Where to eat in 2022
Coming off the one-two punch of pandemic-related issues, players in the food and beverage industry head into the new year cooking up new plans. Hobbled by everything from staff shortages to supply issues to price increases, chefs and restaurateurs found themselves learning a new skill: the art of juggling. But 2022 promises to give us more options in fine and casual dining. In case you’re grumbling that there are too many options already, consider that Tarrant County and surrounding communities continue to grow exponentially. We’ll continue to support our favorite little taqueria, barbecue joint and diner, but we’re excited for new places to sip and sup. Here’s a list, by no means complete, of what’s in the works.
Tre Mogli Cucina Italiana
Opening Early 2022
Signage is up and so are the “we’re hiring” signs. The latest restaurant from chef Stefon Rishel and the Trident Restaurant Group (Wishbone & Flynt, Parker County Ice House), picked up steam these last few months after early construction delays inside the vintage brick building on Fort Worth’s popular Main Street south of downtown. It’s just steps away from Wishbone & Flynt. The name is a nod to the wives of the restaurant’s three partners. The restaurant will be family-friendly with an accessible menu; think Carmine’s in New York City with its bold red sauces and generous portions. The interior features booths, dark woods and an open kitchen.
402 S. Main St., Fort Worth, facebook.com/tremogli
Opening Third quarter 2022
Veteran restaurateur Adam Jones announced plans for his third downtown Fort Worth restaurant last summer. Jones already owns Grace and Little Red Wasp, plus he has been a longtime downtown resident. “Local” is Jones’ mantra: “We’re in a local iconic building with a local owner [Glenn Darden]. Our architect and contractor is local, and we’ve rounded up a bunch of local investors.” The building Jones loves so much is the 21-story First on 7th (formerly Bank of America) on the western edge of downtown. The exterior plaza, which faces Burnett Park, will house a spacious patio with existing sculptures from Isamu Noguchi anchoring the space. 61 Osteria will feature classic Italian fare (think simple ingredients but lots of flavor in a modern setting with a swanky vibe — Ibañez Shaw is the architectural firm of record). Expect an interesting wine menu, too. Veteran Blaine Staniford, Jones’ longtime chef, has been working on the menu for months. He’ll have a wood-burning hearth, rotisserie and pasta room at his disposal. The name is a nod to the year the building was completed, 1961; osteria means “tavern” in Italian.
500 W. 7th St., Fort Worth
Fixture Kitchen and Social Lounge chef-owner Ben Merritt has transformed the former Blu Crab in Fort Worth’s Ridglea neighborhood into a more welcoming space for his newest venture. He’s lightened up the front room and gave the back section a more loungelike feel with leather sofas and dark woods. He plans to get the patio cleaned up for warmer weather. But it’s the menu that has us jazzed: Grilled Gulf oysters, New Orleans BBQ shrimp and pan-seared grouper are just some of the items we’re looking forward to sampling.
6115 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, facebook.com/The-Fitzgerald-102873702097729
Opening Summer/early fall
Magdalena’s chef/owner Juan Rodriguez is adding another Northside project to his portfolio. La Coqueta is a specialty coffee and boutique wine bar with mainly small-production bottles from France, Spain, South America and Australia. Shareable plates will include Spanish- and Latin-inspired dishes including paella. For a more elevated dining experience, Rodriguez plans to have eight seats at the chef’s counter along with a special tasting menu. He’s working on the build with Rogue Architects, whose clients include Fort Brewery.
1216 N. Main St., Fort Worth
Don Artemio Mexican Heritage
Opening Late winter/early spring
With his warm demeanor and knowledge of food and wine, Adrian Burciaga won over hearts and stomachs during his stint as general manager of Café Modern in Fort Worth. Burciaga and acclaimed Mexican chef Juan Ramón Cárdenas are opening the second location (first in the U.S.) of Don Artemio in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. (Cárdenas guest-cheffed at Café Modern several times.) The original Don Artemio is located in Saltillo in northeastern Mexico, a city known for its tile, which — along with concrete and clay — is used extensively throughout the Fort Worth restaurant. Large planters trucked in from Mexico will help define the outdoor dining space in the front of the restaurant and add a lush feel when filled with greenery. As far as the food,diners can expect authentic dishes, including the signature cabrito along with aged beef, nopalitos, ceviche, tacos, homemade mole and a bar/cocktail menu offering Mexican wine along with mezcal and tequila. “We really want to emphasize the Mexican heritage,” says Burciaga, referencing everything from the food to the art.
