Editor's note: Looking back at our most-read dining stories of 2021, we raise a glass to Fort Worth's love of patios — those with rooftop views, inside "igloo" bubbles, or bathed in sunshine on a perfect spring day. Three of our top 10 stories feature great places to enjoy al fresco cocktails, in particular. Readers also gobbled up news about their favorite grocery store, a long-awaited steakhouse, trendy taco truck, and more. Cheers to the top restaurant and bar stories of the year!
1. Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 8 rooftop bars with breathtaking views. It’s hard not to have fun on a rooftop, especially when cocktails are involved. Look up and feel free as a bird. Look out and witness breathtaking cityscape views. In May, we rounded up eight of Fort Worth’s best rooftop bars — a mix of new hot spots and old favorites — to enjoy a drink in the breeze while surveying the horizon. (The No. 1 rooftop restaurant in the world is headed to Fort Worth soon, too.)
2. H-E-B reverses mask decision for customers throughout Texas after backlash. In early March, H-E-B, the largest grocery chain in Texas, reversed course and began requiring — rather than recommending — that customers wear masks inside its stores, including Central Markets. Amid backlash from loyal customers, H-E-B issued a statement March 5 saying customers, employees, and vendors would still have to put on masks even after the statewide mask mandate ended on March 10. Previously, it had said only employees and vendors would be required to do so, not shoppers.
3. Rooftop bubble bars with igloos return to Dallas-Fort Worth for Christmas holiday. Dallas-Fort Worth's coolest bar phenomenon of winter 2020 came back: Rooftop "bubble bars" featuring cozy igloos returned around Thanksgiving, with installations at three area hotels. Also referred to as garden igloos, these "bubbles" are like plastic caves, like a geodesic dome, where you can hang out and imbibe under the winter sky, protected by your bubble from the elements.
4. Babe's steakhouse cousin Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes opens in North Richland Hills. It was more than five years in the making, but Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes, a new steakhouse that's a sibling to the beloved Babe's Chicken chain, finally opened its doors in North Richland Hills in April. The concept specializes in ribeye steaks, obviously, but also fantastic baked potatoes and pot pies, as well as the usual conscientious cooking for which Babe's is known.
5. Food truck known for trendy birria tacos finds new Fort Worth home. One of Fort Worth's most popular food trucks announced in July it was upgrading to a brick-and-mortar location. Calisience, which draws sell-out crowds for its crispy birria tacos, would open a permanent location on the city's east side, not far from where the truck originally started.
6. Seafood restaurant shutters due to I-35 and more Fort Worth restaurant news. Fort Worth's restaurant scene was enjoying a wave of post-pandemic prosperity with all sorts of openings, menus, and funky new dishes in June. Our Restaurant News column was back with a vengeance — but also with one sorry closure (or two) to dampen our joy. This is what was happening in Fort Worth restaurants at that busy time.
7. Longtime sushi restaurant in Fort Worth's Sundance Square calls it quits. After 15 years, a sushi restaurant in downtown Fort Worth sadly called it quits: Piranha Killer Sushi, which opened in Sundance Square in 2006, closed for good. The final day was February 23.
8. Where to eat in Fort Worth right now: 5 hot new restaurants for June. With the pandemic continuing to fade in late June, new restaurants were opening in and around Fort Worth at a fast and furious rate. There were so many new options: pasta, Southern cuisine, seafood, tacos, and good old American food. For that month's Where to Eat, these were five of the brightest new restaurants in Fort Worth.
9. 10 best restaurants in Fort Worth for 2021 do the city proud. Fort Worth's top restaurants for 2021 represented a deliciously varied lineup, from pizza to BBQ to trendy Asian to chef fare. Before we honored them at this year's CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, we highlighted these, the 10 best restaurants for 2021.
10. Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 6 best new bar patios for spring. With more sunshiny hours in the day (and no mosquitos just yet), patio season was officially here in mid-April. Thanks to the pandemic, bar patios became more popular than ever as folks sought safe ways to gather with friends again. These were the best new ones for spring.