Chow, Baby: Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Kings of Queen Cities

Fresh-painted and grime-free, Buffalo Bros. (3015 S. University Dr.) nonetheless feels less like a college bar than a blue-collar beer joint designed for the average Joe Bob, with shadowy lighting, taciturn customers (most drinking alone), and sports on the muted TVs. But when you dive into the blue-collar bar food — pizza, wings, subs, a salad for the less macho — you realize something’s a bit ... different.
Buffalo Bros. is co-owned by Jon Bonnell, he of the boyish good looks and the deft hand with wild-boar chops at his eponymous Cityview restaurant. With this venture, Jon has joined in Fort Worth’s happiest fad: upscale chefs downscaling on the side, catering to just-plain-folk who have less money but as many taste buds as their usual clientele. (Buffalo Bros. is right next door to a prime example, Grady Spears’ burger place, Dutch’s.) More to the immediate point, Jon’s partner, the chef who’s overseeing day-to-day operations at Buffalo Bros., is Ed McOwen — and Ed is from Buffalo.
So let’s talk about these wings (about $7/dozen). Well, if this is the real thing, if these meaty, perfectly cooked, sassy-flavored wings are how they make them in the B-lo, Chow, Baby can see why they caught on worldwide. Our favorite sauce was the clingy, sweet barbecue; cold the next day, the still-juicy wings were practically candied, like a whole Thanksgiving dinner rolled into one drumette. Hand-stretched pizza ($3/slice) is delightfully thick and greasy, with gooey, oregano-flecked cheese and a perky housemade tomato sauce. As for subs, the toasted A-Bomb ($8) gets an A-plus for its slab of Italian sausage topped with shaved steak and melted provolone.
Having never visited the Queen City, not even in college (except Fort Worth, of course, once known as Queen City of the Prairie), Chow, Baby couldn’t tell you if Buffalo Bros. is really Buffalo-authentic. But who cares: It’s a casual, friendly hangout with informal food by a star chef, the latest in a trend that Chow, Baby sure hopes will take off. Word to Lanny Lancarte: Taqueria. Think about it.

Teeth Optional
After putting away five barbecue dinners in one sitting for September’s “Is Railhead Truly Mediocre?” blind taste challenge (if you missed it, the answer was “yes”), Chow, Baby figured years would pass before it craved brisket and sausage again. But ... barbecue truck! Like a Winnebagoed retiree spotting a historical marker, Chow, Baby instantly pulled a screeching U-turn with a token hand-wave toward any affected drivers. Sorry, sorry (not really).
Plus, handy one-stop shopping: Wednesday through Saturday afternoons, Leroy’s Kansas City Style Bar-B-Que hunkers down in the parking lot at Crow’s Liquor (2922 E. Lancaster Av.). Now, Kansas City is generally acknowledged (more by Kansans than by Texans) to be the center of the barbecue universe, but Chow, Baby couldn’t tell that much of a difference between them and us. Leroy’s sauce is thick-molasses-sweet, true, but not exotically so. His home-smoked brisket, though, is unusually tender — proof of the truck’s motto, “You Don’t Need Teeth to Eat Our Beef” — and is served in mammoth portions. A combo plate ($9.25) of brisket slabs and crispy-edged hot links nourished Chow, Baby off and on for hours. Ribs ($9.75/pound) and the nearly boneless “rib tips” ($8.50/pound) supplied a lot of meaty flavor for the dollar, too, but then that’s the great thing about food trucks: You’re not paying for overhead.

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