In the ebb and flow of restaurant openings, Fort Worth is definitely flowing. Whether it's a Dallas restaurant expanding westward or a Tarrant County regular stretching its wings, Fort Worth has emerged as the hottest restaurant neighborhood this spring. Most of the 10 restaurants on this list have opened since 2014, so it's a new crop. Time to hit I-30 and check it out.
Having opened one alphabet-crazy restaurant — CBD Provisions in downtown Dallas — Consilient Hospitality's Tristan Simon follows up with AF+B, a similarly impeccable restaurant with a modern American menu in Fort Worth's West Seventh District. Overseen by former Bolsa chef Jeff Harris, the menu has memorable dishes, both big and small, such as Scotch eggs; fried quail; and snapper with large white beans, kale and clams.
Having opened one beer-happy restaurant next to a city park in Lark on the Park, Shannon Wynne follows up with Bird Cafe, overlooking the renovated Sundance Square. Overseen by chef David McMillan, Bird's menu is pretty much a clone of Meddlesome Moth, with the signature ricotta cheese "moth balls," bacon lollipops, and battered fish and chips.
Cane Rosso Fort Worth
It's possible that you've had the pizza at Cane Rosso Deep Ellum. Maybe you've even had the pizza at Cane Rosso White Rock. You owe it to yourself to have it in Fort Worth too. There's a thick Cuban sandwich and a Fort Worth-only pizza called the Gipsy Danger, with mushroom, roasted jalapeños and soppressata "marmalade." The neighborhood's hip, and you'll definitely want to squeeze pizzaiolo Shon Ben-Kely's biceps.
Charming newbie in the old Lambert's space embodies everyone's dream restaurant: small, chef-driven, made in house, gourmet but not kooky. Chef Marcus Paslay previously worked at Neighborhood Services, and you can see that experience in upscale down-home dishes like butter-poached lobster; scallops with capers and artichokes; and flatbread topped with onion jam, roasted pear and blue cheese.
With 26 branches including one at NorthPark Center, Kona Grill is far from your chef-driven farm-to-table foodie-lingo option. Its sprawling menu, with everything from sushi to meatloaf, puts it more on a par with Cheesecake Factory. But the "Hawaiian" theme to the menu gets you kitschy fun like a steak topped with a slab of grilled pineapple. And besides, flatbread with grilled apple, Brie, red onion jam, figs and toasted walnuts is yum.
Little Red Wasp
Neighboring sibling of fine-dining downtown restaurant Grace goes more casual and basic, with familiar classics like a Reuben sandwich, Cobb salad and roast chicken. Relaxed atmosphere and snappy cocktails like the Horned Frog with Creme de Violette make it a good bar drop-in, and there's a decadent Sunday brunch.
Max's Wine Dive
Though small in scale, Max's is a chain, specializing in fried chicken. But each branch is unique. Fort Worth features the culinary stylings of chef Stefon Rishel, whose seasonal menus are innovative and sometimes whimsical. Current offerings include the amusing fried bologna sliders with "house-made Cheez Whiz" and grilled onions on toasted brioche bun, as well as a vegan-friendly cauliflower soup made with coconut milk, kaffir lime and pumpkin seeds.
Build-your-own-pizza place near TCU is part of a national trend with players such as 800 Degrees, Pie Five, Blaze Fast Fire'd Pizza, Uncle Maddio's and Tulsa-based Top That! Pizza. You walk through a Chipotle-style line, specifying toppings, and get a pizza almost by the time you've paid your bill. There are a few choices on sauce, cheese and toppings; whatever you decide, just be sure to include the candied jalapeños.
Sera Dining & Wine
Sera represents a Sapristi reunion of sorts, taking place as it does in the old Sapristi space with the former GM and former chef. But it's been refreshed for 2014. Spanish and French tapas, wines to match, and lots of vegetarian options combine to give this tapas/wine bar a sophistication. Every Tuesday, there's a weekly paella, and fruity sangria is always on tap.
For its second branch following the original on Henderson Avenue in Dallas, Velvet Taco opened in Fort Worth's West Seventh District — one block from Revolver Taco Lounge, which opened in 2011. A tad aggressive, maybe? Fortunately, the two do not compete directly. Revolver is a family operation with a broader menu, while Velvet Taco does a dozen tacos and a couple of sides, including corn and tater tots. This month's special: Italian meatball taco.