Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bill's Bar-B-Q

WHITE SETTLEMENT: Bill's Bar-B-Q 600 N Las Vegas Trl White Settlement, TX 76108 817-246-3961 Open M-F 10-8

The pictures tell the whole story here. I really wanted to like this joint after reading some good reviews online and seeing the mom 'n pop look of the place. In addition to BBQ, mexican food options are available, and let's hope it's their specialty. A large opening in the wall allows a look into the kitchen, and my eyes were stung before I was even able to take a bite. Right in front of me the "pit master" unfoiled a cold and gray half-slab of ribs, placed it in tupperware in order to bathe it in sauce before it reached the microwave to be further decimated.

I took a single bite of this baked meat and nearly spat it out after flashbacks of my school cafeteria. Brisket was at least edible. It's hard to screw up a cheap piece of meat that is well seasoned and sits for hours in a crock-pot. The cut may technically be brisket, but monchromatic roast beef is what shows up on the plate.

If BBQ is what you crave, then this place is not the destination. Head down the street to Soda Springs on Clifford, and thank me for steering you away.

Rating *
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Bailey's Bar-B-Que

FT. WORTH: Bailey's Bar-B-Que
826 Taylor St
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Open M-Thur 10:30-5, F 10:30-4

This sandwich only, lunch only joint is in a tiny building in the heart of downtown Ft. Worth. Taller building's surround this one that's been around since 1931. Unlike most joints in DFW, pulled pork is an option here. It's a spicy mixture of truly "pulled" pork, and an orangish sauce. Little crust is in the pork mixture, so the texture is one dimensional, but the flavor was good.

Sliced brisket is a good option here as well. The meat was a moist enough but firm with a good crust and decent smokiness. The fat needed more rendering, but the slices were satisfying.

Buns here are not buttered and grilled, my guess is that speed takes precedence over this time consuming step. As I sat on the attached patio during my visit, there wasn't a time during lunch when the line evaporated.

This joint is worth a stop if for no other reason than to see the oddity of this tiny building amongst the high rises. The meat's not too bad either.

Rating **
Bailey's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Casstevens Cash & Carry

LILLIAN: Casstevens Cash & Carry
11025 E. FM 917

Lillian, TX 76061


Open M-Sat 10-8, Sun 10-6

Update 2009: Two trips in two years, and it was pouring down rain both times. I guess the sun shines in Lillian, I just haven't seen it. It's not like you pass through a place like Lillian. With Cedar Hill State Park to the east and nothing to the west, it's not easily accessible, but BBQ from Casstevens can make the trip worth your while.

Friday is rib day, so on a Saturday morning, I was surprised to find ribs available. They were most definitely from the night before, and I got the last remaining half rack. The rack had a rich black crust, and the meat had developed a deep smokiness evident in every chunk of meat that fell from the bone. And fall it did. After such long storage, the texture of this well seasoned meat was a bit mealy, but I knew what I was getting into when I ordered it.

Brisket was a mixture of sliced, pulled and chunked portions of the meat. It had a great smoke ring beneath bits of thick black crust. The meat was tender and very moist from the well rendered fat. A robust smoky flavor from the hickory smoke was a welcome addition to the salty rub. The hot link wasn't particularly notable, but it was a good peppery version with plenty of heat. Overall, the meats all had great flavor, and I'm sure the ribs would have been nearly perfect if they were fresh. It may not be on the way to anywhere, but I'll find a reason to make a pit stop in Lillian for more of this great 'cue.

Rating ****

2007: Talk about a joint with an odd name, and to top it off, the counter here is tucked inside a Diamond Shamrock gas station. Behind that counter is where these friendly folks keep their 'cue. I ordered brisket, ribs and sausage. The sausage was a nice peppery version with good snap and not too much fat. The brisket was forgettable with little crust or smoke flavor, but with decent overall taste. The ribs were the standout here with a deep black crust that added a nice textural layer over the sweet, smoky, red flesh below. The ribs were perfectly cooked with well rendered fat, and I could hardly stop eating them. Recently, the State Highway was rerouted to skirt this joint, but be sure to pull off the highway when you get near Lillian so you can sample what they have to offer.

