Fort Worth Tastemakers 2018
Tastemaker Awards

The 10 best restaurants in Fort Worth set a deliciously high standard

The 10 best restaurants in Fort Worth set a deliciously high standard

Cannon Chinese Kitchen
It's time to toast the best restaurants in Fort Worth. Photo courtesy of Cannon Chinese Kitchen

We're days away from the 2018 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink. It includes awards to top chefs and restaurants, culminating in a grand event featuring sips and bites from participating nominees, as well as our partners, Woodford Reserve and Whole Foods Market.

We've elected nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best chefs to best bars to best new restaurants, where you get to vote for the winner.

Now at last, we've arrived at the category of best restaurant — the perennial that pleases and represents Fort Worth at its best.

We'll toast them at a party on April 19 from 7-10 pm at Sixty Five Hundred in Dallas, with tastings and awards. Tickets are on sale now.

Here are our nominees for Fort Worth's best restaurant of the year:

Bird Cafe
Fort Worth gastropub has a similar menu as Meddlesome Moth, its cousin in Dallas' Design District, including the signature ricotta cheese "moth balls," fish and chips, and meaty pot pies. Beer selection is broad, as is the case at every Shannon Wynne-owned restaurant. It also boasts a bird theme, a Wynne trademark. Spacious patio overlooks beautifully renovated Sundance Square.

Cannon Chinese Kitchen
The same local families behind Tokyo Cafe and Shinjuku Station set their sights on traditional Chinese-inspired dishes, with dazzling results. The must-get mapu tofu teams squares of silken tofu with ground pork. Chinese pork ribs, marinated in a bright red beet and honey sauce, are another delight. Brightly decorated with strikingly colorful wallpaper and mid century modern furniture, the restaurant resides in a residential area in a converted 1935 house, making you feel at home.

Clay Pigeon
Former Neighborhood Services chef and Arlington native Marcus Paslay struck out on his own with this rustic, farm-to-table restaurant in the old Lambert's spot. Mostly everything on Paslay's small menu is made from scratch, including bread and ice cream. The small menu is comprised of small and large plates, a half-dozen each, along with two flatbreads and a handful of sides. Large plates consist of a rotating housemade pasta, grilled duck breast with blue cheese grits, and a grilled Niman Ranch pork chop. There are also craft cocktails and an extensive wine list.

Ellerbe Fine Foods
Ellerbe is a Tastemaker Awards veteran, having been nominated in 2016, and for good reason. This restaurant and market was an early practitioner of the farm-to-table movement with local and seasonal ingredients, and chef-owner Molly McCook continues to roll out enticing and imaginative dishes such as housemade pappardelle with water bufala cheese by Azle cheesemaker Battlefield with shaved Grana Padano cheese from Italy. The stylish re-do of a former gas station still charms, making it one of Fort Worth's best culinary treasures.

Pho District
Chef-owner Kenzo Tran helped usher in the pho trend with this excellent Vietnamese/pho restaurant in Fort Worth. It has all the basics covered: cool bar, chic dining room, and an open kitchen to add a sense of excitement. Dishes such as clay pot salmon are smartly done, and with prices ranging from $9.95 to $12.95, you get a lot of bang for your dining buck.

Piattello Italian Kitchen
Chef Marcus Paslay's restaurant in the Waterside area serves comfortable Italian fare, including pizza and some of the city's best house-made pastas. Chef Scott Lewis regularly refreshes salads and other dishes with seasonal updates. Recent offerings include saffron linguine and pizza primavera, topped with ricotta, fontina, and asparagus. And yet they're not afraid to do old-school basics like eggplant parmigiana. In the ultimate in sophistication, a coffee bar serves espresso and pastries daily beginning at 7 am.

Middle Eastern restaurant in West 7th Street complex comes from brothers Adam and Jalal Chanaa, who carved out a path in Dallas when they opened Ali Baba Mediterranean Grill on Lower Greenville in the early '90s. Here you'll find good mixed drinks, outstanding housemade pita bread, and indoor/outdoor bar and patio dining that looks onto West 7th revelry.

Thai Charm Cuisine
Suburban eatery is celebrated for its authentic home-style Thai food and its signature Thai boat noodles, a dish served at new year festivals with beef, meatballs, garlic, and veggies in a dark spicy broth. Curry puffs are like empanadas in a flaky pastry stuffed with chicken, potato, and onion, like a Thai version of Indian samosas. Decor is unpretentious but appealing, with touches of bamboo and a cute display of motorcycle taxi toys. Desserts such as fried banana rolls are good, too.

Having cemented his reputation as a culinary master with wild game meats at his flagship restaurant Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine, chef Jon Bonnell turned his attention to seafood in 2013 when he launched Waters to showcase his passion for and love of seafood. There are oysters "Sundance," crab cakes, and a shellfish tower with shrimp, crab, Santa Barbara stone crab claws, and oysters on the half shell, $74 to split three ways. In 2017, the restaurant found a perfect home when it moved into the former Mercury Steakhouse in Sundance Square.

Woodshed Smokehouse
Tim Love's modern smokehouse welcomes carnivores, TCU students, and au courant foodies with a menu of meat, game, fish, and vegetables, roasted and grilled over a variety of woods and fire sources. Specialties include kale salad, tomahawk prime rib, and paella. Located on the banks of the Trinity, the restaurant has a real outdoorsy focus with a divine patio stringed with lights.