Wednesday, October 12, 2011

State Fair of Texas BBQ (aka Fried Rib Smorgasbord)

The State Fair of Texas has been overrun by fried food mania. I went this evening with my friend Clark to find all of the smoked meat options, and even most of them ended up in a vat of hot oil. Here's what I found, including costs (a ticket costs $0.50).

My first bite of Texas Barbecue was just outside of the Cotton Bowl at this Smokey John's location. It was time for another visit.

The ribs were good and tender with nice smoke. The sauce complemented the meat well, and the bun was hefty and flavorful for a standard white bread bun. 14 tickets.

The brisket sandwich had the same good bun (it seems that it's used by many vendors), but the meat needed more smoke and overall flavor. Partially sauced, it needed to be more wet to be enjoyable. 14 tickets.

Inside the Coca-Cola food court, Little Bob's is still going strong despite the recent death of the family patriarch.

The photos behind the jovial cashier are of the late Huey "Lil' Bob" Nash. He was the first minority granted a permit to sell food at the State Fair in 1964, so this vendor's importance cannot be denied.

A "Big Bob" sandwich of chopped beef and ham was the best sandwich of the day. Saucy, salty, smoky and tender, we finished this one off. 14 tickets.

The bologna sandwich that they are famous for was underwhelming. The meat had no smokiness and little flavor whatsoever. Oscar Meyer on white bread at home is cheaper anyway. 9 tickets.

Also in the Coca-Cola food court was BW's. Their menu was vast, but we stuck with fried ribs.

These hunks of dry and chewy meat came straight out of a warming tray. I'm not sure if they're smoked or not, but they didn't taste like it, and they were fried without breading or batter. I even ordered the spicy version, but they forgot to shake on the flavor because there was none. Freezer-burnt curly fries came piled atop the three large ribs. This may be the single worst thing I've ever eaten at the State Fair of Texas (and I've had fried beer). 16 tickets.

We needed a break from BBQ, so we went for the lighter side and got deep fried biscuits and gravy. They are fried to order so these biscuits were hot, crispy and greasy. I would have paid extra to add sausage if it was an option. 10 tickets.

A Taste of New Orleans had a variety of cajun items along with fried ribs. I had high hopes for this place in the shadow of Big Tex since a visit a few days before found them out of ribs until they were done smoking. There's a small barrel smoker on site that they use for the ribs.

Precooked and sliced ribs are taken from the cooler, then are breaded and fried. There was a good amount of salty seasoning added to boost the flavor of the smoky ribs (that received a liquid smoke boost). The ribs were tender and flavorful, and the fries were almost crispy. 18 tickets.

Barbecue was an afterthought at this booth that was selling a new item from last year in the fried Frito Pie.

Even a good bun couldn't save this sloppy joe brisket sandwich. Two bites were enough. 10 tickets.

Further down the midway was Eva's House of BBQ. Chopped beef and turkey legs were tempting, but we dipped back into the fried ribs bucket.

These were fried in a batter spiced like fried chicken with plenty of salt and sage. These were the closest to the great fried ribs I tried in Atlanta at Fox Bros. BBQ a couple of months ago. They were a bit chewy but had great overall flavor, and with four ribs may have been the best value of the evening. 10 tickets.

Our last stop at La-Kam's was the most expensive. All the ribs were taking their toll on our systems, but there was one last vendor to check out.

These ribs were re-fried to order, then dunked in a sauce heavy on the heat and heavier on the vinegar. It was a mix of BBQ sauce and wing sauce. These huge spare ribs were chicken fried, but none of the subtleties of the breading could overcome the punch of sauce flavor. It was just too much, as was the price. 20 tickets.

Not surprisingly, the State Fair of Texas is not the premier place for BBQ in Dallas, but certainly delivers on the fried food front. In fact I've only seen fried ribs mentioned on one menu in town outside of the fair. After tonight's heartburn, I won't be rushing out to try them for a while.

- BBQ Snob

1 comment:

JD said...

Funny that BWs restaurant on Irving Blvd closed but they still have the fair booth.


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.