By Meda Kessler and June Naylor
Harvest Hall is all about options
This ambitious dining concept for the Grapevine Main/Hotel Vin project should be open this month, and a rooftop terrace will be available for more outdoor seating. Tenants eagerly awaiting a certificate of occupancy include Four Sisters – A Taste of Vietnam (the Vietnamese comfort food restaurant garners raves in Fort Worth); Arepa TX, with Latin American offerings; Chick & Biscuit (a Southern classics side project from nearby Mason & Dixie); and Spuntino (regional Italian specialties). Two food trucks, Easy Slider, known for its award-winning burgers, and ZaTaR, offering Mediterranean cuisine with modern tweaks, also are part of the spacious European-style food hall. We checked in with Spuntino owners Andrea Matteucci and Stefania Bertozzi, the husband-wife team who opened Colleyville’s Loveria Caffe in 2017. With Spuntino, they plan to offer casual snacks and meals from some of Italy’s most delicious regions, along with handcrafted pastas and a host of other scratch-made delicacies popular in the owners’ home of Emilia-Romagna. Pizza al taglio is baked in a rectangular pan and served in squares, and panini include vegetarian and gluten-free options. Bertozzi and Matteucci consulted Italian boutique wineries for the beverage menu. “We want to maintain the same philosophy of serving the best dishes, made from scratch with healthy ingredients, as we do at Loveria,” Bertozzi says, noting that she feels Spuntino is in excellent company with the other five eateries at the food hall. “We are very excited also to be with these partners. Each and every one is special.” 815 S. Main St., Grapevine, 817-796-9696, facebook.com/HarvestHallTX for updates
Fort Worth’s WestBend center finally sees the opening of Ascension Coffee in November along with ZAAP Kitchen, a family-owned concept specializing in Lao and Thai food including classic dishes such as pad Thai, pineapple fried rice and drunken noodles. This is their fourth location; learn more at zaapkitchen.com. Ascension is a concept out of Australia and opened in Dallas in 2012. The Fort Worth location offers indoor seating plus a riverside patio with a coffee-to-go option on the Trinity Trails. Pastries are sourced from Black Rooster Bakery; a full-service menu is available all day. Coffee beans are sourced from around the world. See what they’re about at ascensiondallas.com. 1701 River Run, Fort Worth, westbendfw.com
Pandemic be damned — the appetite for Mexican food won’t be suppressed.
Original Del Norte The Original Mexican Eats Cafe launches spinoff Original Del Norte at the former Northside location of El Rancho Grande. Get the Original’s menu items, including the margaritas, along with a few specialties, such as roasted chicken, quail, steak and a fish dish or two. Owner Robert Self says El Rancho’s veteran tortilla-maker of 42 years, Artemio Puente, is staying on to make the corn tortillas and chips. Expect an opening around Thanksgiving for lunch and dinner service. 1400 N. Main St., Fort Worth; watch for details at facebook.com/originalmexicaneatscafe
Los Vaqueros The Northside stalwart now has a TCU location, with the familiar LV fajitas, tacos, enchiladas and Blue Zones (plant-based) menu items, plus ceviche, grilled street corn, chef specialties and mimosas by the carafe at brunch. Look for the new Willow Park shop (moving from its former Crown Road location) to open around Thanksgiving in the revamped former Fish Creek restaurant. Owner Vicki Cisneros promises a hacienda vibe with lots of green plants and decor from Mexico’s interior. 3201 S. University Drive, Fort Worth, 817-710-8828, facebook.com/LosVaquerosUniversity; and 4899 E. I-20, Willow Park, 817-441-2300, facebook.com/LosVaquerosWest, losvaqueros.com
Maestro Tacos Fort Worth’s Cultural District gets another option as chef and longtime butcher Miguel Mendoza opens up a casual eatery. Hailing from Monterrey, Mexico, Mendoza plans a menu that includes birria, barbacoa, carnitas, pollo asado and trompo tacos, aka tacos al pastor, with handmade tortillas. Look for a daily selection of aguas frescas and cocktails incorporating tequila and mezcal. There’s patio seating and online ordering for to-go options. 3011 Bledsoe St., Fort Worth, maestrotacos.com
Del Campo Empanadas
If you’re looking for something different to feed a small gathering, we suggest the mixed-dozen special from this north Fort Worth Argentinian bakery. The goods deliver on flavor with their flaky crusts and savory fillings (the dessert versions are pretty good, too); the staff is helpful and patient if you’re a first-timer. For $35.99, you get a choice of flavors ranging from Argentine-style beef to ham and cheese to spinach. Warming instructions are included.
10724 N. Beach St., Fort Worth, 817-562-5888, delcampoempanadas.com
Panther Pie Co.
We didn’t expect to find really good pie at a lounge that specializes in board games, but many slices later, we’re a fan of baker Kaitlin Davis. The California native answered a “cook wanted” ad at Game Theory and impressed owner Patrick Lai with her culinary skills, especially when it came to desserts. During the shop’s two-month COVID closure, she worked on her flavors, resulting in the launch of Panther Pie Co. and the addition of pies to the Game Theory menu, where they are available by the slice. (They are sold whole by special order and can be picked up at the shop.) Her summer flavors — Pina Colada, The Purple Panther (blueberry and Meyer lemon), Seduced by Chocolate and Grandma’s Apple Pie — were all winners. For fall-winter, Davis has been working with new offerings: a lemon curd-style pie with a gingerbread crust finished with chamomile whipped cream; maple bourbon topped with candied bacon and roasted pecans (expect a buttermilk pie consistency); cranberry-blueberry pie with cinnamon and citrus; and pumpkin pie with swirls of salted caramel. Check out pantherpieco.com and watch for the rollout of the new menu.
Game Theory Restaurant + Bar, 804 S. Main St., Fort Worth, 817-203-4217, gametheorytx.com
YaYa Yum Boards
As a college student, Ayesha Patel was content with inexpensive meats and cheese to snack on with equally inexpensive wine. She grew and so did her taste. Armed with a business marketing degree, she still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, but her passion and palate led her to a business that’s been growing since the summer of 2019. Her cheeseboards — along with her charcuterie, dessert and breakfast options — are works of art. Patel has catered weddings and other large events, and recently announced she’s setting up shop in Grapevine. There, she’ll be able to host her own events and workshops. Learn more on her website, and while her storefront is in the works, she is taking online orders. 112 E. Texas St., Grapevine, yayayumboards.com