The first Fort Worth Food Park has been open for nearly four months now and I think its fair to say the place is a hit with locals. Originally, I opined that you would become a hipster if you visited one time. I may still be right, but if so, a very diverse group of people will be joining the hipster ranks very soon. Soccer moms will wear ironic glasses and funky hats. Dads that used to wear striped socks with sandals, will now wear them with low top sneakers and shirts that say "I'm not out of touch, I'm pre-retro". And the greek college kids will somehow incorporate this absurd neon fashion trend into a muted anti theme.
In my numerous trips there have been families of every kind and size, high school kids, college kids, adult-kids, cowboys, cowboygirls, businesspersons and of course, hipsters. The variety makes for a very casual, relaxed atmosphere. It's much more Fort Worth Folksy than much of the West 7th development and that may be because it takes its roots from Austin and not dallas. Fortunately, us folks here at FWHITW International fit in like chameleons. That's how I'm able to bring the following, behind the scenes reviews of some of the mainstays of the Fort Worth Food Park.
The Drifting Bistro
Apparently, one of the sous chef's from Brownstone decided to start a food truck that focused on restaurant quality entrees, served on plastic plates. It's a novel idea that has resulted in one of my favorite places. Clearly the chef's dreams have now been reached.
On my recent visit, the item that caught my attention was the Pig & Grits. The dish contained a cider-brined pork chop on top of smoked gouda grits and all of it was topped with a bacon and golden raisin jam. Obviously the first thing that came to my mind before ordering was, "how dare they serve grits made with the deity of a major world religion?" The second thing to my mind was, "Buddha is not the same as gouda - stop being an idiot." Then finally, "Don't post these thoughts online or your Buddhist readers will silently and peacefully revolt."
Back to the food. You read the description above and can see this photo. But I'm going to keep describing this because of how fantastic it was. First, the pork chop was perfectly prepared. I don't mean cooked and not bloody. The pork was moist and tender without a single dry bite. The pork sat atop the above-mentioned grits. If you haven't had smoked gouda grits, there's a chance you have an emptiness in your life. That emptiness can be filled with these. By the time I actually got around to digging into my grits, they had become a tad bit stiff, but they were still warm, gooey and goudaey. The cheese taste permeated each bite and a little bit of the grits with the pork made my temporarily vegetarian Mrs temporarily want to regret her vow of vegetables.
On top of the chop was the bacon and raisin jam. I'm not sure how this is made but it appears to be exactly what it sounds like - a jelly filled with bacon and raisins. But its so much more. The saltiness of the bacon with the sweetness of the raisins and jam were fantastic and went well with the salty, cheesy grits and pork. It was a fantastic meal and to think, it was all prepared in a little truck kitchen and enjoyed on a picnic table under the dusk sky.
The Drifting Bistro has a Facebook page and they are appearing sporadically at the park. From the sound of things, the food runs out quickly.
The Munch Box
Why is everybody giggling? This truck appears to be somewhat of a sleeper hit at the park. What originally started as a menu of lunch mainstays - chicken sandwich/burger/rosemary potatoes - has quickly become a culinary acid trip. Recently they have offered pork dumplings with lemongrass and ginger and high end desserts like creme brulee and cheesecake with madagascaran vanilla. Those are mostly made up words but they sound delicious. They have also been so popular that on some Sunday nights they are down to very little for the dinner rush (despite being located behind a grocery store...). This week they were left with french toast and $2 licks of the chef's hands.
I have only had the chicken sandwich with rosemary potatoes. The sandwich was freshly prepared with a grilled chicken breast, still hot from the grill. Toppings were all fresh and crisp and the buttery, tender bun was perfect to hold it all together. The potatoes were a little soft for me as I prefer them to be crispy, but the flavor was terrific with lots of rosemary and salt. All of this was served in a dish way to adorable for a beastly man like myself to eat from. But I was supposed to munch from the box, so....
You can follow The Munch Box at their website or just show up at the park when its open - they appear to be regulars.
The Butcher's Son
I can't remember exactly what I had here but I'm pretty sure it was a hot dog with some form of kraut on top. From what I can remember, the meal was good, but I haven't been drawn back since my first trip. The Mrs. had a quesadilla that she enjoyed, but who can't make a good quesadilla? This isn't a knock at the Butcher's Son, its just been so long since I visited.
Check out the offerings of the Butcher's Son here.
Good Karma Kitchen
This has become the mainstay of my associate here at FWHITW but there's no reason carnivores and manly men should avoid the Kitchen. On a recent trip, the Mrs enjoyed a delicious plate of the Crazy Good Nachos, topped with a little Good Karma "meat". The "meat" was some sort of flavored soy product but it tasted like ground taco meat and in the mix of all the other ingredients most people wouldn't notice the nachos were beef-less. Along with the nachos you get a fresh tasting salsa with just a little heat.
She also ordered a strawberry basil lemonade that was fantastic. If you don't bring your own drinks, get food wherever you want, then go get some of this lemonade. My grandma used to say that lemonade made you smarter and I'm priving loof.
The Good Karma Kitchen also serves some delicious looking flatbreads that are a bit on the small side but very well appointed with toppings and appear to make for a nice small meal. I'd pair it with an order of free-range hemp wrapped asparagus for a larger person's meal.
Good Karma Kitchen has a website and apparently travels beyond just the food park.
Lee's Grilled Cheese
I haven't been to Lee's yet, but wanted to add an important cautionary tale. According to an astute and casual reader whose spouse repeatedly attacks me through her pointed anonymous comments, the line at Lee's can get pretty long and the wait may be longer than anticipated. Lee's has a pretty extensive menu of....grilled cheeses. But those take time and you know there are those people that get all the way to the front of the fifteen minute line and then ask questions like, "so, what kind of cheeses have you got?" Despite the cheese menu being printed in the language of the obese (English) right next to where they've been standing.
This same astute reader says the wait is more than worth it because this is the best food in the park. I'll visit at some point and verify or dispute this claim, but a grilled cheese with pulled pork and jalapenos would be pretty good right about now.
Check out Lee's Grilled Cheese here for additional details.
Red Jett Sweets
One of the very popular options at the park is the dessert truck serving cupcakes with flavors ranging from red velvet to bacon + maple. I've had a few and they were all delicious with cakes that are fluffy and moist. The bacon + maple was surprisingly light in its flavor but there were small pieces of bacon in the cake. Why has it taken so long to get to this point in society? Why has bacon been relegated to breakfast plates? Why? Because nobody has had the courage to sneak it into cupcakes and jams and toothpaste. Until now.
Follow Red Jett Sweets online and save room for dessert when you visit the park.
Well, that's all I've got for now but there will be more. Salsa Limon is making regular appearances and I still owe you a more detailed review of Lee's. Fill in the gaps on what else is good in the comments.
Don't forget that the Fort Worth Food Park is BYOB and open Thurdsay-Sunday. Check out the schedule at their website or be adventurous and just go.