From savory bites to cold refreshing brews, the 817 has plenty to offer locals and visitors alike.
Some are hidden gems, others local staples. But they have one thing in common — you won’t want to miss out on them. Whether you’re a longtime resident or just passing through, be sure to try these local favorites.
Throughout 2022, the Star-Telegram has asked its readers to vote for essential food experiences in and around Fort Worth. Thousands voted for the best brunch, fried chicken, brewery, burger and pizza.
After 343 nominations and 11,340 votes, Fort Worth’s Brewed won the brunch bracket in March.
“It’s been a favorite for years,” said Fort Worth native Neeli Brisky in her nomination of Brewed. “Perfect place for gathering with loved ones to enjoy amazing food and coffee, hosted by kind staff, and a fun and beautiful atmosphere!”
On the brunch menu, you’ll find unique twists on classic comfort foods. A customer favorite is Brewed’s chicken and waffles. Brewed serves a variation of the staple — mac and cheese chicken and waffles, made with pasta shells, a five-cheese sauce, fresh grated cheese and green onions.
Cocktails are considered the centerpiece of the Brewed brunch. The most popular are the mimosa and spicy bacon bloody mary.
Best Fried Chicken
babe’s serves family-style chicken dinners at 10 locations. In April, it was declared the winner of the Star-Telegram Readers’ Choice poll for the best fried chicken.
There’s not a lot of bells and whistles; the recipe has always been the same. The chicken is trimmed, marinated for 24 hours and cooked in batter, all while being kept as fresh as possible.
When the family restaurant first opened, there was one menu item: fried chicken. It was served with a side of vegetables and biscuits. Writing about Babe’s opening in the Star-Telegram in 1993, Bud Kennedy called it “old-fashioned home-cooking.”
Owner Paul Vinyard spent his childhood on a farm in Turkey, a tiny town in the southeastern Texas Panhandle. The fried chicken recipe was passed down from his mother, who would make it at home for her five kids.
“My mother fixed fried chicken and she fixed very good fried chicken. We basically follow her recipe,” Paul said.
The menu now includes fried catfish, hickory-smoked chicken, fried chicken tenders and chicken-fried steak. Fixings are corn, mashed potatoes, green beans and buttermilk biscuits.
grapevine brewery Hop & Sting Brewing Co. offers a multitude of options — with a brew for old-school drinkers, wine connoisseurs, coffee lovers, seltzer sippers or the beer novice. That’s why it took home the first place pint glass in May.
The mango chile is a favorite around the brewery, because it’s made with home-grown chiles. Everything from a red velvet cookie ale to a peaches and cream sour, and chocolate chip cookie dough beer can be found at Hop and Sting. One beer was inspired by the 1986 fantasy action film “Big Trouble in Little China” that starred Kurt Russell.
Hop and Sting Brewing Co. is located at 906 Jean St. in Grapevine and the taproom is open Monday to Thursday from 3 to 10 pm, Friday to Saturday from noon to 10 pm and on Sunday from noon to 8 pm
Best Burger Restaurant & Food Truck
In June, Sweet Sugar High won the mobile food truck category and Hookers Grill won the restaurant category in the Star-Telegram Readers’ Choice Best Burger contest. They bested 21 nominees after two rounds of voting — with thousands casting a ballot for their favorite bite.
The flagship menu item at Hooker’s Grill is the fried onion burger. It is essentially a patty cooked on the flat top grill with plenty of onions on top. As the meat cooks and is flipped over, the onions get caramelized on the grill, adding to the full flavor of the burger.
Other menu items include a chili dog, grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, hamburger steak and even a veggie burger, which Hooker said was added to make sure there was something for everyone on the menu. Another notable item on the menu is the Indian taco, inspired by the owner’s Native American, Choctaw heritage.
Hooker’s Grill is open Thursday from 11 am to 3 pm, Friday from 11 am to 10 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 2:30 am and Sunday from noon to 3 pm at 213 W. Exchange Ave.
At Sweet Sugar High, burgers are made with either Wagyu or regular 80/20 beef patties. Layered on the patty is American cheese, then the freshest lettuce and seasoned tomatoes. They are served in a brioche bun. The Smashburger is its signature burger and perhaps the most popular item.
“So filling and cured my pregnancy craving for a burger,” a Facebook reviewer wrote. “I would’ve taken a photo but I already scarfed my food down.”
With three locations in the metroplex and a fourth under construction, Olivella’s Pizza & Wine came out on top in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Readers’ Choice contest for best pizza. Nearly 29,000 votes were cast by Star-Telegram readers in July on our ballot of 15 restaurants, all of which were the top nominated pizza places around Fort Worth.
In the final round, Olivella’s — known for its Neapolitan classic round pizza and Roman style thin crust — garnered 47% of total votes, followed by Pizza Buzz, Mama’s Pizza, i Fratelli Pizza Fort Worth and Buffalo Bros. Olivella’s offers a menu with an extensive selection of hard-to-find wine brands, salads and pasta dishes in addition to pizza.
“An important distinction between what we do and what other very nice pizza makers do is that for this part of the country, we may be the only real authentic Neapolitan pizza, the way they’ve been doing it for 100 years,” owner Charlie Green said.
This story was originally published August 15, 2022 4:16 PM.