Museum Place, 3268 W. 7th St., Fort Worth, donartemio.com
Chef Tim Love’s newest Stockyards project (the name translates to “lucky dove”) aims to open this month in Mule Alley. The Tex-Mex restaurant nestles up to the path above the creek edging the development and puts it directly across from Love’s Lonesome Dove Western Bistro. Part of the outdoor patio is shaded by a lovely old-growth oak. Indoors, look for a cactus garden, warm desert hues on the breeze block wall and a lofted ceiling filled with colorful strips of cloth to resemble a massive piñata. (The look is replicated with a weather-friendly version hanging from the oak.) Expect classic Tex-Mex with some dishes, such as the queso and birria tacos, made tableside from a rolling cart. “We want dining here to be an experience, too,” says Love, who’s also building a private club above the restaurant.
122 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth
The Beast and Company
Opening January/February 2022
Chef/owner Dustin Lee and executive chef Michael Arlt promise their “fine dining” concept is anything but stuffy and definitely unexpected. Preferring to keep the menu a surprise until they are open, Lee gave us a few teasers. Look for a Mezze Maniche, a white Bolognese-style sauce featuring goat meat, and Thai Lobster Bisque, an Asia-inspired take on the steakhouse classic. Arlt, who has worked for hotels including Grapevine’s Hotel Vin, has a strong connection to Southern cuisine. But Lee says familiar items will be tweaked. “We call our food ‘New American,’ because, unfortunately, we don’t really have a label to describe it. What we are truly trying to do is work with ingredients that we are inspired by or interested in trying,” he says. The longtime Mamma Mia space has been refreshed with light walls, black trim, marble counters, vintage mirrors and dark-stained wood floors.
1000 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, facebook.com/BeastandCoFTW
Opening Second quarter 2022
The popular restaurant in San Miguel de Allende with spectacular rooftop views will have a location in Fort Worth sometime in the new year. The former Bartaco space in the WestBend shopping center off of University Drive is getting an extensive makeover, although we’re pretty sure they can’t re-create that view. While a menu has not been released, the Mexico version is accessible online and features ceviches, bowls, fish, burgers and more.
1701 River Run, Fort Worth
Flower Child in Fort Worth’s University Park Village should be open in early 2022 as the former McKinley’s Bakery space has received a major renovation inside and out. Look for healthy dishes ranging from vegetarian to paleo.
1616 S. University Drive, Fort Worth, iamaflowerchild.com/locations/fort-worth-tx
Fred’s Texas Cafe has left the West 7th neighborhood and Currie Street building for its new home farther west. Construction has started on the former Buffalo West space, and owner Quincy Wallace anticipates a February opening. The north Fort Worth location remains open.
7101 Camp Bowie W. Blvd., Fort Worth, fredstexascafe.com
Work continues on Cork & Pig Tavern and neighboring Mesero in the Shops of Southlake. Openings are slated for the first half of 2022; find them at the corner of Southlake Boulevard and Central Avenue.
Owner Mark Guatelara says he’s still hoping for an early spring opening of the brick-and-mortar version of Ober Here, his popular Filipino food truck. He’ll remain parked by Hotel Revel until work is complete; the new location is next door to the hotel on the ground floor.
Find him at 1165 8th Ave., Fort Worth, 682-760-3904. oberhere.com/food
Look for Paris Coffee Shop to reopen this spring as construction is underway. Memorabilia from the original incarnation is being organized and equipment is getting a thorough refresh. A new interior will brighten things up, and dinner service and a full bar are highly anticipated, too. Watch the Facebook page for updates. facebook.com/ParisCoffeeShopftw
Brix Barbecue continues to serve out of The Smokestream trailer on weekends at the Bryan Avenue location as owner Trevor Sales hopes for a spring-summer opening at his first brick and mortar.
1012 S. Main St., Fort Worth, brixbarbecue.com
With everyone gearing up for the holidays last month — including us — our dining report is brief. We’re happy for another Tex-Mex option, especially one with puffy tacos. Congrats to Lanny Lancarte on getting El Pollo Tocayo, another of his ghost kitchen concepts, up and running. Pizza Verde finally leaves the pop-up life behind with its new restaurant. And if you haven’t been to La Onda in Fort Worth, you’re missing out on some darned good oysters.
