If you need proof that DFW's dining scene is smokin' hot, just crack open the September issue of Bon Appétit, or tune in to Bravo. That's where you'll find some of our much-talked-about restaurants and chefs making a splash and taking names. There are a ton of great restaurants in the area, but in our not-so-humble estimation, these are 10 of the hottest at the moment. Tell us your picks online at dfw.com.
1. Ellerbe Fine Foods: Opened last summer on Magnolia Avenue in a converted gas station, Ellerbe quickly earned a rave from our own Foodie Two Shoes, June Naylor. Now, national magazine Bon Appétit has anointed Ellerbe one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in America, so expect a foodie frenzy. The magazine likened the Ellerbe experience to having "a charming Southern grandma invite you over to her cozy little house for Sunday supper." Except the upscale country cooking is "probably much better than grandma's." Chef Molly McCook features a variety of locally grown goods in her thoughtful dishes, ranging from a homegrown tomato salad ($10) to P.E.I. mussels with a side of Cowtown market stew ($24). The food is fresh, seasonal and first-rate. And the charming atmosphere at Ellerbe is doing the near impossible: drawing die-hard west-siders to the south side of the Trinity on a regular basis.
2. Go Fish Ocean Club: Chef Tiffany Derry seems like a juggernaut on this season of Top Chef, and Go Fish, her elegantly understated seafood spot in Dallas, is shifting into hyperdrive, too. As of this writing, Tiffany was in the final 6 on Top Chef and had won two sets of challenges in the past three weeks. In other words, she's going to be a culinary star. So expect to pay star prices for her signature dishes, like Alaskan roasted halibut ($28) and fried green tomatoes ($12). www.gofishoceanclub.com
3. Five Guys Burgers and Fries: About a week ago, Zagat, that mysterious but all-powerful tastemaker, deemed Five Guys the best damn fast-food burgers in the country. Convenient, then, that the new Five Guys across from Hulen Mall in Fort Worth opened the same day; the lines haven't let up since. The Virginia-based chain has been wowing local burger fanatics for a couple years with its Southlake and Dallas outposts. Five Guys even made the Final Four of last summer's DFW.com Battle of the Burgers with its thin but flavorful beef patties and oh-so-fresh toppings. But beware, Five Guys, West Coast cult fave In-N-Out is coming to Dallas soon. For now, Five Guys has the buzz in Fort Worth, so go forth and burger. And don't forget the fries. www.fiveguys.com
4. Sushi Axiom: When the popular sushi restaurant moved into Montgomery Plaza this year, it upped the ante with an exquisite interior. Between the beautiful fish on your plate, the exotic fish in the tank, the giant four-panel television on the wall and the beautiful people at the bar, you'll get whiplash -- in a good way. www.sushiaxiom.net
5. Chef Point on Wheels: If you want to establish foodie cred, you've gotta find gourmet in some unlikely places. Like a lunch wagon. Chef Point on Wheels is the takin'-it-to-the-streets version of the famed Chef Point Cafe, a five-star restaurant housed in a Conoco station in Watauga. The mobile restaurant sets up shop 11 a.m.-3 p.m. every Wednesday across from Harris hospital in Fort Worth. And no matter how hot it is outside, you'll see hungry patrons lining up for Chef Point specialties like "Better Than Sex" fried chicken ($10) and bread pudding with brandy butter sauce ($7). chefpointonwheels.com
6. Patrizio: Just about every restaurant in the West Seventh corridor could be considered hot (Bailey's Prime Plus, Brownstone, Terra, Tillman's, Eddie V's, etc.), but Patrizio, the Dallas favorite that opened its first Fort Worth location a few months ago, is inspiring diners' devotion with polished pasta dishes, big portions and very reasonable prices (many entrees are less than $12). We're big fans of the open-face ravioli, the penne caprese and the restaurant's beautiful interior. It's the most elegant $10 lunch in town. www.patrizios.net
7. Cat City Grill: Ellerbe isn't the only hot spot along Magnolia (Nonna Tata, Yucatan Taco Stand, Lili's, to name just a few). Cat City Grill is drawing just as many heavy-hitters. We recently spotted Van Cliburn having dinner there with Sid and Ramona Bass. Can't get more Fort Worth elite than that! Vance Martin, who also owns nearby Lili's Bistro, opened this cozy spot along with partner Martin Thompson around Valentine's Day. And Fort Worth has had a love affair with it since, gobbling up inventive, down-home dishes like chicken-fried rack of lamb ($25) and gorgonzola waffle fries ($9). www.catcitygrill.com
8. Nova: In the Bishop Arts District of Oak Cliff, former Hattie's chef Kelly Hightower is cooking up large and small plates with big taste in a former Dairy Queen. And he's attracting a blizzard of good buzz. (Take a look at the restaurant's Facebook page: The place is just over a month old, and it's being reviewed by everyone and their brother-in-law.) And it's not just hype at this gastropub: Our critic has sampled a few dishes -- the Jamaican beer can chicken ($14), the Nova burger with apple-smoked bacon, blue cheese with asiago fries ($10) and Hightower's famous garlic hummus ($7) -- and given them two big thumbs-up. www.novadallas.com
9. Cooper's Barbecue: In February, Cooper's brought a little Hill Country heaven to the Fort Worth Stockyards. And the massive restaurant quickly became the place where oil-and-gas brokers and cattle ranchers go to strike deals over delicious brisket and a big pork chop. www.coopersbbq.com
10. Victor Tango's: From the mod urban decor to the tapas to the killer cocktails (Moscow Mule, Grapefruit Rickey), this swingin' Knox-Henderson joint in Dallas screams "hipster." But the delectable sharing frenzy won us over, with gold stars for the crab mac and jack gratin with pancetta ($12) and the lollypop lamb chops with honey balsamic ($16). Now we just need to get back to try the lobster BLT sliders ($13) and the sweet potato fries with gorgonzola aioli ($7). www.victortangos.com