Restaurants / Bars

Fort Worth’s Coronavirus Restaurant Comeback — New Openings, a Major Barbecue Party and Even a Pickle Palace to Emerge Post Pandemic

Cowtown's Food Scene is Ready to Takeoff Again

BY // 04.17.20

With almost all the food and beverage news focusing on how restaurants are pivoting during the coronavirus pandemic, some Fort Worth stories have gotten lost in the mix or been under the radar.

While you were busy scanning social media and checking out the curbside menu offerings in search of your next meal, here is a taste of what you may have missed.

Fort Worth’s New Drink

BlackEyed Distilling, makers of the award-winning, black-eyed pea based BLK EYE Vodka, quietly began rolling out its newest concoction toward the end of February ― Clear Fork Texas Gin. The 94 proof, corn-based spirit has notes of juniper, lavender and citrus.

It has only been available at local restaurants and at the distillery, owner Todd Gregory tells PaperCity Fort Worth.

“Now we have Clear Fork Texas Gin in retail locations like Chicotsky’s, Goody Goody and some Total Wines,” he says. “It is available in one liter bottles, and is a great value for a Texas distilled product.”

Closures and Fresh Starts

Pitmaster Billy Woodrich departed his namesake Billy’s Oak Acres on Camp Bowie West, in March. We can mark that in the official closures column. But, Woodrich evened the balance sheet, by reopening for takeout and curbside only, under a new name last week in Cityview.

Rufus Bar & Grill will satisfy fans of his barbecue and the restaurant will remain barbecue-centric, with the addition of other stick-to-your-ribs menu items like burgers, catfish and chicken fried chicken.

Buttons has chosen to permanently pull out of its long-time perch at Chapel Hill Shopping Center, as first reported by the Star-Telegram,  The move was partly in the plans already, but hastened along by the pandemic. The demise of Fort Worth’s soul food mecca was predictable after the departure of its namesake chef. Keith “Buttons” Hicks left the restaurant and jazz club he founded, leaving a void.

Hicks ended his relationship with partner Chris Luper in early June of 2019, taking over as head chef of The Rim in Burleson instead.

Luper, who first partnered with Hicks while he was an assistant football coach at TCU, is now the offensive coordinator at Missouri. He plans to move Buttons to Dallas. Buttons previously operated in Dallas from 2010 to 2105.  This new Buttons is taking over the former Hibashi space at 13465 Inwood Road in Farmers Branch as the Star-Telegram first reported.

Major Barbecue Anticipation

It’s hard to believe Heim Barbecue on the River opened a year ago. This first anniversary is not quite the celebration that owners Travis and Emma Heim had envisioned for their second barbecue hit.

“Today is bittersweet for the Heim BBQ family. . . this day last year, after two years of planning, construction, and every problem imaginable, we were able to open our second restaurant location in the River District,” a Heim Facebook post reads.

Still hopes are high for a monumental party return once social distancing restrictions are lifted. “We’re going to throw the biggest, most insane party ever at the river,” the Heim post promises.

Heim Barbecue Chopped Brisket
Heim serves up Hill Country barbecue and marks off items as they sell out on their butcher paper menu.



Things are not all gloom and doom in these coronavirus times.  A number of new Fort Worth restaurants are still in the works.

New Fort Worth Restaurants

Tarantula Tiki Lounge is going to add layers of quirkiness and umbrella drinks to South Main Village. Owner Autumn Brakeen, who is also the co-owner of The Boiled Owl Tavern on Magnolia Avenue, will open Fort Worth’s first Tiki bar in 50 years, just as soon as she can legally throw the doors open to followers and fans.

Until a fire swept through the Western Hills Hotel on Camp Bowie West in 1969, Ren Clark’s Polynesian Village was the most notable, local purveyor of the Tiki trend.

Nearby at 1264 W. Magnolia Avenue, Kevin and Julia Von Ehrenfried have been busily re-envisioning the former La Zona space, which was first reported by PaperCity back in February. The newly fenced patio will be ready to welcome visitors in May, assuming Texas starts reopening.

“We are moving forward with all construction and we plan to open the day we are free,” a Southside Rambler Facebook post promises. The new space now sports fresh plantings and bright yellow picnic benches and the patio bar’s team is ramping up, currently in hiring mode.

Also, on the near southside, Best Maid Pickles is opening the first storefront in its long Fort Worth history. Best Maid has been brining for nearing a century ― having opened in 1926. Now, The Best Maid Pickle Emporium will open early this summer next to Stage West Theatre at 829 W. Vickery.

Plans originally called for a May opening, but coronavirus intervened.

“We wanted a place where people could find hamburger slices, as well as our specialty pickles. The Best Maid Pickle Emporium will be all things pickle, including branded merchandise, and the history of our brand in Fort Worth,” Best Maid director of marketing Emily Christy tells PaperCity Fort Worth. “We often have customers looking for specialty items that they cannot locate in stores, even asking if they can come to our factory ― so this storefront is much needed.”

This pickle palace is destined to become a tourist magnet as well.

The Blue Fish was just getting ready to open its first Fort Worth restaurant in Crockett Row in early March. But that opening was put on pause by coronavirus. The Blue Fish has been forced to swim in circles just waiting to open since.

Provender Hall grilled fish with rice and beans
Provender Hall was forced to push pause on their anticipated Mule Alley opening.

Likewise, Marcus Paslay’s newest restaurant, Provender Hall, was all geared up and ready to show off its new space in Mule Alley, but had to cancel its scheduled previews, and decided to delay its official opening. Provender Hall will be back in the saddle soon.

There is so much to look forward to in coming months, and the restaurant anticipation just continues to build.

Discover Weber Pellet Grill at Bering's

Featured Properties