“Welcome to Fort Worth,” the concierge said, as I checked into my hotel. “We have all the big city amenities here without the big city hassles.”

I know this firsthand, having lived in neighboring Dallas, or the “Big D,” for four years.

The sibling cities, known collectively as DFW, are connected by broad highways. Smaller Fort Worth, located approximately 30 miles west of Dallas, is for-locals-by-locals, genuinely friendly, and not too worried about what other people think.

These quirks are evident in the city’s food scene, as well.

“We have a lot of local chefs…making sincere food in places that aren’t part of big, corporate chains,” explained Bud Kennedy, the culinary columnist behind the Fort Worth Star-Telegram‘s “Eats Beats.” “Plus, we aren’t overwhelmed with crowds. We have enough people to be fun, but not enough to be a nuisance,” he said.

Here are ten great spots that promise an only-in-Fort-Worth vibe:

Reata: This authentic ode to Texas “cowboy cuisine”—what Bud Kennedy defines as a “nicer version of chuckwagon cooking, like starch in your jeans”—in Sundance Square is at the top of many a local’s list.

When Reata arrived on the scene in the 1990s, Kennedy says it was a pure chuckwagon joint, slinging grilled meats and chicken-fried steak. Since then, the restaurant has broadened its offerings, without losing its original ranch spirit.

As you’re eating your way through Fort Worth, know that several of the city’s top chefs cooked at Reata before opening their own restaurants.

Brewed: This popular coffee house-gastro pub located in the city’s trendy Magnolia District can be a mob scene, especially during weekend brunch service.

The centerpiece of the rustic-chic space is a large split bar—0ne side serves coffee from local Texas roasters like Avoca, the other side slings craft brews and inventive wine cocktails such as (Read more...)

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