8 best new restaurants in Fort Worth compete for Tastemaker title

The 2020 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best local food and drink, comes at a challenging time. With the coronavirus, we can’t eat out much these days. But we can still celebrate Fort Worth’s best chefs, bars, and restaurants. Maybe this year they have to celebrate more than ever.

It will be different for the 2020 edition: instead of a meeting, we will bring the party online with the Tastemaker Awards – Virtual Edition, an award ceremony and a tasting experience that you can enjoy at home. You can read all about it here.

We’re still paying tribute to an editorial series recognizing nominees for Best Chef, Best Restaurant, and Best Bar, selected by a jury made up of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts. The full list of nominees can be found here.

However, the “Best New Restaurant” category is something special: you can choose who wins in a bracket-style competition in which eight new restaurants compete against each other.

You can vote for your favorite once a day. The voting lasts three rounds and includes two finalists. The winner will be announced at our virtual awards ceremony on July 30th.

To vote Click here. Don’t hesitate: the first bracket ends on July 18th. Click!

Jacaranda house

This is the second location of a family-owned Mexican restaurant founded in the tiny town of Venus in northern Texas. They specialize in artfully presented Tex-Mex dishes, from fajitas to enchiladas to street tacos, in a festive atmosphere. One of their bestsellers is the unique fajita huarache with fajitas based on fried masa. They also serve breakfast all day.


The casual Italian restaurant is Chef Tim Love’s reef at a feast in the backyard. The bar and portico overlook an outdoor garden with a terrace and bocce courts. The main course is Detroit style pizza, a square pizza with an extra thick crust and a very crispy base, but airy on top. Love’s wife, Emilie, is from Michigan.

Hot Box Biscuit Club

Hot Box started out as a pop-up – one that was so successful that owners Sarah Hooton and Matt Mobley were convinced they’d take the next step. They opened this permanent restaurant in the hip South Main area in 2019. Their signature buttermilk biscuits and biscuit sandwiches remain the big draw, but don’t overlook the fried green tomatoes or their twist on devilish eggs topped with spring onions and a pinch of flaming Hot Cheetos.

Smoke-A-Holics BBQ

Tiny East Side Barbecue Joint is the first brick-and-mortar business for Derrick Walker, a native of Fort Worther, who made his way into the barbecue business by catering special events and hosting pop-ups. Walker’s attitude towards grilling is refreshingly different: in addition to brisket, sausage, chicken and spare ribs, he offers brisket nachos and various products with a soul-food touch, including smoked oxtail with cheese semolina and smoked and smothered minced steak.

Bull bull

The Splashy Restaurant at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel is a concept with locations around the world from Denver-based celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, who celebrates Latin American cuisine, particularly the techniques and flavors of Mexican and Peruvian cuisine. The menu includes Latin American grilled dishes with steaks and seafood from the charcoal and wood grill, as well as small plates with ceviche, tiraditos, empanadas and meat skewers.

Bad butcher

The Signature Restaurant at the renovated Sinclair Hotel is a modern steakhouse from DRG Concepts, owner of restaurants such as the Dallas Chop House, the Dallas Fish Market, the Chop House Burger and Wild Salsa. The menu features premium cuts of beef, a raw seafood bar, hand-rolled sushi, oysters, crab, lobster, and swordfish. The main course includes a double rib steak for two, which is served at the table. The classy decor is reminiscent of the building’s Art Deco theme.

Wishbone & Flynt

Located in Fort Worth’s trendy South Main neighborhood, the restaurant was created by Chef Stefon Rishel, who first became famous locally while working at Max’s Wine Dive, which is now closed. On the menu are Rishel’s signature PB & J Chicken Wings with spicy Thai peanut sauce and Pepperjack Tater Tots with crème fraiche and caviar. The restaurant has an adjoining, upscale speakeasy called The Amber Room, with craft cocktails and an atmosphere reminiscent of The Great Gatsby.


The spin-off of the pizza chain Cane Rosso offers a culinary collaboration between the pizza world champion Lee Hunzinger and the chef Jeff Bekavac. The original opened in Addison in 2018 and Fort Worth is the second location. Unlike Cane Rosso, who specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza, Zoli’s offers New York-style pizza as well as classic Northeast Italian-American red sauce classics. The Fort Worth location contains trademarks of owner Jay Jerrier, including fun details in the decor and commissioned by local artists.

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