Field of One
Critic’s choice: Spiral Diner, 1314 W Magnolia Av
Even as our neighbors in Dallas and Denton gain increasing numbers of restaurants with large vegan-friendly menus, Fort Worth lags behind. Thankfully, we still have Spiral Diner holding down its corner of Magnolia as always. Spiral has been a reliable touchstone of the Fort Worth restaurant scene 13 years, serving up a growing menu of creative dishes that are completely free of animal products and delicious. It’s a testament to the staff’s creativity and the quality of the food that Spiral still feels new after all this time.
Critic’s choice: Le’s Wok, 812 W Rosedale St
Le’s is a lesson in not judging a book by its cover. The blink-and-miss-it café shares an unassuming building with a convenience store at the northeast corner of Rosedale and Lipscomb streets. Nothing about its tumbledown exterior gives any hint about the quality within. Le’s dishes up delicious Asian fare, prepared and served without hipster pretension. As a bonus, nearly everything on the menu can be made vegan, making Le’s a great option for just about anybody.
Critic’s choice: Buon Giorno Coffee, 915 Florence St
Almost a decade ago, British transplant David Clarke left the computer industry and started a little coffeehouse/roaster in Grapevine. Four years later, he opened a second store just on the edge of downtown Fort Worth. There are a few outstanding local roasters, but no one brings out the subtle lemon notes of an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe or the chocolate overtones of a Mexican Altura like Clarke.
Readers’ choice: Avoca Coffee, 1311 W Magnolia Av
Critic’s choice: Buon Giorno Coffee
Just a block or two from the intersection of Henderson and I-30 is Buon Giorno’s Fort Worth location. Here you can wait out the rush-hour traffic after work and grab an espresso, hand-crafted on an old-fashioned machine. If that’s not your thing, enjoy your very own French press of coffee brewed from freshly roasted beans. The place’s scones and shortbread cookies are baked in-house using family recipes.
Critic’s choice: Tiger Mart, 210 SW Wilshire Blvd, Burleson
This market attached to a Mobil gas station serves fresh juices and smoothies made from real fruit, plus yogurt, fruit cups, grilled and vegetarian sandwiches, and a whole lot more. Stock up your cooler with a variety of treats that will sate the backseat crowd the whole road trip.
Readers’ choice: Nonna Tata
Critic’s choice: Clay Pigeon, 2731 White Settlement Rd
Handmade pasta is a rare treat, and, fortunately, Clay Pigeon regularly offers a rich variety of the delicacy, from pasta carbonara to gnocchi. To accompany his wonderful pasta, wunderchef Marcus Paslay serves up flavorful sauces with seasonal ingredients.
Critic’s choice: Central Market
No matter what your taste buds are yearning for, Central Market’s salad counters and deli will satisfy. From an extraordinary selection of olives, marinated vegetables, and pickled peppers to an array of exotic salads, cheeses, and meats, the chic South Hulen market has it all.
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth Food Park, 2509 Weisenberger St
When we’re in the mood for fast food, we want selection. The Fort Worth Food Park’s rotating food truck schedule always fits the bill: burgers, exotic sandwiches, ethnic platters, pub grub, Tex-Mex, desserts, and everything in between. It’s open only Fri-Sun, but it’s worth waiting for. And you shouldn’t be eating that much regular fast food anyway.
Readers’ choice: Hot Damn! Tamales, 713 W Magnolia Av
Critic’s choice: Hot Damn! Tamales
Hot Damn! regularly experiments with the Mexican staple but also delivers exquisite versions of the classics. Whether it’s plain pork or a gourmet wild mushroom-and-goat cheese tamale, the ingredients are fresh and the flavor combinations out of this world. The place also has vegetarian and vegan options. Be sure to try one of the signature dessert tamales.
Critic’s choice: Super Chix, 620 W Park Row Dr, Arl
Super Chix’s fries are lightly seasoned with salt and a secret sweet spice that you can’t find anywhere else, and the place uses only the highest quality potatoes.
Restaurant Serving Locally Sourced Food
Critic’s choice: Burgundy Pasture Beef, 3326 W 7th St
The Taggart family raises and/or grows almost everything it serves at its tiny West 7th grocer/grill. The kitchen cranks out its outstanding burgers only three days a week, and the meat comes directly from the family’s Grandview ranch. Heck, the people taking your money were very likely there when the cow was born. It doesn’t get more locally sourced than that.
Critic’s choice: Oscar’s Pub, 6323 Camp Bowie Blvd, Ste 125
You probably didn’t know this Village at Camp Bowie bar had brunch, and, honestly, we’re a little reluctant to share this information. Every Sunday from 11am to 2pm, Oscar’s hosts its Mimosa Brunch. For $14, you get all-you-can-drink mimosas and –– this is the amazing part –– the freedom to order anything off the brunch menu as many times as you want.
Readers’ choice: Razoo’s Cajun Café, 4750 Bryant Irvin Rd, Ste 808
Critic’s choice: Boo Ray’s, 7255 Boat Club Rd
It’s worth driving all the way up Boat Club Road in North Fort Worth, or out west to Hudson Oaks, to taste the authentic New Orleans flavors that Boo Ray’s has perfected. Hell, it’s probably faster than getting in and out of the parking lot at Pappadeaux. Founded by a NoLa native, Boo Ray’s has been serving spot-on étouffée, jambalaya, gumbeaux (that’s “gumbo” for you laypeople), and blackened just-about-anything for more than a decade. The portions are huge, and the pours are generous, so bring some friends.
Critic’s choice: “I Can’t Decide” Seafood Trio at Waters Fine Coastal Cuisine
Come for the half-priced oysters, stay for the fresh, meticulously prepared fish. If, like us, you’re terrible at decision-making, then the “I Can’t Decide” Seafood Trio is for you. A well-portioned sampler of three Waters favorites –– the Creole-seared drum, pecan pesto-crusted trout, and grilled arctic char –– is the perfect way to get a feel for Jon Bonnell’s broad range of techniques and styles. Order it yourself or share with a friend alongside the “Dirty Dozen” oyster special and a nice bottle of white wine from the restaurant’s impressive list.
Critic’s choice: Reata, 310 Houston St
Is there a better appetizer sampler in all the world than the one at Reata? This is not your Applebee’s-style platter with tepid potato skins, bland nachos, and rubbery mozzarella sticks. Grab some friends and split a plate piled high with smoked quail, elk sausage, tenderloin-stuffed tamales, bacon-wrapped shrimp, jalapeño cheese grits, and a positively adorable Lone Star-shaped polenta cake. Oh, and don’t forget the calf fries –– perfect for scaring off out of towners. (Or you can sub in fried calamari if you’re too, um, chicken.)
Critic’s choice: Hysen’s Nizza Pizza, 401 University Dr
It’s easy enough to find a lunch special under $7, but good luck finding one you’d want to eat — let alone a lunch that tastes like it was cooked to order. That’s what you’ll get at Nizza Pizza, though: Choose from 20 pasta dishes, including linguine with red clam sauce, ziti al vodka, or spaghetti with meatballs, all for $6.95 each. Add a salad for $1.95, or try a hot sub combo for $7.95. You can’t go wrong with this family-run institution that serves up Italian classics with passion and pride.