Sunday, August 26, 2012

Foodways Texas at Joe T. Garcia's

Joe T. Garcia's, Fort Worth's Tex-Mex institution, originally opened as a barbecue joint back in 1935. Foodways Texas organized an event there earlier this summer where the Garcia family offered a menu showing four generations of their cooking, including way back when the pit was still smoking. The event was two months ago, but my tardiness doesn't mean these photos shouldn't be shared.

One course was from Lanny Lancarte II, the great-grandson of Joe T. It included a lamb chop, wrapped sole and some sauteed gnocchi. This was the latest dish in the family timeline.

Another plate had what you might expect if walking into Joe T. Garcia's. A cheese enchilada, chimichanga, chicken flauta with rice and beans and a healthy dose of fresh guacamole was a plate of great Tex-Mex.

A third plate inspired by Esperanza's Restaurant was more Mex-Mex with a gordita, a ceviche tostada and a thick mole among other items.

Adobo-rubbed ribs and a chile sauce over sliced brisket most certainly wasn't on that original menu at Joe. T's, but as Lanny said, they didn't write down those recipes. Lanny did his own riff, and it turned out better than I expected. The beef was tender and well smoked. The sauce wasn't sweet and worked better with the brisket than sauces I've had at many barbecue joints. The ribs weren't as successful, but the outstanding smoked corn on the cob was enough to make up for a multitude of sins. Along with a lamb chop, it was the only item I got when they called for seconds.

When dinner was over, we got a tour of the restaurant by Lanny who showed us much of the old equipment in the museum of a kitchen. The item that got my attention was the old brick and concrete smoker. It was sadly being used for storage, but the chimney had long ago been cut off and roofed over. When it was built it was outside, but it now sits right in the middle of the kitchen area. It was out of commission for good, but it was great to see what they were smoking with back in the thirties.

- BBQ Snob

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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.