There aren’t many places around here to go for raw oysters. J&J’s Oyster Bar in the Cultural District and Big Fish in Grapevine are the only two that readily come to mind. Landlocked Fort Worth isn’t as far as you can get from the ocean — Wyoming, anyone? — but our little town of cow is pretty distant from salty surf. And sometimes even sun. So when a new restaurant comes along serving raw oysters, local seafoodies grab their cocktail forks.
Texas Pit Oyster Bar in North Fort Worth does a lot of things right, including — and especially — raw oysters. Delivered from Louisiana and served by the dozen or half-dozen, these bad boys are huge, lean, and firm with a subtle saltiness. Recommended approach: Take your handy cocktail fork, mix some of the complimentary horseradish sauce into the ramekin of complimentary cocktail sauce, ladle some of the hybrid condiment atop the watery, silvery delight, and slide that little sucker down your throat. Dee. Lish.
The new place, owned and operated by the same folks as Texas Pit BBQ in Saginaw, seems to be handily overcoming the bad juju from a failed oyster bar just up the street. Maybe that one didn’t do catfish as well as Texas Pit, where the bottom-feeding fish reportedly was a major inspiration for the restaurant.
Thin and airy but as long as the elliptical plate on which it was served, Texas Pit’s fried catfish was smooth and buttery and had zero fishy aftertaste. The bright white flesh came apart at the slightest suggestion of a fork, and the flour-cornmeal breading added a nice, complementary gritty texture. The entrée was light but filling, thanks mainly to the sides — all platters come with rice or fries, mild homemade tartar sauce, and coleslaw. The rich, clumpy yellow rice and the zesty, chunky slaw provided some welcome heartiness to an otherwise dainty affair.
The oyster bar’s menu includes just about every seafood-restaurant staple you can imagine, including snow crab legs, boiled crawfish, assorted shrimp plates, po-boys, and tilapia or catfish tacos, grilled or fried. Served by the pair, the tacos had a refreshing authentic charm — everything looked thrown together. Loaded with fresh pico de gallo, avocado slices, and chipotle sauce and served open-face on soft corn tortillas, the grilled tilapia was succulent, and the mélange of flavors and textures — spicy and milky, salty and sweet — encouraged some serious face-stuffing.
Texas Pit’s appetizer menu is about as long as the regular menu and almost as diverse. Along with two varieties of gumbo, three seafood cocktails, clam chowder (not homemade but heavy on the potato chunks and clams and appropriately thin), the oyster bar also features a large selection of bad-for-your-waistline fare. The one appetizer that you can’t pass up and that is a meal in itself is the Texas fries. Wow. Straight from hell’s high school cafeteria, these spud slices are thick and salty, slathered in melted cheddar cheese and delicious slices of onion and jalapeño that have been grilled nearly to death. You might not believe you’ve eaten the entire yellow mound until you look up and see an empty plate.
Texas Pit Oyster Bar doesn’t offer much in the way of scenery, unless you consider a small suburban parking lot panoramic. But the wealth of natural light streaming through the large, copious windows seems to enlarge the undeniably tiny, primarily wooden space. No matter where you sit, you can always see the kitchen, a beer sign, and a TV — about a dozen flat-screens are mounted around the single room. There’s lots of seating, and a fun decorative tin roof hovers over the L-shaped bar counter. Texas Pit Oyster Bar has a comfortable lived-in feel, probably owing as much to the crack, friendly service as to the framed family photos on the walls. And to one large black-and-white image of Bob Marley playing an acoustic guitar. Now that’s not something ya see in Fort Worth every day, is it?
Texas Pit Oyster Bar
3349 Western Center Blvd, FW. 817-306-0700.
11am-9pm Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Texas fries …………………. $4.95
Clam chowder …………….. $3.99
Oysters (half-dozen) …… $5.99
Catfish filet …………………. $9.89