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Barbecue

Readers’ Top 5: Angelo’s, 2533 White Settlement Rd, 817-332-0357 • Dayne’s Craft Barbecue, 2735 W 5th St, 682-472-0181 • Heim Barbecue, 1109 W Magnolia Av, 817-882-6970 • Panther City BBQ, 201 E Hattie St, 682-499-5618 • Railhead Smokehouse, 2900 Montgomery St, 817-738-9808

Critic’s Choice: Brix Barbecue, 218 Bryan Av, 219-363-6210

The Texas-style barbecue cognoscenti know where to show up on Saturdays and Sundays. A humble silver Airstream (known to regulars as the “Smokestream”) serves Central-Texas-style ’cue — fork-tender beef brisket and ribs smoked with mild woods that don’t obscure the meat. This is no mere Austin imitation. Hatch chile pork tortas and tacos, the Funkytown Hot Chicken sandwich, Akaushi beef belly burnt ends, and other diabolically creative meat-centric options make Brix Barbecue a welcome trailblazer in an already deep field of superlative local barbecue joints.

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Brix recently announced a new location that’s slated to open by spring 2022. The first brix-and-mortar *smug laugh* location, just south of MASS, will feature a bar, an expanded kitchen, and the chance to feed a growing following of meat lovers who prefer their burgers drizzled in Dank Sauce.

Brixy is here to let you know that Brix Barbecue is our critic’s choice for the best in town. Hatch chile pork tortas and tacos, the Funkytown Hot Chicken sandwich, Akaushi beef belly burnt ends, and other diabolically creative meat-centric options make Brix a welcome trailblazer in an already deep field of superlative local barbecue joints.
Courtesy Facebook

Breakfast

Readers’ Choice: Ol’ South Pancake House, 1509 S University, 817-336-0311

Critic’s Choice: Ascension, 1751 River Run Dr, 817-865-3829

Sure, Ascension is a part of a six-location North Texas restaurant chain, but don’t hold that against it, because its Australian-inspired, regular breakfast menu offers fare for health-conscious fast-breakers and the greasy-spoon faithful alike. There’s a paleo-friendly Sunrise Bowl and a wagyu-pastrami hash, savory Australian hand pies and blueberry lemon scones, and the Aussie bacon + egg roll, which pairs a sunny-side-up egg with bacon and a brioche roll slathered in “Aussie BBQ sauce,” a down under-condiment made of fruits, spices, and local honey. Say g’day to these tasty morning meals!

 

Brunch

Readers’ Choice: The Bearded Lady, 300 S Main St, 817-349-9832

Critic’s Choice: Shaw’s Patio Bar & Grill, 1051 W Magnolia Av, 817-926-2116

Sorry, migas. Your time has come and gone. The new way we define a delicious brunch spot is by chicken and waffles, and Shaw’s are absolutely scrumptious. Blend them with a punchy Bloody Mary and a super-chill environment, and you have a locale that’s not fussy or trying to rush you out after the last bite or a spot to see and be seen. Head to the heart of Magnolia for a casual brunch excursion which can lead to other fun daytime weekend options. *wink, wink*

 

Burger

Readers’ Top 5: The Bearded Lady, 300 S Main St, 817-349-9832 • Charlie’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, 4616 Granbury Rd, 817-924-8611 • Dutch’s Hamburgers, 3009 S University Dr, 817-927-5522 • Kincaid’s, 4901 Camp Bowie Blvd, 817-732-2881 • Rodeo Goat, 2836 Bledsoe St, 817-877-4628

Critic’s Choice: Dayne’s Craft Barbecue, at Lola’s Trailer Park, 2735 W 5th St, 682-472-0181

Nothing fancy here, just fabulousness between a bun. Two melt-in-your-mouth beef patties come topped with gooey cheese and not much else to make for an experience that’s big on the pure symphony created by cooking meat to perfection, covering it with cheese, and piling it onto soft, buttery bread. Located at Lola’s Trailer Park, Dayne’s is open only 11am-2:30pm Fri-Sun. Now that the weather’s getting less unbearable, a trip to Dayne’s should be on your list of weekend plans. We hear the barbecue is pretty top-notch, too. (We’ve tried it multiple times. It is.)

 

Burrito

Readers’ Choice: Salsa Limon, 5012 White Settlement Rd, 682-312-5744

Critic’s Choice: Bad Azz Burrito, 1200 S Blue Mound Rd, Ste 170, Saginaw, 817-847-5511

Like Chipotle but better. Way better. Better seasoned meat; better, crisper grilled veggies; fresher cheese and other accoutrements. Line up at the counter and pick your delicious, perfectly cooked meats and veggies on a fluffy tortilla, sit down, and enjoy. Don’t pass on the chicken fully loaded with some chipotle hot sauce, our personal fave.

