Every community needs someplace to eat catfish and talk football.
South Tarrant County has Wings to Go Arlington, an unassuming sports grill where former Martin High School safety Travis Johnson combines Warriors tradition with plenty of winning flavor.
Even if you didn't play for the Warriors or Arlington Colts or the Wyatt Chaparrals, you'll feel at home dining on cornmeal-crusted fried catfish or collard greens and cornbread.
Nine years after the Johnsons opened an early Wings to Go chicken franchise, they've expanded the menu to add Southern specialties made from mom Gwen Johnson's personal recipes.
"It's taken off," Travis Johnson said. "People come for catfish. It's like I remember growing up."
That's important because Johnson's late father, Washington, then manager at what is now the MillerCoors Brewery in south Fort Worth, brought home dinners from legendary Everman Catfish.
Wings to Go Arlington's catfish has the same light, fine-cornmeal breading.
But Wings to Go Arlington also has first-rate sides and sauces, including a homemade tartar sauce and greens seasoned with smoked turkey.
The chicken tenders are larger than is typical and come with one of 14 sauces (including Louisiana hot sauce on tables in giant squeeze bottles). The restaurant still serves the franchise's original or boneless wings.
A lunch catfish combo costs $6.99. Daily specials sell for $8 and $9.
The restaurant is lined with sports photos that include local coaches and players, from retired Dunbar basketball coach Robert Hughes to new heroes such as TCU Horned Frogs freshman kicker Jaden Oberkrom.
It's open daily for lunch and dinner (Sundays at noon) at 4261 W. Green Oaks Blvd., near Fuzzy's Taco Shop; 817-572-1600.
Mak's Burgers & BBQ isn't shy.
A sign claims that the unassuming gas-grocery-and-grill north of Azle has the "best barbecue in Texas."
It's not the best, but Mak's is good for a short-order grill.
The brisket is thickly sliced, and the sweet sauce has a hint of spice.
Specials include roast beef, beef stew or barbecued pork ribs.
Mak's is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays, breakfast and lunch Sundays; 1850 Farm Road 730 N. (Boyd Road), 817-444-5955.
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