Fort Worth BBQ-palooza, Day 3 : Diving over the Meat Cliff at Cooper's Bar-B-Que

gavin at coopers.jpg
Photos by Sarah Yu
The author, wrapping up a carnivorous day in Fort Worth. See the look of glee on his face?
The final part in what some are calling the Fort Worth Barbecue Trilogy, this is where I introduce characters that make no sense to the plot and kill off the leads. Either that, or it's the conclusion of my Fort Worth road trip. Please drive outside of Dallas and get some other barbecue. You'll have a good adventure. It's really worth it. If you can prove to me you went to these three places in one day, and you send me your name, address and Social Security number, I'll send you a dollar.

See also:
- Fort Worth BBQ-palooza, Day 2 : The Englishman Gets Tangy at Cousin's
- An Englishman Road-Trips to Cowtown for Barbecue-palooza. Eats Cow.

So, the day started off as a trip to Cousin's; brisket sausage o'clock (my favorite time of day) was added in the morning; and then the popular choice of Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in the Fort Worth Stockyards was made amongst the Barbecrew during the trip. They had been here before, and wife Richard especially spoke highly of the sirloin, again showing her dedication to things that aren't actually barbecue. After a brief stop-off at the Fort Worth Water Gardens (delightful, in a sort of flood-in-a-1960s-concrete-apartment-block sort of sense) to digest some of the food, we headed right on over.

Only when we got there, we couldn't face it. Haunted by ribs and brisket sausage, we instead decamped to the White Elephant Saloon to watch old people dance haphazardly and have a beer. Only duty and sirloin brought us back through the Stockyards to Cooper's, which is a gigantic palace of barbecue. You could fit 10 Cousin's into here. And they have Rahr on tap.

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Big meat for a big state.
Cooper's barbecue is serious business. Really serious business. The size of the meat on the grill at the front is itself overwhelming. You haven't even got the meat yet, and already you're terrified. That sirloin steak is the exact same shape as a baby. (I haven't seen many babies.) The beef ribs are a sizable percentage of an entire cow. The man at the grill has an entire bucket of sauce that he just dips stuff in. You don't come here to play. You especially don't come here after two other barbecue lunches so far that day. Oops.

And still, our eyes were bigger than our already-occupied stomachs. Somehow ending up with half a pound of brisket ($7.50), half a sausage link ($5) and half a pound of sirloin ($8), I thought that just throwing a couple of ribs on that wouldn't tip that balance.

Unfortunately, they were beef ribs. Weighing in at somewhere close to the weight of the moon, two beef ribs ran me $20. Imagine if the largest steak you've ever seen had a bone through it, as if it had a Neanderthal handle (a great name for a band) which was willing you to use it to strike someone with. That's what this was like, only twice. Help.

OK, so the food here is magnificent. There are places that are cool places to have lunch, like Longoria's or Cousin's, and then there are cool places to take people out of town to when you really want to go "Look at this. Seriously. Texas. What even happened here to make places like this?" Whatever it was that happened to this part of Fort Worth, it made barbecue gigantic, and delicious. The brisket was moist and tender and smoky and fatty (the contrast between Cousin's/Longoria's brisket and here is stark), the beef ribs a magnificent offering to the Meat God in the Sky, and the sirloin so perfectly cooked that I wept tears of pure meat. To my eternal shame, I submitted halfway through this meal, and the sausage is still in my fridge. I'm going to make a red wine goulash out of it. I'll report back on Twitter. Until then, know that Cooper's will push you over the meat cliff into meat oblivion, and leave you dashed upon the meat rocks, a meaty tide washing over your corpse. But in a good way.

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I went here hoping they were able to capture and bring to the city the magic of the Cooper's in Llano.  Alas, it was good...really good...but just not as good as the original.  Oh well, my vacation starts in 38 days and I imagine wherever I go, I'll go through Llano to get there.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

I wouldn't have believed it possible, but it appears that you are actually sweating BBQ sauce in that photo.


The trick, Gavin, is to not leave home without a cooler of ice and a box of Ziplocs.  You take a bunch of each Q order home and then do it all over again the next day in the privacy of your own kitchen.

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