Eats Beat

Is this the best Texas chili in Fort Worth? It’s at — surprise — an oyster bar.

For 38 years, cold weather has meant gumbo at J&J Oyster Bar.

But the return of wind chills also brings another winter warmer: J&J’s chili.

Chef Angel Mota came over last fall from 16 years at nearby Fred’s Texas Cafe and brought along some of Fred’s laid-back specials and style, particularly the chili and calf fries.

He only makes chili in season, but that season is here. So J&J offers big bowls of beefy Texas red, topped with cheese and fresh jalapenos.

Look, Fort Worth has a history with chili. This is where the first commercial chili powder was packed and sold by Pendery’s.

But today, it’s mighty tough to find a good bowl of chili.

The Kimbell Art Museum’s seasonal chili is good, but it’s only served about once a month in winter.

Dutch’s Hamburgers, M&O Station Grill and HG Sply Co. all serve excellent restaurant chili.

But right now, J&J’s might be best.

If you’re not familiar with J&J Oyster Bar, it’s a daily lunch and dinner stop for grilled or fried seafood.

When it opened in 1981 in an old-timey chrome diner three blocks south, J&J quickly became known for oysters, grilled shrimp, catfish and platters.

Today, J&J is in an equally dilapidated, 50-year-old former Taco Bell. Now, it might be better known for grilled seafood, fish tacos and ceviche tostadas.

In the middle of a gentified hipster West 7th neighborhood, J&J is a haven for rodeo cowboys, beer drinkers and anyone looking for a menu that does not include avocado toast or spicy chicken.

It’s open for lunch and dinner daily at 612 University Drive, at West Sixth Street; 817-335-2756, jjoysterbar.com.

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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