 

Cajun Food

Readers’ Choice: Tributary Cafe, 2813 Race St, 817-744-8255

Critic’s Choice: Tributary Cafe

Found in the River East district, Tributary Cafe serves up spicy Southern fare out of a restored 1940s bungalow. Its menu is a celebration of the Trinity River through the lens of Cajun cuisine, stuffed to the gills with seafood plates like Shrimp Victoria (with mushrooms, crème fraiche, and cayenne), crawfish etouffee, and blackened fresh fish, as well as mouthwatering gumbos and po’ boys. And save room for the key lime pie.

 

Chef

Readers’ Choice: Jon Bonnell, Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine, Waters, Buffalo Bros

Critic’s Choice: Victor Villarreal, La Onda, 2905 Race St, 817-607-8605

Like a well-seasoned composer who finally penned his magnum opus, Chef Victor Villarreal has channeled his extensive experience in the foodservice industry (Clay Pigeon, Grace, The Mansion at Turtle Creek) into a popular Latin restaurant newcomer, La Onda. The main draws here are carefully prepared and immaculately plated seafood and delicious cocktails from Victor’s wife, Misty Villarreal, who co-owns the venture. The homey bungalow on Race Street sets the tone for the high-quality but unpretentious dining experience the Villarreals brought to the River East community. Smoked fish, super-rare oysters flown directly from the cold waters off Alaska, or any of Victor’s rotating ceviche options are great places to start when dining at this culinary gem.

Like a well-seasoned composer who finally penned his magnum opus, Chef Victor Villarreal has channeled his extensive experience in the foodservice industry (Clay Pigeon, Grace, The Mansion at Turtle Creek) into the popular fine-dining Latin newcomer, La Onda.
Photo by Wyatt Newquist

Chicken-Fried Steak

Readers’ Choice: Horseshoe Hill, 204 W Exchange Av, 817-882-6405

Critic’s Choice: Tom’s Burgers & Grill, 1530 N Cooper St, Arlington, 817-459-9000

The special ingredient in the batter of the chicken-fried steak is an openly discussed secret. He knows it. We know it. But we all just play the hmmm-what’s-in-this? game, then nod and smile — and sometimes wink — as we gobble up the goodies. (Want a hint? There is a certain potato-based snack item ruffling everyone’s feathers.) While the chicken-fried steak is available for breakfast with eggs and hashbrowns and for lunch/dinner with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob, we’d go with breakfast. Sometimes, you can order jalapeño-bacon gravy while it lasts.

 

Chinese Food

Readers’ Choice: Szechuan Chinese Restaurant, 5712 Locke Av, 817-738-7300

Critic’s Choice: Szechuan Chinese Restaurant

With the demise of perennial winner Cannon, you gotta go with the legendary Szechuan on the West Side. Imagine perfectly cooked Chinese food the way we’ve always loved it, and that’s what you get here: big servings, delicately seasoned, and perfectly cooked, with loads of flavor.

 

Coffee Shop

Readers’ Choice: Race Street Coffee, 3021 Race St, 817-330-9270

Critic’s Choice: Buon Giorno Coffeehouse & Roastery, 500 W 7th St, Ste 140, 817-378-4505

You know that feeling of feeling at home in a place even though you don’t live there? Buon Giorno is that home away from home. Perhaps it’s the way it effortlessly leans into the Italian theme without overdoing it and becoming kitschy or try-hard and still maintains that simple, down-to-earth charm and homey atmosphere. Buon Giorno is the type of gathering space where you can conduct a business meeting or meet a friend, whether in person or in the pages of your favorite book, and feel at home doing either. Whether you want to lounge, work, chat, read, or simply enjoy your cappuccino, Buon Giorno saves a spot for everyone.

Despite the upgrade from its previous, more apt location on Florence Street, Buon Giorno retains the welcoming, laid-back atmosphere it’s always possessed. Now, the space is just a little classier. The floor-to-ceiling windows face Burnett Plaza and “Man with a Briefcase,” with a row of perfectly placed comfy chairs for you to enjoy the view while you sip. If you arrive early enough, you can watch the sun slowly brighten the skyline while classical, opera, or mellow coffee shop tunes serenade you. At Buon Giorno, it’s the exquisite coffee that beckons you and the ambience that makes you stay awhile.

