Zest 817 Magazine Dec 2018

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DECEMBER 2018

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Fort Pop-Up

R E VIE W

Transient chefs are becoming the lifeblood of Fort Worth’s restaurant scene.

N IG H TLIFE

BY ERIC GRIFFEY

Take your dog on a date to Mutts Canine Cantina. BY ANNA CAPLAN

Locust Cider is blazing its own boozy trail. BY SUSIE GEISSLER


AS FAR AS WE’RE CONCERNED,

Explore acres of freshness with more than 700 varieties of climatecontrolled produce from around the globe, including 150 varieties of seasonal organics. We work directly with our growers to stock our shelves with only the freshest fruits and veggies. Our expert buyers source as much local produce as possible. Daily deliveries ensure freshness, and, once tested by our dedicated inspectors, produce goes right out to the floor.

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DALLAS PRESTON ROYAL 10720 PRESTON ROAD

PLANO 320 COIT ROAD CENTRALMARKET.COM

December 2018


E I GH T

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For Readers of Extraordinary Taste

WILDSALSARESTAURANT.COM

Zest 817 Magazine is the premier culinary lifestyle authority for Fort Worth and surrounding areas. As the only food-andbeverage-focused print publication in Tarrant County, Zest pairs sophisticated, witty writing with stunning, styled photography, delivering the most relevant and interesting insights on local dining, beverages, home cooking, events, and entertainment.

LUNCH BUFFET 7 DAYS A WEEK! Contact

Lauren Lackey Marketing Director lauren@zest817.com 817-933-8172

2973 Crockett Street | 817-744-7485 | www.terramediterranean.com

December 2018

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contents EDITOR’S PICS 6 Reviews

8

Night Life

12 FEATURE 16

Secret Sauce

25

Coming Soon

27

Zest Eight One Seven Editorial Editor-in-chief Eric Griffey Copy Editor Anthony Mariani Contributors Anna Caplan, Ian Connally, Susie Geissler Proofreader: Svetlana Katkinka Contributing Photographers Twig Capra, Brian Hutson, Kelsey Wilson, Crystal Wise

on the cover DECEMBER 2018

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For editorial questions or pitches, contact Eric Griffey at eric@zest817.com. Production Art Director Ryan Burger

Fort Pop-Up Transient chefs are becoming the lifeblood of Fort Worth’s restaurant scene.

BY ERIC GRIFFEY

Advertising Marketing Director Lauren Lackey For advertising questions, please contact Lauren Lackey at Lauren@zest817.com.

REV IEW

Take your dog on a date to Mutts Canine Cantina. BY ANNA CAPLAN

NIGH TLIFE

Locust Cider is blazing its own boozy trail. BY SUSIE GEISSLER

At his home kitchen, pop-up chef Victor Villarreal whipped up one of his favorites: gnocchi with housemade ricotta, pickled-sake blueberry preserves, and Thai basil. Photo by Crystal Wise.

Zest 817 is available free of charge in North Texas, limited to one copy per reader. Additional copies of Zest Eight One Seven may be purchased for $1 each. Zest Eight One Seven may be distributed only by the paper’s independent contractors or authorized distributors. No person may, without written permission, take more than one copy of Zest Eight One Seven. If you’re interested in distributing Zest Eight One Seven, please contact Ryan Burger at ryan@zest817.com. Copyright. - The entire contents of Zest Eight One Seven are Copyright 2018 by 817 Marketing LLC. No portion may be reproduced in part or in whole by any means without express written permission of the publishers.

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December 2018


LUNCH DINNER PIANO bistro on magnolia

December 2018

817.877.0700 lilisbistro.com

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editor’s pics Café Modern and Piattello Italian Kitchen preview dishes from their seasonal menus. Photos by Brian Hutson

Café Modern’s Shrimp Aguachile features mango, avocado, green onions, radishes, and shichimi-dusted shrimp.

Café Modern, 3200 Darnell St 817-840-2157 Piatello Italian Kitchen 5924 Convair Dr, Ste 142 817-349-0484

In Café Modern’s Roasted Carrot Hummus, Chef Denise Shavandy uses Texas arbequina olive oil, toasted pine nuts, micro mint, and za’atar lavash.

