Chicago hot dogs are coming to Denton: Portillo’s, the fast-casual restaurant concept known for Chicago street food, is opening a location at Rayzor Ranch Town Center, at the corner of I-35 and University Drive.

According to a release, the location will open "by the end of the year."

It'll be the third Portillo's in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, following locations in The Colony and Allen, which just opened in early September.

The Denton location will feature a Southwest garage themed design in a 7,700 square-foot space, with seating for more than 170 inside plus 50 more seats on a seasonal outdoor patio. The location will also feature the must-have double drive-thru lanes to accommodate the many patrons getting hot dogs to go.

These have all become standard features in every DFW location so far.

“We’ve loved the amazing reception from fans across the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” says Portillo’s CEO Michael Osanloo. “Growing the DFW market is a clear priority for Portillo’s. We’ve opened successfully in The Colony and Allen, and will be in Arlington and Fort Worth by the end of the year. We can’t wait for Denton to be our fifth in the market, so we can bring our unrivaled street food to new and longtime fans across the region.”

They're known for their Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, burgers, and Chocolate Cake.

Portillo's opened their first DFW location at the Grandscape development in The Colony in January 2023. Allen opened on September 7.

Founder Dick Portillo opened the first Portillo’s hot dog stand in Illinois in 1963. There are now more than 75 locations across 10 states.


Fort Worth to get its own location of Chicago hot dog chain Portillo's

Hot Dog News

Chicago-style hot dogs are coming to Fort Worth via Portillo's, the fast-casual restaurant concept known for Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, chocolate cake, and shakes.

This will be the chain's first restaurant in Fort Worth, and while they do not yet have a street address, a release says it'll be located in the North City Development on N. Tarrant Parkway between highway I-35 and 287.

It's scheduled to open later this year, when exactly, they can or will not say.

The Chicago-based brand began its expansion to Texas with its first restaurant in The Colony, which opened in January 2023. There are also locations opening in Arlington and Allen.

The Fort Worth location will span 7,800 square feet with seating for 180-plus guests inside plus 50 more on the patio. The design will be "Lone Star State garage theme," and the location will have double drive-thru lanes.

Signature menu items include Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, burgers, and chocolate cake.

Hot dogs feature a beef frank with mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato, celery salt, kosher pickle, and sport peppers on a poppy seed bun. Their Italian beef features sliced roast beef on French bread, with the option to have it dry or dipped in gravy.

Their double-layer chocolate cake is iced with chocolate frosting; it also appears in their Chocolate Cake Shake combining a shake with a slice of chocolate cake.

“Since opening our first location in Texas this past January, we have loved serving fans from all across the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” says Portillo's CEO Michael Osanloo in a statement. “We quickly followed the successful opening of our restaurant in The Colony by announcing plans to open restaurants in Allen and Arlington, and are thrilled to share additional plans to further expand into the DFW area. We can’t wait to bring our unrivaled Chicago street food to even more fans and newcomers in Fort Worth.”

Photo courtesy of Yum! Brands

The story of Banh Shop, new Asian restaurant opening near TCU in Fort Worth

Sandwich News

Fort Worth is due to get an exciting new restaurant specializing in a trendy Asian sandwich, with some big names behind it. Called Banh Shop, it's a concept originally founded in 2014 about to catch its second wind and it'll open near TCU at 3051 S University Dr., in the space previously occupied by Pizza Snob, which, bummer, closed in March.

According to president and CEO Ken Myres, the restaurant will open in fall 2023.

Banh Shop has an interesting history: Named for the banh mi, the Asian sandwich that comes on a French baguette and is filled with meats and pickled vegetables, it was originally developed by restaurant guru Mark Brezinski with Braden and Yasmin Wages, the husband-and-wife owners of Malai Kitchen, for Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut).

The first location opened near SMU in September 2014, followed by an outlet at DFW Airport two months later.

Their menu includes Fried Rice Bowl featuring wok-seared white rice, egg, broccoli, scallions, bean sprouts, and cherry tomatoes tossed in garlic soy sauce with choice of protein; pad Thai, the classic noodle dish; Vietnamese-style chicken soup; and five sandwiches including a tofu version of banh mi, and a turkey sandwich on a baguette.

The SMU location closed in 2017, and Yum! sold most of its ownership to a company called Essential Asian. There are now four airport locations including two in Canada, and plans for more, Myres says.

"We have only been operating in airports, but we're looking at expanding and that includes some street-side locations," he says. "The company is still small but we’ve been successful and we have some opportunities with a franchisee who is going to open some locations here in Dallas-Fort Worth including this one in the TCU area and another in Irving."

