Fort Worth's buzzy new Koe Wetzel's Riot Room pops open beer-can chicken
Koe has arrived: Koe Wetzel's Riot Room, a new Fort Worth bar and restaurant in which famed country singer-songwriter Koe Wetzel is partnered, has softly opened in the 7th Street district at 1100 Foch St., with live music and a food menu of Southern and Texas classics.
Wetzel is the Texas-born "outlaw" singer-songwriter who's been blazing a trail with albums such as his most recent release, Hell Paso, which debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200.
The new venue is an exciting collaboration put together by hospitality veteran Emil Bragdon, whose Funky Lime Hospitality Concepts portfolio includes Reservoir, The Whiskey Garden, Junk Punch, and Your Mom's House.
Their vision for the Riot Room was a venue steeped in country music culture, a high-energy country bar and restaurant with drinks and live music — and the reason we are here today, a menu of comfort food executed by chef Chad Burnett, and with creative input from Wetzel.
Burnett is a partner and VP of Culinary for Funky Lime Hospitality Concepts who oversees menu development and kitchen design. He worked with Wetzel to give the menu a country focus.
"The food is country-style cooking with a Southern backbone and Texas flair," Burnett says. "So we have cornbread, chicken-fried steak, and brisket that we smoke overnight."
Their signature dish: beer can chicken. Burnett says they put "a lot of love into it."
"We brine it overnight, then smoke them for six hours every day before service," he says. "Our smoker’s only so big, and it's first-come first-serve. You can’t call ahead and reserve."
The cornbread is a "sticky jalapeno & cheddar cornbread" and is one a handful of appetizers along with fried pickles and cheddar-stuffed jalapenos with house-made garlic ranch. Blackened chicken quesadilla and fried catfish fingers with chunky Cajun remoulade can be shared as appetizers or serve as an entree.
For their chicken-fried steak, they get the steak from 44 Farms and offer a Nashville-hot-chicken style of preparation, where it gets dipped in jalapeño oil, then doused with dried jalapeno seasoning.
Their other signature is the Trailer Park Sandwich, featuring two breakfast sausage patties smothered in cheddar cheese and served on a soft, buttery biscuit with strawberry jam.
Last but not least, the burgers.
"Our burgers are some of the best you'll find," Burnett says. "We use a smaller quarter-pound patty, so you can order it with one or two. It's on a brioche bun, nicely toasted, with garlic butter, and the burgers are cooked on a flat top, with raw onion."
Prices are low with the most expensive item topping out at $14.95 for the CFS. "We like to have scratch food prepared with a chef's touch, but offer it at a value," he says.
Wetzel also helped craft the name, which is how they arrived at "riot room."
"The definition a riot in this context is someone who's fun to be around — not with people rioting," says Emil Bragdon. "It's a place you have fun. Inside the venue, we'll have that definition of 'riot': a bunch of people who want to have a good time."