The 2018 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink, spotlights a gallery of nominees for Fort Worth's best bars, best restaurants, and best chefs.
In each category, we've compiled the best of 2018. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges that consists of former winners and restaurant industry insiders.
For the category of Best New Restaurant, you get to decide — via our Tastemaker tournament, a bracket-style competition powered by Whole Foods Market.
In the tournament, 8 new restaurants go head to head. You can vote once a day for your favorite. It will go three rounds, at which time two finalists emerge.
We'll announce the winner at our party on April 19 at Sixty Five Hundred in Dallas, with tastings of food and drink. Tickets are on sale for $55, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Bonton Farms.
To vote, click here. The first bracket ends on April 11, and the entire voting ends on April 17.
Here are the nominees:
B&B Butchers & Restaurant
Steakhouse-butcher shop combo open at the Shops at Clearfork is a spinoff from Houston. Selections of meat and dishes are unique. B&B is one of nine U.S. members of the Kobe Beef Association in Japan, allowing them to offer authentic, certified A5 Kobe Beef. They also have three additional kinds of beef as well as 22 coveted cuts: Japanese Wagyu, Texas Wagyu, and USDA Prime. Unique dishes include a thick-cut bacon appetizer topped with blue cheese; and miniature beef Wellington.
Craft & Vine Taproom and Eatery
This is a deliberately different taproom and eatery featuring wine and beer on tap and a menu that uses local ingredients whenever possible. There are flatbreads, charcuterie, fried green tomatoes, blackened catfish, chicken and waffles, and smoked wings. And in good news for Roanoke beer drinkers, there are also growlers to go. Late-night hours are a bonus, as is the Sunday brunch, with "dim sum"-style small plates.
Progressive Southern restaurant is an import from Austin, from Keith House and James Robert, beloved for its innovative takes on nostalgic dishes such as shrimp and grits, biscuits, and fried chicken. Fried catfish, for example, comes with smoked uni tartar. This location at the Shops at Clearfork was designed by Nelsen Partners to evoke the feeling of entering a home in rural Louisiana, with an open kitchen, patio, and wine room.
Popular Turkish restaurant in Sundance Square is a spinoff of the original from Arlington, serving dishes such as hummus, falafel, lentil soup, stuffed cabbage, and lamb shank. The menu is a little smaller, the atmosphere is more fancy, and they serve liquor here rather than the BYOB format of the Arlington location. There's a good lunch special — $12.95 for an appetizer and entree, plus warm pita bread — for the downtown worker crew.
Loveria is a combination café, wine bar, and lounge with art, fashion, Italian books, and newspapers. It also includes a shop with food products such as pasta, olive oil, coffee, sweets, kitchen items, and design objects. The menu features Italian espresso, teas, cakes, cocktails, and Italian products. Chef Michele Ragazzini is a native of the Emilia‐Romagna region in Italy who grew up surrounded by food and cooking.
Husband and wife Braden and Yasmin Wages serve an exciting, gourmet-fusion rendition of Thai and Vietnamese food. Their menu extends from classics such as pad Thai to an appetizer of Vietnamese meatballs made with pork, green onion, and caramel. Daily specials might include wok-charred rice noodles, which features a contrast of a smoky flavor against a sweet and spicy chili-soy broth. Malai also brews its own in-house line of beers, with distinctive options such as a Vietnamese coffee stout.
Third branch of authentic Mexican restaurant from El Fenix owner Mike Karns is the first in Tarrant County and follows the lead of the two locations in Dallas. Chef Nico Sanchez pulls from regions in Central and Southern Mexico, including Yucatan, Vera Cruz, and Chiapas. Specialties include cochinita pibil and chicken with mole. Unusual cocktails include a margarita with avocado and pineapple. Location sits in the old Kress Building, built in 1936 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Rise No. 3
Souffles arrive in Fort Worth thanks to Rise, the Dallas-based mini chain launched by Hedda Gioia Dowd and her partner-chef Cherif Brahmi. Located at the Shops at Clearfork, it has the same French menu and darling atmosphere as the original, which opened 10 years ago in Dallas' upscale Inwood Village. Their extensive selection of souffles ranges from savory options such as cauliflower and Brie, to sweet such as chocolate and Grand Marnier. The menu also includes French classics such as salad Niçoise and French onion soup.