In 2017, then new restaurant Lady and the Pit was riding high with success. Owned by Fort Worth natives Natasha Smith, the Lady, and Kenneth Barton, the “Pit,” the barbecue joint was named one of the city’s best new restaurants by Fort Worth Magazine that same year.
After closing in 2019 due to building and maintenance issues, Natasha and Kenneth now operate out of the East Fort Worth Meadowbrook community in a renovated Mexican fast-food restaurant. And they are stronger than ever as the triumphant return of this local favorite has not gone unnoticed. Lines form prior to opening to quickly fill the parking lot and 20-something seat establishment.
The current menu is similar to the original, nostalgic with a contemporary twist. Heady aromas of fragrant chicken, dressing and collard greens juxtaposed against a smoky backdrop of tender pulled pork and moist chicken fill the air. The daily specials rotate and can be found on a handwritten menu board or posted on their Facebook page. Smothered pork chops, meatloaf, chicken and dressing, beef tips and rice were some of the soul food classics on the menu during a recent visit. The barbecue offerings are more consistent with standard prices ranging from $10.99 for a sandwich with all the fixings to $15.99 for a healthy portion of ribs, chicken, brisket, hot links, pulled pork, or chopped beef with two sides.
A hodgepodge of décor including vintage African American art and baseball paraphernalia adorns the walls while chafing dishes used to keep the foods warm are visibly placed throughout. The atmosphere is convivial and conversations are peppered with family chatter and musings of grandmothers playfully arguing over whether or not Lady and the Pit’s chicken and dressing used sage and whether or not it was better than their own Thanksgiving recipes.
The cashier at the register is Natasha’s sister and the day I visited she reluctantly shared that they were out of brisket. I opted for ribs and chicken to get a fair assessment of two distinctly different types of meat. Admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of pork ribs, so when I opened the box before tasting I was hesitant. The mesquite wood Kenneth famously uses lends a nice flavor to both the chicken and ribs. Even the greens I selected as one of my sides had a slightly smoky flavor that I found came from the slivers of smoked meat stewed with the collards broth. The mac-and-cheese was perfectly baked while still maintaining the creaminess that makes it such a fan favorite. For dessert, I was told by the woman immediately behind me in line that I could not leave without trying Natasha’s pineapple cream pie. Just as the name implies, it’s very similar to a banana cream pie, except for pineapples, and is topped with chopped nuts. One bite and I loved it. It had a familiar taste, and I soon realized it reminded me of the very Southern ambrosia salad that’s often served on holidays. In my opinion, it's better, but still has a familiarity about it because of the nuts and pineapples.
Overall, Lady and the Pit is a must-visit. The food is plentiful and the soul food, in my opinion, is the star of the show. No matter what you choose – soul food or barbecue – you won’t be disappointed.
We advise calling prior to planning your visit to confirm operating hours as the restaurant has had difficulty updating times on Yelp, Facebook and Google.