Casstevens Cash & Carry on Urbanspoon

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Hosam Smadi - The BBQ'ing Terrorist

If you've heard the story of Hosam "Sam" Smadi, you know that he attempted to set off an explosion in Fountain Place in downtown Dallas. You may also have noticed that he worked at a small BBQ joint in Italy, Texas called Texas Best Smokehouse. Myself, Smokey D and SmokeMasterone took in a plate of smoked meat from this joint back in March, and we cannot confirm nor deny that Sam Smadi may have prepared our meal. If he did, then he'll need to work on his pit master skills in prison, because it wasn't that good.

Texas Best Smokehouse

A call to the TBS was answered, but the gentlemen I spoke with could not confirm which smoked meat Smadi preferred. If anyone has any information about this man's BBQ preferences, please inform the rest of us. He looks to me like he could use some mac & cheese right now.

- BBQ Snob

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Adam's Rib

FT. WORTH: Adam's Rib
1506 Miller Ave
Fort Worth, TX 76105
Open Thur-Sat 11-6

Update: This joint is CLOSED, and has reopened as Uncle Willie's BBQ.

2009: I've read other reviews that claim service here is rude an impersonal. I couldn't disagree more. The owner has been dishing up good 'cue with a smile for over 40 years. In this economically depressed area of Fort Worth, that kind of longevity is no small feat. Some of it may be attributed to their ridiculous deal of three chopped beef sandwiches for $1. That's not some marketing ploy that's only good for the first hour of every other Saturday...that's three sandwiches for $1 everyday. As I toured around this neighborhood looking for other BBQ options, I found no less than five in the immediate area that had closed down within the last few years. I'm just glad this one was open.

A combo plate of brisket and ribs arrived heavily sauced with potato salad and beans. The ribs were huge and well smoked. Some unrendered fat remained and the meat was bit chewy, but the flavor was deep with smoke. It coupled well with the sweet and savory sauce. Brisket was decent, but needed the sauce to kick up its waning flavor. There was hint of smoke, but the roast beef flavor was more apparent.

Both sides were excellent. The homemade potato salad was mashed a bit with plenty of sugar and hint of mustard. Beans had a bold smokey BBQ flavor reminiscent of Mac's beans, which I love. Overall, this was good meal for a good value, and I'll return to try that $1 trio of sandwiches.

Rating ***
Adam's Rib on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dallas Observer - Best of Dallas

Update: The newest edition of the Dallas Observer's Best Of Dallas edition is out. The results are not online yet, but I went straight for the goods on BBQ to fill you in. The results for Reader's Pick once again show that readers haven't ventured to Sonny Bryan's in a while, but the Observer's pick for tops in this category show some promise. Although it's not a favorite of mine, Off the Bone Barbeque on South Lamar took the top honors this year, and if you refer to the tired and uninspired list of winners from previous years (below) you'll see that this is a welcome departure for the Observer which seems to have gone out and actually eaten at a few BBQ joints this year. Bravo.

- BBQ Snob

July 2009: I've learned that the Dallas Observer is finalizing the print version of their annual "Best of Dallas" issue. Based on previous years, we should expect the so-called "best" BBQ in the city to come from Peggy Sue's or Sonny Bryan's. Here's hoping the Observer breaks out of their tired ways and picks someone more deserving. Here's a recap of the previous 9 years of their Best BBQ award:

2008: Peggy Sue BBQ; Reader's Pick: Dickey's Barbecue
2007: Sonny Bryan's; Reader's Pick: Sonny Bryan's
2006: Baker's Ribs (Greenville location); Reader's Pick: Dickey's Barbecue
2005: Peggy Sue BBQ; Reader's Pick: Sonny Bryan's
2004: Peggy Sue BBQ; Reader's Pick: Dickey's Barbecue
2003: Peggy Sue BBQ; Reader's Pick: Dickey's Barbecue
2002: Peggy Sue BBQ; Reader's Pick: Sonny Bryan's
2001: Sweet Georgia Brown's; Reader's Pick: Sonny Bryan's
2000: North Main Bar-B-Q; Reader's Pick: Dickey's Barbecue

