Eats Beat

Soups, stews, bisques, guisados: They’re all for lunch at the annual Empty Bowls soup festival

One of the best food festivals is also one of the simplest.

For lunch May 1, Empty Bowls brings 46 chefs and bakers together in Fort Worth’s Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall to serve soups, stews and desserts.

It’s a $75 ticket at the door for the Tarrant Area Food Bank, or $65 earlier online.

You get to pick from 3,000 handcrafted bowls. Then you go for a fillup of Rise nº3 Soufflé’s marshmallow soup, Bob’s Steak & Chop House’s lobster bisque or another great soup or stew from a local restaurant.

Basically, it’s a soup festival. But there’s plenty of light springtime dishes, too, and sweets.

Local Foods Kitchen, the cafe and take-out shop on Hartwood Drive in the Trinity Commons shopping center, will serve a chilled soup with its power salad of broccoli, edamame, carrot, sweet potato, sunflower, walnut and craisins.

Righteous Foods, a health cafe nearby on West Seventh Street, will serve a kale-zucchini mix with almonds, free-range chicken and sporuted rice.

Chef Ben Merritt and Fixture Kitchen will serve a garlic-potato soup, and Fred’s Texas Cafe will dish up guisado.

It all comes with chicken salad and mini-popovers from Neiman Marcus’ NM Cafe, or compare that to a sample from the Chicken Salad Chick chain.

For dessert, there’s cream-filled cookies from Stir Crazy Bakery or pies from the Paris Coffee Shop.

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Chef Jon Bonnell of Waters and Bonnell’s served spicy gumbo at an Empty Bowls. Joyce Marshall Star-Telegram archives

Bonnell’s, Grace, Magdalena’s and Reata are among other restaurants serving soups, bisques and stews.

It’s a major annual fundraiser for the food bank, the primary hunger charity serving Tarrant and surrounding counties.

(A lot of small ministries and food pantries use the name “food bank.” But only the Tarrant Area Food Bank in Fort Worth and North Texas Food Bank in Dallas are central hunger agencies that distribute food to smaller charities.)

Empty Bowls opens at 11 a.m., but for an extra donation ($150 total) you get to slip in at 10:30 a.m., pick better bowls and land a reserved seat. A raffle includes TCU Horned Frogs football tickets.

Tickets are sold online at tafb.org. The exhibit hall is at 3400 Burnett-Tandy Drive.

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Guests at the Fort Worth Zoo Beastro dine on food from 30 restaurants while they tour the zoo. Handout photo

Another major local food event is May 17, and these tickets usually sell out.

It’s the Fort Worth Zoo restaurant festival, Beastro, featuring about 30 restaurants serving throughout the zoo with animal exhibits open and animal encounters in the park.

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Sliders at the Fort Worth Zoo Beastro event. Handout photo

The list of restaurants is always top-flight and includes some that don’t go to other festivals: B&B Butchers and Restaurant, Bird Café, Bob’s Steak & Chop House, Bonnell’s, Campisi’s, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Fixe Southern House, Heim Barbecue, HG Sply Co., Righteous Foods and Winslow’s Wine Cafe, among others.

It’s a four-hour party ending with dancing to Emerald City and three other bands throughout the zoo.

It’s a 21-over event (attire is “summer chic”) and tickets are $110; fortworthzoo.org.

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Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.
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