Foodie Events / Restaurants

Fort Worth’s Foodie Dream Land — Barbecue Stars, Top Chefs, Killer Tacos and Fabulous Drinks Bring the Food + Wine Festival Back

A Return Like No Other

BY // 04.05.22

After a two year pandemic pause, Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival returned to feed the hearts and bellies of a ravenous crowd, and the weather showed up as well, providing sunny skies and light breezes at every event. There were five signature events, as well as a special collaborative dinner. Let’s take a look back at the long gluttonous weekend, one of the best food weekends in recent Fort Worth memory.

Houston’s James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd joined chef Tuan Pham of the Four Sisters – A Taste of Vietnam restaurant for Houston to Ho Nai. The duo matched wits collaborating on the special seated four-course dinner for Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival. Along with some one-on-one time with the chefs at this intimate dinner hosted at BRIK Venue, diners received an autographed copy of Shepherd’s bookCook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World.

Tacos + Tequila

Meanwhile mariachi bands welcomed festival-goers back to Tacos + Tequila, at the Top of the Ranch at Clearfork. Diners nibbled on some fine taco creations and washed it all down with a selection of fresh margaritas and tequila tastings. The line to grab a cabrito birra taco from Paloma Suerte and meet Fort Worth chef Tim Love was long.

fwfwf22 – Tim Love, Mark Dabney and Mike Micallef pose at Tacos and Tequila
Tim Love, Mark Dabney and Mike Micallef pose at Tacos and Tequila. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Among the 12 tequila vendors on hand, the imminently sippable Lalo silver tequila stood out. Other highlights included Guapo Taco’s Angel Fuentes teaming up with his special sous chef buddy Victor Villareal of La Onda. Fuentes returned the favor, manning La Onda’s table the following day at Main Event.

Lanny Lancarte’s Fantasma ghost kitchen and Toro Toro’s new head chef Jonathan Esparza also made appearances. There was even a colossal donkey shaped piñata for photo ops.

Main Event

The Main Event brought more than 100 wine makers, local and Texas craft breweries and spirits paired with bites from 27 leading area chefs and restaurateurs. One show stopper was the deep fried sunflower from Lucky Bee Kitchen. Michael Thomson also brought his Mac’s salad with a slice of beef tenderloin ― the clear keto plate of the evening.

Let's Rodeo Houston!

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fwfwf22 – teepees and tents kept the part going at Main Event. Photo by Courtney Dabney.
Teepees and tent activations kept the party going at Main Event. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Matt Pittman of Meat Church and Tom Perini of Perini Ranch were special guests in Can Am Pitt Stop Tent, which was new to this year’s festival. The teepees and tents were joined by special activations, including a first-ever Rose and Croquet yard and a Bubble and Brews bus serving champagne on tap. There was also live music on the stage. Main Event marked an epic return for Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival.

Nite Bites at Whiskey Ranch

The Nite Bites event took over Whiskey Ranch, bringing a fun 1980s theme and a DJ filling the space with music to set the mood. There were 14 mixologists on hand including Kellen Hamrah of Provender Hall, who turned up in a Run DMC bucket hat, flaunting some gold lame MC Hammer pants. They take this stuff seriously.

Sixteen chefs brought everything from sweet treats like Joy Macarons’ delectable brownie macaron (they’re not on the regular menu yet, but they sure should be). Stir Crazy Bakery brought its buttercream-filled Adam Bombs (the co-owner’s name is Adam), while Hao & Dixya brought homemade dumplings for a savory twist.

Culinary Corral at Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival

The Culinary Corral got popping with a three-hour brunch, plenty of music and 35 beverage vendors, ranging from wine to spirits. Chef Richard Triptow of Wicked Butcher was on hand in the VIP tent, while Ascension Coffee made its first appearance at the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival, bringing along some of its fresh bagels and house-cured salmon.

fwfwf22 – Strawberry croissants from Black Rooster Bakery. Photo by Courtney Dabney.
Strawberry croissants from Black Rooster Bakery. Photo by Courtney Dabney.

Chef Danyelle McPherson of HG Sply Co. freshened up brunch with her salmon poke taco atop a fresh jicama tortilla. Modern Cafe head chef Jett Mora brought fresh micro greens from My Epicurean Farm and blue oyster mushrooms courtesy of Texas Fungus to make his mushroom Bolognese with sugar snap peas and angel hair pasta.

Burgers, Brews + Blues

After only a few hours respite, it was time to return for a smorgasbord of hamburger slider creations, craft beers and blues music on the stage at Heart of the Ranch. Local breweries—  including Martin House, HopFusion and Rahr Brewing — provided samples of their latest.

While a group of judges rated the burger entries, landing solidly on Kincaid’s cream cheese smothered burger as the top one, festival goers texted their votes for best burger. The soon-to-open JD’s Burgers with its fabulous simplicity and sourdough bun won the people’s vote.

Other sizzling success stories include Kelly’s Onion Burgers, which demanded you lean over and tuck your napkin in your collar; Pearl Snap Kolache’s with those chewy kolache buns; and Tributary Cafe’s burger topped with fried onions, arugula and bacon jam.

Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival’s Ring of Fire

Finally, Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival closed with a live fire event known as Ring of Fire. Twenty-two pitmasters and chefs brought their grills and some of the tastiest sausage, brisket and carnitas anywhere. Juan Rodriguez of Magdalena’s made his authentic Spanish paella. Brix Barbeque served whole hog street tacos drizzled with chimichurri and house-made kimchi.

Pitmasters Chris Magallanes and Ernest Morales’ stellar Panther City BBQ landed at No. 10 on Texas Monthly’s new Top Barbecue list. So they came to take a victory lap. Just kidding, Magallanes and Morales remain the most humble and hard-working duo in the business. They brought Panther City BBQ’s melt-in-your-mouth chopped brisket in collard greens to Ring of Fire.

fwfwf22 – Terry Black rep’d The Original Black’s Barbeque with sausage and brisket at Ring of Fire. Photo by Courtney Dabney.
Barrett Black rep’d The Original Black’s Barbeque with sausage and brisket at Ring of Fire. Photo by Courtney Dabney.

Other barbecue joints that earned on Texas Monthly’s Top 50 list this year, include Brandon Hurtado of Hurtado Barbecue and Smoke-a-Holics Barbecue, which served up the perfect slice of brisket atop cheese grits at Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival.  Zavalla’s was on hand as was Dayne’s Craft Barbecue, which featured a Wagyu skirt steak with jalapeno pecan pesto. It was like a Top 50 Barbecue spots North Texas reunion.

The long awaited return of the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival was a huge success. It came back bigger and better than ever. This weekend food fantasy could not help but leave foodies excited for next spring. Already.

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