- BBQ Snob

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Texas Pit BBQ

SAGINAW: Texas Pit Bar-B-Q
324 S. Saginaw Blvd.
Saginaw, TX 76179
Open M-Sat 11-9

This joint has a sports bar feel to it with televisions on most walls and dark booths in the dining room. Orders are taken at the back of the restaurant, and meats are carved while you watch and wait. I ordered the standard two meat plate with brisket and ribs, and opted for okra and green beans for sides. The container was a thing of beauty with every ingredient having its place on the well composed presentation.

Beyond the plate, I noticed the deep, rich color of the crust on both brisket and ribs. The brisket crust almost cracked between my teeth as they sunk into the moist tender meat. The seasoning in the rub coupled with the high level of smokiness as evidenced by the bright red smoke ring, created an excellent BBQ flavor. The ribs also looked great with red meat beneath that crust. The meat was also moist with rendered fat throughout, but the robust flavor evident in the beef was missing here. Both sides were great, as was the bread. I can't wait to get back to get some more of that brisket.

Rating ***
Texas Pit BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I started sending out certificates to all of the four and five star joints on my list to say thanks for the well smoked meat, and in hopes that they'd be displayed. When I stopped in to Off the Bone in Fort Worth for another excellent protein experience, I noticed the certificate framed and hung on the wall, so I had to take a photo to commemorate the moment.

As you're out on your smoked meat adventures, please drop me a line if you see any other certificates. I know they're out there.

- BBQ Snob

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baker's Ribs

DALLAS: Baker's Ribs
2724 Commerce St.

Dallas, TX 75226


Open M-Thur 11-7, F-Sat 11-9

Update 2009: Another trip to this Baker's location produced another positive protein experience. Brisket slices had a great crust and big smoke ring. Each slice was smokey, tender and moist with a line of well rendered fat. Ribs, which sometimes can have a off flavor from long storage were fresh with a slightly sweet and peppery rub. Both meats were very good.

A hard decision always need to be made here when it comes to the sides. All of the choices are good, but I went with my standard choice of potato salad and green beans. The potato salad is slightly mashed with bits of celery and dill for a creamy texture and great flavor. The green beans are clean tasting with little seasoning, but they aren't limp like I normally find them elsewhere.

Rating ***

2008: Although this is a chain, and there are many locations throughout Texas (one even in Minnesota), there is one standout location in the Deep Ellum district of Dallas. We came with high hopes based on recent recommendations, and it looked like we were o to something good when the line was almost to the door at lunch with many of the patrons from the nearby hospital. The interior was full of trinkets from the Dallas, and it smelled of sweet smoke. Brisket, ribs and sausage were on our plate today. The sausage seemed close to the Eckrich variety with good snap, but a spongy texture with little flavor beyond the excessive salt. We expected the ribs to be the standout given that it's the namesake, but they had been stored in plastic wrap for a while leaving a mushy ribs with a soggy crust. The flavor was good, and the fat was nicely rendered, but the smoke was lacking. We were glad to put down the ribs and dig into the specimen of a brisket. I ordered both fatty and lean brisket, and the man behind the counter knew what I was referring to, so I new we were in business. Both versions had a beautiful ebony crust, and an impressive smoke ring. The texture was perfect and the fat was well rendered. The smoke penetrated the entire slice, and the flavor from the salt rub was just right. If we were judging on brisket alone, this place would rank near the top, but the mushy ribs brought it down a notch.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mark Dean's Bar-B-Q

SAGINAW: Mark Dean’s Bar-B-Q
620 S Saginaw Blvd

Saginaw, TX 76179


Open M-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

Update: This joint is CLOSED, but you can still enjoy the original in Azle, TX.

09/2009: Travelling out of Fort Worth along 287, you can't miss this joint with "B-B-Q" painted in big yellow letters on a solid red building. After some success in the original Azle location, Mark Dean's opened this joint up over a year ago. It was a bold move with a well established competitor Texas Pit BBQ just down the street, but this place can hold its own. While it may get just as many mentions for its CFS and fried catfish, oak smoked BBQ is the specialty here.

