As the name implies, the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival features a lot of wine. And tequila. And beer. And other alcoholic beverages, sometimes as straight shots, sometimes as mixed drinks.
And yet it seems that all we want to do there is eat. OK, almost all we want to do there. We do occasionally imbibe to cleanse our palates and wash things down.
So here's the best of what we ate, and where to get it. The festival's name does say "Fort Worth," but in a couple of cases, it was sometimes the visitors who did the best.
"Sweet & Lowdown" burger, Easy Slider (Burgers, Brews + Blues): We don't always agree with the judges or the people's choice at Burgers, Brews + Blues, but this time we did: Dallas-based Easy Slider (which began life as a food truck but now has a brick-and-mortar in Deep Ellum) showed off its "gourmet slider" skill with this Angus-beef patty topped with bacon, goat cheese and strawberry jam, a neat collision of crispy and soft, salty and sweet, with our patties cooked a perfect medium. It got the judges' vote, the people's, and ours. And it's on Easy Slider's regular menu. We vote for a Tarrant location. 2701 Main St. Suite 110, Dallas, https://www.easyslidertexas.com
Steak and lobster, Bob's Steak & Chop House (Main Event): The Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival offers chefs a chance to show off — but sometimes you just gotta go with the classics. Chilled, sweet lobster on top of a slice of tender, medium rare steak topped with a creamy sauce was to die for. 1300 Houston St, Fort Worth (Omni Fort Worth Hotel), http://bobs-steakandchop.com/fort-worth
Mini TX Whiskey vanilla ice-cream sammy, Joy Macarons (Desserts After Dark): The sweets at Desserts After Dark incorporated Firestone & Robertson's TX Whiskey, making for a nice bit of synergy this year, with Firestone & Robertson's Whiskey Ranch hosting the event for the first time. It was difficult to pick a favorite here, but Joy Macarons, which has a location in Fort Worth's Shops at Clearfork as well as a couple in Dallas, won our hearts with the simple genius of two soft-to-crunchy macarons holding a marshmallow-size scoop of ice cream, drizzled with whiskey caramel and topped with candied pecans. And yes, the shop offers a variety of macaron ice-cream sandwiches. 5254 Marathon Ave., Fort Worth, https://www.joymacarons.com
Maple-jalapeño sausage donut sandwich, Black's Barbecue (Pitmasters Picnic): Lockhart-based Black's had the longest line at any fest event, as people waited around a half-hour to get a taste of this concoction. As you stood in line, people would come by and say "It's worth the wait." They were right: A blowtorch-wielding worker caramelized the maple onto sausage bites while you watched, then the result was placed between two doughnut "holes." Again, the combo of savory, sweet and a little spicy worked; at most, the "sandwich" was probably two bites, but there were few complaints. Black's also serves brisket, and the fatty slice we had was marvelous. But we ate "dessert" first. 212 N. Main St., Lockhart; blacksbbq.com
Loaded sweet-potato tots, Enchanted Catering (Rise + Dine): On her Facebook page, former Max's Wine Dive Fort Worth chef Jenna Kinard says that this was her "first time stepping out as Enchanted Catering," and it was an impressive debut: sweet-potato tots topped with sausage, caramelized onion, an over-easy egg and more, all in a bowl allowing the egg to do its best runny stuff. At the FWFWF's brunch event, this bowl was practically a breakfast in itself.
Porchetta wrapped in pork belly, Piattello Italian Kitchen (Main Event): Chef Marcus Paslay went for a double-dose of pork with his porchetta roast, which he smoked, then sliced into 1-inch slices and finished off on the grill right on the patio of the Pier 1 Building. It proved popular enough that he was out of it two hours into the three-hour Main Event. So we'll just have to go to Piattello and have the porchetta dish. 5924 Convair Drive, Suite 412 (Waterside shopping center), Fort Worth, piattelloitaliankitchen.com
Moroccan spiced grilled swordfish, Grace/Little Red Wasp (Main Event): Executive Chef Blaine Staniford gave us a taste of the exotic: The swordfish was grilled to perfection and coated in an herb crust, but the real star was the yellow Moroccan-inspired finishing spices layered on top, giving you a burst of flavors. Grace is at 777 Main St. and Little Red Wasp is at 808 Main St, Fort Worth, http://gracefortworth.com, http://littleredwasp.com
Brisket and chorizo meatloaf over roasted serrano grits, Cousins Bar-B-Q (Pitmasters Picnic): Cousins Bar-B-Q has raised its meat game, and the smoky, spicy meatloaf was evidence of that. But the grits stole the show with their buttery flavor and the slow burn from the serranos — slow, but lingering. Here's hoping this becomes a regular menu item.
"Tongue and Cheek" tacos, Salsa Limon (Tacos + Tequila): Salsa Limon has grown to several restaurants, but it was its pioneering food truck that represented at Tacos + Tequila with this mix of beef and pork, topped with crema, avocados and a squirt of piquin/tomatillo salsa, all served on pork — and although we had been hoping for Salsa Limon's habanero salsa, the classic piquing did the heat trick for us. Six DFW locations (mostly in Fort Worth); http://www.salsalimon.com/contact-locations
"Bodacious" burger, Rodeo Goat, Burgers, Brews + Blues: Impressive as an architectural feat, but still a pretty good slider, consisting of a beef patty, bacon, American cheese, cripsy onions, grilled jalapeños, Bodacious Bar-B-Q Sauce, and smoked jalapeño, all stacked between buns in a way that didn't crater on the first bite, with a nice dose of heat. Landon Amis, Rodeo Goat's general manager, said in a later email that the full-size Bodacious debuted in Fort Worth in January as part of the Goat's ongoing Battle of the Burgers that pits one special burger against another, then retires undefeated after two months, and it probably won't be back in Fort Worth till next year's Stock Show. But it's currently knocking off the competition at the Dallas location. 2836 Bledsoe St, Fort Worth; 1926 Market Center Blvd., Dallas; http://www.rodeogoat.com