The 2020 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink, comes at a challenging time. With the coronavirus, we may not be dining out much these days. But we can still celebrate the best chefs, bars, and restaurants in Fort Worth. Maybe they need celebrating this year more than ever.
For the 2020 edition, things will be different: Instead of a gathering, we'll bring the party to you online with the Tastemaker Awards — Virtual Edition, an awards ceremony and tasting experience to enjoy at home. You can read all about it here.
We're still paying tribute via an editorial series, lauding candidates for best chef, best restaurant, and best bar, as picked by a panel of judges consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts. The full list of nominees is here.
But the category of Best New Restaurant is special: You get to choose who wins, in a bracket-style competition where eight new restaurants go head to head.
To vote, click here. Don't delay: The first bracket ends on July 18. Start clicking!
This is the second location of a family-owned, fast-casual Mexican restaurant founded in the tiny North Texas town of Venus. They specialize in artfully presented Tex-Mex fare, from fajitas to enchiladas to street tacos, in a festive atmosphere. One of their bestsellers is the unique fajita huarache, with fajitas piled on top of a base of fried masa. They also serve breakfast all day.
Casual Italian restaurant is chef Tim Love’s riff on a backyard fiesta, with bar and portico overlooking an al fresco garden with patio and bocce ball courts. The signature dish is Detroit-style pizza, a square pizza with an extra-thick crust and a very crisp bottom, but airy on top. Love's wife Emilie is a native of Michigan.
Hot Box Biscuit Club
Hot Box started out as a pop-up — one so hugely successful that Owners Sarah Hooton and Matt Mobley were persuaded to take the next step. They opened this permanent restaurant in the happening South Main area in 2019. Their signature buttermilk biscuits and biscuit sandwiches remain the big draw, but don't overlook the fried green tomatoes or their twiste on deviled eggs, topped with green onions and a dusting of Flaming Hot Cheetos.
Tiny east side barbecue joint is the first brick-and-mortar venture for Derrick Walker, a Fort Worth native who got his start in the barbecue business by catering special events and hosting pop-ups. Walker's take on barbecue is refreshingly different: In addition to brisket, sausage, chicken, and spare ribs, he offers brisket nachos and several items with a soul food twist, including smoked ox tails with cheese grits and smoked and smothered chopped steak.
Splashy restaurant at the Worthington Renaissance hotel is a concept with locations around the world from Denver-based celebrity chef Richard Sandoval that celebrates Latin American cuisine, specifically the techniques and flavors of Mexican and Peruvian food. The menu features Latin American barbecue, with charcoal- and wood-grilled steaks and seafood and small plates that include ceviche, tiraditos, empanadas, and skewered meats.
Signature restaurant at the renovated Sinclair Hotel is a modern steakhouse from DRG Concepts, owner of such restaurants as Dallas Chop House, Dallas Fish Market, Chop House Burger, and Wild Salsa. The menu features premium cuts of beef, a raw seafood bar, hand-rolled sushi, oysters, crab, lobster, and swordfish. Showpiece dishes include double-rib steak for two served at the table. Classy decor echoes the building's Art Deco theme.
Wishbone & Flynt
Restaurant in the trendy South Main district of Fort Worth is from chef Stefon Rishel, who first rose to local fame while working at Max's Wine Dive, now closed. The menu features Rishel's signature PB&J chicken wings with spicy Thai peanut sauce, and pepperjack Tater Tots with creme fraiche and caviar. The restaurant has an adjoining upscale speakeasy called The Amber Room, with craft cocktails and an atmosphere described as reminiscent of The Great Gatsby.
Spinoff of the Cane Rosso pizza chain features a culinary collaboration between World Pizza Champion Lee Hunzinger and chef Jeff Bekavac. The original opened in Addison in 2018, and Fort Worth is the second location. Unlike Cane Rosso which specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza, Zoli's does New York-style pizza plus classic Northeastern Italian-American red sauce classics. The Fort Worth location incorporates trademarks of owner Jay Jerrier including witty touches in the decor and commissions by local artists.