COWBOYS, CULTURE AND CUISINE
Related Document: Cowboys-Culture-and-Cuisine-Culinary-Fort-Worth-FinalL.doc
Originally known for its roots in delicious and authentic "cowboy cuisine," the culinary scene in Fort Worth is now as diverse as its population. Whether visitors crave Tex-Mex, authentic Mexican, Texas barbecue, Italian, French, Southern comfort, old-fashioned burgers or trendy farm-to-table cuisine, options abound. The city has a wonderful mix of homegrown, locally-owned restaurants as well as outposts of well-known, popular regional and national chains.
Considering the city's role as an important stop for cattle drovers along the Chisholm Trail, it's no wonder that beef is king in Fort Worth, where there is no dearth of quality steakhouses. Open since 1947, Cattlemen's Steak House in the Stockyards National Historic District specializes in aged, charcoal-grilled steaks from corn-fed cattle in a rustic atmosphere befitting real cowboys and cowgirls. Nearby, Hunter Brothers' H3 Ranch serves a variety of steaks cooked over a hickory-wood grill in a comfortable and casual Western setting. Don't limit yourself to steak here, because the thin-cut fried catfish is a house specialty.
Downtown Fort Worth has several steakhouses, including the elegant, special-occasion worthy Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, which has gracious service, hand-cut prime steaks, fresh seafood options - including cold-water lobster tails - and an extensive wine list. Also downtown is the well-known, upscale Ruth's Chris Steak House, part of a Florida-based chain with more than 100 U.S. restaurants and eight in other countries. Located in the Omni Fort Worth Hotel is the classic Bob's Steak & Chop House, consistently voted as a top steakhouse in North Texas. Capital Grille, another upscale national steakhouse chain that garners praise from diners and critics alike, is set to open downtown in spring 2012. Near the Cultural District and Texas Christian University is Silver Fox Steakhouse, a cozy, clubby and comfortable spot.
Texas game, both wild and farm- and ranch-raised, is also popular with Fort Worth diners. Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine chef Jon Bonnell makes frequent appearances on nationally televised cooking and morning news shows when he's not at his restaurant creating gourmet dishes that include elk, venison, quail, pheasant, buffalo and more - all from Texas ranches and farms. Zagat consistently rates the restaurant near perfect. At Michaels Restaurant and Ancho Chili Bar, Michael Thomson creates contemporary ranch cuisine for both the restaurant and the popular next-door bar, which has its own extensive Texas-themed menu. Reata Restaurant downtown is a favorite with Fort Worth visitors for its beautiful rooftop bar and upscale Texas cuisine, including calf fries, tenderloin tamales and buffalo rib-eyes. Each year, Reata operates a satellite restaurant at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo each year.
Chef Tim Love, who has appeared in the pages of Food & Wine magazine and on Food Network's Iron Chef and Bravo's Top Chef Masters, has several restaurants in Fort Worth. His first and most renowned is The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro located in the Stockyards. Here, game such as kangaroo, rattlesnake and wild boar are given an urban, gourmet spin in a warm, Western-influenced atmosphere. Bella Italia West, open since 1980, specializes in exotic game, such as elk, caribou, ostrich and antelope, all with an Italian twist.
For a real taste of Texas, head to one of Fort Worth's many barbecue joints. With so many to choose from, the best is a hotly debated topic even among the city residents. Having started as a small grocery in 1927, Riscky's Barbeque now operates six barbecue restaurants serving Texas beef brisket and ribs, steaks and Mexican specialties. Opened in 1958, Angelo's Bar-B-Que is known nationally for its hunting trophies, hickory-smoked meats and ice-cold beer served in huge frosted schooners. Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que now runs an outpost in the Stockyards, where mesquite-smoked meats, including the famous "Big Chop," are sold by the pound with simple sides and desserts. Family-owned and operated Cousin's has six restaurants in Tarrant County, including two at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. In 1990 the family was selected by Euro Disney to set up a Texas-style barbecue restaurant at the Paris theme park. The smoky goodness from Railhead Smokehouse can be smelled from miles around, drawing crowds to this popular (Westside) restaurant, where the beef and pork fall off the bone and the beer is cold.
