Eats Beat

El Reno onion burgers make Stockyards debut

Every city is famous for something.

In El Reno, Okla., west of Oklahoma City, it’s the onion burger: hand-pressed burgers griddled with a handful of chopped onions (or jalapeños) mashed into the beef.

Oklahoma’s onion burger is now Fort Worth’s next local legend. Hookers Grill is a Stockyards walk-up stand serving the throwback hamburgers with small-town flavor.

With or without onions or jalapeños, the burgers taste like throwbacks to family vacations or roadside burger stands. They come topped with Red Boy brand mustard and Best Maid pickles, loyal to the El Reno tradition served on “Route 66.”

Former El Reno restaurateur Otis Bruce, a legendary onion-burger grill cook, helped the Hooker family open in Fort Worth and brought an original bricklayer’s trowel used to mash onions and beef together on the grill. (The trowel applies more force than a kitchen spatula.)

Hookers Grill also serves Oklahoma City-style Coney Island hot dogs with chili and sweet coleslaw, and hand-cut fries.

“We do everything the way they do it in El Reno, to the letter,” Ruthie Hooker said. The lone exception: local Hereford beef from Dallas-based Crystal Creek Cattle Co.

She worked vacations and weekends at Sid’s Diner in El Reno, featured on a Travel Channel “Man v. Food” episode.

(Yes, her family name is Hooker. The restaurant’s T-shirts say: “Support Your Local Hookers.”)

Hookers Grill’s burgers start at $5.25, or $6.25 for a double. Lettuce and tomato cost an extra 50 cents, and bacon, chili or an egg cost $1. Coneys cost $3.90.

The menu also includes a hamburger steak with onions, fries and salad for $9, Frito pie or Fort Worth-based Texas Chili Co.’s bowl of red.

Hookers doesn’t serve Oklahoma-style chicken-fried steak because Grady Spears’ Horseshoe Hill Cafe is across the street.

“We let Grady do chicken-fried steak and we do burgers,” Hooker said.

They’ve started with limited hours, and will add Wednesday service this week.

Hookers Grill is open at 11 a.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, closing at 7 p.m. weeknights and Sundays and 2:30 a.m. on weekends; 213 W. Exchange Ave., 817-378-0873,

Waters is near

Waters Restaurant, chef Jon Bonnell’s reboot of his seafood concept, is finally set to open Monday in Sundance Square.

I’d wait two weeks. Between opening crowds and the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival, April 20-23, Waters will be swamped for a few days.

It’s taking reservations, including for Easter or Mother’s Day; 301 Main St., 817-984-1110,

▪ Nearby, Istanbul Grill & Bar is open and off to a smooth start. It was busy last weekend with diners coming for lentil soup, Greek salads, zucchini pancakes, kebabs or lamb-on-eggplant-puree hünkar beğendi (“The sultan was pleased”)

The time to try it out is at lunch, when combos sell for $11.95, including a grilled salmon or chicken salad with lentil soup.

Istanbul Grill is open daily for lunch and dinner; 401 Throckmorton St., 817-885-7326,

M Bistro opens

Also opening, maybe as soon as Wednesday: M Bistro, the new chef-driven restaurant in Montgomery Plaza.

Chef Steve Mitchell’s new restaurant features steaks, seafood and a chicken-fried rib-eye on a dinner menu ranging from $13 to $36. There’s also lobster bisque and a “Tejas Caesar” with jalapeño-polenta croutons.

Lunches go for $8-$14, featuring tenderloin sliders, an Akaushi burger and chicken-and-waffles with TX Whiskey maple syrup.

M Bistro opens this week for lunch and dinner daily; 2600 W. Seventh St. (it’s actually on the West Sixth Street side); 817-338-0066,

An early bunny

Easter is a week away, but Rainforest Cafe in Grapevine will host a children’s Easter breakfast Saturday and Sunday.

The breakfast has one 8 a.m. seating each day (about $13-$19) featuring Rainforest’s red-eyed tree frog mascot Cha! Cha! and the Easter Bunny; Grapevine Mills, 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, 972-539-5001,

Easter brunches are booking up on what is traditionally one of the busiest Sundays of the year (behind only Mother’s Day):

▪ Eddie V’s and corporate cousin Capital Grille are starting to fill up. Eddie V’s $49 menu includes choices such as filet mignon steak-and-eggs, and its signatures bananas Foster cake; 3100 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-336-8000,

▪ Blue Mesa Grill’s popular brunch buffet will open at 8 a.m. for sunrise-service worshippers and continue until 4 p.m. at both the Montgomery Plaza and Lincoln Square locations; 612 Carroll St., Fort Worth, 817-332-6372, or 550 Lincoln Square, Arlington, 682-323-3050,

▪ Heaven’s Gate Restaurant, a family buffet, will serve a breakfast buffet starting at 8 a.m. Easter ($9.99), then roll out lunch at 11 a.m. ($14.99) featuring pot roast, prime rib, turkey and ham, with desserts including Easter cotton candy; 3816 N. Main St., 817-624-1262.

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