With shiny, happy baristas like Nick, Buon Giorno will make you feel at home even though your house may be miles away.
Courtesy of Instagram

Deli

Readers’ Choice: Carshon’s Delicatessen, 3133 Cleburne Rd, 817-923-1907

Critic’s Choice: Weinberger’s, 601 S Main St, Grapevine, 817-416-5577

When you think “deli,” either New York or Chicago comes to mind. Let’s talk Chicago. In 1952, Weinberger’s Deli was founded in the Windy City by Dan Weinberger’s father. In 2002, Dan brought a piece of his dad’s Chicago to Grapevine and has been perfecting sandwiches ever since. While there are hundreds of ingredient choices and anything you want can be made, the smart move is to try something from the leader board. To ensure customers have the best choices available, the 20 top-selling sandwiches from the prior year are listed, and the board gets updated each spring.

 

Dessert

Readers’ Choice: Swiss Pastry Shop, 3936 W Vickery Blvd, 817-732-5661

Critic’s Choice: Morgan’s Ice Cream, 321 S Main St, 817-615-9999

Strawberry and buttercake, cinnamon and oatmeal cookie crumbles, vanilla and honey – these are just some of the flavor combinations being churned out by Morgan’s Ice Cream, owned by the same couple who created the Dwell Coffee and Biscuits Chain. The former home of Gypsy Scoops has been renovated by Jeff and Stephanie Brannon to operate as an independent creamery specializing in out-of-this-world ice cream. With dazzling flavor combinations, this South Main creamery is definitely a do-not-miss dessert destination.

 

Food Truck

Readers’ Choice: Calisience, 3318 E Belknap St, 323-640-9898

Critic’s Choice: Ober Here, 682-760-3904, @Eat.OberHere

If you’ve had Filipino food in the 817 this year, it’s likely because: A, you’re Filipino or know someone who is; or, B, you’ve been to the uber-popular Near Southside truck headed by Chef Mark Guatelara. Fort Worth had zero Filipino dining options until Guatelara used the pandemic to leave the hotel industry and try his luck at running a late-night food truck. On most evenings, you’ll find Ober Here parked on the southeast corner of West Rosedale and 8th streets. The bowls of lightly seasoned beef, pork, and chicken come with sides of papaya salad, a sunny-side-up egg, and annatto-fried garlic — all served on a perfectly steamed bowl of rice. The experience is a blend of sweet, savory, and mild spiciness.

If you’ve had Filipino food in the 817 this year, it’s likely because: A, you’re Filipino or know someone who is; or, B, you’ve been to the uber-popular Near Southside truck headed by Chef Mark Guatelara. Fort Worth had zero Filipino dining options until Guatelara used the pandemic to leave the hotel industry and try his luck at running a late-night food truck, Ober Here.
Courtesy of Instagram

 

Fried Chicken

Readers’ Choice: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, 1067 W Magnolia Av, 817-927-4693

Critic’s Choice: The Cookshack, 500 University Dr, 817-367-9151

Dang, our mouths are watering just thinking about it! This small Texas chain does fried chicken right, using all-natural, hormone-free bird. And there’s spice. Inspired by, or presaging, the Nashville Hot craze, Cookshack specializes in fried chicken that has a little kick to it. From levels Not Hot to AMF, the Cultural District resto serves up huge, juicy, moist pieces that fit into any sort of style, tenders or sandwiches, plus melt-in-your-mouth ribs with sides that will light your belly on fire, especially the house-made mac ’n’ cheese. Who would you trust? Someone in Tennessee or someone closer to the (hot) equator? (Don’t answer that. It’s a joke.)

 

Fried Okra

Critic’s Choice (only): Big State Fountain Grill, 100 E Irving Blvd, Irving, 214-307-5000

Originally the site of a men’s haberdashery at the turn of the century and then a drug store in 1948, Big State Fountain Grill was purchased in 2014 and converted to a diner by Rick and Susan Fairless — of Stroker’s Dallas motorcycle destination fame — who are second and fifth generation Irvingites, respectively. “We were devastated when Big State Drug closed their doors, so we decided to buy it with our hearts and not our heads,” Rick said. “We are very happy we did!” Along with the typical diner breakfast items and hand-dipped ice cream, Big State is known for “damn good” burgers with your choice of fries, tater tots, or, for a bit more, onion rings, but it’s the newest side item — fried okra — that really has our attention. Lightly battered and fried to crispy perfection, it’s a must-try.

