Month: December 2019

Panther City BBQ spinoff combines 2 glorious things: barbecue & tacos

late-night taqueria specializing in barbecue-beef tacos will soon open in a space already known for expertly smoked meats.  

Panther City BBQ — one of Fort Worth’s most well-known barbecue joints — will open a new taqueria concept in the same space as its barbecue restaurant. Called La Pantera Tacos Y Mas, it’ll be run by husband-wife team Stephan and Yasaira Morales and will serve tacos during some very specific hours: 8 pm-1 am Thursday through Saturday.

They’ll do street-style tacos, all made with Panther City’s smoked meats.

“There will be about five or six different tacos,” says Chris Magallanes, one of Panther City’s two owners. “Al pastor, brisket, barbacoa, asada, maybe tri-tip. There will be a few tacos always on the menu, while others will rotate on and off.”

Sides will include Panther City’s well-known brisket elote, a pile of creamed corn topped with freshly chopped brisket, queso fresco, and fresh jalapeños. Other items include brisket nachos and housemade agua fresca.

“It’s not going to be a huge menu,” Magallanes says. “Tacos, brisket elote, something to drink, maybe a dessert like sopapapilla cheesecake. We want to keep it simple.”

As for tortillas, Magallanes says they’ve found some amazing tortilla makers with whom they’re working on just the right offering. “We haven’t landed on the one we’re going to use yet, but they’ll be good,” he says. “We’re big on using really good tortillas.”

Panther City recently expanded its footprint, graduating from a food truck to a more conventional restaurant space. The expansion included a bigger kitchen. “We have a lot more room now, enough room to basically run two different restaurants,” he says.

The concept is a group effort between the two families associated with Panther City BBQ. Stephan Morales is the brother of Panther City co-owner Ernest Morales.  

“Stephan’s a real tacohead,” Magallanes says. “He’s been going around town, trying out various tacos, studying tacos, deciding what he likes, what he doesn’t like. We’ll cook the meats, but everything else will be their decision. We’re basically handing the keys to them and saying, ‘Serve the kind of food you want to serve.'”

The taqueria’s primary audience will be the bar crowd in and around the Near Southside area. Panther City, which is only open during lunch hours, is located in the same parking lot as the Republic Street Bar, at 201 E. Hattie St.

“We get here at 3 am to start smoking meat, and we see all the UberEats bags from people ordering food from the bar,” Magallanes says. “So we know the demand is there. The area needs some good late-night options.”

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5 funky restaurants to check out in Fort Worth’s booming South Main neighborhood

Spiritually, South Main is a soul sister to Austin’s SoCo and Dallas’ Bishop Arts, minus the nerve-wracking traffic and crowds – for now.

Panther City BBQ co-pitmasters Ernie Morales and Chris Magallanes prepared a Southside Slammer sandwich comprised of (from bottom) smoked bologna, brisket, pulled pork, jalape–o cheese sausage and topped with pork belly.

Panther City BBQ co-pitmasters Ernie Morales and Chris Magallanes prepared a Southside Slammer sandwich comprised of (from bottom) smoked bologna, brisket, pulled pork, jalape–o cheese sausage and topped with pork belly.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

Fort Worth has seen its share of neighborhood dining explosions. In the past decade, Cowtowners watched Magnolia Avenue, in the heart of the Fairmount Historic District just south of downtown, blow up with local restaurants. We’ve checked out the recent boom in restaurants — often Dallas exports, many well received — along Seventh Street, in the shadows of the Cultural District.

But just in the past year or two, Fort Worth has witnessed a fire spreading along South Main Street like no other before it. The Near Southside’s main drag — the heart of what’s now called South Main Village, taking in a few blocks on either side of the thoroughfare — is unrecognizable to anyone who looked away for a moment. Savvy investor-developers began snapping up property, many of them solid 1920s buildings that held everything from pharmacies and light industry shops to offices and corner grocers, and renovating so quickly it made your head spin.

Mixed in with a host of new medical practices, apartments and boutiques, an entirely new homegrown restaurant row has arisen. While it’s just around the corner from Magnolia Avenue, South Main’s indie vibe is just a little more funky and low-key, with murals aplenty and other great street art. Spiritually, it’s a soul sister to Austin’s SoCo and Dallas’ Bishop Arts, minus the nerve-wracking traffic and crowds.

Here’s a snapshot of eating along the route, much of it walkable from one end to the other (just wear the right shoes). Bicycling is especially popular (Fort Worth’s BCycle sharing program has four stations right in the district), and parking is rarely an issue — so far. With growth still underway, that may change.

Panther City BBQ serves Hell's Half Acre, a tray full of brisket, pulled pork, sausage, pork ribs, smoked turkey and pork belly.
Panther City BBQ serves Hell’s Half Acre, a tray full of brisket, pulled pork, sausage, pork ribs, smoked turkey and pork belly. (Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

Panther City BBQ

The vibe: A truck that grew into a brick-and-mortar joint next to the hospitable Republic Street Bar, this smokehouse offers seating inside said bar, inside the new ‘cue pavilion and on a covered patio. Simple and comfortable, it’s a place to hang with others who love smelling like wood smoke.

What to order: Pork belly burnt ends are sweet, salty and sinful, and there’s little chance you can find a more tender brisket with a better spicy smoke ring. Massive beef ribs are a thing of beauty, and the chopped brisket-topped elote cup is pure genius. Note that it’s only open Wednesday through Sunday from lunch till the meat runs out.

201 E. Hattie Street, Fort Worth, 214-532-3657. panthercitybbq.com.

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