Myres is a hospitality veteran who worked for many years for the Tony Roma's restaurant chain, including serving as president of the company, as well as Metromedia Restaurant Group (Steak and Ale, Bennigan's, Bonanza).

"I spent quite a bit of time in airports, and that's where I became familiar with Banh Shop," he says.

The TCU location resonated since their original location was also near a university. "It's such a great area with students, plus it has a good lunch and dinner mix," he says.

They expect a bigger offering and broader menu.

"Airports have limited space," he says. "At DFW Airport, our location near Gate C21 has 500 square feet. The street-side locations will still have our signature bowls, soups, and appetizers but with additional items including more sushi. They'll also have an opportunity for an extended bar."


Flashy water show cascades into Epic entertainment district in Grand Prairie

Water News

The EpicCentral entertainment district in Grand Prairie has added another element to its collection of attractions: Illuvia, a 10-minute experience featuring light installations, 60-foot water sprays, state-of-the art video projection, and an accompanying soundtrack for a one-of-a-kind experience.

According to a release, Illuvia made its debut in late June, part of a continued investment in the Epic destination by the city of Grand Prairie. The installation is presented three times a night, at 8:30 pm, 9:30 pm, and 10:30 pm, with each show different from the one before.

There are additional water shows during the day, from 11:30 am-1:30 pm, and again at 5 pm.

It includes lights, water jets, and holographic-type projections of flowers and other images; a snapshot can be seen here.

The shows will continue to evolve seasonally with new features throughout the year.

A water display seems like a slam-dunk, given the presence of Epic Waters, an on-site waterpark. According to the city of Grand Prairie creative producer Zane King, Illuvia draws crowds up to 1,200 people to EpicCentral’s GrandLawn to watch the mesmerizing shows.

The installation was created by Outside the Lines (OTL), a design construction company that specializes in rockwork and water displays.

OTL is based in Anaheim, California, but has a regional office in Dallas, and has created a number of signature displays across DFW including:

  • Texas Live! Their display at the Arlington entertainment complex has a fountain featuring 57 chaser jets over 25 feet in height, six vertical air cannons over 60 feet tall, six burst-effect air cannons, 200 color-changing lights, six dancing flame nozzles, and 70 fountain jets.
  • Legacy West Plano mixed-use center features a fountain choreographed to music and light across three separate concrete basins, which are interconnected mechanically on one filtration and treatment system. The show uses nearly 52,000 gallons of water, 131 nozzles and 398 LED RGB lights capable of producing 2,000,000 colors each.
  • Klyde Warren Park The Nancy Best Fountain at downtown Dallas' urban deck park is a powerful water feature with 106 arrays, 350 rose jets, three multi-axis robotic nozzles that can shoot 95 feet into the air, illuminated with 216 programmable color-changing LED lights.

OTL also updated The Towers at Williams Square plaza in 2018 and did the etched sandstone wall at Nusr-Et Dallas, which included etching Salt Bae's likeness.

But the Epic is the biggest and notably, most unique, says OTL spokesperson Sarah Shores.

"Every installation is unique but Epic Central stands out because it's situated in an existing lake that was already there," Shores says. "It also features a technology we have not previously used: a projection screen that projects those images you see, like beautiful red roses — that's something brand new."


Hot dog restaurant made famous on Real Housewives opens in Fort Worth

Hot Dog News

A TV-famous hot dog joint from Atlanta has debuted in Fort Worth: The Original Hot Dog Factory which you may have seen featured on BRAVO’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, has opened a location at 6318 Hulen Bend Blvd. next to the AMC movie theater with an expansive menu of hot dogs of all kinds.

The Original Hot Dog Factory owner and founder is Dennis McKinley, a restaurateur, promoter, and entrepreneur who appeared in Bravo's Real Housewives of Atlanta in 2018-19, while he was dating cast member Porsha Williams. The first location opened in 2010 but he rebranded and revamped the concept in 2015, with a plan to expand.

There are currently 16 locations including Fort Worth and Houston which opened in 2020. For the FW location, he's partnered with Jazzy Lady Entertainment, which also owns a printing and promotion company in Fort Worth.

McKinley is no stranger to DFW: In 2021, he opened a location of his Cru Hemp Lounge chain in Carrollton, which has since closed.

A native of Detroit, McKinley grew up eating Coney Island style hot dogs, on a steamed bun, topped with chili sauce, chopped raw onion, and yellow mustard, but became intrigued by the variety of different hot dog styles driven by regional differences.