 

Funky Burger(s)

Critic’s Choice (only): The Chubby Chaser, Eagle’s Point Bar & Grill, 1029 N Saginaw Blvd, Saginaw, 817-349-9387 • My Oh My It’s Frito Pie, The Bearded Lady, 300 S Main St, 817-349-9832

Seems like the hot thing these days is to put delicious sides not next to your burger but actually on it. Out in Saginaw, the newish Eagle’s Point specializes in creative and scrumptious burgers that are decidedly funky yet approachable. In addition to the fan favorite Sagnasty (sautéed onions, mushrooms, jalapeños, pepper jack, sunny egg, two slices of bacon) and The Porker (cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapeño cheddar sausage, smoked pulled pork, creamy cheese sauce, barbecue drizzle), there’s the mouthwatering Chubby Chaser: a juicy, freshly prepared half-pound patty topped with gooey cheddar, smoked bacon, and, yep, even gooier mac ’n’ cheese. If you want veggies (*sigh* only gonna mess it up), then you’re gonna have to specialize your order, health nut. Closer to home, The Bearded Lady courteously offers the My Oh My, It’s Frito Pie: half-pound patty topped with Frito-crusted cheese patty, house-made chili, Fritos, and a sour cream drizzle. Your mouth and belly thank you in advance. The upshot is if you miss this Burger of the Month offering, the Lady’s old favorites are still there for you, starting with the L.U.S.T. Burger (half-pound patty stuffed with feta cheese and roasted poblanos, topped with melted gouda, caramelized onion, and avocado) and the Spicy AF Burger (melted pepper jack, fried Fresno peppers, grilled jalapeños, lettuce, and onion, drizzled with house-made habanero mayo), which actually isn’t all that spicy, just flavored properly.

 

Indian Food

Readers’ Choice: Maharaja Indian Restaurant, 6308 Hulen Bend Blvd, 817-263-7156

Critic’s Choice:

Swad Indian and Nepalese Cuisine, 8333 Sohi Dr, Ste 100, 817-587-1575

This establishment off North Tarrant Parkway splits the difference between the bare-bones Indian restaurants and the linen-tablecloth places. The old standbys like butter chicken and saag paneer will leave you satisfied, but off the beaten path, you’ll find Nepalese momos fried to a perfect crisp and served with a refreshing dipping sauce, plus a ras malai dessert of cheese curds and pistachios to end things on a proper note.

 

Italian Food

Readers’ Choice: Nonna Tata, 1400 W Magnolia Av, 817-332-0250

Critic’s Choice: Piattello Italian Kitchen, 5924 Convair Dr, UNIT 412, 817-349-0484

You gotta love Marcus Paslay’s endeavor for, first of all, offering the gamut of pastas. Cappelletti, spaghetti, tagliatelle, ravioli, linguine, even bucatini (basically spaghetti with a decadent hole through the middle, ideal for sucking up all that tasty sauce) — Piattello does it and does it superbly. There’s more. The kitchen run by the guy who also does Clay Pigeon and Provender Hall serves up tantalizing entrees steeped in rustic Italian tradition. Even carnivores will dream about Piattello’s eggplant parmigiana (roasted eggplant, Grana Padano, house mozzarella, basil) after scarfing it down, and scarfing it down is what will happen to every single plate that appears in front of you here. If you happen to arrive on the Lord’s day, order the “Sunday gravy,” a robust meat sauce with ricotta on top. For another slap-your-nonna appetizer on a regular day, try the house-made sourdough with ricotta. Mangia!

 

Japanese Food

Readers’ Choice: Tokyo Café, 5121 Pershing Av, 817-737-8568

Critic’s Choice: Shinjuku Station, 711 W Magnolia Av, 817-923-2695

This long-running Magnolia Ave staple continues to impress with its exuberant dining experience centered on meticulously authentic, small-plate-style Japanese meals and a sushi selection that is proudly “better-than-a-Cali-roll.” Beautifully plated nigiri and sashimi delicacies like yuzu tobiko (yuzu-infused flying fish caviar) join savory pork gyoza, noodles such as yakisoba and shoyu ramen, and a wide array of fun shareables like seared baby octopus and thin-sliced teres major steak you sear over a hot stone yourself.

 

Korean Food

Readers’ Choice: Samwon Garden Restaurant, 5201 McCart Av, 817-926-1515

Critic’s Choice: Hoya Korean Kitchen, 355 W 3rd St, 817-378-4045

Admittedly, Fort Worth offers scant Korean restaurant options. The real bastions of North Texas Seoul food are Carrollton and Dallas, but downtown Fort Worth has an authentic Korean dining experience that can save you a trip. Hoya Korean Kitchen serves up favorites like rice and noodle bowls, bibimbap (which can easily be made into a vegetarian option), Korean barbecue, traditional hot soups, and all those fun little side dishes. The service is fast and polite, and the food is made from scratch using authentic recipes and natural ingredients.

