Used to be, when out-of-town friends and families came to visit in Fort Worth, it was a cinch to find somewhere to eat everyone could agree on.
That’s no longer the case, obviously. Our friends and loved ones are now more particular about what and where they eat. Some will only eat at lavish, expensive restaurants, while others want good yet cheap. There’s at least one vegan in everybody’s families these days, and there’s bound to be someone in your group who insists on eating farm-to-table.
It’s hard to please everybody, but we’re going to try. As part of our annual tradition, for our December Where to Eat, we are pointing you in the direction of the best restaurants to take your holiday visitors, finicky or not, and show them the best Fort Worth has to offer.
Where to take the trendy food follower
No other food in Fort Worth is as hot and hip right now as barbecue, and luckily for those into following food trends, Fort Worth is home to what has been deemed the best ‘cue spot in the state. Goldees BBQ, found down a bumpy country road in southeast Fort Worth, was crowned the No. 1 barbecue spot in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine, and one bite of their rich and tender brisket, you’ll see why. Housemade sausage and meaty pork ribs are also must-gets, along with sides such as jalapeno cheese grits. Grab a couple slices of bread, too; it’s made in-house. Big crowds mean you’ll need to wait at least a couple hours, but it’ll be a fun wait. Those in line often get to know one another and sometimes there’s free beer and food samples.
Where to take the vegan
Fort Worth is known for burgers and barbecue, but it’s also home to some very good vegan restaurants, including Belenty’s Love, a Tastemaker Award-winning vegan Mexican restaurant near TCU. Every Tex-Mex staple you can imagine is served during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from tacos and enchiladas to nachos and burritos, all of which are made with meat and dairy substitutes. Popular items include portobello asada tacos, stuffed with strips of portobello mushrooms; a potato omelet, made with hashbrowns, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and vegan mozzarella; and the seafood nachos, a mountain of gluten-free chips doused with black beans, spicy cilantro lime rice, salsa, guacamole, and a mix of vegan crabcake and fish.
Where to take the tourist
Most tourists visiting Fort Worth want to spend time in the Fort Worth Stockyards, undoubtedly the city’s most popular tourist destination, with its old west feel, daily cattle drives, and cowboy-themed restaurants and shops. There are several new restaurants in the Stockyards, but the Hotel Drover’s on-site restaurant, 97 West, has a location that’s hard to top - it’s practically in the center of the Stockyards, within walking distance of attractions such as the White Elephant Saloon and Billy Bob’s Texas. 97 West is more chef-inspired than most Stockyards spots. Entrees include pan-seared redfish, chicken-fried New York strip, and smoked pheasant. There are also nice salads, pastas, and traditional burgers. Strolling around the restaurant and hotel is encouraged; tourists will certainly dig the hotel’s Texana décor and architecture.
Where to take the celebrity chef groupie
For better or worse, Tim Love is Fort Worth’s most well-known celebrity chef, so a celebrity-chaser is definitely going to want to visit one of his many restaurants. Love’s newest project is Tannahill's Tavern, a restaurant that doubles as a live music venue. Located in the Stockyards' Mule Alley development, Tannahill's serves cheffy bar food – items such as a wild boar sloppy joe, a fried bologna sandwich, and fried chicken and fried cauliflower bites. Heartier entrees include a housemade pappardelle, made with either boar ragu or in vegan form with Beyond Meat bolognese; steak and frites; and smoked baby back pork ribs. Concerts from local and national bands take place in the accompanying Music Hall, a 1,000-person capacity venue that hosts not just country bands but also rock, electronic music, and folk.
Where to take the outdoors lover
When it comes to patio dining, Branch & Bird is hard to beat: The American restaurant on the 12th floor of the Frost Tower downtown has a wraparound patio/balcony that offers a bird’s eye view of downtown. This time of year, you’ll get a nice view of the holiday lights and tree in the Sundance Square Plaza. The patio features two-top tables for small, intimate parties and big, comfy couches for cocktails and wine. An across-the-board food menu offers something for everyone, from crispy pancetta gnocchi, to shrimp linguini, to flatbreads topped with your choice of shrimp, steak, cheese, or buffalo chicken. There are soups and salads, too, plus rotating, seasonal cheesecakes.
