River East is a multicultural area of Fort Worth rich in history: a combination of tree-lined streets, vibrant neighborhood associations, and a thriving urban community. There are more mom ‘n’ pop barbecue and soul food restaurants per capita here than in any other part of the city. Here are a few reasons why River East may truly be the soul of Fort Worth.
1.Campesino’s Café – According to the restaurant’s website, a campesino is a hard-working farmer. The menu items and plates here are certainly big enough to fill any worker’s appetite. Case in point: The Si Se Puede burrito –– five pounds of your choice of meat and veggies, rice, and beans wrapped in a flour tortilla. Perhaps that’s a meal to share.
2. Gypsy Scoops – The little ice cream truck people have been chasing all across town has a new brick-and-mortar home on the Eastside. The ice cream menu is seasonal, but two of the classic flavors combine some of our favorite tastes. Wookie’s Cookies is a cinnamon ice cream with pieces of oatmeal cookie and chocolate chunks, while Gypsy Bride is a take on the flavor of Italian wedding cake, with chocolate chips and pieces of cake in vanilla ice cream.
3. Griff’s Hamburgers - We don’t use the term “legendary” often, but Griff’s has been an institution at the Lancaster location longer than some of us can remember. The southern regional chain (with locations in Haltom City, River Oaks, and in Dallas, Louisiana and New Mexico) serves up single, double, and triple cheeseburgers, a cheesy chicken BLT, and a fish sandwich, to name a few of the menu items. The steak finger basket is essentially portable pieces of chicken-fried steak, served with gravy, fries and Texas toast.
4. Hoberts Soul Food Canteen – The blink-and-you'll-drive-by-it restaurants has all the soul food classics, including turnip greens, smothered steak, black-eyed peas, baked chicken and chittlings. “Granny Cille” has some beautiful grand kids (see the Facebook pictures if you don’t believe us) and makes some beautiful food.
5. Taqueria Tepito, 1104 Miller Ave – It’s hard to miss the small purple building on Miller Ave. The menu at the decade-old Tepito’s is full of inexpensive street tacos –– thick corn tortillas filled with lengua, carne asada or tripas, sold individually or in a plate with rice and beans for under $7. Tipito’s also makes a good torta with lightly grilled bolio bread. There’s a nod to the area with the Polytechnica torta–– milanesa (thin fried meat), chorizo sausage and cheese in a grilled torta bun. Each table has a squeeze bottle of spicy red and spicier green sauce to augment your choice.
6. Wilson’s BBQ – Pitmaster Leroy Wilson is a second-career restaurateur –– he was in the IT industry before the barbecue bug got to him. For more than a decade, Wilson’s has served hickory-smoked meat cooked in an on-site pit. The restaurant’s open daily, and most of the lunch specials run a little under $9.
7. Tributary Cafe - The river-themed cafe brings a taste of New Orleans to the vibrant River East district. Cajun/Creole food is served up in a cozy atmosphere. Live music is often on the calendar as local musicians play tunes on the open-air patio.
8. Sammie's BBQ - Burgers, ribs, brisket tacos and more grace the menu of Sammie's BBQ. Pair these up with one of the 14 sides available, topped off with the dessert of the day. Specials and double meat plates will run you anywhere from $5 to $14. Don't miss Double Burger Wednesdays - dine-in only - at $1 a pop.
9. Mariachi's Dine-In - This unassuming restaurant holed up inside a gas station off Sylvania Avenue near Martin House Brewing Co. will knock your socks off. Every dish, from the street tacos to the burgers, are packed with flavor. And the locals agree.
The restaurant has been named Fort Worth Magazine's Reader's Choice for "Best Hole-in-the-Wall" and "Best Tacos." One more thing, they have a separate vegan-friendly menu for the non-meat eaters in your life.