That array can be found on the menu where options include pretty much a variety for every city in the U.S.:

  • All American - beef hot dog topped with ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions
  • Corn dog - beef hot dog battered and fried and topped with mustard and ketchup
  • Philly dog - beef hot dog topped with melted cheese, sweet peppers, and grilled onions
  • Detroit Coney - beef hot dog topped with chili, shredded cheese, and chopped onions
  • "BLT" - bacon wrapped beef hot dog topped with lettuce, tomato and mayo
  • LA dog - bacon wrapped beef hot dog topped with chili cheese fries and grilled onions
  • Jamaican jerk seasoned chicken hot dog - with grilled pineapple, chopped onions and sweet island sauce
  • San Francisco veggie soy dog - topped with onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and brown mustard
  • Italian dog - deep fried Italian sausage topped with grilled bell peppers and onions
  • Taco dog - beef hot dog topped with chili, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, jalapeños, and tortilla chips
  • Street Polish dog - Polish sausage on a poppy seed bun, topped with grilled onions, mustard and sport peppers
  • Chicago dog - beef hot dog topped with tomato, pickle, sport peppers, sweet relish, onions, mustard, and celery salt on a poppy seed bun
  • New Yorker - beef hot dog topped with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard
  • Texas rodeo - bacon wrapped beef hot dog topped with onion rings and chili
  • Fire dog - beef hot dog topped with Arizona heat hot sauce, jalapeno peppers, and sport peppers
  • Boston dog - steamed beef hot dog topped with baked beans, bacon bits, and chopped onions
  • Atlanta XL - footlong beef hot dog topped any way you like
  • Bratwurst dog - deep fried bratwurst topped with kraut and grilled onions
  • Memphis dog - bacon-wrapped hot dog, topped with shredded cheese, BBQ sauce and green onions
  • Seattle dog - beef hot dog topped with cream cheese and grilled onions
  • California baby dog - beef dog topped with lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, avocado and try me sauce
  • Martha's Vineyard - jumbo beef hotdog topped any way you like
  • Surf & Turf - hot dog topped with super lump crab meat, lettuce, tomato, and try me sauce
  • Vegas Red hot dog - red hot sausage split and charbroiled

They also offer plant-based Beyond Sausage as an option.

Other items include wings, grilled chicken sandwich, chili cheese fries with bacon, diced hot dogs, jalapeño, green onions and try me sauce, a half-pound Angus burger, and deep-fried corn dog nuggets.

According to a spokesperson, nine more locations are in the works including one coming to Dallas later this year.

"We're taking it slowly to make sure we are putting out a great hot dog in Fort Worth before expanding," she says.

Photo by Velton Hayworth

Sneak peek at Bojangles chicken chain before they make their Euless debut

Fried Chicken News

The arrival of Cajun fried chicken chain Bojangles in Texas draws near, with the first location just south of DFW Airport at 201 E. Euless Blvd. in Euless, opening on June 27 — giving Texans a chance to see what all the fuss is about.

On June 21, the chain hosted a small media preview at the new restaurant, offering a chance to sample the chicken and biscuits and chat with company reps.

"Why Texas for us? Texas is a large enough state to be a country," said Mike Caroti, market director for Bojangles. "Texas is the gateway to the West for us."

Bojangles was founded in North Carolina in 1977, and is now a publicly traded company with 800 restaurants primarily in the southeast. Euless will be No. 801, followed in August by locations in Frisco at 1631 US-380; and Lancaster at 760 N Interstate 35-E Rd.

Little Elm, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston are next in line for Texas, with plans for New York and Las Vegas in the future.

Part of their expansion to new markets entailed a simplification of the menu, says Bojangles' VP of menu & culinary innovation Marshall Scarborough, with a focus on tenders and chicken sandwiches only. Goodbye to bone-in options such as drumsticks and thighs.

"This menu was designed specifically to be operationally friendly and to streamline the customer experience," Scarborough says. "That's the biggest reason why you won't see bone-in chicken on the menu."

This puts them in the category of a Raising Cane's, the chicken tender chain that's been a huge hit in Texas with nearly 200 locations, including 20 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone. You begin to see why Bojangles is here.

bojangles biscuitsWatch the biscuits being made at Bojangles.Photo by Velton Hayworth

You can get 4 tenders with the usual array of sauces for $6 to $7, or in a sandwich with a pickle on a shiny toasted bun for about $5. The company claims its honey mustard sauce has a cult following, with people from around the country purportedly calling restaurants and begging them to mail out honey mustard packets.