Where to take the tightwad
One of Fort Worth’s essential cuisines is Tex-Mex, and there might not be a better place in town for cheap and of good quality than Dos Molinas, a long-running dive at 404 N. 25th St., on the city's north side. Housed inside a century-old building, Gloria Molina's charming little gem has been a hotbed for traditional Tex-Mex fare since it opened more than 40 years ago. Housemade flour tortillas are show-stealers, so large their edges eek out of their plastic holders. Entrees include excellent beef tips, super tender and spicy, along with plates of cheese enchiladas, tacos, tostados and burritos, all served with rice and beans, none priced more than $10. Daily lunch specials are in the $6-$9 range. Even cheaper is breakfast, served daily, including menudo, huevos rancheros, and chilaquiles, all priced $6-$8.
Where to take the big spender
Just as Fort Worth has numerous Mexican restaurants that are easy on your bank account, there are some that cater to big spenders, such as newly opened Don Artemio, one of the city’s best new restaurants. This stylish, upscale restaurant in the Museum District is more Mex Mex than Tex Mex; its menu is heavily inspired by food from the northeast Mexico region of Saltillo, where the original location of Don Artemio is located. The must-have appetizer is the build-your-own cactus tacos, served with warm, housemade corn tortillas. Entrees include the excellent chile hojaldrado, a cream cheese and pecan-stuffed poblano chile wrapped in puff pastry and served over tomato sauce; Chilean sea bass in a housemade mole sauce; and cabrito ribs with a cabbage salad and pickled red onions. There’s a large cocktail menu, plus a nice wine list, too.
Where to take the dessert lover
Dinner just isn’t dinner without the final – and most important – course: dessert. For that, take your out-of-towners to one of the most opulent restaurants in Fort Worth: Grace, located downtown, on the ground floor of the 777 Main building. Of course, dinner at Grace is highly recommended, but finding good desserts in Fort Worth is difficult, and that’s one of many areas where Grace takes the cake. The dessert menu consists of a half-dozen selections that strike a perfect balance between savory and sweet. For the latter, try the butterscotch pudding, made with salted caramel gelato, or the cookies and milk, served with shaken milk and Valrohna chocolate chip cookies. Those who prefer savory desserts, go with the spectacular olive oil cake with cara cara orange curd.
Where to take the hardcore foodie and prove FW has a foodie scene
One of Fort Worth’s best new restaurants, Beast & Co., dares to prove there’s more to Fort Worth’s food scene than burgers, steaks, and barbecue. So far, so good: Since opening earlier this year, the Near Southside restaurant has built a reputation with the foodie community for serving left-of-center dishes that go beyond the city’s norm. The restaurant’s menu rotates but recent favorites have included North African marinated olives, lobster bisque with a twinge of Thai flavors, whole fish served atop a banana leaf, and dumplings stuffed with charred eggplant. There’s a lively bar scene with cool cocktails and good happy hour specials.
Where to take a big group
Heim BBQ kick-started the craft barbecue movement in Fort Worth – their bacon burnt ends paved the way for everybody else’s. Of Emma and Travis Heim’s three DFW locations, the store in White Settlement is best suited for big groups. A large outdoor deck offers plenty of seating and if the weather’s lousy, there’s lots of room inside, thanks to oversized dining rooms. Other nice touches include an inside/outside bar and a menu that goes barbecue basics. In addition to brisket, ribs and sausage, there are, of course, Heim’s calling card, bacon burnt ends, plus excellent burgers, tacos made with in-house tortillas, and salads. Heim is one of the few local barbecue spots with a kids menu, too.
Photo by Joey Garcia
Goldee's serves the best barbecue in Texas.