 

Mediterranean Food

Critic’s Choice (only): Dimassi Mediterranean Buffet, four area locations

Since 1992, family-owned Dimassi Mediterranean Buffet has been building locations throughout the state of Texas, including many in Houston and three in Dallas. Now, Fort Worth finally has one as well. Located in the long-vacant, free-standing Black Eyed Pea building on Camp Bowie, Dimassi specializes in authentic Halal and Mediterranean cuisine made with fresh ingredients. Affordably priced, this is the perfect place to take your uninitiated friends to sample some Mediterranean. The buffet is only $13.85 at lunch, $14.77 at dinner, and $17.54 on weekends.

 

Mexican Food

Readers’ Top 5: Benito’s, 1450 W Magnolia Av, 817-332-8633 • Enchiladas Ole, 2418 Forest Park Blvd, 817-984-1360 • Joe T. Garcia’s, 2201 N Commerce St, 817-626-4356 • Mariachi’s Dine-In, 5724 Locke Av, 682-760-9606 • Paco’s Mexico Cuisine, 1508 W Magnolia Av, 817-759-9110

Critic’s Choice: Paco’s Mexican Cuisine

As birria tacos became thing (and they still are), Paco’s added them to their menu and then did them one better by making them some of the best in town. Dipped in that lovely red consommé, there may be none better, but that’s not all Paco’s does well. Along with assorted fajita plates, the little Magnolia resto also serves up delectable tlacoyos (black bean-infused masa in a tomatillo sauce topped with cilantro, onion, fresco, avocado, and crema) and molcajete (with grilled steak, chicken, chorizo, shrimp, or nopales, plus fresco, jalapeño, elote, and ranchero salsa). Best part is that the price is always right.

 

New Restaurant

Readers’ Choice: 360 Smoke Shack, 2708 W 7th St, 817-334-0888

Critic’s Choice: La Onda, 2905 Race St, 817-607-8605

Believe the hype. This artisanal seafood place has a Latin bent and a small, focused menu so that every element is carefully considered. Don’t miss the “Sharkcuterie” board — cutesy name aside, it’s fresher fish than we have a right to expect so far inland and perfectly complemented by toasted bread, sliced leeks, and pickled shallots. The menu rotates with the availability of product and the seasons of the year so that only the freshest seafood makes it to your plate.

 

Pho

Readers’ Choice: Pho District DFW, 2401 W 7th St, 817-862-9988

Critic’s Choice: Four Sisters — A Taste of Vietnam, 1001 S Main St, 682-385-9353

This South Main eatery has been rightly celebrated for its rice and seafood entrees, but don’t sleep on the place’s beef pho either, with broth that has been simmered for 18 hours and includes filet, brisket, and those meatballs with the particularly bouncy texture that the Vietnamese like so much. This traditional restaurant makes sure to do the basics crushingly right.

 

Pizza

Readers’ Top 5: Black Cat Pizza, 401 Bryan Av, Ste 109, 817-489-5150 • Cane Rosso, 815 W Magnolia Av, 817-922-9222 • Hysen’s Nizza Pizza, 401 University Dr, 817-877-3900 • iFratelli, 1907 8th Av, 817-927-7779 • Zoli’s Pizza, 3501 Hulen St, 817-402-0050

Critic’s Choice: Serious Pizza, 2728 W 7th St, 682-348-2482

The thing about this place’s gimmick — a 30-inch pizza — is that … it’s actually good. Beyond good. It’s great. It’s “Best Of.” In true New York style, Serious’ pie offers a melange of sauce and melted cheese on perfectly foldable dough with just a little bit of crust, all cooked to perfection. No bubbles, no burned bits, no lack of sauce. Speaking as someone who lived in New York City for several years, Weekly Editor Anthony Mariani claims Serious is as close to the Big Apple as you can get without hopping on a plane.

 

Poke

Readers’ Choice: Poke-Poke, 1515 W Magnolia Av, 682-707-9519

Critic’s Choice: Poke Stop, 8605 N Beach St, 817-741-9611

While there are certainly more poke options than, say, five years ago, there still isn’t a lot. Good thing Poke Stop is still going strong, serving up all kinds of Japanese delights — from sushi to ramen — but specializing in poke bowls. The Stop’s signature dish, the Spicy Ahi, is a blend of spicy tuna mix, avocado, seaweed salad, krab mix, furikake, masago, scallion, fried onion, and nori, with spicy mayo and eel sauce served on sushi rice. Another personal favorite is the Atlantis (spicy salmon mix, mango, cucumber, jalapeño, tomato, cilantro, white sesame seeds, tempura flakes, and Hawaiian sea salt, with house chili, ponzu, and sesame oil served on sushi rice). For a little of both, try the Godzilla Roll: spicy tuna, salmon, crab, and cream cheese.

