Some Like It Hot
A taste of Tennessee is available on West Magnolia Avenue now that Gus’s Fried Chicken is open after months of hot and spicy hubbub. Originating 60 years ago in Mason, Tenn. (about 40 miles northeast of Memphis), the no-frills eatery is “world famous” for its spicy, peanut oil-fried chicken, available on a plate served with baked beans, coleslaw and white bread, or as a “snack” with just bread for sopping up any drippings from the crispy skin and juicy meat. Other menu items include fried pickles, mac and cheese, and pies, including chess, chocolate chess and coconut. Beverages are served in a souvenir cup, perfect for sipping sweet tea. The Fort Worth outlet is only the second in Texas after an Austin location opened in 2014. 1067 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817-927-4693, www.gusfriedchicken.com.
Tim Love scoops chili
Tim Love has opened a chili parlor inside the 40-year-old White Elephant Saloon in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The Texas red chili is available from a takeout window at the back of the bar. “Fixin’s” include shredded cheese, creme fraiche, tortilla strips, pico de gallo, Fritos, jalapeños and crackers. The chili parlor is open during lunch and dinner daily and late-night on the weekends. 106 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth, 817-624-8273, www.whiteelephantsaloon.com.
Steaking a Claim
In a downtown Fort Worth restaurant shuffle, Mercury Chop House, which closed its longtime Main Street location last year to make way for the relocation of Jon Bonnell’s Waters Fine Coastal Cuisine (still under construction), is now open in the former Vivo 53 space on the ground floor of the Tower. Open for lunch and dinner, the distinctive restaurant has the same steaks that regulars have come to love, including the crabmeat-topped filet Oscar and the filet with spicy “dynamite” sauce, along with homestyle lunch dishes like meatloaf, beef stroganoff, chicken cordon bleu and blackened tilapia. While the new location is just a few steps farther from Bass Hall, patrons can expect the same white-tablecloth seating and fine-dining service for which the tenured steakhouse is known. 525 Taylor St., Fort Worth, 817-336-4129, www.fortworthchophouse.com.
That’s the Spirit
After barrel-aging for more than 4 1/2 years, the straight bourbon whiskey from the folks at Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. is finally ready to sip. Dark, rich and smooth, TX Bourbon is slightly spicy and more complex than its sister, TX Blended Whiskey, and that’s what distillers and proprietors Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson were waiting on. “In those early years, we could see it was really hot, meaning there was a lot of burning to it,” Firestone says. “Over time, we could see we were getting more complexity. That only comes in time. It just wasn’t there three years ago. After this past summer we felt like we turned a dramatic corner.” The curvy bottle, with its tapered shoulders and signature leather-crowned top, retails for $49.99. But area liquor stores can barely keep the highly-sought-after spirit in stock, so snatch one up quickly if it’s on the shelves. 901 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-840-9140, www.frdistilling.com.
Home-cooking Meets California
Located in the former Keller City Hall space in Old Town Keller, Seven Mile Cafe is the creation of husband-and-wife duo Kevin and Josi Klingele, California natives who opened the restaurant’s original outlet in Denton five years ago. “We have a Southern menu with a California twist,” says Josi, meaning down-home dishes like biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles and migas intermingle on the menu with chipotle tofu eggs Benedict, vegan pancakes and even “vigas,” or vegan migas made with seasoned tofu and vegan chorizo. “We were looking for a location that fit who we are,” says Josi of the Keller location, opened last month. “We feel like it’s a community-oriented area. People here want to shop local and support local.” The cafe doubles as a coffee shop with an espresso bar, featuring beans shipped in weekly from Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Breakfast and lunch is served daily. 110 W. Vine St., Keller, 817-379-3186, www.sevenmilecafe.com.
A New Mesa in Grapevine
Lobster enchiladas, red snapper Veracruz, chicken mole and salmon with blue crab salsa are just some of the authentic Mexican dishes found at the new Mesa location in Grapevine, a larger offshoot of the Oak Cliff original. Owner and chef Raul Reyes says he chose Grapevine because his menu differs greatly from other Mexican restaurants in the area, though he’s added a Tex-Mex section for more familiar items like fajitas and tacos. There is also plenty of premium tequila to quench his patrons’ thirst for margaritas. The restaurant is in the Grapevine Station shopping center and is open for lunch and dinner daily. 1000 Texan Trail, 817-329-1144, www.mesadallas.com.
From Italy, With Love
From northeastern Italy, Andrea Matteucci and his wife, Stefania, are bringing authentic Italian cuisine to Colleyville with love. Nearly two years in the works, Loveria Caffe is set to open by late January, serving dishes native to the Emilia-Romagna region and surrounding areas, where the Matteuccis call home. The couple moved to North Texas to partner with a friend on the project, doing extensive market research before choosing Colleyville for the location. “Italian cuisine is huge,” says Andrea. “You can prepare thousands of dishes. We tried to prepare the perfect combination of authentic Italian cuisine and what Americans, or Texans, can appreciate.” Meaning “irresistible” or “yummy,” Loveria will be open for lunch and dinner and eventually breakfast, serving Italian coffee, wine, beer and dishes like tagliere, or Italian cured meats with cheeses, olives and crostinis with truffle and tomato sauces, along with paninis, soups, salads and house-made pastas. Andrea has plans for cooking classes; wine, cheese and olive oil tastings with Italian purveyors; and even live music, adding that he wants Loveria to be a place people come to stay. 5615 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville, www.loveriacaffe.com.
Oil’s well in Sundance Square
The Virgin Olive Oiler will move from Overton Ridge Boulevard to downtown Fort Worth this month. Former restaurant manager Charles Flach opened the premium olive oil and balsamic vinegar boutique five years ago and has thrived despite shopping center parking woes. Complimentary valet and a distinctive new store in the heart of Sundance Square lured Flach downtown, but he’ll still offer the same fresh extra-virgin olive oils from around the world. 416 Commerce St., Fort Worth, www.thevirginoliveoiler.com.
Be a Foodie VIP
Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival VIP passes are now on sale. The fourth annual event takes place March 30-April 1. Guests who purchase the $400 ticket receive admission to all five signature festival events at a discounted price. Events include the BBQ Showdown at Will Rogers Memorial Center, The Main Event tasting and Rise + Dine brunch event at the Pier 1 Imports corporate headquarters building, Desserts after Dark at The Shack at Panther Island Pavilion, and Burgers, Brews & Blues at the Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork. The VIP pass also includes early admission to all events and a complimentary food tray and wineglass for easy eating and drinking. www.fwfwf.com.