In Fort Worth, we love our barbecue, no doubt. The Railhead Smokehouse, Heim Barbecue, and Angelo’s BBQ are hometown faves and media darlings, and for good reason. But there are dozens of restaurants where you can get the good stuff, that aren’t in the spotlight. Here are some under-the-radar BBQ joints you should know.
Bailey’s BBQ is that tiny red building on Taylor Street that you may have passed on your way to or from downtown. There’s usually a line out front on weekdays, and this is one of those places where you have to get there early if you want the brisket. For three decades, this family-owned, family-run restaurant has served up consistently good ‘cue to a variety of people who live near or work in downtown Fort Worth. It’s nothing fancy: there are a few red-checkered cloth-covered tables, but the Bailey’s does a booming take-out business.
Bull Frog Grill
The Bull Frog Grill offers the classic barbecue menu (ham, turkey, ribs, chopped meat sandwiches, brisket, sausage and chicken) along with a variety of burgers and a few salads. Oh, and then there’s the elusive, delicious brisket taco! The location near Lake Worth Marina Park and the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge make it attractive for grab and go sandwiches and picnic meals.
Hickory Stick BBQ
There’s 40 years’ worth of family love and hard work at the Hickory Stick BBQ. Current owner Mark Jones slow-cooks the brisket for 18 hours over hickory wood, and his mama Mary makes the cobblers and pies. It’s one of the few places that bother with both hot links and smoked bologna (a love it or leave it item depending on your taste buds). You can also buy a pan of the cobbler of the day –– it’s just that good!
We featured Kip’z BBQ in our Eastside Eats blog two years ago. The giant baked potato, loaded with brisket, cheese, and beef and pork sausage, is a thing of beauty. Kip’z also offers soul food-style daily specials and brontosaurus-sized pork ribs along with the standard ‘cue selections.
Lady and the Pit
There’s a lot to love about Lady and the Pit, which set up shop on Meadowbrook Ave last year, in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of other non-fast food options. Natasha Smith (the Lady) works a little down-home magic and even offers a few Blue Zones®-friendly dishes that don’t sacrifice taste. In addition to pork, bolo and brisket, Natasha also wanders into soul food territory with daily specials that include chicken and dressing, ham and dressing, and, if you’re really lucky, fried pork chops!
Mama E's B-B-Q and Home Cooking
Mama E’s BBQ and Home Cooking is probably the best-known on our list of under-the-radar places. Mama E’s routinely gets noticed by Fort Worth publications. Ernestine Edmonds was the original female pit master (before Natasha Smith landed on Meadowbrook). Somehow she manages to smoke the meat, make a rotating variety of soul food classics along with all the sides and the desserts, and spread a little love and a little Gospel through her workday.
Smokey’s BBQ advertises that they’re “open when it’s ready and closed when we run out.” Hickory wood and a little secret spice liven up beef, pork, chicken, and turkey on Thursday and Friday. Weekends you can grab a “Cowboy breakfast,” featuring omelets with brisket and house-made biscuits.
Wilson’s BBQ is another Eastside Eats feature, where we chronicled IT pro-turned-pit master Leroy Wilson and his unique restaurant. The unusual item here: BBQ nachos, with chips, cheese, Mexican spices, and your choice of meat (go traditional with chopped beef of pulled pork, or make it unusual with sausage or bolo).
Woody Creek BBQ
Woody Creek BBQ has so much meat on the menu that you could eat there every day of the week and still not get to all the variety. Taco Tuesdays have new meaning here (brisket or pork tacos are offered only on our favorite taco day). You can get a Frito pie here, but you can also get a French Fry pie (your choice of meat and sauce over fries). And there’s a green salad too, because, you know, balance!
Panther City BBQ
You've likely heard of this newcomer by now if you follow our social channels. Located next to Republic Street Bar, Panther City is catching the attention of Fort Worth barbecue lovers. The mouthwatering brisket elotes and pork belly poppers complete a meat lovers perfect tray topped with spare ribs, smoked bologna and jalapeno cheese sausage. Grab an adult beverage from the bar and enjoy!