No matter which direction you look, you can find restaurants opening all around Fort Worth. That means the suburbs, too, where new dining options are opening fast and furious.
For this chapter of Where to Eat, we look outside the loop, for the best new restaurants in the 'burbs.
Andy's Frozen Custard
Cool-treats chain from Missouri opens its first Tarrant location in Grapevine, in a new retro-style building at 1135 William Tate Ave. Custard comes in two flavors, chocolate or vanilla. Trick it out yourself with toppings like strawberries, cherries, nuts, and sauces. Or have it in a specialty sundae or concrete, like a James Brownie Funky Jackhammer, constructed of vanilla custard, hot fudge, and chocolate brownies. Andy's also serves malts, shakes, and frozen custard bars. The chain has stores in Carrollton, Frisco and The Colony; more are coming to North Richland Hills and Fort Worth.
Head for Burleson to find this seafood restaurant at 1505 SW Wilshire Blvd. that's part of a chain based in East Texas. The Catch is reminiscent of Zeke's, J&J's Oyster Bar, and other places for which seafood generally means "fried fish." Not the healthiest stuff to eat, but it certainly fills a niche after the closing of J&J's Burleson location. The catfish has a light cornmeal batter, easy on the hands and stomach, as it's not greasy or super heavy. Circular hush-puppies, crisp and crunchy outside and warm and moist inside, are as good as they get.
El Tejas Mexican Restaurant
In North Richland Hills, this Mexican restaurant in the old Our Place space at 7630 NE Loop 820 is open morning, noon, and night — a rarity these days. Breakfast consists of both American and Mexican dishes, from pancakes and sausage and biscuits to chilaquiles and migas. Lunch and dinner options include obligatory enchiladas and fajitas, along with a few surprises, like the molcajete, a ginormous serving of pork tenderloin, steak, sausage, and chicken fajita meat, all plunged into a sizzling stone molcajete bowl.
A strip mall in Arlington at 3701 S. Cooper St., just north of The Parks mall, has become a hub for ethnic cuisine. There you'll find Ahi Poke Bowl, Tarrant's first poke restaurant; El Mofongo, a new Caribbean spot; the long-running Thai House Restaurant; and now Halal Grill, a family-run restaurant specializing in Indian and Pakistani food. A must-try is the aloo gobi, an Indian dish made with potatoes, cauliflower, and turmeric, and you can smell the fragrant chicken biryani coming before it hits your table. Baked on site, thick and buttery naan bread is worth the short wait.
Havana Bar & Grill
Speaking of Arlington's ethnic row, next door to Halal is another new restaurant, this one specializing in the trending-up Cuban cuisine. The menu from chef Miguel Mendez is comprised of dishes large and small: from tapas such as empanadas and chorizo with onions and peppers, to show-stopping entrées including a mammoth paella filled with mussels, shrimp, lobster, and scallops. Good times are coming — it just got its liquor license and is hosting salsa nights on Thursdays.
Jamaican Summers Eatery
It's back to south of Fort Worth for Burleson's first taste of Jamaican cuisine with this three-week-old festive spot, situated in a vintage home at 217 Renfro St., where coffeehouse Dwell used to be. Outlined in a picket fence painted red, green, and gold, this restaurant from Jamaica native Richard Stirling features staples of his homeland cuisine: super-spicy jerk chicken, oxtails, curry goat, and rice and peas, all made in-house. Be sure to try a sorrel, a refreshing drink made with hibiscus, cinnamon, and ginger.
Founded by Mariel Street, whose father Gene is behind Good Eats, Black-eyed Pea, and other staples of North Texas’ restaurant scene, this Dallas burger-and-shake chain takes its first step into Tarrant County, with a branch in far north Fort Worth, near Keller, at 8917 N. Freeway. It's similar to Hopdoddy: Burgers are of the gourmet variety, with toppings like arugula and bella mushrooms, and shakes come in cool flavors like Orange Julius and Nutella and graham cracker. Those opposed to beef burgers will find plenty of alternatives, like an ahi tuna burger and kale salad.
Grapevine scores with a second branch of this acclaimed Mexican restaurant from Olga and Raul Reyes. As with the Oak Cliff original, the menu at the Grapevine location focuses on dishes from the Veracruz region of Mexico, in addition to items such as mole with chicken leg and cochinita pibil. For Grapevine, standard Mexican dishes like tacos and fajitas have been added, and there's also a special menu of tequila drinks. The food isn't the only thing done by hand here; the breathtaking metal sculptures and woodwork were built mostly by Raul.
Make one more trip to Arlington to 620 W. Park Row for this new fast-casual concept in which pasta is the star dish. Like Chipotle, you choose a pasta, then customize it with toppings and sauce. There are 15 pasta options, offered in every shape, from elbow macaroni to bowtie to cheese ravioli, priced from $2 to $4. Follow that with one of 15 sauces ($2 to $4) such as alfredo, marinara, or lemon butter, and meats and veggies for $2 to $5 each. Flavor bites like olives or Parmesan are 25 to 75 cents each. They deliver the food to your table — too bad it's all disposable plastic.
Seven Mile Cafe
Keller lands the third location of this locally owned mini-chain at 100 W. Vine St., where you can eat healthy or decidedly not. Breakfast selections include smoothies and fruit bowls with almond milk; as well as chicken and waffles; biscuits and gravy; and S'moreo pancakes topped with Oreo cookies, marshmallow, graham crackers, and whipped cream. You can also play it healthy or risky at lunch, with burgers made with beef or black beans, sandwiches stuffed with grilled cheese and/or avocados, or soups and salads.