Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mama Faye's BBQ

DALLAS: Mama Faye's
2933 Commerce St

Dallas, TX 75226


Open Daily 10-10

Update: Many changes have come to Mama Faye's recently. A new coat of brick red paint on the exterior, a new Bewley pit in the kitchen, and a new menu that includes soul food favorites starting this month. Based on the lunch traffic on several visits, I understand their desire to expand the menu, but the BBQ can now stand alone.

The addition of that brand new Bewley pit was certainly a hefty investment, but after a few weeks of breaking it in, it's showing some dividends on the brisket front. The meat was well smoked with nicely rendered fat. Slices were tender and moist, and certainly the best of any of my visits. Now, both spare and baby back ribs are available. I tried both and enjoyed the deeply smokey baby backs. They came easily off the bone with a little tug. Spare ribs needed more smoke, but the sauce was the perfect complement.

Sides and dessert always stand out here. Having the soul food menu brings more options like greens, mac & cheese and vegetable gumbo. A whipped cream cake was moist and sweet on this visit, but I prefer the peach cobbler or the earthy sweet potato pie. While the sides and desserts have always impressed, the meat made another step forward since the new pit arrived. Now I just hope they can find some customers to feed it to.

Rating ***

2010: You may have already heard about Mama Faye's in a previous entry on this blog (using the wrong business name) or in the Texas BBQ Posse's first look a couple weeks ago. Given the wild variation in my first two visits to their new brick and mortar location, I had to make a third (it's just 5 minutes from my office, after all). One thing that remained the same on all three visits was the utter lack of patrons in the worn out interior. I sat at the bar with the only other soul there one day at lunch when they were out of nearly the entire menu (they stay open until 10 pm), so my order of chopped beef, chicken, potato salad and peach cobbler was the only option. A Mountain Dew was the only thirst quencher available, so I sucked down the citrusy goodness to cut the heat from their honestly hot sauce. Chicken was a bit dry but nicely flavored and perfectly smokey. The chopped beef was some of the best I've eaten. There were fatty bits and crispy pieces of oh so smokey crust mixed with the moist and tender mound of beef. I was thinking three stars for sure, but I had to come back and try the ribs. This wasn't a big deal since I knew the homemade peach cobbler would be waiting.

On the second trip I took an order to go. This time I asked for the hot sauce on the side, but when I went to dig into those ribs my mouth was on fire from the generous hot sauce lathered over the meat. It was hard to distinguish the rib's flavor under all that sauce, but the extreme level of smokiness was evident. These ribs were tough and chewy, and tasted as if they'd been smoked hot and fast rather than 'low & slow' like the sign outside touts. Ironically the brisket had very little smoke and had been overcooked to the point of dryness. Smokey Denmark's hot links (I think that's what I tasted under the sauce) were adequate, but nothing special. So which place was it? I needed another visit.

Tempted by a free lunch (sandwich specials are $5) a friend joined me on a cold Monday afternoon. The space had been transformed with a new sign showing of a cool logo, a fresh coat of interior paint and a great meat-centric mural on the back wall. They had also expanded the menu to include three more pie options, all of which are homemade just like the cobbler.

Even though I had my choice of sides, I asked if peach cobbler could be my other side and was obliged by the cashier. This time an $8 two meat plate (cash only) was offered, so I went for another shot at the brisket and ribs. Again the ribs were intensely smoky, but were still a bit tough with undrendered fat. The flavor was good, and now it wasn't adulterated by the sauce which had been kept on the side. A dip into the mild sauce showed just how much these folks love the heat. It wasn't as scorching as the hot, but could have easily passed as a hot sauce at most other joints. Brisket was in serious need of the sauce. The meat lacked smoke and overall flavor, and had been cooked to a roast beef texture but remained moist.

In true East Texas style, the chopped beef sandwich that I longed for on my lunch partner's plate is the strong point here. I'd return anytime for a soft bun piled high with meat and (mild) sauce with some of the smokey sweet beans alongside. I'll certainly use it as an excuse to get back there just to try some of those pie options, but I can't rate the joint any higher based on the sliced beef and ribs.

Mama Faye's BBQ on Urbanspoon


MRL said...

Wow, you aren't kidding about the lack of patrons. I was the only customer in the place at 12:15 p.m. on a Thursday. I'd already eaten elsewhere but tried the chopped beef anyway, was very tasty. Will return for ribs and other offerings.

Ben Coleman said...

I'm an out-of-towner who ate here whilst on business, and I was not disappointed (I'm a Georgia resident, so you KNOW I like my barbeque!). I too was the only patron, on a Saturday night at 7.30!

This place deserves to be stuffed with huge crowds. Incredible barbeque, and a great taste of Texas for this visitor.

[OJ&T] said...

Man, I really wanted this place to be good.

Kevin said...

Just finished eating here. Had the baby back ribs and sliced brisket. The ribs were incredible! Went at 6 on a Friday night -- we were the only two customers. It certainly warrants a return trip!

Anonymous said...

A 3 star is a total gift. I've eaten here three times and the food is horrible. It has always been re-warmed mush from a couple of days old to thawed from the freezer and rewarmed. This is a cleat one star. Looks like a re-visit from DV is in order!

Marshall Cooper


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.