MEXICAN and TEX MEX
Fort Worth has a strong Hispanic culture with many Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurant choices. Perhaps the most well known is James Beard Foundation Award-winner Joe T. Garcia's, a sprawling Northside complex of beautiful gardens and cozy rooms, where simple Tex-Mex dishes such as enchiladas and fajitas are served to thousands each week. A great-grandson of the late Joe T. Garcia, Culinary Institute of America-trained chef Lanny Lancarte studied the cuisine of Mexico before opening Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana in 2005. The comfortable, yet high-end restaurant serves specialties from the Mexican interior such as carne asada and chile rellenos that are given haute cuisine twist with ingredients such as foie gras and chanterelle mushrooms. The popular international restaurant Cantina Laredo has a restaurant downtown, where specials of the house, including carnitas, mole enchiladas and sizzling Mexican apple pie, are served in a sleek, contemporary setting. Popular for its late-night weekend hours and hearty Mexican dishes is Benito's, one of the city's favorite holes-in-the-wall on the Southside. Fresh salsa, menudo and ceviche are made from scratch and served in a kitschy, Mexican-themed space.
Located in what is quickly becoming one of Fort Worth's favorite "restaurant rows," is Ellerbe Fine Foods, named to the 10 Best New Restaurants in America by Bon Appétit in 2010. Chef Molly McCook focuses on upscale farm-to-table cuisine using the freshest local ingredients. The ever-changing menu might include such Southern specialties as Cornmeal-Crusted Redfish with Crawfish Étouffée, Sassafras-Rubbed Quail or Maw Maw's Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce. The oldest family-owned restaurant in Fort Worth, Paris Coffee Shop serves Southern dishes such as chicken and dumplings, biscuits and gravy and mile-high meringue pies at breakfast and lunch. Also serving Southern fare like chicken and waffles, fried green tomatoes and gumbo, is chef Keith Hicks of Buttons. His soul-food-based menu is complemented by nightly live music. For Southern food done the cowboy way, Tillman's Roadhouse in the bustling West 7th district serves inventive, modern riffs on shrimp and grits, meatloaf and chicken fried steak. Don't miss the table-side s'mores featuring house-made graham crackers and marshmallows.
Burger lovers have many choices. One of the oldest and most beloved is Kincaid's Hamburgers, a Fort Worth institution and former grocery store that has been cooking burgers to order since 1964 to nationwide acclaim. At chef Tim Love's two Fort Worth Love Shack locations, the most popular burger is the Dirty Love Burger, a two-handed concoction topped with "love sauce" and a fried quail egg. Thin-cut fries and hand-spun shakes (a different flavor is featured each day) round out the meal. At Fred's Texas Cafe, the Diablo Burger is like no other: a fresh half-pound patty cooked on an old-fashioned flattop grill and topped with spicy chipotle chiles. California's fast-food In-N-Out Burger, which enjoys a cult-like following, recently opened a Fort Worth location, one of the first in Texas.
For special occasions and fine dining, Fort Worth heads downtown to GRACE Restaurant, where award-winning chef, Blaine Staniford serves modern American classics in a beautiful contemporary space with a popular bar and outdoor terrace. Nearby and across from Bass Performance Hall, Ferré Ristorante e Bar offers cutting-edge Tuscan-style cuisine including brick-oven pizza, grilled steaks and handmade pastas. Inside the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Café Modern is a beautiful, serene space overlooking a large reflecting pool. Voted one of America's best restaurants by Gourmet magazine, the cafe serves lunch daily, weekend brunch and Friday-night dinner. For celebration-worthy French fare, the romantic Saint-Emilion is a must. Set in a charming home on the Westside, this popular restaurant has been serving dishes such as duck pâté, bœuf bourguignon and tarte tatin for 25 years.
For more information about all that Fort Worth has to offer its residents and visitors visit www.FortWorth.com.
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