February dining: A lot to love with a chocolate fest, a pop-up dinner and Valentine’s Day

A taste of Mexico coming to Crockett Row

When it opens later this month, El Bolero Cocina Mexicana will breathe new life into a long desolate space on Crockett Street that once housed Tillman’s Roadhouse.

But don’t expect Tex-Mex.

The Dallas-based concept offers authentic recipes found across Mexico, like red snapper ceviche with watermelon, scallops and squash blossom creamed rice, and grilled Wagyu tacos on blue corn tortillas. There’ll be Saturday and Sunday brunch, too. That’s when patrons will find churro French toast, chilaquiles verdes and huevos rancheros.

We also keep hearing about El Bolero’s “black margarita.” Its official name is The Oilman, and it is indeed black in color thanks to charred agave which is mixed with high-end tequila, a gold salt rim and garnished with golden-hued rock candy.

The restaurant will seat 120 people inside with room for more on an outdoor patio. The open kitchen is intended to evoke the energy of Mexico, as is the name El Bolero, which refers to the shoe-shiners that dot many of Mexico’s big city street corners.

2933 Crockett Street, Fort Worth,

For the love of chocolate

Chocolate lovers, take note: Chocolate Fest is going on now at Central Market through February 14. That means some of the world’s most exclusive chocolates are available for a limited time at the gourmet grocer – some for the very first time in Texas.

Featured brands include England’s no-sugar-added Cocoba, with flavors including honeycomb milk chocolate and cocoa-dusted salted toffee truffles, and Éclat, which offers bars like coffee and cardamom and porcini and thyme.

Central Market is also launching its own brand of house-made chocolate bars for the festival in nine unique flavors, including waffles and maple syrup milk chocolate, pistachio and cherry white chocolate, and even potato chip milk chocolate. Also look for more unusual chocolate-inspired items like mole poblano pork and even chocolate multi-vitamins.

There’ll be a tasting tour Friday, February 8 from 5 – 7 p.m. at all locations, where customers can visit 14 chocolate stations around the store. The self-guided tasting tour is free with online registration.

Central Market-Fort Worth, 4651 West Freeway, Fort Worth, 817-989-4700

Central Market-Southlake, 1425 East Southlake Blvd., Southlake, 817-310-5600

Love goes Greek

He’s not a one-trick pony, and his annual pop-up dinner series proves it.

For four nights, February 6-9, Tim Love is opening his personal test kitchen in Fort Worth’s North Side to host Grafeío, a Greek-inspired six-course dinner that will showcase Love’s culinary range.

Guests will be treated to cocktails and Greek wine that will pair with dishes like blue fin tuna carpaccio with foie gras, Grecian cheese croquettes, grilled octopus with tempura crayfish tails, and ouzo-marinated pork tenderloin skewers with fennel tzatziki.

The pop-up is Love’s fourth annual. He kicked things off with an Italian theme first, then Spanish, followed by French last year. Reservations are available from 5:30 – 9 p.m. and are $125 per person, plus tax and gratuity, which includes a cocktail upon arrival, two wines and a digestif. Additional wines from Love’s cellar, as well as more cocktails, will be available for purchase.

713 North Main Street, Fort Worth, 817-624-9712,

Grace gets bubbly

Sip, sip, hooray. Grace’s popular sparkling wine dinner is back this year, set for Friday, February 22. The five-course affair is owner Adam Jones’ homage to all things bubbly, with fizzy pours coming from as far as Hungary, Austria, England, Italy, and of course, Champagne, France.

Dinner menu highlights from chef Blaine Staniford include sea scallop crudo, brioche crusted Ora king salmon and agnolotti with house-made ricotta. The event typically sells out, but seats are available now for $135 per person plus tax and gratuity, and an opening reception will begin at 6:30 p.m.

777 Main Street, Fort Worth, 817-877-3388,

Get freaky at Gypsy Scoops

Gypsy Scoops’ “Freak Shakes” have become a Race Street Valentine’s Day tradition. The old time ice cream parlor will gussy up their shake selection on February 14 with over-the-top ingredients and gargantuan toppings, like moon pies, cotton candy, and s’mores.

Patrons can customize their own or choose from a menu of options, including the triple Oreo topped with a brownie and Oreo cookie crumbles, and the Valentine’s version made with strawberry ice cream and a frosted rim topped with red velvet cake and chocolate covered strawberries.

This year the shakes come in two sizes – a $12 option for those with a smaller sweet tooth, and a $15 shake that’s so big, it’s meant to be shared. The shakes will be served all day from 12:30 – 9 p.m.

On Saturday, February 23, Gypsy Scoops will open early for breakfast.

Ice cream for breakfast?

Yes, says owner Julie Markley. As long as it comes in flavors like cereal, maple bacon, and coffee with doughnuts. Speaking of doughnuts, they’ll be available, too, along with house-made waffles and hot coffee. The ice cream shop will open at 9 a.m.

2905 Race Street, Fort Worth, 817-357-6730,

Two reasons to grab-and-go for Valentine’s Day

For some, Valentine’s Day means avoiding any and all restaurants and their inevitable crowds. That’s why B&B Butchers & Restaurant wisely created a luxurious Valentine’s prix-fixe take-out menu. It’s a smorgasbord in a box that comes with two appetizers, an entrée, three sides, two desserts and complimentary chocolate covered strawberries.

On the menu: choose two apps from lobster bisque, Caesar salad, B&B meatballs or Chef Tommy’s bacon box, and for dinner, chateaubriand, beef Wellington or filet mignon. (Note that entrees will need to be prepped at home, but easy-to-follow cooking instructions are included.) All dinners come with roasted Brussels sprouts, creamed spinach and mac and cheese, along with choice of two from chocolate cake, an artisan cheese selection with truffle-infused honey, or New York cheesecake.

The feast is available February 13 through 16 and is $130 plus tax. Orders must be placed 24 hours in advance, and there’s an option to add flowers for those feeling extra sweet.

5212 Marathon Avenue, Fort Worth, 817-737-5212,

Or cut to the chase and start with dessert

Cinnaholic, the made-to-order cinnamon roll shop that opened in January on Crockett Row, is offering a “Sweetheart Box” in time for Valentine’s Day, perfect for couples (or besties) to share.

The $19 dessert sampler includes two mini cookies, a brownie, two chocolate-covered strawberries, and two gourmet cinnamon rolls.

Guests get to choose their own frosting, like cake batter, marshmallow or cream cheese, and toppings, including cookie dough, peanut butter cups and strawberry jam. Vegans can indulge without worry – all products are completely egg and dairy-free.

817 Currie Street, Fort Worth, 817-203-2421,