lady. Sassy Hot Dogs and Auntie AM’s Sweet Shop made appearances, too. All three are scheduled to be there again this week (the park reopens Thursday but the grand opening party is on Saturday), along with Dough Boys Pizza, Top Nosh and others.
Todd told me he’s aware that another food park called Cowtown Chow Down recently made a go of it but didn’t succeed. “They didn’t get a lot of foot traffic,” he said. “We’ll have a much more visible footprint.”
For more info on Saturday’s grand opening party, visit the park’s
website. The Hay Lot is at 213 W. Exchange Ave. It will be open Thursday-Sunday.
* W. 7th sushi resto MK’s Sushi is no longer called MK’s Sushi. On Monday, the restaurant’s name was changed to The Fish and along with that change comes a tweaked menu. There’s still an emphasis on sushi but owner MK Lee’s added some high end dishes (a New York strip, served thinly sliced) and more cooked fish, including grilled sea bass, pan fried mahi mahi and baked and barbecued tuna (cannot wait to try that).One new dish I can highly recommend is the Avocado Bomb – a mound of crawfish, crab and spicy tuna covered in sliced avocados. A server said MK changed the name and updated the menu in hopes it would drum up more business for her restaurant, which is in a prime location but faces stiff competition from other nearby sushi restaurants. Her other two MK stores in Bedford and North Fort Worth still go by the MK moniker. * Also in the W. 7th area Landmark Bar & Kitchen will be opening in May next door to Magnolia Motor Lounge in the Piper Hall space. Among those involved is Sam Sameni, formerly of Brownstone and currently of Avenu club in Dallas. It’ll be similar to Barcadia in that vintage stand up arcade games will be a focal point. There will also be a patio, live bands, and a full menu, which has yet to be posted.
* Two of Fort Worth’s finest chefs Marcus Paslay of Clay Pigeon and Kevin Martinez of Tokyo Cafe will team up for a pop up dinner on May 6. They’ll each offer three dishes and both will offer dessert. Paslay’s doing a shrimp carpaccio, duck confit pasta and lavender shortcake. Martinez is bringing to the table a miso hamachi, fermented rice pork cheek and roasted banana cake. Cost is $75 per person. For an additional fee they’ll pair your food with beverages. The event starts at 6:00 p.m. and will take place at Clay Pigeon. For reservations call 817-882-8065.
* I’m about to reserve my spot for what has to be the coolest little dinner that Little Red Wasp has done. Next Wednesday, the downtown resto is hooking up with Martin House Brewing Company for a beer dinner in which the following pairings shall occur: MH’s Day Break paired with LRW’s chicken and biscuit; Rubberneck Red with LRW salad; and Imperial Texan with LRW Reuben. And for dessert? A pretzel stout float. Best part is: it’s only $19 per person. Call (817) 877-3111 for reservations.
* You don’t see a lot of chef shakeups in Fort Worth but there were two major ones this week. Jesus Garcia is no longer at Little Lilly Sushi and Keith Grober has left Rodeo Goat. Another major downer is the going away of Red Door Bistro, one of my favorite new restaurants of 2013. The last day for Donna Albanese’s quaint southwest Fort Worth restaurant is May 3.
* 24 Plates in the new Magnolia May district could be open in the next few weeks. I was lucky enough to sample some of chef Beau Johnson’s creative American food at a recent event at 24’s next door neighbor Prosper. I hope the sneak preview is as good as the main attraction. Pho District, new from Piranha’s Chef Kenzo Tran in the So7 area, is getting close to opening, too. They’ve been Facebooking about opening late May.
* Lo and behold, Fort Worth is finally getting a Whole Foods.