Restaurants / Openings

Prolific Fort Worth Chef’s First Restaurant of His Own Brings Creative Asian Twists, Daily Brunch & Cool Drinks — Your Eazy Monkey Sneak Peek

A PaperCity Exclusive

BY // 08.12.23

Chef Andrew Dilda has always had a passion for Asian food, having grown up in the San Francisco Bay area. But Dilda has called Fort Worth home ever since his father (a Navy man) was transferred to the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in the area. Now, after 27 years on the local food scene, Dilda is opening the first restaurant of his own. It’s called Eazy Monkey and is located in a historic building at 401 W. Magnolia Avenue that most recently housed Ben Merritt’s Fixture: Kitchen and Social Lounge.

Dilda says he hopes to be open by the end of this month or mid-September (or just as soon as TABC gives them the green light). The kitchen is already ready to roll, offering food through third-party delivery services Door Dash and Uber Eats. You can place an order after 11 am to get a first taste of the new Eazy Monkey menu.

Andrew Dilda brings some serious chops to the new Fort Worth restaurant. He served as the head chef at Reata, (along will other high-profile Fort Worth chefs), and also worked as head chef at Tim Love’s original Lonesome Dove restaurant. Dilda’s most recent gig is being the head of culinary for Asian noodle haven Monkey King (which boasts three restaurants in Dallas and one in Grapevine) for the past two and a half years. Monkey King was also briefly a part of the Crockett Row Food Hall in Fort Worth.

“I’ve always been the bridesmaid and never the bride,” Dilda tells PaperCity Fort Worth. “And I’ve wanted this space ever since it was 24 Plates.”

Eazy Monkey – A sneak peek inside Andrew Dilda’s first Asian American concept. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
A sneak peek inside Andrew Dilda’s first Asian American restaurant Eazy Monkey. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

“Eazy Monkey will have a casual dive bar feel,” Dilda continues. “Our focus will be on great food and a cool bar program. This is the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu I’ve ever created. Most others have been heavily meat-centric.”

In fact, Dilda worked on a couple of interesting overseas barbecue menus in recent years. He consulted on a Texas-style barbecue menu for both Jing-A Brewing Co. in Beijing and Pohjala Brewery & Tap Room in Tallinn, Estonia.

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The Dish On Eazy Monkey

It’s no secret that Fort Worth lacks quality Asian restaurants. Eazy Monkey is not going hardcore authentic though. Quite the opposite. Menu items include a Dan Dan chili dog, cheeseburger fried rice and catfish bao buns. There’s a mushroom noodle salad featuring local Black Cat Mushrooms and a fun vegetarian corn rib dish.

“I want to make it approachable,” Dilda says. “We’ll be opening with a summer menu. So we’re not doing noodles in the heat of the summer. You’ll have to wait for the fall-winter menu for that.

Many of the dishes will be perfect for delivery to area bars, allowing Eazy Monkey and Dilda to provide finger foods and bar snacks to places without a kitchen on site. A fresh batch of caramel corn was being made in the kitchen during our interview — and it smelled amazing.  Cotton candy is also in the works. Think interesting kimchi, soy sauce, and chamoy flavors.

Chili crunch caramel corn form is one of the dishes you'll be able to get at Eazy Monkey.
Chili crunch caramel corn form is one of the dishes you’ll be able to get at Eazy Monkey.

“Our end goal is to be able to attract a service industry crowd,” Dilda says. “If we’re going to do a dish and spin it, we’re still doing the proper techniques.”

While Dilda remains passionate about the Fort Worth culinary scene, he likely wins longest commute honors. This chef flies back and forth from Fort Worth to San Jose, California, where his wife is an aerospace engineer. Still, Dilda says he couldn’t imagine opening his first restaurant anyplace other than Fort Worth.

Drinks Power With and Without Alcohol

One of Fort Worth’s top mixologists Tia Downey is both the head of beverage and the general manager of the soon-to-open Eazy Monkey, while Sean Malek will be its chef de cuisine.

“Our non-alcoholic menu is just as important as our regular bar menu,” Downey tells PaperCity Fort Worth. “I hate to call them mocktails because there’s nothing mock about them. We are crafting some well-thought-out cocktails without alcohol. We’ll also be serving frozen Thai tea, along with frozen Vietnamese coffee.”

The classic Dole whip will find its way into one of Downey’s signature cocktails.

When the doors eventually open for Eazy Monkey, the Fort Worth restaurant’s hours will run Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11 am to 10 pm; Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to midnight; and Sundays from 11 am to 10 pm. Brunch will be served all day, every day. This will be a special treat for many, including service industry workers who rarely get to enjoy a lazy brunch.

Yes, the Eazy Monkey team is seemingly thinking of everything.

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