Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mama E's BBQ

818 E. Rosedale
Fort Worth, TX 76104
Open Sun-M 11-5:30, Tues-Thur 11-7, F-Sat 11-9

Mama E's is on a desolate strip of Rosedale Ave. next to the I-35 overpass. The building is small with only a few tables, and the business is mostly takeout. The menu is wider than most of the joints I've tried with catfish, spaghetti, meat loaf and other soul food favorites. My meal arrived in a styrofoam container with a heap of pre-sauced thinly sliced brisket and giant spare ribs. The potato salad was whipped with mustard, and was good and tangy. The beans were just average. Although the meat was sauced, the sauce was thin and complemented the meat well rather than overpowering the flavor of the meat. The ribs still had a good crust with a fleeting smoke flavor. The meat was tender with well rendered fat and a great overall flavor. The thin slices of brisket had a good crust with little smoke line. The smoke flavor was slight, but the fat was well rendered and the flavor was above average. With friendly service and good food, this lonely joint is a welcome oasis along this sparsely populated street.

Rating ***

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Riscky's BBQ

FT. WORTH: Riscky's Barbeque
300 Main Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Open M-Thur 11-10, F-Sat 11-12am, Sun 11-9

Sundance Square is the last on the list of many Ft. Worth neighborhoods where I would start a search for authentic Texas 'cue, but that's what Riscky's advertises, so I stopped in when I found Bailey's up the street was closed. I ordered a two meat plate that was staggerinly large, and equally pricey at $14.50. The ribs were average at best with little crust and that flavor that only comes from being stored in steamer wrapped in plastic. The brisket was better with a good crust and smoke line. The smoke flavor was better than average, but the slices were dry with no fat. The sides were nothing better than average, and the best item might have been the smoked bologna appetizer that was sprinkled with "Riscky Dust". WHo knows what that is, but they may want to try it on the rest of the meat to kick up the flavor.

Rating **

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mom's BBQ

1509 Evans Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76104
Open M-Sat 11-7, Sun 12-6

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2008: Mom's is in a newer brick building with a small footprint. Five or six small tables sit in front of a large counter where orders are taken. I was the only customer at 1:30 on a Friday, and I ordered a sliced brisket sandwich and two pork ribs. The large spare ribs arrived unsauced with a heap of sliced beef on top. Three slices of white bread for the "sandwich" sat longingly on the side. The brisket was fatty and slightly tough, and needed more time in the smoker. The crust was immature but had decent flavor. The overall taste was good, but it needed more smoke. The ribs were also tough with gobs of unrendered fat. The meat had a poorly formed crust with fleeting smoke flavor. The rib meat was average. For a joint that gets a lot of praise from locals, I was expecting more, but this may have been an off day.

Rating **

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Freeney's Barbecue

DALLAS: Freeney's Barbecue
7822 S Loop 12
Dallas, TX 75217
Open M-Sat 10-7, Sun 10-5

When cops frequent a joint, it's usually a good sign, so I was happy to see two motorcycle cops enter Freeney's at the same time I did. I ordered brisket and ribs. While I waited, instead of smoke, I was overcome with the smell of stale steam table water. Unappetizing to say the least. Not surprisingly, the brisket had little smoke flavor. The slices were littered with large fat globules and did not have a pleasing flavor. The ribs were a little better, but also lacked smoke and tasted as if they'd aged for quite a while on that steam table. The large spare rib was also littered with fat, and was generally unappetizing. And those cops? I later learned that this was also their first trip, and I'm sure it will be their last too.

Rating *
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Eat the World

DALLAS: Eat the World
9850 Walnut Hill Lane
Dallas, TX 75238
Open 5-9 F for BBQ (Fall only)

Update 2009
This joint is CLOSED.

The brisket was monochromatic gray with no crust and had the flavor of liquid smoke. It was so tough I could not pull it apart, but had to bite it instead at which point I got a flavor that tasted of baked roast beef. It was only good once dunked in the thick spicy sauce. The large spare ribs were better with good flavor, but the layers of fat were not well rendered, and there was a low meat-to-bone ratio. Again, the smoke flavor tasted contrived.

