Take a tour of Tommy Tamale
Yelp, the online reviewing site, released its Top 100 Places to Eat for 2019 list this week, and Tarrant County is well-represented on the list, with four restaurants making it, including one placing in the Top 10.
But none did as well as another North Texas restaurant, in the small community of Celina, which straddles Denton and Collin counties and is about 42 miles north of downtown Dallas.
The sixth annual list honors “eateries from across the US that rank so highly in the Yelp community’s opinion that they earned the status of ‘must try this year.’ “ You won’t find the usual suspects here: The Tarrant County restaurants include a Fort Worth one with a charitable mission, a Fort Worth sushi spot that’s been getting a lot of word-of-mouth buzz, a whimsical bakery-cafe in Richland Hills and a hot, as in increasingly popular, tamale place in Grapevine.
The Tarrant restaurants, in order:
Tommy Tamale Market and Cafe in Grapevine came in at No. 7. This is the 9-year-old Grapevine tamale cafe’s third time to make the list, and it scores consistently high in Yelp reviews. When we say Tommy Tamale is hot, it’s kinda on fire: In December, it won a North Texas “Tamale Throwdown” thrown by our content partner, WFAA/Channel 8 (our own Bud Kennedy was a judge). Tommy Tamale is at 1689 W. Northwest Highway, Grapevine, 817-360-6385. Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily except for Sunday, when it’s closed.
Taste Community Restaurant in Fort Worth came in at No. 74. Run by chef Jeff Williams and his wife, Julie, Taste is a “pay-what-you-can-afford’ nonprofit restaurant with a mission to help feed, educate, and serve Tarrant County’s food-insecure population. “The food-insecure aren’t necessarily the homeless or the permanently poverty-stricken,” Jeff Williams told the Star-Telegram in 2017, when the restaurant opened. “Ninety percent of the food-insecure population are people who have degrees and/or have a job and just need temporary help for a small period of time.” Taste changes its menu seasonally; the winter offerings include a carrot curry soup, a stroganoff made with rib eye steak, and fennel chicken with barley. Taste is at 1200 S. Main St. in Fort Worth, 817-759-9045. Open for lunch 11 a.m. Tuesday-Sunday; closed Mondays.
Quixote Bakery Cafe in Richland Hills ranked No. 80. The French bakery, inside a house about a mile and a half west of North East Mall, features croissants, pain au chocolate, macarons, sandwiches and other treats. Husband-and-wife duo Roland and Sayda Rapalo founded the cafe a little more than a year ago; Star-Telegram contributor Celestina Blok wrote that “Sayda, a schoolteacher who was trained in France at a bakery school, does the baking while Roland works the front of the house.” Go early, because pastries sometimes sell out. 7272 Glenview Drive, Richland Hills, 682-626-5129, @quixotebakerycafe on Facebook. Open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.
Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar in Fort Worth is No. 90 on the list. The west Fort Worth sushi bar specializes, as the name indicates, in handrolled sushi, which is prepared in front of you while you wait — and while you eat: As you finish one roll, another one is prepared. Yelpers especially praise the salmon and bay scallop rolls. Hatsuyuki is in a strip at 907 Foch St. in Fort Worth, 817-720-5330, @HatsuyukiFW on Facebook. Open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; same hours except till 10:30 p.m. Friday; noon-10:30 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
Higher than any of the Fort Worth places on the list — higher than almost anything on the list — was Tender Smokehouse in Celina, which was ranked No. 2, behind a returning favorite, Bangers & Brews in Bend, Oregon. According to its website, pitmaster/owner Dante Ramirez parentered with Audrea Weimer, Eddie Bell and Torii and Katrina Hunter “with the intention to grow this location and others throughout the DFW market and beyond.” (We can’t link to it directly, but we recommend reading Dante Ramirez’s bio on the website; his background includes everywhting from a Fort Worth Weinerschnitzel to Bone Daddy’s BBQ to May Kay, where he was director of catering.) The menu is pretty straight-up barbecue, although something called the “El Jefe Sandwich” has us up for a road trip. 224 W. Pecan St., Celina, 469-202-3000. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; closed Sunday-Monday.
A total of 13 Texas restaurants, from Amarillo to the Houston area, made the list. For the full list, click here.