Bojangles' other staple is their buttermilk biscuits, which are of medium height, crunchy outside, flaky within. They make a theatrical case for homemade authenticity by taking a page from Krispy Kreme's famed doughnut-making display, with a glass screen that lets customers see cooks rolling dough on a floured board and cutting out the biscuit circles en route to the oven.

Sides include mac & cheese, dirty rice, Cajun pintos, and seasoned fries. Desserts include a biscuit spiked with blueberries and iced, and a fried sweet potato pie. A new Bo-Berry milkshake is unique to the expansion market menus.

For those who wish Chick-Fil-A's chicken biscuit breakfast lasted beyond 10:30 am, Bo’s Chicken Biscuit Combo (as with all of the breakfast menu) is available until 2 pm. Breakfast sandwiches feature eggs, sausage, bacon, and ham on a biscuit, served in combos with "Bo-Tatos" — like a hash browns Tater Tot.

"We are a fun brand with bold flavor and high-quality delicious food," Scarborough says. "Our motto is 'Bo Time' — about people getting together that are enjoying Bojangles' food and the next thing you know, everybody is having a good time. It's part of our culture."

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Tasty restaurant news tops this week's 5 most-read Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. Fat tacos, crispy pepperoni pizza, and more Fort Worth restaurant news. We have lots of tasty restaurant dish in Fort Worth right now, including a new pizzeria, a new AYCE pizza buffet, and new limited-edition tacos. There's more than one fried chicken offering, and at least two pumpkin specials. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

2. Restaurant bullish on burgers and bourbon cocktails comes to Grapevine. A better burger concept from South Carolina is taking a crack at Texas: Bohemian Bull, a small chain founded in Charleston in 2013, has opened its first Texas location in Grapevine, featuring burgers and a full bar with 24 craft beer taps.

3. Award-winning Mexican restaurant hits the jackpot at new Denton location. A DFW restaurant that's earned national acclaim has opened in Denton: El Rincón del Maiz, previously of Garland, is now located at 1431 E. McKinney St. in Denton where it's winning over locals with its Tex-Mex classics and vegan dishes.

4. Fort Worth Symphony Opening Night Celebration ushers in new season with grace and gusto. Thunder crashed and lightning crackled outside, but a freak Friday night thunderstorm couldn’t dampen spirits at the Fort Worth Symphony Opening Night Concert and Celebration on September 8.

5. Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 9 best bars to watch college football. Three weeks into the season and college football is on fire. Here are nine of the best bars to visit for some college football-watching in Fort Worth right now - a mix of old favorites and a few new surprises.

Mr Gatti's Pizza returns to home turf Fort Worth with new location

Pizza News

A Fort Worth-based pizzeria concept has opened a location in Fort Worth: Mr Gatti's Pizza has opened a restaurant off Camp Bowie at 2812 Horne St. #100, a space previously occupied by Helen's Hot Chicken, where they're open with pizza, pizza rolls, and their signature ranch dressing.

The location is a franchise owned by Kirk Jefferies, who also owns and operates franchises of Jason’s Deli and Chicken Express. This is his first Mr Gatti’s, but he has more locations planned.

“When people talk about Mr Gatti's Pizza, you can see a spark in their eyes. We love being able to bring that 'excitement' and combine it with our passion for pizza,” Jefferies says in a release. “Mr Gatti's Pizza has been satisfying cravings for over 50 years. It truly is an honor to be a part of this legacy brand that people cherish."

Menu favorites from about a dozen pizza options include The Sampler, The Deluxe with sausage, pepperoni, & smoked provolone, and BBQ chicken. A basic 12-inch cheese pizza with one topping is $12.

There are lunch specials from 10:30 am-3 pm including pepperoni rolls and salad for $10; 8 wings and salad for $13; and a medium pizza with 2 salads for $15.

The chain was first founded in Stephenville, Texas as The Pizza Place, in September 1964. In 1969, founder James Eure moved to Austin and opened the first Mr Gatti’s Pizza, named for his wife's maiden name.

They have a major presence in South Texas but only two in the DFW area: Plano and Allen.

There was a location that opened in Fort Worth in 2016, at 3280 W. Seventh St. in Museum Place, which at the time, was the first to use the Mr. Gatti’s name; the chain had been going by "Gatti's." So many name changes! It closed in 2018. There was also a location in North Richland Hills which opened in 2016 and closed in early 2019; and a location in Richardson that closed in 2018.

Back in the day they had a big buffet as well as a big game room, two features for which many longtime fans are nostalgic. But this location is just about the pizza.

There are now more than 70 locations in states across the Southeast, including Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.