Chow, Baby: Wednesday, June 12, 2003
Love Meat Tender

Barbecue is one of those areas, like religion, where there’s no right or wrong: Some think that hot, spicy, and meaty is the One True Way, but lean, chewy, and sweet has many fervent disciples. Or so Chow, Baby learned from the overwhelming response to its musings (“Prescription: Hot Ribs and Home-Cookin’,” May 8, 2003) re Texas Monthly’s “Best Barbecue in the State” cover article last month.

By “overwhelming response,” Chow, Baby means two e-mails, a press release, and one interoffice hey-you, all advocating their newest faves. The coworker’s directions to Red’s Pit Bar-Be-Que (702 N. Henderson), open about four months, were spot-on: Go to the intersection of Henderson and White Settlement and follow your nose. Sadly, at 6:30 pm the smellerific Red’s was out of sausage, pork ribs, and smoked chicken. Which brings up Fermat’s second-to-last theorem: How is it mathematically possible that with only three meats left on the menu, Chow, Baby’s and its two companions’ orders were screwed up a total of five times? Worse, Chow, Baby’s lonely one-meat plate ($8.25) held none-too-yielding sliced brisket that didn’t taste as smokily flavorful as its aroma promised. But the baked fries stolen from the weaker of Chow, Baby’s cohorts were yummy.

At the other end of White Settlement Rd, AJ Bell’s BBQ (823 S. Cherry Lane) opened a couple of months ago just two blocks from Carswell, appropriate as proprietor John Bell spent 20 years in the Air Force. The themes of the old drive-in burger spot are God (framed homilies), patriotism (red/white/blue décor), military pride (photos of officers and gentlemen), and the good smell of brisket and fresh-fried okra. Chow, Baby salutes the tangy barbecue chicken and gives thanks for the $8.45 price on the juicy two-meat combo plate.

Chow, Baby’s own holy grail — slices that part for a plastic fork, crispy-outside/smoky-inside sausage, squishy bacon-flavored beans, potato salad with a high relish-to-onion ratio, and lots of bread to dunk into thick sweet sauce — was found at Wilson’s Barbecue, at Horne and Lovell just off Camp Bowie. The lions of barbecuah are Leroy and Marie Wilson, who have catered since 1995 and opened this homey hole-in-the-wall in February; they serve sandwiches, baby back ribs ($16.99/slab), belt-busting combo plates ($9.99), and marvelous homemade sweet potato pie ($2.50).

Out in Southlake, Feedstore BBQ opened two years ago in a former (take one guess) feed store at 530 S. White Chapel Blvd. The olde-timey quaintness of the rough floors, menus on Nutrena Feed chalkboards, and curtains made of old feed bags is in sharp contrast to the surrounding brand-nouveau riche houses that are bigger than Chow, Baby’s high school. Feedstore is the home of hot sauce that isn’t, “dirty” rice that’s awfully white, and ultra lean meat — no fat on dem bones. Not Chow, Baby’s notion of divinity, but on a recent lunch visit (combo plate $8.99) the house was packed; just goes to show that there’s room for all creeds in our great big wonderful barbecue state.

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