Food & Drink

Why not every city can get a Babe’s: North Richland Hills is next

A fried chicken biscuit with egg at Mash’d.
A fried chicken biscuit with egg at Mash’d. Handout photo

Not every city can get a Babe’s Chicken Dinner House.

But North Richland Hills is getting a very special one.

The new Babe’s coming to Northeast Loop 820 is filling a 73,100-square-foot building, the former city library and rec center.

It’s the first new Babe’s in six years and also the first opened in tandem with Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes, the company’s steakhouse-homestyle cooking concept.

It’s also Northeast Tarrant County’s first Babe’s with the full menu, including first-rate smoked chicken, fried catfish and chicken tenders. (The tiny, original Roanoke location, the “real” Babe’s, serves only fried chicken and chicken-fried steak.)

Owner Paul Vinyard had promised more dual locations and also other locations, including a Bubba’s Cooks Country, the company’s original takeout restaurant in University Park, serving the old Youngblood’s restaurants’ fried chicken recipe.

Vinyard has opened Babe’s in Garland and Carrollton but then chose outlying cities such as Sanger, Burleson and Granbury, aiming to become a destination attraction for a wider area with appeal to both city and country diners.

It was ranked one of the three best fried chicken restaurants in America by Southern Living (along with Kansas City’s legendary Stroud’s), and saluted in The New York Times ( “New York has nothing to compare with the excellence of Babe’s”).

Sweetie Pie’s has more than 20 items, including salads, and desserts such as red velvet cake and apricot fried pie.

Babe’s has nine regional locations, including the cozy Roanoke original, open daily for lunch and dinner (lunch starts early at 10:30 a.m. Sundays) at 104 N. Oak St., 817-491-2900,

Sweetie Pie’s is open daily for lunch and dinner at 201 W. Main St., Decatur, 940-626-4555,

Raise the flag, redux

Also opening in North Richland Hills, and in only a few days:

Pancho’s Mexican Buffet.

The raise-your-flag-for-refills Tex-Mex buffet of childhood memories will open a new location at 6238 Rufe Snow Drive, in the Rufe Snow Village shopping center at Mid-Cities Boulevard.

Pancho’s national company has faded, but local franchisees kept it going with locations in southwest Arlington and northwest and southwest Fort Worth.

The red-green-and-white papel picado banners are up in the new location, a former Chinese buffet. Watch for it to open by mid-July.

Monday morning Mash’d

Mash’d, the gastrodistillery specializing in food and moonshine, is joining the holiday brunch list with a special July Fourth menu.

Mash’d’s brunch includes fried chicken on chorizo-cheddar biscuits, caramel French toast or the “Manhole Cover,” a 14-inch blueberry-butterscotch pancake.

Brunch prices are $8.25-$17.95, plus special $2 mimosas or $5 bloody marys; open for lunch and dinner daily at 2948 Crockett St., Fort Worth, 817-882-6723,

Firecracker lunches

Also serving Independence Day brunch or lunch:

In Fort Worth: Max’s Wine Dive (open for brunch every Monday), Bird Cafe, Cork & Pig Tavern, Del Frisco’s Grille, Gloria’s, La Perla Negra, Little Red Wasp (brunch menu), Mercury Chophouse and Reata, among many.

In Southlake: Copeland’s of New Orleans and Del Frisco’s Grille.

Tex-Mex for America

Another July Fourth promotion:

El Fenix Mexican restaurants offer free sopaipillas all weekend.

These are special star-staped, sugar-dusted treats. They’re free with any entree through July 4;

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538,, @EatsBeat. His column appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in