 

Queso

Readers’ Choice: Torchy’s Tacos, 928 Northton St, 817-289-8226

Critic’s Choice: Eagle’s Point Bar & Grill, 1029 N Saginaw Blvd, Saginaw, 817-349-9387

Almost every appetizer on Eagle’s Point’s menu includes some form of cheese, which is nothing to complain about. Listed first is the Hot Mess. When the queso is brought out, you can’t even see the toppings it contains, only large lumps hidden beneath hot homemade queso. The first flavor to jump out after stirring the creation is a mix of sour cream and beans. The taste is reminiscent of a hot version of a five-layer dip. Next, your chip unearths tender taco meat, fresh guacamole, and traces of pico de gallo. It’s a queso candy bowl. The hot and crispy chips are thin yet strong enough to hold each chunky scoop. If you’re not careful, you could get plenty full on the Hot Mess alone.

 

Ramen

Readers’ Choice: Hanabi Ramen, 3204 Camp Bowie Blvd, 817-420-6703

Critic’s Choice: Kintaro Ramen, 101 E Abram St, Ste 130, Arl, 817-538-5344

UTA folks can fuel up at midday at this place before heading back to class. The kitchen makes chicken broth that’s as silky and luxurious as other ramen shops’ pork broth. That alone would recommend Kintaro, but they also offer fried delicacies like black tiger shrimp and karaage, which is like the better version of chicken nuggets.

 

Restaurant

Readers’ Top 5: The Bearded Lady, 300 S Main St, 817-349-9832 • Lili’s Bistro, 1310 W Magnolia Av, 817-877-0700 • Reata Restaurant, 310 Houston St, 817-336-1009 • Wabi House, 1229 8th Av, Ste 227, 817-720-3099 • Wishbone & Flynt, 334 Bryan Av, 817-945-2433

Critic’s Choice: La Onda, 2905 Race St,

817-607-8605

The handiwork of the celebrated husband-and-wife team of Chef Victor Villarreal and wife Misty Villarreal, a standout mixologist, La Onda is the kind of place Fort Worth’s been waiting for: progressive, sustainable, elegant, and capable of drawing foodies from all over the state and beyond. With all due respect to Saint-Emilion, the gold standard for white tablecloth dining in town, La Onda is a bit more approachable, which may have something to do with its location, on Race Street, an unpretentious, decidedly arty strip on the North Side. What puts La Onda over the top is its cocktail menu, which is just as forward-thinking as the Latin-inspired food coming out of the kitchen.

 

Salsa

Readers’ Choice: Blended Family Foods, @BlendedFamilyFoods, 817-901-3144

Critic’s Choice: Taqueria San Andres, 961 W Magnolia St, 682-250-3542

Don’t be fooled by the trendy neighborhood, this taco emporium is about as barebones as they come. Who cares when they’re putting out plates of chips with salsa verde that sports such an unusually hot kick? The red salsa comes in squeeze bottles and is no less fascinating, with its notes of smoke underlying its satisfying heat. You’ll be wanting to take home your own bottles of the stuff when you’re paying up at this no-frills place.

 

Seafood

Readers’ Choice: Waters Restaurant, 301 Main St, 817-984-1110

Critic’s Choice: La Onda, 2905 Race St,

817-607-8605

Named after an avant-garde art movement that grew out of the 1960s counterculture in Mexico, La Onda is just as much the chef’s mission statement as it is a name. Newly opened in July, this Latin-inspired seafood eatery blends progressive technique with traditional comfort. The entire bill of fare represents the kind of cuisine locals rave about when they travel abroad to the world’s foremost food cities. The small menu requires a certain level of trust that the chef knows his food better than you. The ingredients are sourced from the same purveyors that supply some of the best-known, pedigreed restaurants in the state. La Onda is the only place in Fort Worth you can sample escargot caviar, for example. The kitchen serves a sublimely fresh ceviche of the week, a selection of often-hard-to-obtain oysters, and a rotating choice of dry-aged fish. Most of the seafood is wild-caught.