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Piatello’s Linguine with Gulf Shrimp is lush with Brussels sprouts, speck, white wine, and rosemary.

The scratch-Italian kitchen’s crostini is made with housemade ricotta, speck, radiicchio, apple, and Calabrian honey.

December 2018


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reviews The Barkside of Clearfork Mutts Canine Cantina is Fort Worth’s first dog park/bar/restaurant. By ANNA CAPLAN

Luna and Frank Caplan had died and gone to heaven.

My two Great Pyrenees, whose only job seem to be regularly stealing hot dogs from my daughter’s dinner plate, had just arrived at Mutts Canine Cantina, a veritable free-for-all for dogs, their sometimes insufferably proud owners, and people who like fried pickles. After an unusually rainy and cold week that kept the shaggy duo cooped up (yet still scratching at the back door to wade onto the

You still have to be at least 21 years old, or three in dog years, to drink a beer at Mutts. Photo by Crystal Wise

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There’s no shortage of IG-friendly backdrops in Mutt’s spacious outdoor area. Photo by Crystal Wise

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shores of Lake Caplan), Luna and Frank, fur askew and paws corroded with mud, were looking a little ragged. What better time to attend a Halloween costume contest for dogs? The new restaurant and bar — the second outpost of a wildly successful concept that opened in Uptown Dallas in 2013 –– is positioned on the banks of the Trinity and discordantly adjacent to the refined apartments at the Shops in Clearfork. The cantina portion features a sunny-yellow theme, and is surrounded by dog runs, big and small. You pay a membership fee (daily or monthly) to gain access to the areas. If my dogs actually made any money, perhaps we would have checked it out. (Great Pyrenees are well known for doing actual work on farms, like herding sheep and protecting other livestock.) Instead, we zeroed in on the restaurant’s open-air patio, where a WHERE DON’T-MISS DISHES pack of dogs and their owners were queued up for cheeseburgers, chickMutt’s Original Chicken Sandwich, Mutt’s Burger, 5317 Clearfork Main St, FW, 817-377-0151, en sandwiches, and boozy shakes. muttscantina.com crinkle-cut fries, Harlem Shake. The crowd was also there, we soon learned, to hear the results of the costume contest. Our money was on Bacon ratcheted up the unctuous flavor of the double burger with cheese.

December 2018

WHEN 3-8pm Mon-Thu, noon-8pm Fri, 11am-8pm Sat-Sun. Kitchen open daily until 8pm. Photo by Crystal Wise

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VIBE Dog owners, dog lovers and those who don’t mind slobber with their side of fries.

2801 W 7th St • Fort Worth, 76107 • 817.882.6554

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rendering them juicy foils to the simple a Dalmatian dressed as Bozo the Clown, lettuce and tomato accompaniment. A but there was also a cute dachshund couple of pieces of bacon (which you Ninja Turtle and various and sundry can add to anything here) ratcheted up darling bumblebees among the smallthe unctuous flavor on my son’s double dog set. burger. We were just focused on corralling Both chicken sandwiches were our pups and eating some grub. Because winners, too. A thick, crunchy batter of the place’s order-at-the-counter modencased a butterflied breast on the Origel, simply waiting for food in a sea of inal chicken, while the Skinny Mutt, canines posed a challenge. And seeing as with a relatively thin breast, got props the patio was packed, the kitchen took for its chicken-to-American-cheese its sweet time cranking out our lunch. ratio. You can clip your dog’s leash to a Mutt Sauce, a mustardy mayo mix, post underneath the picnic-style tables, coats practically everything, as do the but my husband knew he would have slices of American. The to remain standing — our dogs are tall enough to steal ENTREE PRICES former offered a welcome acidity that cut through the virtually anything off the $5.95 to $10.95. fried-food haze. (I could table. He was happy to be have sworn we had paid for holding two leashes in one two orders of fries, but hardly any were hand and a burger in the other. My two left after a few minutes. Ahem, Frank?) kids and I tore into lunch. I ordered We took the Harlem Shake, studpractically the entire menu, which is ded with Oreo cookies, to go. It was so small and skews Shake Shack-esque, thick it needed some time to set up — a especially because of the stellar crinfirst attempt to taste it netted nothing, kle-cut fries. even with the wide straw. There are two chicken sandwich As I slurped away, I heard a man choices — a fried version called the ask my husband about our furry duo: Original Chicken and a grilled one, the “Are they working dogs?” Skinny Mutt — as well as two burgers, Luna and Frank, perhaps tired of a single or a double. Another item was such employment pressure, tugged on intriguing: the Hot Pickles & Cheese their leashes. They were doggone tired sandwich, billed as a grilled cheese with and ready for a Sunday afternoon footfried pickles. The skinny all-beef patties were ball nap. And, quite Frankly, so was I. impressively cooked medium rare,

