Traditional Texas barbecue is high on the minds of the tens of thousands of Fort Worth tourists who visit smoked meats stalwarts like Angelo’s (which has been serving Cowtown for more than 50 years), Railhead Smokehouse, Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que and others each year.
An influx of pitmaster talent has recently added to our already rich barbecue scene with new ideas and select cuts of meat that have added: “Wagyu,” “Bacon Burnt Ends” and “44 Farms” to our collective barbecue vernacular. The list of barbecue newcomers is too long for any one article to adequately cover, but we hope this overview offers a primer on which new locales should top your list.
Derek Allan’s Texas BBQ
Pitmaster Derek Allan and his wife Brittany recently set up shop one block from Heim Barbecue’s West Magnolia location. Derek Allan’s Texas BBQ occupies the building formerly known as the home for Paco And John Mexican Diner. On a recent visit, I found a packed but not overflowing lunchtime crowd. The menu at the barbecue restaurant is straightforward. The barbecue joint is known for its Central Texas-style ribs, brisket, and sausage.
As you wait in line, a tempting merch table near the cash register offers Derek’s famous Bark Builder rub. The peppery rubs are handmade, organic and all-natural. I keep a package of the Bark Builder in my pantry. I’ve made a habit of sprinkling the good stuff soups, popcorn, and pretty much anything that needs sprucing up.
Derek’s brisket is exclusively Wagyu and sourced from Snake River Farms in Idaho. For the Wagyu unwashed, the designation refers to one of four Japanee breeds of cattle. Whatever you call it, the results are juicy, fork-tender and unforgettable.
Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
I first met Dayne Weaver and his fiance Ashley at a pop-up event at Panther Island Brewing. Weaver was meticulous about plating the ribs, brisket and elote that I ordered. He puts the same time and care into smoking his meats as he does setting the final photo-ready presentation. Weaver uses Black Angus from 44 Farms in Cameron, TX. From there, he applies a simple salt and pepper rub before slowly smoking the meats in an offset cooker. Low and slow smoking prevents the wood from leaving a bitter residue on the meat, he said.
You can visit Dayne’s Craft Barbecue on Saturdays at Lola's Trailer Park.
Joe Riscky’s Barbecue
Locals may recognize Joe Riscky’s last name. Joe is a fourth-generation pitmaster from the family that brought North Texas Riscky’s Barbecue. His new restaurant includes popular dishes that he developed over the years. He is also one of the few barbecue masters I’ve met who smokes in a “North Texas” barbecue style, which is characterized by paprika and chili powder rub spices and the use of an offset rotisserie smoker. (Fun fact: Joe Riscky helped train the staff at Austin City Tacos on how to smoke and prepare their meats.)
You can visit Joe Riscky’s restaurant Fridays through Sunday on the grounds of Wild Acre Brewing Company. I stopped by on the restaurant’s opening day and ordered a Sausage Bomb (cheddar-stuffed jalapeño wrapped in ground sausage and bacon), brisket and Pit Master Mac & Cheese (topped with smokey bacon). I was blown away by the masterful and delicious cooking. Being able to wash it down with Wild Acre beer was definitely an added bonus.
Campo Smokehouse, formerly Flores BBQ, recently set roots in at the Trailhead at Clearfork. My son and I visited the food truck and found a steady line of locals lining up for brisket, sandwiches and tacos. The menu offers traditional Texas barbecue and Tex-Mex items. We ordered a brisket taco, carnitas taco, turkey sandwich and sausage sandwich.
The dishes came with generous portions of smokey meats. My son told me his sausage had large bits of cheddar cheese mixed in and a tinge of spice.The brisket, which was topped with a mild cream sauce and bits of diced lettuce, came wrapped in a hefty tortilla. The service was friendly and fast. By the time I paid for my to-go order, it was bagged and ready.
Panther City BBQ
Not new but definitely worth the visit, Panther City BBQ is making headlines across the state as the next "it" barbecue joint. Texas Monthly recently touted them as a "Top 25 New Barbecue Joint in Texas." Located next to Republic Street Bar where Heim Barbecue got their start, Panther City boosts the same long lines and sells out early.
Black Angus prime brisket, Duroc pork spare ribs, pork belly burnt ends and smoked bologna top the menu. A fan favorite, however, is one you don't want to miss - brisket elotes. The classic Mexican dish is topped with chopped brisket, cotija cheese, lime and pure deliciousness.