We've eaten our way through Texas and its surrounding states, but all that traveling wasn't necessary. There's a lot of flavor packed into the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival March 31 through April 3. It's worth staying close to home that weekend.
If you can't make every event, choose what to attend based on taste. Here's how to follow your favorite Texas flavor(s) to make some finger-lickin' good decisions.
Barbecue Showdown: If it can be smoked, it is no joke. It's only fitting that FWFWF kicks off with 15 pitmasters attempting to smoke out their competition. Notable names include crews from Blacks BBQ in Lockhart, Heim Barbecue in Fort Worth and 18th & Vine and Lockhart Smokehouse, both in Dallas.
- March 31, 6-9 p.m. Competition starts at 6 p.m. W.R. Watt Arena, 3201 Burnett-Tandy Drive, Fort Worth. $60.
Main Event: This is the granddaddy of the festival, your best bet for scoring some spicy cuisine. The plan is a "big and bold evening" featuring "classic Texas fare," according to the festival website. Are you thinking what we're thinking? Hot sauce. Picante. Cayenne. If the spice is too much to handle, cool off in the beer garden or try one of more than 100 wines, beers and spirits available that evening.
- April 1, 6-9 p.m. Pier 1 Imports Building, 100 Pier 1 Place, Fort Worth. $125.
#latenight Desserts After Dark: Nothing follows spicy better than sweet. Scoot over to The Shack to sip uniquely Texas cocktails. Sashay your way to the dance floor, taking as many breaks as you need to sample sweet desserts prepared by 12 pastry chefs. This event is another competition, so guests should be sure to sip and taste as much as possible before they vote for their favorites.
- April 1, 9 p.m. - 12 a.m. The Shack at Panther Island, 395 Purcey St., Fort Worth. $45. The event is now sold out. Want in? VIP passes, which cost $350 per person, include admission to every event.
Rise + Dine: What better way to seize the day than to savor it over a long, three-hour brunch? Chefs will prepare some of the egg dishes on Big Green Eggs, a ceramic cooker popular among foodies. Take a mimosa or a bloody mary and traipse through rows of breakfast tacos, migas, biscuits bubbling with gravy and much more. Craft beer, wine and other spirits will be offered in a tented lounge.
- April 2, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Pier 1 Imports Building, 100 Pier 1 Place, Fort Worth. $65.
Burgers, Brews & Blues: The holy trinity of Bs should draw quite the showing of salty Texans on Saturday. Expect cheesy, wild flavor combinations in burgers of every shape and slider variety. Chase 'em down with a beer -- maybe even a saltier gose (a style of beer) if you're following that trend -- and plug into the music. The rhythm of these blues might be good enough to drop some salty tears in your beers. Grab extra napkins.
- April 2, 5-9 p.m. Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork, 5000 Clearfork Main St., Fort Worth. Tickets were $80 early bird admission, $65 general admission, but the event is now sold out. Want in? VIP passes, which cost $350 per person, include admission to every event.