Fatman's BBQ Is Great Southern Barbecue, Just Not Texas Barbecue

Gavin Cleaver
This is the entire customer space.
Somewhere over on the east side of the airport, on an unassuming street corner, lies the tiniest hole in the wall barbecue restaurant I've ever seen. The front of the house is just a waiting room with two chairs, a window for orders, and for some reason a guitar, fully set up ready to go with an amp and pedal, all plugged in. It looks like a London cab dispatch office, and if you've never seen one of those, that's for the best.

The sign outside, in contrast to all the other signs in the strip mall, lights up, so a circle round the block including a near-miss with a pick-up truck in the dark eventually leads us to spot Fatman's BBQ (3701 Esters Rd, Irving, TX 75038) when we're about three feet from it. Even then it looks like the building next door. In summary, it is not easy to find this place. At all.

More »

Sammy's Bar-B-Q Has a Great Location, a Great Patio and Great Sides, But ...

Gavin Cleaver
The patio is just delightful, and completely unused.
Imagine somewhere in Uptown, right in between Oak Lawn and the Arts District, had a gigantic patio, shaded under greenery, full of tables, chairs, ephemera, and a huge covering. You would imagine that place would be absolutely rammed at lunchtime, that to get a table you'd have to know someone, or punch someone, or know someone who you could punch.

This is not the case at Sammy's Bar-B-Q. Sammy's Bar-B-Q, gorgeous patio and all, is the Marie Celeste of urban barbecue.

More »

Hutchins BBQ in Frisco Is Easily a Top Ten DFW BBQ Joint

Rachael Cleaver
"I mean, you could actually, really, physically have sex with that plate." -- Scott Reitz
American football. It's a real thing. You know it, I know it. We've all seen it. The thrills, the spills, the very precise numbering on the field. There was a time when Dallas was America's center for said thrills and spills. Now it is but a hollow shell of football, the smoked chicken to the Seahawks' brisket, the USMNT to Denver's Germans.

More »

Lyfe Kitchen Is Bringing its Fancy Fast Food to Fancy Dallas

Not your everyday Filet-O-Fish
The last time I heard about Lyfe Kitchen it was mentioned in an article in the New York Times Magazine a little more than a year ago. Mark Bittman was lamenting the options for affordable, healthy dining on the quick in America, and was resigned to bean burritos from Taco Bell and veggie sandwiches from Subway, it seemed.

The available of healthier fast food has been changing, though. Bittman mentioned a few businesses he recently found in L.A., including Lyfe Kitchen, which he endorsed as a good (albeit expensive) fast food restaurant. Maybe the endorsement helped the chain, because they're about to drop three location in the Dallas area soon.

More »

At a "Stylish Korean Kitchen" in Carrollton, a Delicious Taco of Questionable Taconess

Gavin Cleaver
All week at City of Ate, we celebrate the magic of the taco. Check back for more interviews, essays and maybe a list or two. Or maybe four?

The little slice of Korea up in North Carrollton, where 35 meets PGBT, is pretty sweet. It's got a Super H Mart, where everything inside will baffle and amaze you, it's got umpteen Korean restaurants, Korean frozen yogurt places, Korean toy stores, Korean brunch places, there's even a Korean toilet store, where the toilets spray your butt with water.

More »

The BBQ Ranch in Fort Worth is Texas in Miniature

Gavin Cleaver

Somewhere, in a far-flung part of Fort Worth, there is a corner of land that will remain forever Texas. It's in Texas, obviously, but that's not quite what I'm driving at here. The BBQ Ranch, a recently opened barbecue restaurant in the corner of five acres of ranch, is so very Texan that it's almost painful. If it were any more Texan, this would be where Big Tex spent his yearly vacation.

What I'm trying to say is that the BBQ Ranch delivers the sort of classic rural barbecue experience that nowhere else in Dallas-Fort Worth possibly could. And it's very lovely.

More »

I Ate the Choomongous and I'm Still Alive Today

Gavin Cleaver
Yes, the picture is in portrait. No, I'm not very good.

Every year, the Rangers roll out a whole bunch of stuff designed specifically to clog your arteries. It's their public service, as a socially-minded ballclub, to cut down on the population explosion in DFW by culling those stupid enough to eat a two-foot sandwich.

I am one of those people. Yet somehow, I live. This is the story of my folly.

More »

Off-Site Kitchen's Brisket Sandwich Is a Gold Medal Sandwich

Gavin Cleaver

A surprising number of business people have business lunches at Off-Site Kitchen. You might think, being business people, in suits and ties, discussing contracts (all business people ever discuss is contracts) and tapping away on their Blackberries like it's 2004 might shy away from a place as earthy as Off-Site. Yet, here they are, on a Monday afternoon, sitting out in the sunshine five yards from a table football table and three yards from a large trash receptacle.

Why would they choose a place that serves ginormous sandwiches for not much money over a place that serves them a $50 steak that can be accompanied with strong alcohol?

Here's why. Off-Site Kitchen is delicious.

More »

I Ate the Lamb Brisket at Tim Love's Woodshed Smokehouse and Now Everything's OK

Gavin Cleaver
Beef *and* lamb briskets.
Woodshed Smokehouse's menu has been teasing me for months. With all those exotic items (smoked mozarella! Bizarre sausage! AN ENTIRE GODDAMN SHIN OF BEEF! Smoked rutabaga, which is called "swede" back home because "rutabaga" is literally impossible to say in a British accent), I had actually spent what might be hours of my life lining up my ideal Woodshed Smokehouse meal, and then realizing that I couldn't afford such a spread without auctioning off at least one of my limbs.

More »

I Tried Smoking My First Brisket and It Was Terrible

Gavin Cleaver
The smoker of dreams.
Looking back, I think I had been scared to try smoking a brisket. Having never seen chunks of meat that size back home, it's a scary commitment for two reasons. One, you can't eat a brisket by yourself. That means you have to invite people round for brisket. This has to be done in advance, and that means the promise of edible brisket. What you've done there is set yourself up for a fall when, actually, the brisket turns out to be terrible. Your guests will go hungry, probably destroy your property in a fit of rage, and eat anything they can find, even that expensive cheese you were keeping for an occasion more special than your house being ransacked by former friends.

See Also: An Englishman in BBQ Sauce Archives

Two, it takes so long to do it right that you need to block off two days of your time. In this busy merry-go-round world we all live in, where demands on our time are everywhere and anywhere, who can actually spend sixteen hours or so doing one thing? Unless that thing is video games, obviously. No one's relying on you to complete Fallout 3, though.

More »