Open since 1958, this Fort Worth institution needs no introduction. Locals and celebrities alike flock to this wood-sided building on a workaday stretch of road on the west side of town. A giant stuffed bear greets you just inside the door along with an ATM.
My favorite here is the rib and sliced brisket combination plate. Not only is a pile of meat included on the school cafeteria tray, but it comes with beans, slaw, potato salad, pickles, onion, and bread. All meats here are graced with a hefty dose of Angelo’s special recipe rub seasoning and tossed into a hickory smoke bath inside one of the two specially designed brick-and-steel pits just outside of the kitchen. Ribs are always moist, if a bit fatty, but like the brisket, it has enough hickory smoke flavor to keep it honest. Angelo’s is almost equally famous for its chilled schooners of draft beer.
Fort Worth, TX
#4 - The Best Barbecue in Dallas rated by D Magizine
Smokey’s is a newcomer to the local scene. The name’s been around for dozens of years, but the place sat vacant until Dallas superstar caterer Eddie Deen, who later entrusted Paul Calhoun to maintain the superior quality that Smokey's is known for. Smokey’s has two pits. One is gas fired but uses wood to create smoke to cook ribs. The other is wood fired and used for brisket.
Serving one plate at a time is a new challenge for Mr Calhoun. I sat for 20 minutes one afternoon waiting for an order of ribs to come off the smoker. On another trip, I ordered the Cool Hand Luke, a picture-perfect mixture of sliced brisket, ribs, and hot links, all served in a red basket lined with red and white checkered paper. A sweet glaze gave these ribs—smoked in a gas-fired Southern Pride pit—their finishing touch that played well with the heavy black pepper rub. The contrasting flavors melded with the thick meat to create a complex smoky flavor. The brisket was smokier (not surprising given it’s smoked in a wood-fired Oyler pit) with a nice layer of rendered fat on one side and a black crust and good smoke ring on the other. Each slice was moist, tender, and flavorful, with an exemplary toothsome texture.
Hot links were sliced lengthwise in quarters, like pickle spears, making for easy, fork-free handling. Eating barbecue with your hands is more satisfying than allowing a knife and fork to get between you and your hunger.
Off the Bone BBQ
Fort Worth, TX
#1 - The Best Barbecue in Dallas rated by D Magizine
If you can recognize all the signs of a great barbecue joint, then it’s no wonder that Off the Bone BBQ in Forest Hill (on the southeast side of Fort Worth and not connected to the restaurant with the same name in Dallas) has reached the pinnacle of local barbecue establishments. A “Keep Out” sign sits atop a haphazard pile of wood in the corner of the gravel parking lot, the ghost of the previous restaurant’s name is still visible behind the bold letters “B.B.Q.” on the monument sign out front, and all of it surrounds a rehabbed Dairy Queen that now houses North Texas’ finest barbecue joint.
Marilyn and Eddie Brown run this joint, which gets little fanfare from the local press. Eddie has proven to be a consistent and congenial pit master. His chain-link-enclosed, custom cast-iron pit, which he picked up at an auction a few years back, belches pecan and oak smoke out back.
Each meat is given great care. The sausage will soon be house-made, once Eddie gets the recipe right. He had a special recipe produced for the restaurant by a sausage maker in Cleburne, but he recently passed away, taking the recipe with him. In the meantime, Eddie gets hot links from Smokey Denmark Sausage Company in Austin, where they have been producing high-quality peppery beef links for 35 years.
Briskets are slow-smoked for up to 20 hours, which is evidenced by their thick, black crust and deep red smoke ring. The meat isn’t falling-apart tender but requires just enough tooth to bite through. He leaves a bit of perfectly rendered fat on each slice. Ribs have a substantial crust, which imparts a robust smokiness to every bite. These thick, meaty ribs aren’t the grocery store version with barely any meat on the bones. The meat is rosy, with amazing smoky flavor and well-rendered fat. Other than the usual sides, they offer smoked bologna and chicken wings. No matter what you order, if it has seen the inside of Eddie’s pit, you know it’s going to be good.
All photos on this page were taken by Kevin Hunter Marple