Top 10 Fort Worth restaurants showcase city's dynamic dining scene in 2023
We’re just days away from the 2023 edition of the CultureMap Fort Worth Tastemaker Awards, our annual celebration of the best in Fort Worth food and drink.
Top talent in the restaurant and bar community will be highlighted on April 27 at the 4 Eleven (411 S. Main St.), complete with bites and beverages and an awards presentation emceed by chef Jon Bonnell. Hurry and get your tickets here before they sell out.
Approaching the end of our editorial series profiling all nominees, we now take a look at candidates for Restaurant of the Year. Some are newer than others – and some are older than many of our readers. All have made their delicious mark in Fort Worth and deserve praise. Find out the winners at the party on April 27.
Here are the 10 nominees for Restaurant of the Year:
West Fort Worth was craving something fancy – both in cuisine and atmosphere – when Fitzgerald opened in 2022 on Camp Bowie Boulevard. Not since Café Aspen (once located in the same space) had a Ridglea-area restaurant generated such buzz from longtime locals. Chef Ben Merritt eventually closed his first endeavor, Fixture, in the Near Southside, to give full attention to Fitzgerald. The restaurant focuses on Gulf Coast-style seafood with influence from the Crescent City: New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp served with crusty French bread, seafood gumbo with oysters and crawfish tails, and more. But don’t sleep on the Mexican-style redfish or ribeye steak. Sunday brunch with crab cake Benedict, shrimp and grits, and crawfish omelets add to the French Quarter vibes.
Fixe Southern House
A mainstay at the Shops at Clearfork for five years now, Fixe is Austin-based but has certainly built a following in Fort Worth. The chic, upscale Southern dining destination draws regulars for its buttermilk fried chicken, deviled eggs with smoked trout roe, and those steamy, pillowy, signature biscuits. Daily happy hour in the bar and patio is also popular – it’s when several appetizers and plates are nicely discounted, and patrons can pair them with good wines by the glass on special. Bonus that brunch is served daily.
In Texas, waiting in line for barbecue is a sport. Goldee’s contributes heavily to the action with its limited weekend-only hours and consistently good barbecue that’s gained big accolades, like being named best in the state by Texas Monthly in 2021. With a young and eager team of pitmasters, the atmosphere is friendly and not snobby. Just as much attention is paid to the side dishes, like cheesy grits, cole slaw, and beans, as the meats coming out of the smoke pit. If it’s available, don’t miss the Kennedale stew, named for its location southeast of town and comprised of pork gravy piled atop white rice. Be prepared to stand in line. Folks are known to bring folding chairs for the wait.
An early player in the local craft barbecue scene, Hurtado originated from a food truck serving smoked meats with Tex-Mex influence. Owner and pitmaster Brandon Hurtado chose Arlington as a homebase, eventually opening a brick-and-mortar location there in 2020. Last fall he expanded to add a second outlet in Fort Worth in the former Derek Allen’s Texas Barbecue space on Eighth Avenue. And as of this spring, Hurtado is now an official concessionaire at Globe Life Field for this season of Texas Rangers baseball. (Follow your nose to the brisket in section 101.) Don’t miss his highly lauded Texas Twinkies – giant jalapeños stuffed with brisket, cream cheese, and pimento cheese wrapped in two thick pieces of bacon, smoked, then glazed with house barbecue sauce.
Little Lilly Sushi
Good sushi was once very hard to find in Fort Worth, but this West side spot helped change that when it opened in a quaint space on Camp Bowie Boulevard in 2012. A fire almost closed the business for good in May 2022, but regulars returned in droves upon Little Lilly’s reopening last September. Exotic rotating specials include Japanese butterfish and Hawaiian amberjack add to the allure. Look for a new Keller location to open later this year.
Local Foods Kitchen
Katie Schma brought a taste of Carmel, California to Fort Worth when she opened Local Foods Kitchen in 2015, offering a healthier, fresh take on family-style favorites. Many of her customers grab and go, choosing whatever beautiful creations are featured in the chef’s case. Others sit and stay to enjoy entrees like lemon shrimp, stuffed pork loin, grilled salmon, and sour cream chicken enchiladas. Don’t miss the dessert case, where sweet tooth cravings can be satisfied with items like fresh coconut cream tarts and slices of strawberry cake.
Paco's Mexican Cuisine
This family-owned eatery has built a strong reputation in the Near Southside for its elevated but approachable take on Mexican fare, such as ceviche, cactus salsa, fajitas, calamari, chile relleno, and trout with salsa ranchera. Last summer, in what seemed like a risky move, the Paco’s family opened a second location in the former Taco Diner space in Sundance Square, also home to a short-lived outlet of Revolver Taco Lounge. Nearly a year later, Paco’s still brings a refreshingly friendly, local familiarity to a district that’s seen countless business closures in recent years. Visit the downtown location for Sunday brunch when the West Magnolia Avenue location is closed.
Paris Coffee Shop
Taking over a near century-old dining establishment is no easy task. Enter Lou Lambert and his team of culinary professionals, who refreshed this cherished Magnolia Avenue breakfast and lunch café in 2022 for a new generation while still trying to satisfy regulars who’d been coming since they were children. Paris Coffee Shop originally opened in 1926 and became famous across the country for its classic pies and home cooking. Lambert and the gang kept the homey feel but with a brightened interior, adding a full bar. Now customers can get a screwdriver with their eggs and hashbrowns or a Moscow mule with their chicken fried steak.
While the pizzeria scene is strong in Fort Worth, vegan pizzas are hard to come by in a city known for beef. Pizza Verde changed that when it opened early last year on Locke Avenue. Everything from the crust to the cheese is 100 percent plant-based – which may surprise first-timers when seeing toppings like meatball, bacon, and pepperoni on the menu. These, too, are plant-based renditions of typical carnivorous pizza ingredients, proving vegan pizza isn’t limited to veggies and sauce. Diners who simply crave a good pizza – vegan or not – are happy here, as witnessed by Pizza Verde’s rave reviews.
Since 1985, restaurateur Bernard Tronche and his team have brought an authentic taste of a France to Fort Worth via a quaint cottage on West Seventh Street. Stepping inside Saint-Emilion is like stepping back in time, when white tablecloth dining meant putting on your dressy best and bringing a phone to dinner would have been deemed absurd. Dinner is served here Thursday through Sunday by reservation. Dishes like escargot bourguignonne, duck confit, and country-style terrine provide for a true taste of French cuisine. Pair with Champagne, of course.