December 2018



night life New Frontiers at Locust Cider Fort Worth-born brothers are poised to become local pioneers. BY SUSIE GEISSLER

The next time you take a swig of a crisp, cold, hard apple cider, pour a little out for John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed. This 1800s-era

nurseryman’s penchant for orchard planting did pave the way economically for early settlers to expand into the Western frontier. What most storytellers forget about the legend is that the apples that came from Johnny’s trees were wholly inedible and proved suitable only for fermentation. Thus cider –– easier to make than wine or beer and safer to drink than water –– became the hooch that quenched the thirst of our perpetually intoxicated American forefathers. Fast-forward to today, and craft producers like new local denizen Locust Cider have started popping up again across the states. For brothers Jason and Patrick Spears, North Texas proved a tempting place to set up an offshoot of their successful Washington-state cidery business. The spirit of the Fort Worth natives’ historically significant new endeavor is evident in the production facility and taproom. Tucked into the corner space of an old but recently updated building on the Near Southside, large

doors open toward South Main Street, beckoning visitors. The vibe here is no-frills chill, with plain, utilitarian seating, vibrant murals, and a rough-hewn bar splitting the production and visitor spaces. Toward the back of the room, small flat-screen TVs glow with old-school video game platforms like Nintendo instead of the cacophony of cable sports chatter. Make no mistake, though. The point of the room is for guests to imbibe fermented fruit concoctions. At the bar, five taps are dedicated to the core lineup of Original Dry, Dark Cherry, Sweet Aged Apple, Honey Pear, and Vanilla Bean. The remaining five taps feature rotating selections like Blueberry Lavender, Apricot Habanero, and New England Amber. All pours are naturally gluten-free. If you tend to find some mass-produced varieties of cider a sugar shock or aggressively tart, the antidote is Locust’s smooth, citrusy session-style Original Dry. Beyond that excellent entry-level selection, the staff proved adept at guiding newcomers according to their tasting preferences. Toss a few parameters their way, conveying your love or hate of bitter, sweet, sour, heavy, or light, and wait for their palate prescription.

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Locust Cider WHERE 710 S Main St, FW, 817-344-7035. VIBE Relaxed, hip, and festive. PRICES $5-$10

WHEN 3-9pm WedThu, 3-10pm Fri, noon-10pm Sat, noon-8pm Sun.

Indulge in old-school video games while you imbibe locally made cider at Locust.

Photo by Twig Capra

December 2018


For an annual fee or a lifetime membership, anyone can become members of The Swarm Locust Cider Club, which includes some exclusive perks, free pints and flights, and access to new releases. Tugging gently at your heartstrings and not just the purse strings, a $25 donation from each membership goes to support awareness of and research on hydrocephalus, an incurable lifelong brain condition that afflicts children around the world, including Lucy, the daughter of co-owner Jason and his wife, Rebecca Spears. Though the brothers Spears originally hail from Fort Worth, they entered the cider business by way of the apple-heavy lands of the Pacific Northwest. Much like the enterprising Appleseed, their return to become local pioneers and support their community is also helping people get a little tipsy –– just like our forefathers.

Manager Lou Littlefield and co-owner Patrick Spears have created a no-frills, comfy vibe at Locust.

Photo by Twig Capra

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THE FULL SPREAD

Make your New Year’s party extra sweet with Sixty6 & Co., a catering operation that specializes in cakes, cupcakes, “doughcakes,” and cocktails, all served from a refurbished ’66 camper named Patricia. For more information, visit sixty6andco.com.

