DALLAS: Babb Bros. BBQ
330 Bedford Ave
Dallas, TX 75212
Open Sun-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-10
Less than a month after the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge opened in March of last year the PR machine was already in full force on Phil Romano's newest venture in West Dallas. It was announced that Trinity Groves would kick-off their unique restaurant incubator concept with a barbecue joint called Babb Bros. BBQ. If you're unfamiliar with Trinity Groves, the idea is for aspiring restaurateurs and chefs to audition for a spot in the incubator. If accepted the team led by Phil Romano (of Macaroni Grill and Fuddruckers fame) would get partial ownership of the business in exchange for providing the resources, most importantly capital, to get the new concept off the ground. One stipulation is that the concept must be geared towards expansion. The investment group isn't just interested in the single location at Trinity Groves, they want it to become the next big chain restaurant. (For a more detailed look at the Trinity Groves development see this excellent D Magazine article by Peter Simek).
Before moving to Texas in 2003, the Babb brothers had honed their barbecue skills in Kansas (which explains an early press release that touted "Midwestern Style BBQ"). Mike, Bob and Davy Babb were behind the Arlington based "The Rib Man" catering business which was popular at tailgates at Cowboys' Stadium. They were the perfect concept to help Phil Romano realize his barbecue dreams after he sold the rights of the now ubiquitous Rudy's barbecue chain and closed two unsuccessful Dallas locations back in 1997. Rudy's became famous across the state soon after. Phil is now hoping to strike smoked meat gold once again with this new project, and its obvious that some choices have been made to allow for the future growth of this potential chain restaurant that's still in its infancy. Unlike those early Rudy's locations that used all wood-fired Oyler pits, Babb Bros. is using a pair of gas-fired Southern Pride smokers. This not only allows for ease of smoking at this location, but also allows for a similar product to be accomplished at other locations without the oversight of a seasoned pitmaster.
|Visit #1 - Brisket, Ribs and Pulled Pork|
My first visit here was a few weeks after its late November 2012 opening. The customers were sparse at 6:00 which is admittedly early for dinner, so I grabbed an order to go and went to my car to get a taste. The most unique item on their menu is a smoked meatloaf. The mixture is heavily spiced with chili powder and has a lingering flavor of blue cheese. The mixture has a mild smoke, and the meat stayed good and moist. It makes for a great sandwich, and would prove to be the best item on their wide menu. The other meats weren't as successful. I requested moist brisket (you can get lean or moist, just like Rudy's) which had a decent crust, but the brisket slices just didn't have any smoke flavor and the fat was poorly rendered. The ribs were overcooked so the texture was already suffering before being stored in plastic wrap. The meat could no longer cling to the bones. The resulting flavor had a bit more smoke than the brisket, but was missing seasoning and tasted washed out. Pulled pork wasn't much better, and the meat was incredibly dry. The side of collard greens was the savior of the meal. Cooked down with smoked pork and just the right amount of acid, they were some very good greens. A too-thick and underseasoned creamed corn was a disappointment.
|Visit #1 - Meatloaf Sandwich|
|Visit #2 - Meatloaf, Turkey and Brisket|
|Visit #2 - Moist Brisket Looks Better than it Tasted|
|Visit #3 - Brisket, Ribs and Wings|
I had been looking forward to the opening of this new joint for a good part of the year hoping that someone with the restaurant savvy of Phil Romano would be able to coax the best out of the Babb brothers. Seeing new businesses in West Dallas is a welcome sight, and seeing them flourish would be even better, but sometimes a shiny new place like Babb Bros. BBQ acts as little more than a reminder that great barbecue does exist in West Dallas. Just a mile down Singleton Avenue from Trinity Groves is a wood-fired brick pit in an old neighborhood stalwart called Odom's. It's been around long before a new bridge connected this forgotten neighborhood to North Dallas investors.