It’s been five years since the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival debuted, showcasing the city’s culinary talent in a multiday feeding frenzy. This year's marathon-eating affair, taking place April 5-8, has grown to include six signature events along with several more exclusive, pre-festival dinners at participating restaurants.
Here’s what to know about the 2018 smorgasbord, the proceeds of which go toward local grant programs and culinary scholarships. Note that if you don't have tickets yet, don't delay. Tickets to the new Tacos + Tequila event on Thursday are sold out, as are tickets to Burgers, Brews & Blues. Weekend passes are still available.
Pre-festival dinners on Thursday, April 5
Pre-Fest Dinner at Mac’s on Main
Snag one of just 20 seats at this five-course dinner in historic downtown Grapevine, where chef and owner Rena Frost will serve a spring menu paired with Wente wines. Courses include corn chowder, roasted beet and arugula salad, Chilean sea bass with citrus beurre blanc, short ribs with smoked gouda grits and garden carrots, and dark chocolate mousse with ice cream and berries. The $125 per-person price includes wine pairings, tax, and gratuity. A cocktail reception starts at 6:30 pm with dinner to follow at 7 pm.
Amici Wine Dinner at Grace
Texas native John Harris, owner of Amici Cellars, will be on hand to discuss his Napa Valley wines, which will be paired with Blaine Staniford’s five-course dinner. Menu highlights include Hawaiian sweet prawn ceviche, crispy pork jowls, strip steak with fingerling potato tostones and black trumpet mushrooms, and raspberry pavlova. The $160 per-person price does not include tax or gratuity. A welcome reception with rosé begins at 6:30 pm, with dinner to follow at 7 pm.
Crawfish Boil at Waters Restaurant
It’s a patio party at the Sundance Square restaurant, where Waters’ chef and owner Jon Bonnell (who’s spent plenty of time in New Orleans) will host a crawfish boil and Cajun buffet big enough for Mardi Gras. The $65 ticket includes “most” drinks, but tax and gratuity are not included. The come-and-go event will run from 5-8 pm. Call 817-984-1110 for reservations.
The Classic at Roanoke Wine Dinner
Tenured Roanoke chef Charles Youts will serve a four-course dinner paired with international wines to just 20 lucky patrons. Arrive early for passed canapés starting at 6 pm. Reservations are $125 per person. To make reservations, call 817-430-8185.
“A Tip of the Hat to Texas Cuisine” at Reata Restaurant — sold out
This event, arguably the most exclusive of the weekend, will feature 10 culinary "rock stars," including legendary cowboy chef Tom Perini and former Reata chefs like Tom Love and Grady Spears. All 150 of the $140-seats have been taken.
Thursday, April 5
Tacos + Tequila — sold out
The festival official begins with the inaugural taco event, tagline: "En Fuego in Funkytown." Of all the tacos and tequila drinks in Fort Worth, just eight top chefs and eight vendors will roll out their best. It takes place 8:30-11 pm at BRIK Venue.
Friday, April 6
The Main Event
Perhaps the most indulgent festival event, the Friday night affair at the Pier 1 Imports Building will feature more than 100 wines, craft beers, and spirits along with hefty bites from dozens of the best chefs in North Texas. All of Fort Worth’s culinary superstars will be present, along with such newbies as B&B Butchers & Restaurant, Malai Kitchen, and Fixe Southern House. (But don’t miss McKinney standout Robert Lyford of Patina Green Home and Market, a festival regular.) Tickets are $125 per person and the event runs from 6-9 pm.
Desserts After Dark
Guests will vote for their favorite sweet somethings from 12 pastry chefs and 12 mixologists, each of whom will incorporate whiskey from Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. in their creations. The event will take place at Whiskey Ranch, where a DJ will mix tunes to keep the party going from 9-11 pm. New participants this year include Loft 22 Cakes, Joy Macarons, and Ampersand coffee and cocktail bar. Tickets are $60 and are going fast.
Saturday, April 7
Rise + Dine
Cure any hangover with brunch favorites at this mid-morning event, which will take place back at the Pier 1 Imports Building from 11:30 am-1:30 pm. The $65 per-person ticket includes beer, wine, and Bloody Mary and mimosa bars. There'll be dish from more than 20 restaurants and chefs, including Cane Rosso, Max’s Wine Dive, and Paco’s Mexican Cuisine. Don’t miss Fixture chef Ben Merritt, who will serve biscuits from his upcoming new concept, Ben’s Triple B.
Burgers, Blues + Blues — sold out
There’s a good chance this Saturday night sunset soiree will be the next to sell out, just as it has every year since the festival’s inception. (As of April 2, there were 28 tickets left.) Taking place at the Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork, the burger battle will feature 13 chefs along with Texas craft beer and live music on the main stage. New participants include Stockyards standout Hookers Grill and Deep Ellum dive Easy Slider, who’ll join festival veterans Rodeo Goat and Fred’s Texas Café. Tickets are $70 per person, and the event will run from 6-9 pm.
Sunday, April 8
Sundays are for barbecue, and this year the festival has added a new event that will feature some of Texas’ best. The mid-afternoon shindig will take place at the Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork, where Texas barbecue gurus — including Barrett Black of Black’s BBQ and John Sanford of BBQ on the Brazos — will share their smoked best to be paired with Texas beers, wines, and spirits. Tickets are $65 per person, and the ‘cue will be served from 2-4 pm.