I’m certain you’re familiar with pop-up kitchens, and ghost kitchens aren’t nearly as spooky as the name implies.
If you imagined a room filled with mysterious stoves and appliances that vanish into thin air, leaving only the lingering scent of pungent garlic, you’d be wrong.
On the contrary, our earthly ghost kitchens are thriving in Fort Worth. These commercial spaces focus on preparing great foods that are ideal for those seeking delivery options or carry-out.
The pandemic forced us to pivot in more ways than one and for those in the food service industry, many revamped their menus in ways that made assembling take-home foods easy. And waivers for alcoholic drinks to go that were temporarily granted to help support restaurants across the state were made permanent in 2021.
Another way ghost kitchen concepts have helped is by offering full menus when the Texas weather is fickle. Take for example the sleet and ice that blanketed Funky Town a few weeks ago.
One Fort Worth chef and restaurateur, Lanny Lancarte, is no stranger to local foodways and traditions. If the name sounds familiar, he is a descendant of Jessie and Joe T. Garcia, the namesake of the nearly century-old establishment founded July 4, 1935. Lest you assume this chef is coasting on his family’s reputation, he ventured out years ago with the opening of Lanny’s Alta Cocina and later Righteous Foods, the innovative twist on conscious eating that opened in 2014.
He’s been described as “pioneering” and “creative” and he proved his intuition is spot-on by following an idea he first had in 2018 by opening the “new” idea – a ghost kitchen – at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fantasma Kitchens, fittingly Spanish for “ghost,” is the concept that opened not one, but three different carry-out or delivery-only kitchens in one convenient location: Pizza Zapasta, El Pollo Tocayo and Eat Fajitas. Eat Fajitas is the only one still offering service until new spaces with suitable dining rooms are found. Fortunately, Pizza Zapasta and El Pollo Tocayo took off lightning fast. Unfortunately, this meant shutting down temporarily until their new homes are found. In the meanwhile, Eat Fajitas is going strong.
Of course, the classic pop-up restaurants would technically fall under this umbrella because most often foods are to-go only, though they can occasionally vary (see more below.)
Kits Kitchen offers a diverse menu of Lao-style comfort foods, Korean barbecue and other creative twists on foods that Chef Kit calls part of his traditional “culture.” Additionally, he also offers insanely delicious mashups like his special eggroll flautas, which are perfectly seasoned shredded chicken and cheese enveloped in an eggroll skin and, like any good Texan, he then finishes his hybrid by deep frying until it’s a familiar golden-hued roll. He also sells his special seasoning blends if you’re interested in purchasing a bottle…or two. Follow @_kitskitchens on TikTok and IG.
And speaking of pop-ups, there are two more on my list to try soon.
The first is Lil Boy Blue BBQ, where you can feast on succulent multi-coursed plates of not just delicious barbecue, but smoked oxtail and jerk chicken – to name a few specialties from Chef Reginald Robinson’s sold-out affairs.
The other is one of the OG’s of fine dining supper club concepts, Magdalena’s.
Chef Juan Rodriguez, head chef and owner of Magdalena’s, has thoughtfully curated a rotating five-course menus full of creative seasonal and locally sourced food explained in great depth during his hosted events. Begin your dinner with an amuse-bouche of seared bay scallops and as the evening prolongs, get ready to be dazzled when your fourth course of braised beef short ribs arrives with an impressive caramelized shallot congee. That’s just an example of past selections from this Chicago-born chef who spent summers with his grandmother in Monterrey, Mexico.
Both chefs boast relaxed atmospheres and locally sourced ingredients. Chef Reginald sources his sustainable produce from local nonprofit, FunkyTown Food Project. Prices for these supper clubs range from $50 per person (Lil Boy Blue BBQ) to $95 per person for Magdalena’s, which also comes with a breathtaking view of Fort Worth’s stunning downtown skyline. Keep up with both chefs to follow their next announced dates at www.MagdalenasTX.com or www.LilBoyBlueBBQ.com
Deah Mitchell writes about more than food. You can email her at email@example.com.