Compiled by Meda Kessler and Babs Rodriguez Photos by Meda Kessler
La Onda: The addictive meroir of oysters
We’re fans of chef Victor Villarreal’s Shark-cuterie Board and weekly ceviches, but it’s the freshly shucked oysters that we sample on every visit. For those turned off by oversize and under-flavored Gulf oysters, bivalves from icy cold waters awaken the sort of interest that keeps oenophiles sipping wine. Just as terroir translates into unique vintages, where oysters are harvested — their meroir — influences saltiness, brininess, texture and size. Whether it’s creamy, slightly sweet Wellfleet and Beach Point treats from Cape Cod Bay or Canadian Savage Blondes, shown here, we suggest you dive into the adventure. The chef’s dipping sauce gilds the lily in a ha-cha-cha Latin way.
2905 Race St., Fort Worth, 817-607-8605, facebook.com/LaOndaftw
Las Palapas: A San Antonio fave finds a home in North Texas
The family-owned chain out of San Antonio has received a warm welcome at its new Keller location. The company has been in business for 40 years in South Texas for good reason: The food is fresh, and the prices are right. You’ll find all your Tex-Mex favorites, and we were happy to find puffy tacos among the offerings. We’ve dined in and look forward to the patio upgrade; a takeout order of the shrimp-stuffed poblano heated up nicely. For a low-carb option, you can sub roasted veggies for the rice and frijoles, but we think the charro beans are some of the best around.
455 Keller Parkway, 682-334-4203, laspalapas.com
Pizza Verde: Plant-based pies and more
Vegan restaurants are still an anomaly in Fort Worth, so the opening of a plant-based pizzeria has received a warm welcome. Even meat eaters, us included, appreciate the crisp-edged, nicely chewy crust and a clever combo of ingredients. A tasty cauliflower crust is an option, too. Originally a pop-up pizzeria, Pizza Verde has expanded its menu from those offerings, but the potato-leek pie remains a crowd favorite. And, in major news, we are now fans of kale thanks to the house salad. Beer and wine are available, as are a couple of desserts, including locally made gelato. The dining space is small, but takeout is an option. Follow PV on social media for updates such as happy hour specials, delivery information and new items.
Fantasma rolls out ghost kitchen chicken
Just before Christmas, chef Lanny Lancarte rolled out the third concept making up Fantasma Kitchens, his ghost kitchen located in an old Fort Worth church. Choose El Pollo Tocayo’s smoked or fried chicken along with sides such as collard greens, posole grits and esquites. The fried chicken comes with a salsa de vinagre that’s also good on the collards and the grits. Best known for Righteous Foods, Lancarte’s takeout-delivery concept includes Eat Fajitas, which he launched during COVID, and Pizza Zapasta, which features Italian dishes with Mexican ingredients and spices. Premixed cocktails in resealable containers, part of Fantasma’s clever packaging, also are available. The app makes ordering from each concept easy, and delivery drivers work directly for Fantasma. Download the app from the website, and follow each concept’s social media sites for updates.
1300 Gould Ave., Fort Worth,817-720-5090, fantasmakitchens.com
Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge dazzles at HALL Arts Hotel
Chef Dan Landsberg and food and beverage wiz Michael Gluckman, both fine-dining proteges of Stephan Pyles, are turning out some real charmers at this good-looking and underrated restaurant in the Arts District hotel. The duo’s lobster sushi roll and confit duck huaraches are standouts. The winter menu contains plenty of other stellar dishes, too, including scallops with sunchokes, impossibly tender pork belly lacquered with white miso caramel, Dr Pepper-braised beef short ribs alongside cheese grits, and any of Landsberg’s knockout desserts (don’t miss his dark chocolate pot de creme). Whether you’re a hotel guest or a local popping in for a meal, these guys know how to make you feel like you own the place.
1717 Leonard St., Dallas, 972-629-0924, elliesdallas.com
Settle in and stay awhile at Barcelona Wine Bar
Airy, light-filled and polished, this Knox-Henderson restaurant provides a sharp contrast to the many bars and fast-casual joints that now populate the neighborhood. In Spain, tapas are bar snacks — a little plate of anchovies marinated in vinegar and olive oil, perhaps, or a bowl of mussels steeped in a spicy broth. Barcelona serves both of those plus two dozen other mostly traditional small plates, including Spanish hams and cheeses, roasted vegetables, empanadas, albondigas and patatas bravas, a classic dish that marries fried potatoes with a spicy, smoky tomato sauce. If you want to go light, order a few small plates. Pair them with a glass or two of sherry, a specialty on the drink menu here. Or go big and get the double order of paella mariscos, laden with shrimp, squid, mussels and clams and plenty of crispy rice scraped up from the bottom of the pan. It’s made-to-order and built for two.
5016 Miller Ave., Dallas, 469-862-8500, barcelonawinebar.com