Main Image: B&B Butchers Fort Worthians know how to dress up and dine just as readily as we know how to throw ourselves a barbecue. There’s even a phrase (and it might have been coined by Chef Jon Bonnell): “Fort Worth Fancy” –– not specifically black tie required, but a place where the experience is upscale and the meal is likely to be an event.
B&B Butchers is one of the new kids on the block, but it rapidly became one of my favorites after both a fabulous dinner and an exceptional brunch. Whether you want lunch, dinner or brunch, the service at the Clearfork restaurant is second to none.
If Darren, the charming managing partner/GM, isn’t busy, he might take you on a tour of the deli (where you can purchase DIY Chef Tommy’s Bacon) or the meat locker where the restaurant house ages the meat you’ll eat tonight.
Unique Experience: Ask about the Meet Our Meat tastings in the butcher shop with wine pairing for you and at least seven of your friends.
Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine & Waters
It’s no secret that Jon Bonnell is one of Fort Worth’s most beloved chefs. He’s the proprietor of three local restaurants (but we’re not including the co-ed casual Buffalo Bros. on this list). Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine has been serving farm-to-table Creole and Southwestern-flavored cuisine since 2001.
Waters, Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine, relocated to Sundance Square from Crockett Row at West 7th last year, and between Bonnell and Chef Anthony Felli (formerly of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse), the restaurant is full of impeccably fresh oysters and ecologically sustainable, seasonal and wild-caught seafood from reputable sources. It’s not often that a restaurant produces a top-notch dining experience while being good stewards of the environment.
Unique Experience: Chef Bonnell will provide you with the recipe for anything in the kitchen. All you have to do is ask!
Capital Grille is the epitome of a special event restaurant, but it’s also one of the few that does a great lunch. You can chose from $20 plates (soup or salad plus a choice of meat or fish with a side) or go for the three-martini “Mad Men” style lunch with a bone-in New York strip steak or filet mignon.
Unique Experience: From July through September, a selection of California and Washington Duckhorn Wines will be available via the Generous Pour promotion.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse
For as long as I can remember, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse has been holding up their corner by the Convention Center. The food takes a diner into the upper reaches of luxurious eating. Foie Gras? Check. Lobster Bisque? Check. Wagyu Tomahawk chop? Check. And Del’s is so serious about getting your steak cooked perfectly that the server will bring a small flash light and request that you cut into your meat to see if it’s just as you want it to be.
Unique Experience: The Prime Pair, a prix fixe menu offering your choice of starter, meat or fish entrée, and side.
Eddie V's Prime Seafood
Before Bonnell’s Waters, Eddie V's Prime Seafood was pretty much the only game in town for excellent seafood. It’s still a fantastic choice for an anniversary or business dinner. The shellfish tower (lobster, shrimp, oysters and crab claws heaped on ice) is a wonder to behold.
Unique Experience: Happy Hour (all evening Sunday and Monday, Tuesday through Saturday until 7PM) includes dollar Gulf Coast oysters, a selection of warm and cold appetizers, and a well-priced drinks menu in the bar.
Ellerbe Fine Foods
What do Southern Living Magazine, Bon Appetit, chef-turned-media mogul Rachael Ray, and the Fort Worth Weekly’s original Chow, Baby have in common? All have spent a significant amount of ink singing the praises of Ellerbe Fine Foods.
It’s hard to believe that Chef Molly McCook’s restaurant, which pays loving homage to the food of her Louisiana youth, will be a decade old next year. The restaurant remains every bit as good as it was when I reviewed it in 2009.
Unique Experience: Ellerbe bills itself as a lovely place for a bridal or baby shower (no lie there), and you can enjoy episodic dinner events paired with wine tasting.
Fixe Southern House
Fixe Southern House Chef James Rogers elevates the southern Louisiana cuisine his mama taught him to new heights. Everything made with the biscuit dough –– the crawfish and lobster pie, the blackberry cobbler and, of course, the steaming, fluffy, layered biscuits –– is magnificent.
Unique Experience: There’s a table for 10 directly in front of the kitchen providing a chef’s-eye view of your biscuits being buttered. Reserve that and you’ll be the hero of the evening.
You’ll have a sublimely elegant dining experience at Grace. The sommelier-curated wine list is second to none, and the house-cured charcuterie, meat and fish selections (like the Maine Diver scallops with caviar butter sauce) have really put this 10-year old restaurant on the Fort Worth culture map.
Unique Experience: The chef’s tasting menu, in standard or vegetarian versions, offers your table a taste of all the highlights from Chef Blaine Staniford’s kitchen.
Reata Restaurant doesn’t specifically bill itself as a “white tablecloth restaurant,” but the service and atmosphere are as top-notch as the views from the rooftop patios. Across two decades, a host of executive chefs including Grady Spears, Lou Lambert and Juan Rodriguez, have created inspired dishes.
Unique Experience: Reata’s one of the few white tablecloth places to offer brunch. Their take on chicken and waffles –– a cake batter waffle topped with fried quail –– is positively opulent.
Clay Pigeon Food & Drink
Clay Pigeon Food & Drink and Piattello Italian Kitchen are both owned by Chef Marcus Paslay. Both restaurant’s names are a play on the plate-like clay disks that skeet shooters use, but the cuisine couldn’t be further apart. Piattello’s authentic, rustic Italian cuisine garnered notice from The Hallmark Channel and Texas Monthly, while Men’s Journal and The Travel Channel highlighted food and drink from Clay Pigeon. Even the folks at Eater Dallas cross the Trinity to take note of the goings-on in Paslay’s kitchens.
Lonesome Dove Western Bistro
Tim Love’s flagship restaurant offers fun and quirky takes on cuisine that’s as old as the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail. Rabbit-rattlesnake sausage, pozole, Texas red chili and chicken fried steak sit alongside a Wagyu Tomahawk ribeye on Lonesome Dove Western Bistro's unique menu. If you want to introduce your out-of-town guests to the cowboy way, this is the place. Last year Travel + Leisure called Love’s menu “cowboy cuisine at its finest.”
The sleekly elegant Pacific Table was the second of four restaurants opened by San Angelo native Chef Felipe Armenta. Unlike many Fort Worth steakhouses that hearken to the cowboy/vaquero history, Pacific Table looks toward the Pacific Northwest with lots of fresh shellfish, sushi, cioppino and miso-kissed salmon.
Don’t worry, there’s beef on the menu, too. While we love all of Armenta’s restaurants (including the gorgeous but much more casual Press Café in Clearfork), the dining experience here is truly unique.