Blue Goose Cantina, 1600 S University Dr, FW. 817-386-5433. 10am-10:30pm Sun, 11am-10:30pm Mon-Thu, 11am-11pm Fri, 10am-11pm Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
There’s a bit of the classic postman’s credo at Blue Goose Cantina. It’s the one about no snow, heat, nor rain –– the last in biblical abundance on the evening of my review –– will deter this eatery from its appointed mission of cultivating a festive, Mexican resort-like atmosphere while serving up Tex-Mex favorites.
From the cheery turquoise tint of Blue Goose’s signage and the in-laid tiling of its centerpiece bar, to a wall-mounted neon-lit goose with a fire engine-red beak, Blue Goose Cantina teleports patrons away from the predictable retail line-up of the University Park Village to some tropical getaway where all worries dissolve with the first sip of a frozen margarita.
Seeking refuge from the mini tsunami swamping Fort Worth on a recent Wednesday night, I was stunned to enter a restaurant with three-quarters of its 243 seats filled with all manner of chattering patrons –– from a trio of ladies staging a high-spirited wine tasting to freshly minted young professionals sampling a house margarita made with George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila.
Open since December, Blue Goose Cantina is the first location in Fort Worth and eighth local iteration of the original Blue Goose, which first opened on Dallas’ Greenville Avenue in 1984, when mullets and Prince ruled.
Blue Goose Cantina hews fanatically to the “made-from-scratch” playbook epitomized by everything from freshly squeezed lime juice for its flotilla of margaritas to its gleaming tortilla press churning out roughly 100 flour and corn tortillas an hour. Handcrafting also extends to the mesquite wood-grilling of its fajitas and how each kernel of poblano-lime rice is so individualized, they should be counted in the next census.
The cantina’s approach to Tex-Mex cuisine is best described as reverentially safe –– and warp-speed fast as all food landed on my table within six minutes. Aside from its highly welcome seafood offerings, underscoring a determination to cultivate a Caribbean island or Mexican coastal town feel, Blue Goose Cantina doesn’t stake out any experimental “nuevo” Tex-Mex territory. Rather, the kitchen is content to produce comforting (read: atraditional) cuisine with an occasional “wow” moment.
While the Velveeta-smooth queso starter, dotted with the house-brand salsa, was perfectly acceptable (note to management: It should come down around two bucks in price), my second appetizer –– a beer mug’s worth of Mexican shrimp cocktail –– was intriguing and enticing. Start with its form: Part shrimp cocktail, part lime-infused Peruvian ceviche, this appetizer layered baby Bay shrimp into a healthy portion of slightly sweet red cocktail sauce. Bobbing near the shrimp (boiled in lemon water for extra zing) were creamy buoys of cubed avocado and nuggets of sprightly pico de gallo.
Blue Goose Cantina’s sour cream-swaddled enchiladas were quite tasty, as soft corn tortillas served as vessels for a layer of pulled chicken blanketed by a creamy layer of sour cream. Though the chicken was, per the menu, “smothered” in the tangy sour cream, the dish was thankfully perked up by seven thin medallions of jalapeño, spiking each bite with needed heat.
The crispy tacos frescos boasted a delicately blackened and flaky tilapia, which I did eventually appreciate, as it was initially engulfed by a medley of pico de gallo, jack cheese, and, most assertively, a creamy chipotle mayonnaise. Now, I love a bold mayo as much as the next diner, but balance and proportion, even in home-style Tex-Mex cooking, must still be respected.
My meal’s most swoon-worthy dish was the slow-roasted brisket tacos. Its deeply developed taste came courtesy of eight hours of overnight oven roasting. The kitchen orchestrated a pitch-perfect balance between the brisket and its accoutrements of bright cilantro, onion, and a bracing salsa fresca.
I was powerless to resist the Gal Gadot-statuesque wedge of the house-made key lime pie. It seduced with notes of vanilla-perfumed citrus and a graham cracker crust supporting equal parts key lime custard and what appeared as a layer of cheesecake. In fact, it was the most voluptuous whipped cream this side of a Dairy Queen banana split.
According to some corporate literature, the official definition of a blue goose is a “medium-sized goose with a hefty bill and long, thick neck.” Taking slight exception with this description, my meal’s “bill” was far from “hefty,” and with Blue Goose Cantina’s winning combination of food and fun, plus a track record stretching “long” over four decades, it seems this goose may have found its next permanent nest in Fort Worth.
Blue Goose Cantina
Mexican shrimp cocktail $9
Tacos frescos $14
Brisket tacos $12
Sour cream enchiladas $12
Key lime pie $6