Orders are taken at the counter as you walk in, then a friendly server brings your tray to the table. Plate presentation was a big priority here with each item having its designated location on the plate, and a ladle full of sauce draped the meat just so. Sides were all passable if not memorable, but the meat was done quite well. Brisket had a substantial crust with a deep smoke ring. All the fat was sadly trimmed, but the meat still had decent moisture. Searching low on the pile, I found a nearly unsoiled slice and enjoyed the deep smokiness sans sauce.

Ribs were not as good. Yes, the tell tale smokeline was there along with a well formed crust, but the meat had little seasoning, and was starting to show its age from a long hot stay in a warming tray. The meat was still moist with a good texture, and fat was well rendered, but it just needed to be fresher. I'm certain that hitting this place at the start of the lunch or dinner rush could result in some real standouts.

Rating ***
Mark Dean's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Sometimes getting woken up an hour early by a not-so-tired baby can be a good thing. With that extra hour I had to kill, I headed over to Smoke for breakfast. The dining room was empty at 7:15, but had started to fill up by the time I left at 8:00. It's a full service place, and the wait staff was friendly and attentive. I ordered up some poached eggs and (server recommended) cheese grits with a side of the house smoked bacon. I've kind of forgotten what it's like to eat one type of meat with my meal, so I added on some of the house made andouille sausage.

The plate was gorgeous, and came with a little lagniappe of asparagus and grilled tomato. The eggs were poached perfectly, but an odd acidic flavor (lemon in the poaching water?) cloaked the eggs. The grits also had an odd acidity, and too little cheese for the moniker. Enough about the breakfast specific items. A very thick slice (yes, singular) of bacon was grilled to done, but not crispy. It was similar to an English style breakfast bacon, but the fat was still a bit chewy. The sausage was sliced in half lengthwise and was nothing short of perfect. A bit of heat was evident in this smoky link which was nicely moist without being fatty. The snappy casing covered a medium grind sausage with good mouth feel and bold flavors. I could become a regular just for this sausage.

I also snagged the much discussed "Scantron" which one uses to order the BBQ items at lunch or dinner.

The lunch menu suggests that meats are avaialble to mix-and-match by the quarter pound, but the scantron sheet only lists the options of a sandwich, half pound and full pound. Just taking a quick tally of my usual 'cue order, a two meat plate of ribs and brisket with two sides will run you $29. Here's hoping that they really do allow quarter pound ordering, or at least add a combo plate to best allow customers to sample more than just one of their fine meats at a time.

- BBQ Snob

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Soda Springs Bar-B-Q

FT. WORTH: Soda Springs Bar-B-Q
8620 Clifford Street

Fort Worth, TX 76109


Open M-W 11-2, Thur 11-2, 4-8, F 11-8:30, Sat 11-8

Soda Springs is an out of the way place just west of the Ft. Worth Naval Air Station. Meats are served from a somewhat hidden cafeteria line to the right of the main entrance. Meats are ordered through a window, and sides are dished up by a friendly staff. I got mine to go.

In the car, I could smell the smokiness. I opened the container to find two handsome rolls atop a pile of meat. While eating massive amounts of meat, I generally stay away from the bread, and eat the sides sparingly, but these yeast rolls were soft, buttery, and a perfect compliment to the meat. Spare ribs were large and meaty with a sweet rub and well formed crust. The reddish meat inside was smoky, but could have been a bit more tender with more well rendered fat. Brisket needed a bit more smoke, but the slices were moist while lean and tender with a nice smokey crust.

So this is a bit off subject, but I had to make a pit stop in the men's room, and the decor wasn't drab, dirty or dingy, but it was rather odd. The metallic gold striped wall paper set of an antique looking globe lamp, and all of it was topped by a black popcorn ceiling with bright red registers. I'm glad I wasn't the architect.

Despite the trippy bathrooms, this place serves some solid 'cue with good sides and good service. Altogether that translates into a return trip for me if I'm around there again.

