The restaurant scene in Fort Worth continues to boom, with numerous spots opening in and around downtown. But the activity doesn't stop there. Towns surrounding Fort Worth are enjoying boom times too.
We've covered most of the ones in town, but we didn't want to overlook Fort Worth's beloved suburbs. For our opening list of where to eat, it's all about the 'burbs.
There have not been a lot of firsts in Southlake's restaurant scene, but here's one: The city is the first in Texas to land a location of Cinnaholic, a gourmet cinnamon roll bakery featured last year on the hit TV show Shark Tank. Basically, you build your own cinnamon roll, choosing from more than 30 frosting flavors, such as butter pecan and Key lime, and more than 20 toppings, from strawberry jam to cookie dough. The rolls and ingredients are lactose-free, cholesterol-free, and dairy-free, meaning Cinnaholic is also vegan.
Chef Blythe's Southern Bistro
Chef Blythe Bridges is a Fort Worth-raised newcomer who recently opened her first restaurant — not in Fort Worth, as one might expect, but in a North Richland Hills strip mall. She specializes in made-from-scratch Southern classics like chicken fried steak and fried green tomatoes. She also does daily specials such as meat loaf, goulash, red beans with cornbread, and chicken spaghetti, and she makes a mean burger. There's a long list of specialty cocktails, with happy hour prices during the day.
Jambo's Barbeque Shack
The original Jambo's in Rendon was opened two years ago by competitive barbecuer and pit manufacturer Jamie Geer. It has since been taken over by husband-wife duo Paul and Ashton Lovato, who recently opened this second location in Arlington. Locals have gone nuts for the place; it's normal for Jambo's to go through 200 pounds of brisket in a day. The restaurant's specialty is the Jambo Texan, an insanely huge sandwich — stacked high with chopped brisket, a link of pork sausage, pulled pork, a thick slice of bologna, and two pork ribs — that takes two to tackle.
House of Pho
The popular Vietnamese noodle soup comes to the south Fort Worth 'burb of Burleson, to the Gateway Station shopping center, where it's the lone independent restaurant among a dozen or so chains. Owner Kenny Nguyen offers 11 variations of pho, with ingredients ranging from meatballs and steak to the less common tendon. There's also vermicelli bowls, a handful of Thai staples, stir fry dishes, and smoothies with imaginative combinations such as avocado-coconut.
Hickory Tree Grill
Also new in Burleson is this upscale bar-food joint, which opened last month in the space once occupied by Hideout Burgers. Mother-son duo Ginger Eccles and Barry Hodges, who also run the nearby Stone Soup Café, did a nice job with the makeover, adding a landscaped patio and attractive, rustic décor. There are steaks, burgers, and fajitas, but tacos are the real draw. They're of the cheffy, Velvet Taco-like variety. Among the dozen options is a crawfish boil taco, stuffed with crawfish tails, fried potatoes, and andouille sausage. Other taco fillings include venison, pulled pork, and beer-battered fish.
Las Brasas Rotisserie & Grill
This cheery Peruvian restaurant in Arlington comes from first-time restaurant-owner Julio Chacon, a native of Peru who runs the place with his family. The house specialty is rotisserie chicken, served by the quarter, half, or whole, with the skin-on and moist, flavorful chicken underneath. In addition to lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers Sunday brunch, with items such as beef empanadas and a fried pork belly sandwich. Be sure to try the housemade chicha morada, a sweet juice made with purple corn.
RA Sushi is a national chain with three North Texas locations: Addison, Plano, and now Southlake. What makes it different from other sushi restaurants is the enormity of its menu. It's eight pages and includes 21 appetizers, plus dozens of rolls. There are simple, classic rolls along with more designer-y rolls, drizzled with sweet sauces and topped with guaranteed pleasers such as mango and lobster.
Rosako's Soul Food & BBQ
New in Bedford, this no-frills soul food spot serves gargantuan portions of pork chops, hot links, and rib tips for moderate prices. Vegetarians will dig all the no-meat sides, big enough for a meal: candied yams, fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese among them. Owner Bailey Rosako touts a number of unique dishes, too, like a sriracha-breaded chicken sandwich that you may need help to hold, and the "Thanksgiving 365": a waffle made of bread stuffing, topped with pulled turkey, and doused in brown gravy. We'll take two of those.
Texas Bleu Steak House & Cellar
Keller's restaurant scene continues to grow, and now it has fine dining, courtesy of Houston-born chef Erin Miller. Nearly every seat affords a view of the open kitchen, where you can watch Miller put out beautifully presented plates of Angus steak and fresh seafood. Many will recognize roaming sommelier Cef Zambrano, last seen in Fort Worth at his self-named downtown wine bar, now closed, and, before that, at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House.
Un Rincón de México
This Southlake taqueria is unlike most. Owner Donald DeBastiani's modest taco joint features tacos and tortas with housemade salsas but also something you wouldn't normally find at a taqueria: brick-oven pizza. DeBastiani took advanatge of the oven left behind by the restaurant's previous tenant, pizza and wine bar Apeizze e Vino, and is making pizzas with Mexican toppings such as chorizo, pico de gallo, and pork asado.