Rating *

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Wilson's Barbecue

FT. WORTH: Wilson's Barbecue
5633 Lovell Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Phone: 817-763-9482
Open Thur 11-6, F-Sat 11-8

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

Wilson's is a little place in what many previous reviewers have called a scary neighborhood. It's really not a bad area during the day when I visited, and this little place has plenty of charm thanks to the grateful host behind the counter. An incredibly friendly older lady took our to-go order, and I had a glass of iced tea while I waited. The tea was poured straight from a pitcher that resided in the cooler otherwise reserved for bottles of assorted soft drinks. When the glass got low, our host gladly refilled it with the lemony sweet concoction. We ordered a rib sandwich and a brisket sandwich. They both were served on white bread with gobs of sauce. I tried to scrape some of the sauce off to try the brisket, but the tender slices just started to tear apart, so I enjoyed a few of the tender smoky slices with the dark red sauce that complemented the meat very well. The crust was still evident, and the meat was well flavored. The ribs were also sauced, but they had not been basted with the sauce while cooking, so a good dark brown crust had already formed. The meat easily pulled from the bone with little effort, and all of the fat had been rendered to create delicious strips of tender, smoky pork. It's unfortunate that they don't allow their high quality meat to stand on its own, but ask for the sauce on the side if you drop in, and I'm sure the gracious host will accommodate you.

On another note, you may wonder why the last several reviews have lacked photos. Unfortunately my house was burglarized, and along with my laptop, my camera was taken along with all that beautiful BBQ footage.

Rating ***
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cousin's Bar-B-Q

FT. WORTH: Cousin's Bar-B-Q
6262 McCart Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76133
Open Mon-Sat 11-9

Normally I stay away from chains, but this location made it into Texas Monthly's Top 50, so I thought I'd give it a try. There are four stand-alone locations as well as two more in the DFW Airport, but a friend and I chose to try the original which opened in 1983. The strip mall location is underwhelming, but the smell of smoke inside was tempting. My dining companion had not yet experienced a full day of BBQ tasting, so she insisted on eating a full lunch here (much to her dismay as the hours wore on). We tried sliced brisket, pork ribs and sausage. The sausage was average with little spice, a medium chewy grind and decent snap. The brisket here was standout with consistently lean slices that all had an intense smoky flavor from the deep black crust. Bites without the crust lacked the deep smokiness, but the slices were small enough that it was hard to get a bite without that beautiful crust. The slices were also moist and perfectly tender. The ribs here were the only disappointment. This joint tries to separate itself from others in the market by using a distinct and thick red spice rub on the ribs before they are smoked. Unfortunately, the rub flavor overpowers the meat which was had a good toothsome tenderness and great moistness. The rub flavor was at first spicy but slowly turned to bitter as it reached the back of my mouth. The ribs were shown adequate attention during the smoking process, and I fully expect that these ribs would be far superior with a little salt and pepper, but this joint just chose the wrong technique to try and create their signature.

Rating ***
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sammie's Bar-B-Q

FT. WORTH: Sammie's Bar-B-Q
3801 E Belknap Street
Fort Worth, TX 76111
Open Sun-Thur 9-9, F-Sat 9-10

It's an odd marketing technique to make it difficult to find the entry into your restaurant, but that's what Sammie's has chosen to do. After parking, you must cross the drive thru lane between the large lit menu and the delivery window. Down a narrow sidewalk you'll find the entry door into a dingy vestibule. You're then given the choice between door #1 (right) and door#2 (left). Door #1 leads into a tap lined bar with an ordering counter at the front. Door #2 leads to a dining room where orders are taken by the wait staff. At 3:00, the dining room was empty minus myself, and old fart eating alone and a loud mouth who figured everyone wanted to hear his hillbilly accent wailing on his cell phone conversations. With meat unavailable by the pound, I got a two meat plate with ribs and brisket. This was the second joint in a row with a heavy handed rub on baby back ribs. These ribs had been cooked far too quickly making it hard to separate the meat from bone. The thick rib meat itself was tough and the rub itself created a mushy surface texture with a stale flavor. The brisket was better with a decent crust and moderate smoke flavor. The slices were very lean, dry and a bit tough as well. The side of potato salad was just as mediocre as the meat. Skip the confusion and head to one of the many excellent joints in this BBQ rich city.