Rating ***
Soda Springs Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Smoke Pit

FT. WORTH: The Smoke Pit
2401 E Belknap St
Fort Worth, TX 76111
Open M-F 10:30-8, Sat 10:30-6

Update 2009: Most of the clientele were there this Saturday for bikini top day (not a single female patron to be found). My guess is they didn't much care about the food, and the cooks must have been equally distracted. The brisket was sliced well before it was ordered as evidenced by the leathery texture, and scaly appearance. The meat was actually so dry it was beginning to curl up. The lack of flavor was nearly irrelevant.

Ribs weren't much better. The meat was drooping off the bone and had reached room temperature. The smokey, moist meat that I had on a previous trip was disappointingly long gone. Slaw and fries were both good, but the cold schooner of beer and the bikini tops were the only draw on this day.

Rating *

2008: Boasting itself as a restaurant with a view, this windowless joint sits just above the Trinity River on the east side of Ft. Worth. Once inside, it's really more of a bar than restaurant whose humorous signage charges $5 for a telephone denial of your presence from the bartender. The real view here is the all female wait staff who enjoy tight clothing. A friendly blonde delivered a brisket sandwich and three monster St. Louis style ribs. The brisket was above average with a good crust and thin smoke line. The slightly tough meat could have used more time in the smoker to better render the fat and inject a smoky flavor into the middle of the meat. The ribs were perfect. They had a salt and pepper rub gave real punch to the smoky meat that came easily off the bone. The tenderness was perfect one these huge ribs, and the well rendered fat added excellent flavor as well. On my next trip to Ft. Worth I'll definitely drop by for the meat and stay for the beer and the view.

Smoke Pit on Urbanspoon

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Dr. Bell's Open for Business

Update: Dr. Bell's is now open...really. See comments below.

Update: Still not open on 9/8...stand by for an actual opening date.

Update: We have been informed that Dr. Bell's will not open until next Monday, 9/7. Our apologies if you went out of your way.

Today brings another announcement for the opening of a genuine joint in Downtown Dallas. Thanks to a reader's tip, and story on Thrillist, I learned that Dr. Bell's just opened this week on Main Street. A quote form the article makes my mouth water "the menu will rest on classics: seven pecan-smoked meats (brisket, pulled pork, hot links, turkey breast, beef/pork ribs, chicken) offered on sandwiches, soft tacos, sliders, and plates, plus nine sides including sweet pork-n-beans, baked mac, and collard greens boiled down with onion, garlic, sugar, and ham hock". The Doctor is in.

- BBQ Snob

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Cowboys Stadium BBQ

I headed to Jerry's World over in Arlington to attend the OU v. BYU game over the past weekend. After a few $8 beers, I convinced myself that the good people of DFW needed a report on the BBQ offerings that I discovered in the concourse. The only option I found was an $8.50 chopped beef sandwich.

Shredded smokeless meat was most likely boiled before it was combined with a saccharine sauce giving the whole concoction a sloppy joe type quality. That mixture was then placed between two cold white buns and wrapped in foil. Mine looked as if the wrapper had been applied about a half hour before I got it. Needless to say, when overspending at the stadium, don't bother with the chopped beef, and use that $8.50 for another beer.

- BBQ Snob

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Smoke Opening

Check out the menu on their new website, and then head over to the opening party.

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Cowtown Bar-B-Q

FT. WORTH: Cowtown Bar-B-Q
900 Highway 183

Fort Worth, TX 76114


Open Sun-Thur 11-4ish, F- Sat 11-8ish

Inside the Ridgmar Farmers Market in Fort Worth sits a long white counter loaded with fresh sides and desserts. One thing they don't display is the meat. It's wrapped up in plastic wrap in the warmer. I was on a BBQ blitzkrieg, so I was just here for the meat. I ordered up a sliced brisket sandwich and a rib sandwich.

