Social media influencers are everywhere. However, not all influencers were made equally. Some use their platforms for more than just advertising themselves. This issue’s Influencing with Purpose focuses on Josie Villa-Singleton of the beloved blog and Instagram account, “Eat This Fort Worth.”
When did you begin your blog, and what inspired you to blog about the Fort Worth food scene?
I began my blog in 2008 as a fun way to document the places I was dining in Fort Worth. I was the friend everyone would text when they needed a restaurant recommendation, so I figured I’d start a blog and at least have a handful of friends that would read it. Once more independent restaurants started emerging on the scene, I wanted to highlight them to encourage Fort Worth diners to check them out.
How has the food scene in Fort Worth changed since you started blogging?
I feel like the food scene has been on a dynamic trajectory over the past 13 years. It’s been wonderful to see Fort Worth nurture food entrepreneurs like Sarah Castillo and Milo Ramirez who both started as food truck businesses and now both have multiple brick and mortar restaurants. There are more independent restaurants than we had when I first started, and we have a vibrant pop-up scene. The emergence of the craft BBQ movement in Fort Worth has potential to put us in more of a national spotlight, as do our 12 craft breweries. Fort Worth’s many hole-in-the-wall spots also contribute to the culinary scene in unsung ways.
What are the hallmarks of a great food experience?
Anything that takes you out of your everyday routine. It could be a sinfully delicious homemade pasta, or an exceptional service experience, unique ambience, the perfect bottle of wine, or a meal with friends that lingers on for hours. We rely on restaurants to not only feed us but to give us something we can’t have at home. Also, any meal where you took a risk and it paid off.
What are some of your favorite Fort Worth memories?
Dining at the top of Reata when it was in the Bank One building was always a hallmark experience. When I was a kid, eating a burger from Griff’s after spending a day at Burger’s Lake was always supremely satisfying.
When traveling, how do you plan your culinary stops? Through recommendations or by chance?
For foodie destinations like Mexico City, I plan based on recommendations and blog and news articles. Despite all the research and planning, one of my favorite meals in Mexico City was at a streetside food stall with the vendors making blue corn tacos with homemade salsa that we happened upon while walking. I also love to crowdsource or look at groups like Tanglewood Moms for suggestions. I usually take a cooking class or go on a food tour when I travel overseas.
When people invite you to a party, what’s your signature dish to bring?
Argentinian empanadas that I learned to make in Buenos Aires.
When did you begin your Eat This Fort Worth Food Tours, and what do you and your guests love about them?
I began Eat This Fort Worth Food Tours in the spring of 2019. I love creating a unique and memorable experience for people and guests love connecting with other food loving folks and having a whole afternoon planned for them.
What’s next for Eat This Fort Worth and for Josie?
I’m creating new experiences for Eat This Fort Worth and incorporating walking tours into the tour calendar. I’m exploring additional mediums for storytelling like podcasting and YouTube.
What is the one piece of advice you would give aspiring bloggers/writers?
Be authentic to yourself and your point of view. My most successful pieces that resonate are when I write something as if I’m having a conversation with a friend. Find your voice and stay the course.
What’s your favorite book and why?
Kitchen Confidential. Anthony Bourdain is a huge inspiration to me as a writer, a food enthusiast, and traveler. That book showed me how storytelling and personal experience absolutely have a place in food writing. The behind the scenes look of restaurant life provided a peek into what the average diner is usually unaware of, and I still adhere to his tips on eating out. I bought a Global Knife after reading his book, and it’s still one of my favorite and most-used purchases.
What political or social issue motivates you to take action?
Hunger in our communities. Food insecurity in Tarrant County and beyond became painfully apparent during the Covid shutdown. Volunteering at the Tarrant Area Food Bank takes a commitment of just a few hours and is an immediate way to take action and to help distribute food in our community.
Readers of this publication love their pets. Tell us about yours.
We have a nine-year-old golden retriever named Blanco who still thinks he’s a puppy and loves everyone who walks through our door. He’s happiest chasing squirrels and catching frisbees. My boys are happiest snuggling with him.
What is the greatest thing you think Fort Worth is missing?
More ethnic eateries like dim sum and chaat houses. A restaurant incubator similar to Trinity Groves in Dallas.
It’s time for the lightning round! Give us the name of your Fort Worth favorites.
- Coffee shop – 5AM Drip
- Breakfast/brunch place – Esperanza’s in the Northside for chilaquiles
- Hangout with friends – The patio at TulipsFTW
- Place to relax and recharge – The Botanic Garden
- Museum or gallery – The Modern
- Artist or musician – Ariel Davis
- Yearly event – Fall Gallery Night
- Boutique – Honeysuckle Rose Vintage
- Best bartender/cocktail – Tia Downey and Pam Moncrief are both shaking up the cocktail scene.
- Sweet treat – Anything from MELTIce Creams.
- Hamburger joint - Hooker’s Grill in the Stockyards.
- Barbecue – Brix BBQ
- Mexican restaurant – Paco’s Mexican Cuisine