Smokin’ Hot News
Barbecue lovers, rejoice! Opening day for the second location of Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ draws near. Pitmaster-owner Billy Woodrich took over the far west side spot occupied by neighborhood bar The Score. He revamped it with a mix of rustic, Texana and kitschy décor — from rusted-out Coca Cola signs to disco balls to bathroom stalls constructed with planks of torched cedar wood.
“I did everything myself with a small crew of four or five guys,” he says. “Every piece of this place is a piece of me. That’s why it’s taken us so long to get open. I wanted to take my time and make sure everything is perfect.”
Woodrich will use J&R Oyler smokers (which he’s been using at his original North Las Vegas Trail business for two years now) to slow smoke brisket, sausage, ribs and other ‘cue essentials. One of the most popular dishes at the original location, chicken-fried steak, is on the menu (whew!), along with a handful of items exclusive to the new spot, such as weekend breakfast dishes. He’s hung onto The Score’s stage in hopes of hosting live country and rock bands, and there will be a large patio area too. Woodrich says the joint will be up and running in late August or early September.. 7709 Camp Bowie West, Fort Worth, 817-367-2200, www.billystxbbq.com.
Grace’s Greatest Hits
If restaurants are the new rock ‘n roll, Grace is currently promoting its greatest hits album. The downtown fine dining restaurant recently unveiled a “summer classics” menu made up of some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. For $99 a couple, you get a choice of soup/salad (you can’t go wrong with the chilled melon and curry soup); a filet and Maine Diver scallops entrée; the choice of two sides ranging from the restaurant’s fantastic smoked potato puree to citrus-roasted beets; and a shareable dessert. There are three choices: butterscotch pudding with marcona almond crumble and salted caramel gelato; a chocolate tart with huckleberries, peanut butter sorbet and toasted peanut crumble; or a selection of seasonal sorbets. Reservations are recommended. 777 Main St., Fort Worth, 817-877-3388, www.gracefortworth.com.
A Taste of Africa
African cuisine is in short supply in Tarrant County but a new spot in Arlington helps fill the void. Opened in May by Lola and Malcolm Fajemirokun, Taste-Afrik is a small restaurant located in a strip mall with an entire community of ethnic restaurants- Poke Bowl, El Mofongo and Havana Bar & Grill. Taste-Afrik’s menu is made up of dishes closely tied to the couple’s Nigerian homeland: jollof rice (a rice dish made with tomatoes, onions and cumin); suya (grilled meat on a stick, similar to a kebab); pounded yam with dried plant seeds called egusi; various meat pies; and “puff-puff” — fried, sweet dough balls akin to doughnuts. Wash it all down with housemade sorrel, a perky drink made from hibiscus, cloves and ginger. Lola cooks most of the food and Malcolm handles the grill.
“My wife has a deep passion for cooking and I love anything that has to do with grilling,” says Malcolm. “We’ve been catering for friends for a long period of time and finally decided to make a go of having our own restaurant.” 1201 W. Arbrook Blvd., Arlington, 682-323-7609, www.reachsnacktime.com.
Guilt-free Bakery Opens Near Central Market
Unrefined Bakery, a gluten-free bakery chain out of Dallas, recently opened its first branch in Fort Worth on Hulen Street near Central Market. It’s a bakery that specializes in making you feel less guilty about visiting a bakery. Sweet treats such as cookies, cinnamon rolls and cakes are gluten-free and soy-free and made with unrefined sugar. You’ll also find starch-free breads made with almond, flax and coconut flours. This is the sixth branch for the chain, which has three stores in Dallas, one in Frisco and one in Rockwall. 3250 Hulen St., Fort Worth, 972-467-2494, www.unrefinedbakery.com.
Juice + Yoga + Good Sandwiches
You know you’re in Denton when you’re in a juice bar and people suddenly break into yoga. That will definitely happen at Juice Lab, one of the best-known juiceaterias in little D. But the colorfully decorated spot, which opened last year in the Denton Plaza shopping mall, is now more than a juice bar and yoga studio. Owner Loni Puckett recently added a full menu featuring food that goes beyond the norm of ho-hum, juice-bar grub. For example, “smash toast” is Puckett’s rendition of avocado toast and it comes in a half-dozen varieties, including one topped with housemade hummus, sliced cucumbers and a dash of cayenne pepper. All the toasts are served on housemade vegan maple oat bread. You can sample Puckett’s vegan cashew cheese on her veggie sandwich, stuffed with seasonal veggies. Even the nachos have a lot of muscle behind them. They’re made with several housemade ingredients: sour cream, guacamole, vegan cheese and salsa. Meat-eaters, do not despair. There’s a handful of burgers made with grass-fed, local-sourced, organic beef. 508 S. Elm St., Denton, 940-218-6461, www.juicelabdentontx.com.