While the meat doesn't look putrid in the picture, the taste was nothing to savor. An acidic flavor reminiscent of vomit aftertaste permeated the dry almost flaky slices of brisket. Ribs were mushy and nearly flavorless. The texture had no chance with the storage methods, but the buns were warm, crispy and buttery. I'm afraid I won't have a next time to enjoy the nice buns.

Rating *
Cowtown Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Smokey G's

U.S. Hwy 75 at Hwy 121

Van Alstyne, TX


Open Tues-Sat 11-7

Smoky G's is housed in a mobile shack sitting on the edge of a Shell station parking lot just off Highway 75. A crowd of patrons sat beneath the ordering window when I arrived, but my order was quickly taken. No ribs on the bone or sliced beef are available here, but the brisk business makes it hard to argue with the limited choices. Waiting around for my two sammies (about 10 minutes) I chatted with a Van Alstyne local who stops by at least once a week to get a sack of eat and sauce on bread. He mentioned that the service today was a bit slower than usual.

Finally, the owner came to the window with my white bag full of goodness, and I headed back to the car to chow down.

Rib sandwich & chopped beef sandwich

Unwrapping the sauce soaked foil, I found two sandwiches that looked nearly identical. I now realized why he told me the rib sandwich was on the bottom. Neither sandwich had much smokiness, but both were served on crisp buttery buns and had a punch of flavor from the liberally applied sauce. The beef had a bit too much fat for my liking while the rib meat was silky smooth, almost too smooth after having been removed from the bones and shredded. One thing these sandwiches were not lacking is size. They were both huge, and stuffed liberally with about 1/2 pound of meat. I'd return for another sandwich pit stop on my way up north, but I don't think a special trip is warranted. I also can't really rate this joint given the limited menu.

- BBQ Snob

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Where is this Sign?

Update: Walter, a reader of this blog, helped me find the place. He tracked down Deluxe Bar-B-Q in Seattle's Pike Place Market. It has since changed names to Umai Sushie Teriyaki, but the sign remains. I tried the number for both establishments (they have the same listing) with no answer, but I do know it's just down Post Alley from Pike Street. I wonder if they know their sign is so popular?

I've noticed this particular neon sign for an unnamed BBQ joint on many marketing materials lately, but I just can't figure out where it's really from. It's included in a story about Bootleg BBQ in Louisville, but their website shows a different image. The I found it in this guy's Flickr account listed under "Seattle". Does anyone have a clue what it belongs to? Have you seen it anywhere? Send me a note if you have any information, or send a link to any other mentions of this sign. I need to solve this BBQ mystery.

- BBQ Snob

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Randy's Bar-B-Que

DENISON: Randy’s Bar-B-Que
3315 Woodlawn Blvd

Denison, TX 75020


Open Tues-F 10-6, Sat 10-3

If you're looking for Randy's then you'll have to keep an eye out for the faded sign that reads "Lew's Bar-B-Q" out in front of this little shack in a gas station parking lot. The confusion is warranted unless you know that Randy took over ownership from Lew a while back, but kept Lew on to keep making his famous sausage stuffed jalapenos. I guess changing the sign just wasn't a priority. Orders here are strictly to-go, and I got a sack full of those fried jalapenos along with a rib sandwich and a brisket sandwich.

The ribs, seasoned with only smoke, had a good smokey flavor but little else. The ribs were dry and chewy with layers of poorly rendered fat. Each bite had decent flavor, you just really have to work for it. The brisket was in another class of 'cue. These slices had a layer of perfectly rendered fat enveloping beautiful moist slices of tender beef. The well formed crust and prominent smoke ring helped create a robust smokey flavor that lingered on the tongue.

The stuffed jalapenos are a regional oddity. These are not the cheese filled crispy nuggets you may be used to. Real jalapenos are hollowed out and filled with a spicy ground sausage and onion mixture. The peppers are then battered a deep fried, until the breading puffs into a chewy golden coating. These puppies are filling and hot. These peppers have not been castrated of their pith and seeds, and they really pack a whallop to the tastebuds.

Randy's or Lew's...who cares what the name is with brisket like this. I'll be back here to get some more of those slices, but I might just skip the ribs.

Rating ***
Randy's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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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.