Photo by Kesley Wilson

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E IG H T ONE SE V E N

Chef Jen Williams’ “Meat Stick” menu from her pop-up at Locust Cider featured a Chix Stix, with mojito-cider-marinated chicken, Romesco sauce, and mint; and a Veggie Veggie Bang Bang, with charred oyster mushrooms, butternut squash, red grapes, smoked eggplant dip, and pomegranate. Photo by Brian Hutson

Fort Pop-Up These short-lived eateries are appearing all over town, but why? BY ERIC GRIFFEY

You couldn’t order any of the sweet confections that lined the pastry cases at Stir Crazy Baked Goods on West Magnolia Avenue. The near-full-capacity crowd on hand that rainy Friday evening didn’t fill the garage salechic dining room for the outstanding organic bakery’s deli-

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cious-looking cupcakes, cookies, and macaroons –– though everyone was eating a slice of pie. Black Cat Pizza owner and pop-up impresario Jaime Fernandez, who recently helmed the kitchen at the scandalously underrated, sorely missed wine bar 44 Bootlegger,

December 2018


was slinging bubbly, crackly-crusted pizza out of Stir Crazy’s kitchen. Atop his intriguingly experimental pizzas, Fernandez tends to use ingredients you’re more likely to see on the menu of a French bistro. On the evening I dropped by, he was serving pies topped with roasted carrot, wine-braised leeks, creamy béchamel sauce, and roasted duck. His years of experimentation have rendered a wild range of results, including some that are definitely pizza and others that are rather out-there interpretations. Black Cat’s twice-a-week residency at Stir Crazy isn’t some slapdash, improvised operation, though it is impermanent and sort of secret. Fernandez is one of dozens of well-known, talented chefs who set up and break down service in one night, vanishing like a carnival that moves on to next warehouse, art gallery, retail store, or wherever the epicurious masses crave something new and exciting. Over the last several years, popup restaurants have become common around town, placing transient chefs in makeshift kitchens every-

December 2018

Hao & Dixya’s ginger, apple, pork and beef soup dumplings were a hit at their Arts Goggle 2018 pop-up at The Collective Brewing Project. Photo by Brian Hutson

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LITTLE RED WASP KITCHEN + BAR 808 Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76102 / (817) 877-3111 / littleredwasp.com

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free

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every bottle has a story

Chef Jaime Fernandez hosts biweekly pop-ups at Stir Crazy bakery, where he experiments with pizza toppings ranging from gourmet to exotic. Photo by Crystal Wise where. Some pop-ups are sneak previews, market tests of restaurants to come, or offerings from chefs whose only gigs are the temporary eateries. The triumph of pop-ups, which cropped up around the country post-recession, is that they are just as much focused on the experience as the food –– how we eat matters, in some cases, more than what. For chefs, a pop-up presents an opportunity for them to reinvent themselves with every new menu. Chef Jen Williams, who regularly hosts pop-up brunches at The Collective Brewing Project, Acre Distilling, and other venues, said she feels pop-ups fill a void in our local culinary community. “I look at [area] menus, and feel like I never have an option,” she said. “Sure, we’ve got pizza, burgers, pub fare, and tacos, but cooking outside of North Texas as a young cook gave me a different perspective. I believe it’s a chef ’s job to create and introduce new ingredients and innovation in our craft. If we don’t, who will? And

December 2018

Co-Founder

Co-Founder

Each one of our bottle caps is made by hand in our Fort Worth distillery, using rare and exotic leathers sourced from local bootmakers such as the legendary M.L. Leddy’s. Every resulting bottle cap is a unique celebration of quality and craftsmanship, just like our TX Whiskey.

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how would anyone else ever know?” Some chefs, like Fernandez and Victor Villarreal, owner of the recently opened Abe Froman of Fort Worth gourmet pizza, have used their pop-ups as springboards to brick-and-mortar restaurants. Others, such as Hao Tran, who, along with her partner, Dixya Bhattarai, make up the culinary duo Hao and Dixya, have eschewed the idea of making cooking their main gig. Opening a new restaurant is astronomically expensive and equally risky.

