We've reached the finish line for the 2016 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, where we toast the best of local food and drink. For our final category, we've saved the best for last: the restaurants themselves. These eight restaurants have risen above with their synchronous combination of food, service, and ambience.
Here are our candidates for Fort Worth Restaurant of the Year:
Cannon Chinese Kitchen
From its location in a 1935 converted home to its novel approach to Chinese food, Cannon is a delight. The menu features many traditional Chinese restaurant dishes, but executed with an emphasis on the freshest ingredients prepared from scratch. How often do you find tofu with fava bean paste, or a panna cotta dessert topped with meringue, at a Chinese restaurant?
This is a relaxing eatery offering house-made, locally sourced classic American fare. That isn't just a slogan. They strive to make everything in-house, from breads and ice creams to butchered meat and fish to charcuterie. The menu is concise and constantly refreshed, with steaks, shared starters, and a house-made pasta preparation that changes every night.
Ellerbe Fine Foods
The charming and stylish restaurant serving Southern cuisine in a former gas station has become one of Fort Worth's best culinary treasures. With dishes such as grilled chicken with summer succotash, chef-owner Molly McCook offers an experience that is both seasonal and highly personal.
Dain "Adam" Jones was an urban trailblazer when he opened Grace, named for his wife, Caroline Grace, in downtown Fort Worth in 2008. The restaurant provides a showcase for chef Blaine Staniford, who does a modern take on American classics, with prime steaks and creative New American fare paired with fine wines in elegant, contemporary decor.
Located in the Cultural District, Le Cep exemplifies the true essence of Parisian contemporary fine dining. Sandra Avila does the cooking, while her husband David oversees the wine list and front of the house. You have a choice of a four- or eight-course experience, which changes monthly, but it's always seasonal, thoughtfully conceived, and well-executed. A real gem.
Revolver Taco Lounge
Taqueria from owner Regina Rojas stands out in that it is both authentic and chef-driven. Menu features tacos and Mexican dishes made from scratch, with fresh tortillas to accompany every order. One of the restaurant's best features is its unlimited taco buffet, which includes several guisada dishes, homemade tortillas, café de hoya, and agua frescas.
Chef Lanny Lancarte is right on trend with this healthy concept focused on responsible sourcing, whole grains, and nutritious foods. But he makes it more than virtuous: Dishes such as farro risotto with shiitake mushrooms, charred cauliflower, and a soft poached egg are not only good for you but good. Thoughtfully open from breakfast through dinner, Righteous is casual, bright, and cheerful, a congenial place to get a meal, juices, and coffee from renowned Stumptown, of Portland, Oregon.
This izakaya-style restaurant in the Near Southside of Fort Worth on Magnolia Avenue is named for the world's busiest train stop, Shinjuku Station, in Tokyo. Menu features small plates, perfect for sharing, such as pork buns, tempura veggies, dumplings, and sushi. The bar boasts not only an extensive sake list, but also craft cocktails such as the Smoked Dog with grapefruit juice, vodka, ginger, and smoked salt.