At Mama Faye's, You Won't Have to Fight Crowds for BBQ. (The Crowds Don't Know What They're Missing.)
For the latest in my barbecue adventures, I hit up Deep Ellum. I really like Deep Ellum as an area. It reminds me of the grimier end of North London, all the places that are fun at night like Camden, with the added bonus of looking much cooler. Plus, you can walk from bar to bar and restaurant to restaurant -- not a common experience around these parts, but in my experience the key ingredient to a good night out is not having to worry about driving everywhere. It's always in the back of my mind while I'm out drinking that, eventually, I'm going to have to drive somewhere, not a concern at home where everything's much, much smaller and more compact, and there's a bus or train to wherever you want to go every few minutes until the wee hours of the morning. Obviously I would prefer Dallas had much more public transport, but I've grown to accept that the current state of affairs is simply the nature of the beast, live with what we've got and count my lucky stars it's not Arlington. Given this, Deep Ellum, with its excellent bars, eateries and nearby DART stations, is my idea of a good night out in Dallas.
To my eternal shame, for all the time I have spent in Deep Ellum I had no idea of the existence of Mama Faye's BBQ. Neither, it seems, do the other residents of Dallas -- the restaurant was completely deserted when the stepson and I entered -- we had a long debate, standing outside, over whether the place was even open, it looked so dark inside. We did then notice the flashing neon "OPEN" sign round the side of the entrance and felt rather stupid.
Inside, it's pretty stark, with a few tables and an empty stage, and the lights are so dim that I can barely make out the menu, although this might just be old-age setting in. Still, the lack of light means that these pictures are going to be shitty, if we're even going to run them. (Editor's note: We are. We run Scott Reitz's photos, so we have no excuse not to run anyone else's.)
I am excited by the overwhelming smell of smoke, though. (In fact, Richard complained that we both smelled like smoke for hours after this particular visit).
It's a sit-down, not a meat counter sort of place, but I'm back to ordering by the pound and feel like a real man again. Texas barbecue truly is a manly pursuit -- you're asking someone to bring you a particular weight of smoke and fire-cooked meat, and that particular weight is almost always excessive. No one needs to personally consume a pound of beef, but there is a primal joy inherent in doing so. We get half a pound of chopped brisket (I said sliced, but, as I've explained, no one can understand what I'm saying), half a pound of sausage and half a pound of the baby back ribs, because I am ignorant as to how those will taste. The BBQ sauce is extra cost (!) and our waitress takes one look at us and decides we definitely need the mild one.
The meat comes out, with the chopped brisket in an appealing mountain of caveman happiness, and the portions are BIG. Huge, really, far more than enough for the two of us, and I stupidly ordered some mac and cheese (which, by the way, is clearly home made and very tasty) for the kid and all. The meat is really superb -- it could hardly not taste of smoke in a place like this, but it's deliciously juicy and tender and wonderful and I'm running out of words but mmmm my God it's tasty.
Having a chopped brisket allows you to properly mix it with the sauce, which, by the way, is fantastic, one of the best I've ever had, and worth the extra $2. The sausage is spicy (too much for the stepson) and has a texture similar to the one at Lockhart's, so is essentially extremely good, and the ribs are like little pockets of smoke wrapped around a bone, and the meat falls off at the drop of a hat. Brilliant stuff. Given how deserted it was, I was expecting another Soulman's, but this is right up there, and I can't believe I hadn't noticed it in Deep Ellum before. Not only that, the bill for all of that, plus two drinks, came to $26, which is just astonishingly cheap, I'm used to paying around $35-40 for that much food.
This place comes highly recommended. I know almost everywhere I go comes highly recommended, but this really is extremely good. They also offer free local delivery. Give them your business, it deserves to be packed out every night.