Pour yourself a drink for this entry in the 2022 edition of the annual Tastemaker Awards, CultureMap's culinary celebration shining a light on the top talent in Fort Worth's restaurant and bar communities.
Part of that celebration includes a five-part editorial series with profiles of nominees for Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, and a bracket-style competition for Best New Restaurant. Check out our page with all the nominees, all of which have been voted on by a panel of judges consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts.
It'll culminate in a party on May 10 at 4 Eleven, at 411 S. Main St., emceed by comedian CJ Starr, where attendees get to dine on bites from nominated restaurants and find out who the winners are in all the categories. (Tickets are on sale here.)
The category we're here to toast is Bar of the Year, and this year's crop ranges from neighborhood favorites to hotel bars to places where you can get a nice glass of wine.
Here are the 10 nominees for 2022 Bar of the Year:
Proper on Magnolia
Cozy neighborhood bar on Magnolia Avenue is known for concocting some of the craftiest cocktails in town. With indoor and outdoor seating, and an atmosphere that's both casual and upscale, it's a good place for dates and grown-up conversation. In addition to cocktails, it has a dozen craft beers on tap, more in bottles. It's definitely a Fort Worth favorite: It's a return nominee, having won the Bar of the Year award in 2018.
Funky Picnic Brewery & Cafe
Is it a bar or is it a restaurant? It's a brewpub that opened three years ago in South Main Village. They have a following for their creative but not over-the-top well-crafted beers that even non-beer-drinkers enjoy, as well as an acclaimed food menu from chef Josh Rangel with turkey and fried chicken sandwiches, a Funky burger with pimento cheese, chicken carbonara, and steak & fries. They've rotated in creative events such as drag brunches and monthly beer dinners that sell out with creative themes like vegan night and dessert night.
Lobby Bar at Hotel Dryce
New hangout opened in 2021 inside the Hotel Dryce, a former dry ice factory that's been transformed into a hotel in the Cultural District by Fort Worth entrepreneur Jonathan Morris, successful businessman and host/star of Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia show Self-Employed. It emerged as one of the most popular hangouts during the recent Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. Steps away from Dickies Arena, it has a modern Western theme includes photos of cowboys, potted cacti, and a pleasant string-lit courtyard, a great place to sip your craft cocktail on weekend nights.
Second Rodeo Brewing
Massive brewery and live music space in the Fort Worth Stockyards' Mule Alley complex has more than 14,000 square feet, including a patio covered by a retractable roof, multiple bars, truck bed booth seating, Adirondack chairs, and an homage to Folsom Prison with cafeteria tables. Guests can hear live Outlaw and Texas country while sipping rotating beer selections served straight from the barrel. There's food available via counter service including nachos, cheesesteaks, and wings.
Fun bar in downtown Fort Worth's The Tower building has some extra mystique thanks to its speakeasy vibe and subterranean status. They're stocked with signs and vignettes, including the oft-photographed neon sign "Don't Dallas my Fort Worth" that makes them an Instagram favorite. The kitchen does hot and tasty pizza, and they got down with the Christmas-themed bar in 2021 — one of four bars in Fort Worth to do so.
Neutral Ground Brewing Co.
Brewery and taproom in the River East district is a big part of the bustling new Race Street/River East area and has the hopping front patio action to show it as well as frequent fun events and collaborations. You can tell that one of the owners has New Orleans roots: The name "Neutral Ground" refers to the once-disputed border between Texas and Louisiana and one of their signature brews is the King Cake Beer. They're returning champions, having been nominated in 2021.
Nickel City Fort Worth
Spinoff of the beloved Nickel City in Austin has drawn crowds since opening in Fort Worth in October. Vintage alcohol signs, pinball machines, and a century-old, triple archway bar adorned with carved lions' heads are among the visually captivating highlights here. The bar serves both old-school basic cocktails plus fun frozens like the Frozen Irish Coffee and Frozen Strawberry Negroni. Their Austin location won the CultureMap Tastemaker award for Best Bar in 2018, and now their Fort Worth location is a nominee.
Rioja Rooftop Terrace, Hotel Vin
Sophisticated outdoor terrace bar is at the Hotel Vin in Grapevine, with a killer wine selection — part of the hotel's overall focus on wine — plus a tapas-style menu with dishes perfect for sharing and noshing with wine. They're into special events, and their rooftop status made them a perfect site for an installation of the buzzy igloo bars last Christmas.
Cowtown Brewing Company
Downtown Fort Worth brewery recreates the magic with a second location that opened near Southlake Town Square in 2021, bearing 24 taps of Cowtown Brewing Company craft beers along with wine and cider. There’s a food menu, too, featuring barbecue smoked on-site at the brewery's original location. It's quickly become a favorite watering hole, with trivia nights, game-watching, and weekend imbibing.
Fort Worth bar made a happy comeback with new owners after closing prematurely in 2020. It offers wine on tap and the super-popular Frose, which should be more than enough, but it also has a great outdoor patio, live musicians, special events, tastings — both for members of their club and for the public. Thankfully you can still order Chadra Mediterranean food for delivery (after it sadly just closed its dining room next door).
Stephanie Allmon Merry contributed to this story.