You Gonna Eat That? Woodshed Smokehouse
Updated: Aug 16, 2021
To kick off my first of many restaurant reviews I decided to go to what I would consider one of my favorite restaurants in all of Fort Worth. This place hits all the spots from the food, to the atmosphere, and the memories we have made there over the years.
The Chef behind the magic is a well know celebrity, Tim Love. He is an avid proponent of the food scene here in Fort Worth and about making it what it can be. My husband and I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Tim and his wife at the "Art of War" themed dinner at Canon Chinese, that closed due to the pandemic (a real heartache there - that place was amazing). Tim and his wife were lovely and engaging, and have a heart for how this city represents itself through food.
Tim has many other restaurants around here. I'll be reviewing them all at some point. But today my focus is on the one that stole my heart the moment I walked in all those years ago. They consistently change up their layout and how things flow, improving the dining experience each time.
I'd call this AMERICAN and BBQ with some modern twists. Is that "nuevo" maybe?
Appetizers - $9-15
Entrees - $10-22
Special Dishes - they have some group sharing dishes from $83-170 (holler at your girl if you wanna hit that up!)
The Woodshed Smokehouse is located in the University Park area, down by the Fort Worth Zoo (another real treasure of this city) at 3201 Riverfront Drive. It is along the river and has an entrance point on the river walkway so you can enter directly from there.
Depending on the day and time, you can sometimes find parking in their private lot, however at busier times that parking lot is valet only ($10). There is street parking all down Riverfront Drive, but if it is real busy, be prepared to walk a bit to get there. But a pre-meal walk along the river isn't the worst.
The atmosphere here is laid-back with an outdoor dining focus. Even the indoor dining section's glass walls come away to make the whole place outdoors when the weather is nice. When it's hot they have misters, fans, and shade devices galore to help you still enjoy your time. When it's cold, they pull out the tower heaters and fire pits. They really do make their best attempt at making it an all-season outdoor restaurant - a challenge in our fair state of Texas.
They have a stage for their live music acts. If you go on a weeknight or weekend, be prepared to get so "in the groove" that you hang out there way longer than you planned to! I'm pretty good at not "over-doing" drinking when out, but many of my hangover stories from Fort Worth start with, "Well, I went to the Woodshed..."
GREAT FOR/FRIENDLY TO
Kids - Our kids love it, but the majority of the food has a spice to it that younger ones might not be okay with. Our kids love the burger though and ask to go here specifically for that!
Pets - I've rarely been here when there wasn't at least one dog on premises. They even are so fabulous as to have a doggy menu made with the real deal stuff from the pit!
Happy Hour - fab drinks. Hard to leave once you're there though!
Business Lunch - this is always a crowd pleaser for lunch, especially when they've never been. There is just something about that patio on a nice day...
Patio - great river views, made as comfortable as possible in all weather (a real feat), and kid-friendly to roam about a little bit without hurting anything or making noise.
Live Music - a great places to catch some live tunes, by the river.
Date Night - it might be outside and "laid-back" but that doesn't mean they are laid-back on the food. It is high quality, consistently delicious, and the atmosphere can be romantic or party-mode, whichever direction you're in the mood for that night.
WHEN I WAS THERE
I'm there regularly - but this particular visit I was there for lunch on a Friday. We were seated right away, which was nice. They do not take reservations here so at really busy times, you're rolling the dice at getting a table. As with all restaurants currently, service can be slow. Our food came out quickly and without issue. I did want to order a second Ranch Water, but had to ask if they could do it To-Go instead since I didn't have time any longer to stay there to drink it. Luckily for me, they DID!
WHAT TO EAT
I've had lots of their food. Some of the top dishes in my mind are:
Cheeseburger - seriously, our little family of four will go and order 2 cheeseburgers to share (plus sides), and we are all happy as can be when we leave. Tim Love knows burgers.
Pork Rib Tamales - spicy and the masa is on-point, like shouldn't be that good.
Smoked Whitefish Dip - one of my go-to's for lunch by myself actually. Light, salty, and the tortillas and camp bread are a fav of mine.
Bone Broth Ramen - this is so good it should be illegal. Spicy and rich, this ramen is a surprise - and also a great hangover food!
Dry Aged Beef BBQ - I like to go and just get a little order of sliced brisket and a appetizer, salad, or side. The standard brisket is what I get most of the time, but sometimes I will up the ante and get some of their fabulous dry aged stuff. There is a difference.
What I had today (I consider these top dishes too):
Sausage of the Day Plate - that comes with sausage, a generous piece of camp bread, and some house-made pickles and spicy brown mustard. Today's sausage was Elk Jalapeno.
Butcher's Sandwich - my husbands pick today (it was almost the burger). This comes with chopped brisket, pulled pork, today's sausage (the same Elk Jalapeno I had), and some smoked cheddar and garnishes to top it all off - side of house-made chips too.
The sausage had a great bite to the skin and the jalapeno is always a welcome addition. Elk sausage can be on the dry side due to it's lack of fat, but this was plenty moist with or without the addition of the spicy brown mustard.
The camp bread is possibly my favorite thing there. You can't get it anywhere else. I love the chunks of peppercorns and the soft but solid interior that contrasts perfectly to the crisp exterior they get from the fire.
Today the pickles needed a bit more vinegar, but I'm always a fan of house-made pickles.
My husband's meal was super good as well. All those smoked meats, piled high, with the perfectly toasted bun... yep, that's livin'. I only got a bite, which is unusual, but he wasn't letting go of that thing very easily! Their house-made potato chips I am always a fan of. They are never soggy, always crispy.
TIPS FOR MY FOODIES
The chocolate cake is where it is at! Save the room and make it happen. It's smoked. Just try it and you can thank me later.
The majority of the food is a bit on the spicy/peppery side, so it's not as "young-kid" friendly in that area. Again, ours love the burger, but they don't have normal french fries and my kids can't yet seem to get on board with the fried potatoes they have. It's a damn shame because those crispy nuggets are my jam! Soft and fluffy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside. And as usual, the sauces are a tasty addition.
When it's super hot, wear lighter clothes and a hat to help yourself out.
The Woodshed Smokehouse is one of my favorite places in Fort Worth. I have mad respect for how they continue to keep the atmosphere, food, and brand something that turns people into regulars and entices the new folks to come check it out too. I have yet to have a bad meal there and those I introduce to it agree. When my kids ask for it by name, you're in!
Thanks to Tim Love and his group that continue to innovate and bring new concepts to Fort Worth - and, more importantly in my mind, are able to keep those places here and turn them into a real destination and place for all to enjoy. It's a whole vibe and that is what food is about. He gets it.
'Til the next adventure in food... or you know, a day that ends in "y" for me!
P.S. Tim, if you're listening, I'm a fan of what you and your group do. Anytime you want to invite me to your restaurants or your amazing new riverside lodging experience, I'm down. Say the word! I won't make it weird, I promise! Ok, maybe just a little...