Eats Beat: R.J. Gator’s resurfaces, with Flori-Mex flavor

11/21/2013 12:00 AM

11/20/2013 12:32 PM

R.J. Gator’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar was given up years ago.

Broke and closed in Florida, the “Floribbean” seafood chain survived only under Texas ownership.

Now, the first new R.J. Gator’s in a decade is open in a familiar but iffy location in Fort Worth.

The restaurant is now billed as “Flori-Mex-ibbean.”

And the new location is 4413 Trail Lake Drive, in the former Pop’s near Granbury Road.

Tacos, flautas, a sloppy-Joe chimichanga and a gator-tail quesadilla have joined the menu.

The grilled and fried seafood menu might not taste Florida-fresh, but the fried catfish is OK. Caribbean spiced rice is among the side dishes, and ask for the pineapple salsa.

The best item might be the ice cream pie with praline ice cream, or the fresh-baked Gazookie cookies.

Lunches cost $8-$9, or just try one of the ample green salads with house garlic-Italian or another dressing.

R.J. Gator’s moves into both the neighborhood and the market niche of The Bottom Bar & Grill on Bluebonnet Circle, but R.J. Gator’s is in a twice-failed location.

The restaurant opened as the stunningly misnamed HotTub’s Grotto and then flopped as Pop’s, a burger grill trying to convert into a sports bar.

R.J. Gator’s owner Blake Brooks has completely redesigned the restaurant, lining simple booths around a bar and improving the sprawling outdoor bar and patio.

It’s open daily except Mondays; 817-924-1983, or in Hurst at North East Mall, 817-595-0183.

• Lots of restaurants and hotels will open Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But only Copeland’s of New Orleans serves Cajun fried turkey both days, along with a choice of cornbread dressing or Louisiana oyster stuffing.

The lone Copeland’s in Texas is in Southlake, recently remodeled as the restaurant inside the Hilton Southlake.

The $18.95 Thanksgiving dinner also includes sweet potatoes with pecan-amaretto sauce and maque choux, a Louisiana stewed corn dish with peppers.

Desserts include pumpkin-pecan cheesecake or pumpkin bread pudding. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily at 1400 Plaza Place in Southlake Town Square, 817-305-2199, www.southlakecopelands.com.

(Nearby Buca di Beppo also is open both Thanksgiving and Christmas, along with major hotels such as the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, the Four Seasons in Irving and various Hiltons, Hyatts and Marriotts.)

• For more Thanksgiving ideas, see recent columns at dfw.com/eatsbeat.

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