On Williams’ “Brunch Board,” all of the produce is locally sourced. The rest of the smorgasbord includes housemade ricotta cheese, capocollo from New York, triplecreme brie, tomato jam, Burleson Cheese Gruyere Popovers, and seasonal fruit. Photo by Brian Hutson.

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Hundreds of restaurants compete for a limited pool of customers. Her popups, Tran said, act as a hedge against the vast and relentless waves of uncertainty. “Dixya and I thought that pop-ups were the easiest way to get ourselves out there, but they’re still manageable for us with regards to cost and time,” said Hao, who teaches high school science as her main job. “We also choose when or where to have them, which is another advantage.”

For diners, pop-ups make them feel like they’re in on some great secret only a few in-the-know people can access –– something akin to following a band before it blew up. Follow a few hot young chefs on Instagram, and you’re in the club –– if you can get a seat. Trendy pop-ups like the Hot Box Biscuit Club sell out faster than a Beyoncé concert, minutes after the chefs announce the events through their email list. Zest followed five pop-ups to try and understand what drives these chefs to undertake the massive effort required to create a one-shot eatery for an exclusive crowd. For Williams, the answer is simple: Pop-ups, more than restaurants,

December 2018


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allow patrons and chefs a new line of communication –– a shared experience that’s as elemental as your grandmother’s table “Food should be fun and experienced comfortably,” she said. “It’s not about a stuffy experience or what you wear. It’s about the food.”

The Hot Box Biscuits Club’s pop-ups sell out in a matter of minutes, thanks in part to the club’s enormous brunch sandwiches like The Dolly Parton, a sugar-cane-brined fried chicken breast sprinkled with #tastydust and slathered in breakfast sausage red-eye gravy. Photo by Twig Capra

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December 2018


Who

Mariachi’s Dine-In

secret sauce

Where

301 S Sylvania Ave, FW, 682-760-9606

Vibe Ramshackle chic, with brightly painted-on luchador masks and booths; set in the corner of a convenience store.

All the Tacos Mariachi’s Dine-In on the East Side is worth finding –– and then gorging. BY IAN CONNALLY

Eating good tacos, frequently and in large quantities, is, of course, one of the central tenets of living happily. Taquerias, priestly in

their purveyance of these corn-cradled bursts of joy, rightly hold a place of reverence in the lives of the taco devotee –– for many of us, the question of precisely where we should go for exactly which taco, and when, is one that is as entwined with our identities as, say, our relationship with the divine. Or with bourbon. These are matters of doctrine. Of dogma. Of truth. And, because such truth is subjectively personal, you and I almost certainly disagree. It has been, however, my belief that, beyond this landscape of subjectivity, there are a couple of truths that remain uncontroversial. First: There are always better fillings available than chorizo. Mostly, it’s cut too fine, drowning in a slick of yellow-red oil, and overseasoned. Because of this, I have established chorizo as a fallback position, an accent to the eggs on that fourth breakfast taco, the one I’ll eat only if my state requires grease for medicinal purposes. Second: Nobody will-

Entree Prices // $1.70-$3.25 When // 11am-7pm Sun, Tue & Wed, 11am-11pm Thu-Sat.

Our critic ate his way through the taco menu at Mariachi’s Dine-In.