 

Soul Food

Readers’ Choice: Drew’s Place, 5701 Curzon Av, 817-242-4454

Critic’s Choice: Lady & The Pit, 5301 E Lancaster Av, 682-301-1888

It’s out in Meadowbrook, but it’s well worth the short drive from town. Now running out of a former Taco Bell or Taco Casa or something, Lady & The Pit serves up contemporized soul food that’s as big on flavor as you’ve always known it. Mouthwatering pulled pork, succulent chicken, toothsome meatloaf, beef tips, rice, collard greens, and so much more await at this soon-to-be institution, and the price is right. Get there early because the lines to get into the smallish space start forming seemingly overnight.

 

Steak

Readers’ Choice: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, 812 Main St, 817-877-3999

Critic’s Choice: Wicked Butcher, The Sinclair Hotel, 512 Main St, 817-601-4621

Steakhouse dining doesn’t get much tastier or finer than here. With steaks ranging from filet mignon and bone-in New York strip to a porterhouse ($145) and a massive, mouthwatering Tomahawk (gonna run ya $160), Wicked Butcher is ideal for either a business deal or hot date. Of all seven of the sauce options, the lobster butter can’t be beat. There’s more than steaks, of course. Wicked Butcher also serves up craft cocktails and chops, poultry, and game along with seafood, including freshly shucked oysters.

 

Street Tacos

Readers’ Top 5: Fuel City, 1715 Haltom Rd, Haltom City, 817-484-0712 • Mariachi’s Dine-In, 5724 Locke Av, 682-760-9606 • Salsa Limon, 5012 White Settlement Rd, 682-312-5744 • Taco Heads, 1812 Montgomery St, 817-615-9899 • Tacos Oasis, 623 E Enon Av, 817-470-2137

Critic’s Choice: Tacos La Banqueta, 2612 Hemphill St, 817-923-8846

No matter the filling, Tacos La Banqueta’s street tacos are el mejor. Savory, spicy, and made with fresh meats and veggies, they’re inexpensive and the perfect size for trying different combos. A quartet composed of pastor, chorizo, bistec, and suadero is a great start, and a taco de nopales is also a tasty move.

No matter the filling, Tacos La Banqueta’s street tacos are el mejor. Savory, spicy, and made with fresh meats and veggies, they’re inexpensive and the perfect size for trying different combos.
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Sushi

Readers’ Top 5: Blue Sushi Saki Grill, 3131 W 7th St, 817-332-2583 • Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar, 907 Foch St, 817-720-5330 • Little Lilly Sushi, 6100 Camp Bowie Blvd, Ste 12, 817-989-8886 • Sushi Axiom, 2600 W 7th St, Ste 171, 817-877-3331 • Tokyo Cafe, 5121 Pershing Av, 817-737-8568

Critic’s Choice: Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar

In an unassuming nook on the eastern edge of Foch Street is one of the most sublime dining experiences Fort Worth has to offer. Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar serves impeccably handcrafted sushi rolls like the uni or red crab roll and rotating cuts of sashimi splendor. If you’re looking for something nontraditional, try the handrolls. Conical or cylindrical seaweed casings hold sushi-grade rice and your choice of sashimi, caviar, or other nuanced and flavorful fillings. Each handroll is about the size of an uncut sushi roll, and the crisp, salty outer shell and soft and mild rice and fish make for magic in your mouth.

In an unassuming nook on the eastern edge of Foch Street is one of the most sublime dining experiences Fort Worth has to offer. Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar serves impeccably handcrafted sushi rolls like the uni or red crab roll and rotating cuts of sashimi splendor.
Photo by Velton Hayworth

Tamales

Readers’ Choice: Tommy Tamales, 1689 W Northwest Hwy, Grapevine, 817-360-6385

Critic’s Choice: Reata, 310 Houston St, 817-336-1009

Picking the best traditional tamale in Fort Worth would require a decade to properly debate, so we’re taking the easy way and singling out the ones at Reata. They are pricey, and they are not wrapped in foil and served out of an Igloo cooler at your favorite bar. But the juicy, savory tenderloin paired with buttery pecan mash make these tamales a memorable, must-have Fort Worth meal.

 

Tex-Mex Food

Readers’ Choice: Mercado Juarez Cafe, 1651 E Northside Dr, 817-838-8285

Critic’s Choice: Maria’s Mexican Kitchen, 1712 S University Dr, 817-916-0550

Located in the old Hoffbrau near TCU, Maria’s is Mexican fine dining at its best. Even better, the service is top-notch. It’s almost as good as the upscale Mexican fare, especially the mole. Maria’s version is about as good as you’re gonna find this far north of San Antonio. More savory than bitter, and completely bereft of the cigarette-y aftertaste that accompanies some lesser moles, Maria’s — served atop oh-so-tender roasted chicken, mole poblano, and toasted sesame seeds — is just one reason to visit. And make your reservations beforehand. The place gets packed quickly.

