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Eats beat: Mom-and-pop spots cook up the classics

Posted 9:37am on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013

Opening a small, local cafe is tough.

Some newcomers get it right, and some never do.

Most wind up with a mix of hits and misses, like two new tiny family cafes:

Judy's Watermelon Patch Cafe is Judy Hill's new restaurant inside an antiques mall in the Handley neighborhood near Loop 820.

It's a homespun, made-to-order cafe offering a plate-lunch special Wednesdays through Fridays, hamburgers and hand-cut fries on Saturdays.

The pan-fried chicken lunch Wednesday was the stuff of dreams. A billowy chicken breast came with perfect spinach, homemade mashed potatoes smothered in scratch brown gravy, and cornbread with honey butter.

But neither the cornbread nor a personal-size coconut meringue pie lived up to its looks.

From what I hear, I missed the best pick. Other diners said they'd be back for the lemon meringue. And the fruit fried pies are supposedly the best of all.

Even on a light day, Judy's takes a while. Nothing is made ahead, so be patient.

It's open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, inside the antiques mall at 3129 Handley Drive, Fort Worth, 817-986-3330.

Smoke 'n Grill is a new barbecue cafe in Everman, near the high school in a timeworn strip shopping center.

You have to admire the owners, the Ford and Taylor families, for their clever menu names.

"Man Beans" is a big bowl of pintos with hot links, sausage, brisket and barbecue sauce ($5.95).

The "Okie Burger" has onions pressed into the beef, El Reno, Okla.-style. A "Juicy Lucy" is a double-decker burger with cheese melted between the decks.

The menu features pecan-smoked barbecue. But a brisket-and-ribs plate lunch this week had more smoke than flavor, a drawback in barbecue-savvy Everman.

Smoke 'n Grill also has breakfasts, lunch specials, homemade desserts and cookies.

It's open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Wednesdays, for breakfast, lunch and dinner Thursdays through Saturdays; 1601 Everman Parkway, 817-293-1913, facebook.

com/fandtsmoke.n.grill.

Hedary's , the oldest full-service Mediterranean restaurant in Fort Worth, has given the chef chores to family grandson Tony Tabet.

Tabet will travel between Fort Worth and his home in Las Vegas, where an uncle runs another Hedary's outpost.

Tabet is trying new dishes such as last weekend's jalapeno hummus; dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, open all day Sundays at 6323 Camp Bowie Blvd., 817-731-6961, hedarys.com.

Speaking of homespun cafes, congratulations to River Oaks Cafe, thriving with big burgers and traditional breakfasts and plate lunches.

It's easier to find now with the new sign at 4837 River Oaks Blvd. Open daily for breakfast and lunch; 817-625-7337.

Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in DFW.com Weekend. 817-390-7538

Facebook: Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat

Twitter: @eatsbeat

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