Let’s Taco ‘Bout New Salsa Limón
The relocated Salsa Limón is set to have a soft opening Aug. 18 in the burgeoning River District. In what may be a first in Fort Worth’s dining scene, the restaurant’s historic building — a Streamline Moderne beauty built in 1947 — was transported last year by truck from its original perch on University Drive to new digs just west of Crestwood. It was a move that attracted O.J. Simpson-like media coverage complete with a TV station helicopter sputtering above. The building will retain all of its cool architectural and design elements but now rests on an acre of land. Plans include adding a patio bar, reflecting pool and outdoor stage, as well as kid-friendly activities and weekend grilling events. Part of the land will be devoted to a garden where veggies will be plucked for the restaurant’s tacos and tortas. Owner Ramiro Ramirez says the River District is the perfect location for Salsa Limon.
“Salsa Limón is built on the foundation of celebrating community and creating unique spaces that reflect the personality of neighborhoods we are located in,” he says. The restaurant will soon be joined by Heim Barbecue, which will open its second location nearby. 5012 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth, www.salsalimon.com.
A California fast-casual pizza chain will open its first Fort Worth branch in late August or early September at the Chapel Hill Shopping Center, west of downtown. Flippin’ Pizza comes from San Diego but touts its pies as New York-style with big, floppy, foldable crusts. Pizzas are baked in a brick oven and available whole or by the slice. The menu will also include garlic knots, pepperoni rolls, wings, meatballs, roasted broccolini with olive oil and garlic and a handful of salads. Beer and wine too. 4601 West Freeway, Suite B-220, Fort Worth, www.flippinpizza.com.
After hosting several popular pop-up dinners, south side brewery The Collective Brewing Project has introduced a permanent food menu in its taproom. The short-and-sweet menu, made up of rotating cheeses, charcuterie and desserts, comes courtesy of local chef-about-town Jen Williams, who has lended her culinary handiwork to restaurants such as Piattello Italian Kitchen, Lucia and Magnolia Cheese Co. Among the desserts: Williams' signature chevre cheesecake with a fresh new twist: a berry compote made with the brewery's Lemon and Vanilla Radler beer; other dishes will also incorporate Collective Brewing suds. 112 St. Louis Ave., Fort Worth, 817-708-2914, www.collectivebrew.com.
DFW Restaurant Week begins August 7 and, for some restaurants, actually runs for three weeks until August 26. The event is a good way to eat at fine dining restaurants relatively inexpensively with prices ranging from $39 to $49 per person for three-course dinners. A portion of the proceeds from Tarrant County restaurants are donated to the Lena Pope Home. Participating restaurants include Waters, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Kirby’s Steakhouse, Grace, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Silver Fox Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House and Mercury Chop House, along with dozens of others. Spend $25 or more at Calloway's Nursery to receive a voucher for a complimentary fourth course at participating restaurants. www.dfwrestaurantweek.com.
The Catch is quickly catching on. The East Texas-spawned fried-fish mini-chain has a whopping three new Tarrant County locations. The first Fort Worth store recently opened in north Fort Worth at 5636 N. Tarrant Parkway. Another will open any day now on the west side at 6314 Camp Bowie Blvd., not far from fried-fish kingpin Zeke’s. And Arlington will get its first taste of The Catch when a location washes ashore later this summer at 5809 I-20, in the old Mijo’s Fusion space. The chain is known for fried fish and po’ boy sandwiches, but you can go breadless with salads and grease-less with grilled fish. www.thecatchusa.com.
Night owls have a new late-night dining option that doesn’t begin with the word “waffle” or end with “burger.” Boun Bistro, the classy mom-and-pop Thai and Lao spot in far north Fort Worth, is now open super late on week-end nights. On Friday and Saturday, the restaurant closes at 9:30 p.m. then reopens at 11:00 p.m. for pho and other select dishes. Closing time is 2:30 a.m. 5111 N. Beach St., Fort Worth, 682-647-1197, www.bounbistro.com.
Pokey O’s, a cookies and ice cream-sandwich truck that started rolling in Arlington last summer has recently expanded to Fort Worth. Starting in August, you can catch it from 2-8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the Westcliff Center shopping plaza at 3604 Kell St. The truck specializes in cookies-and-cream sandwiches made with Blue Bell Ice Cream and house-made cookies in flavors such as cappuccino-chocolate chunk and coconut-chocolate chip. www.pokeyostarrantcounty.com.
Fort Worth native and food news reporter Malcolm Mayhew has been writing about his city for 25 years — and eating barbecue a lot longer.