Restaurants / Openings

Fort Worth’s Beloved (and TikTok Viral) Taste Project Restaurant Is Expanding to Arlington — A Pay-What-You-Can Pioneer

When a Community Truly Comes Together Over Food

BY // 02.22.24

The pay-what-you-can dining model of Fort Worth’s Taste Project restaurant has become a go-to spot for seasonal dining in the city’s Southside neighborhood, ever since it opened there in 2017. Chef Jeff Williams and his wife Julie opened Taste Project with the idea of both feeding those in need of food assistance and training the homeless in restaurant skills that could help people change their lives. Its chef apprentice program provides real world training in a real restaurant kitchen.

Now, Taste Project is gearing up to open a second restaurant in Arlington. In conjunction with the city of Arlington, the Williams hope to have it open by this summer at 200 N. Cooper Street in Arlington.

There are no prices listed on the menu at Taste Project, and that is by design. It allows those who can afford to be generous to do so, and assures that no one feels ashamed if they can’t pay for their meal. This is a place where all the diners ― those paying and those not — eat together on chef-inspired dishes like miso cod, pomegranate glazed chicken and smoked salmon eggs Benedict. A new spring menu will be rolling out soon at Fort Worth’s Taste Project too.

With its chef-inspired menu (including this miso cod) and truly inspired mission, Taste Project is now expanding from Fort Worth to Arlington.
With its chef-inspired menu (including this miso cod) and truly inspired mission, Taste Project is now expanding from Fort Worth to Arlington.

As for what you can expect at the new Arlington Taste Project?

“On Aug. 2, the Arlington City Council approved a 10-year lease agreement, with two five-year options to renew, with Taste Project for the restaurant location,” a release from the city notes. “The nonprofit plans to renovate the building, formerly used by the Water Utilities Department and the Arlington Public Library, into a 100-plus seat full-service restaurant that includes a production kitchen, culinary classroom, and headquarter office.

“The partnership will also add one of Yelp’s Top 100 Best Places to Eat in the US to Arlington’s growing list of dining options in Downtown.”

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Fort Worth’s Taste Project ranks No. 40 on the Yelp 2023 list.

Local supporters often sign up as volunteers to wait tables and bus tables at Taste Project, helping fulfill its mission on a daily basis.

Taste Project’s Rising Profile

When mega TikTok influencer Keith Lee dropped by for a meal at Fort Worth’s Taste Project recently, he declared it “The dopest restaurant I’ve ever seen.” Taste Project has thoroughly embraced its viral moment, even printing T-shirts with the quote on it.

Chef Jeff Williams is surrounded by the volunteer staff who regularly serve at Fort Worh's Taste Project.
Chef Jeff Williams is surrounded by the volunteer staff who regularly serve at Fort Worh’s Taste Project.

Much like the first Taste Project restaurant in Fort Worth, the Arlington location was chosen to bring “affordable healthy food choices where they are needed most, located within walking distance of UTA, Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, and numerous Downtown homes and businesses.”

Taste Project is completely supported by the generosity of diners and supporters, and the Willams are asking for more help now, as they expand to Arlington. Taste Project is already well on its way to raising its goal of $2.9 million to open this new restaurant in downtown Arlington.

Taste Project received a $100,000 lead gift from the Amon G. Carter Foundation and Dallas-based Coeval Studio has  been tapped once again to design and renovate its new restaurant at 200 N. Cooper Street.

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