Rating **
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Red Barn Bar-B-Que

4913 Colleyville Boulevard
Colleyville, TX 76034
Open M-Sat 11-9

If you can believe it, this joint is housed in a red barn that looks a little out of place on this busy six-lane road. Entering the parking lot, I immediately smelled heavy smoke. At 2:30 in the afternoon, the place was empty. I noticed a sign advertising free beer, except for to-go orders, but I was in a rush so I did not partake. I got 1/4 pound each of brisket and ribs. These baby backs had great meat girth. They took just the right amount of tooth to come off the bone, but the flavor from the rub dominated any smoke flavor that may have existed. The rub gave these ribs a flavor that had hints of taco seasoning. It wasn't a bad flavor, just not what you'd expect of good 'cue. The brisket was monochromatically gray with all the crust peeled away before slicing. The slices were dry with little smoke flavor, and were just below mediocre. With the closure of Railhead in Colleyville, there are few choices around this part of DFW, but this place only works in a pinch.

Rating **
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Feedstore BBQ

SOUTHLAKE: Feedstore BBQ and More
530 S White Chapel Blvd.
Southlake, TX 76092
Open M-Thur 11-8:30, F-Sat 11-9, Sun 11-8

Traveling along the winding roads of affluent Southlake past large gated homes with perfectly green St. Augustine, I thought I might be on the wrong road for a place with "Feedstore" in the title. But just around the bend I was happy to find this small joint which was once an actual feedstore in then rural Southlake. Orders are taken at the small counter after passing through the dining room containing orderly rows of long tables. After ordering, you can choose to sit in the main dining room or another room in the back. After your meal, feel free to get an ice cream cone for $.50. Just drop it in the tray next to the ice cream machine...honor system style.

The brisket here was mediocre at best. It took some effort to pull apart and was not moist enough. There was little smoke line, and barely a crust with little smoke flavor throughout. The ribs were small but meaty with a simple rub. They could have been more tender as well, but the flavor was good if lacking smokiness. I tried to pep up both meats with some of the spicy sauce, but its flavor did not marry well with the meat. The sides here were standout. Fried okra is floured and fried when ordered, and a great version of dirty rice is a rarity at any BBQ joint. If you have a chance, stop by this little joint and get a glimpse of what Southlake used to be before the ostentatious yuppies took over.

Rating **
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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dat's Good Que

LEWISVILLE: Dat's Good Que
1168 W Main St.
Lewisville, TX 75067
Open Tues-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

Their website declares that this joint is in old historic Lewisville. That's a stretch. From I-35, you must head west away from the old downtown into the strip mall row that is Main Street. The ghost of the name "Smokehouse Bar-B-Que" was still evident beneath the new title on the aged awning above the door. I walked in with four co-workers who agreed to take a detour with me from an unrelated field trip in order to try this joint. I ordered a two-meat plate with sliced beef and pork ribs. Along with the meat, a bevy of sides was available including yams, greens, mac & cheese, okra and other homecooked items. The thin ribs were sauced, dissolving any crust that had existed. The meat was on the tough side, but the salty rub gave it a good flavor that was flecked with smoke. The brisket also could have been more tender. The fat was not well rendered and had to be picked from the meat. The crust was well formed with a good smoke flavor. The flavor of the smoke barely made its way into the meat that was still a bit roast-beefy. Overall, this was just average meat.

Rating **
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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.