Photo by Crystal Wise

well. Asada, carnitas, and barbacoa ingly orders the chicken. Chicken Don’t-Miss Dishes were as they should be, each a fine is on a taqueria’s menu because, Mariachi Taco with soft-fried egg, example. Pastor, with its interplay of contrary to our collective better chicken taco, and pastor taco. pineapple and cinnamon, stood out judgment, we keep bringing among our initial volley. And then, our children with us, and their unanticipated, came the chicken. underdeveloped understanding Cubes of dark meat, coated in chile and cumin and of goodness causes them to reject the unfamiliar. On bursting with hickory smoke, elevated this taco above tacos, no child is enlightened. So it was not without strongly voiced doubts that the other offerings we sampled. It was rich, complex. Engulfed as I was in the shock of this revelation, I was I acquiesced when my guests insisted that we sample stunned speechless by my first bite of chorizo. Houseevery taco available at Mariachi’s Dine-In. Ashley made and coarsely chopped, this was fiery-red, sweet, Miller and Chef Angel Feuntes’ new taqueria, housed unassumingly inside a convenience store on the corner and balanced. It was worldview-shattering, philosophy-challenging stuff. opposite Martin House Brewing Company on the We had set out to eat the whole taco menu, so East Side, boasts a larger than usual range of options it made sense to order our chorizo in the namesake for filling your taco, torta, burrito, or bowl, including nine different meats, among them chorizo and chicken. Mariachi Taco –– a flour tortilla piled high with lettuce, tomato, queso fresco, and avocado. We added a We ordered all of them. We briefly discussed methods soft-fried egg to each because, well, they were available. for ensuring some order to the coming feast before And here it was, my reason to dream of this luchadorwe were confronted by piles of animal parts enrobed mask-adorned corner of Dave’s Food & Deli. Runny in sweet yellow-corn tortillas, freshly charred and still yolk, creamy and rich, coated the vegetables and meat, steaming. Abandoning all plans of order, we flung an ur-hollandaise playing foil to the bright spice of the ourselves at the platter chorizo. Finishing the last bites, I realized that my taco without restraint. Chef Angel Fuentes brings doctrine –– my view of the landscape of this town, as Joy ensued. Then years of experience in well, perhaps, and my relationship with the divine –– confusion. Here were upscale eateries to Mariachi’s have changed for good. all the standards, done kitchen. Photo by Crystal Wise.

December 2018

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December 2018


Coming Soon Here are some of the restaurants opening in December that we can’t wait to try. BY ANNA CAPLAN

Ashim’s Hibachi Grill

424 Taylor St, 214-283-9122 Thanks to Kickstarter, this new sushi, rice bowl-and-more restaurant is a reality for its young owner, 30-yearold Assamad Ashim. Located a few blocks west of the Sundance Square Plaza action, the fast-casual eatery’s attractive interior sets the scene for an equally nice-looking menu. Sushi is a highlight, but expect hibachi chicken, New York strip, and filet mignon entrees, too.

Chubby’s Burger Shack

7914 Camp Bowie W Blvd 817-244-4474 Call it another holiday gift: This beloved west-side outpost gets a new lease on life just a year and change after a small fire did major damage to the restaurant. Expect the same three-pound burgers and addictive fries and rings. About the only thing that has changed at this cozy sports bar is its slightly different dining room layout.

Falafel Haus

8850 North Tarrant Pkwy, North Richland Hills, 817-576-2630 The website says the falafel here is the “best on Earth,” which is a big brag. It’s safe to say it is the best in North Richland Hills, offering multiple ways to enjoy the garbanzo bean fritter. You can get it in a wrap, a bowl, or as the protein in a salad. There’s also hummus (two flavors) and an intriguing chickpea salad, composed of the star ingredient as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, olives, and crumbled feta. Yes, peas.

December 2018

Chef Joshua Harmon is one of 14 food purveyors at the just-opened Food Hall at Crockett Row. Photo Courtesy of Hutson Creative

Food Hall at Crockett Row

3000 Crockett St, 817-810-9076 Fort Worth gets a food hall, just a year after the North Texas standard-bearer (Legacy Food Hall) opened in Plano. While the Cowtown version is much smaller (14 stalls), there are many highlights, chief among them chef John Tesar’s cult-favorite Knife Burger: His Ozersky Burger, with its melted American cheese and thinly sliced red onion, should qualify as a Christmas miracle. Other notable efforts include chefaround-town Victor Villarreal with Abe Froman’s of Fort Worth (pizza and more) and Butler’s Cabinet from chef Joshua Harmon.

Grimaldi’s Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria

5276 Monahans Av, 817-377-0642 The Fort Worth opening has been a long time coming, but it looks like this New York-based chain is finally debuting midmonth in the Shops at Clearfork. Known for its black-tinged crusts and smoldering slices, the restaurant uses “fresh ingredients and handmade mozzarella,” according to company literature. Located across the street from an AMC movie theater and a Pinstripes bowling alley, it will be a welcome family-friendly addition in a sea of upscale eateries.

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