 

Thai Food

Readers’ Choice: Spice, 411 W Magnolia Av, 817-984-1800

Critic’s Choice: Zaap Kitchen, 1621 River Run, 682-255-5752

Yes, yes, this is a Laotian restaurant, but the Thai entries on their menu are good and plentiful enough for us to put this TCU hangout in this category. The place is open late and priced cheaply enough for students to afford, and the notes of lemongrass and spice will sate anyone who’s in the mood for papaya salad, larb gai, and drunken noodles. Don’t overlook the Lao options like the chicken soup and iced coffee, either.

 

Vegan Dish

Readers’ Choice: jackfruit birria, Mariachi’s Dine-In, 5724 Locke Av, 682-760-9606

Critic’s Choice: Texas Hot Chik’n, Spiral Diner & Bakery, 1314 W Magnolia Av, 817-332-8834

Not only is Spiral’s Texas Hot “Chicken” sandwich the best vegan dish out there, but it’s maybe the best sandwich we’ve had in a long time. Don’t know about the calorie or fat content and, frankly, don’t care. Tossed in a blend of subtle barbecue and Buffalo sauces and served on a buttered sesame-seed bun with lettuce (some), pickles, and mayonnaise, the crispily breaded Chik’n strips simply melt in your mouth while stuffing it aggressively with savoriness. Little tip: Tell Spiral to hold the obligatory side of chips and instead order (and pay extra for) a cup of the scrumptious pasta salad. A bite of that and a bite of the Texas Hot at the same time? *chef’s kiss*

 

Vegan / Vegetarian Food

Readers’ Choice: Spiral Diner & Bakery, 1314 W Magnolia Av, 817-332-8834

Critic’s Choice: Mariachi’s Dine-In, 5724 Locke Av, 682-760-9606

This is not a case of “How dare some restaurant challenge King Spiral” but “Why aren’t there more options for vegans and even vegetarians?” In a world full of meat lovers, a.k.a. Cowtown, Mariachi’s has devoted at least half of its kitchen to vegan offerings. And not just any vegan items but scrumptious ones that would turn on just about any Spiral Diner regular. Asada vegano burritos, chorizo vegano salad, hickory Chik’n vegano street tacos, pastor vegano torta, Impossible burgers — they’re all outstandingly flavorful and served with love. Mariachi’s may make a vegan lover out of you yet.

 

Vietnamese Food

Readers’ Choice: Four Sisters — A Taste of Vietnam, 1001 S Main St, 682-385-9353

Critic’s Choice: Noodles @ Boba Tea House, 7355 N Beach St, 817-234-9996

We’re spoiled for choice with Vietnamese restaurants in our city. This near-Keller hangout makes many different kinds of pho, but as its name indicates, it also comes through with noodle dishes like the dry, transparent crystal kind served with soy dressing in the bottom and clear broth on the side. A plethora of boba teas, coffee drinks, and smoothies will round out your meal.

 

Waitstaff

Readers’ Choice: Scott Berkman, Ellerbe Fine Foods, 1501 W Magnolia Av, 817-926-3663

Critic’s Choice: Waters Restaurant, 301 Main St, 817-984-1110

There’s never a time when Jon Bonnell doesn’t deserve praise, so in a world full of overworked waiters, servers, and line cooks, we’ll happily go with the team at the celebrity chef’s downtown seafood destination. Not only are the waiters and servers polite and prompt, they’re also well versed in the menu, which comes in handy when members of your party may have food allergies or certain dietary preferences. Wine director Candice Miller is also a pure delight.

 

Wings

Readers’ Choice: Buffalo Bros, 415 Throckmorton St, 817-887-9533

Critic’s Choice: Mighty Chick Hot Chicken, 8247 Rufe Snow Dr, Ste 500, Watauga, 817-720-9573

This sports bar offers as close to authentic Korean fried chicken as we have in this county. That’s recommendation enough in itself, but the wings themselves are enormous. The place offers seven different flavors of them — the Sweet N Spicy might be just as good as the Korean ones — and seasonal craft beers to wash them down while you watch the big game.

Read about our winners by going to the Best Of Getting & SpendingPeople & PlacesArts & CultureGood Grub, and On The Town section articles on FWWeekly.com. To see the Best Of 2021 special edition in a flipbook, page-by-page format, click here.

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