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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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Where to eat in Fort Worth right now: 5 hot new restaurants for October

Panther City BBQ 
One of the city’s best barbecue spots has made the jump from trailer to brick-and-mortar. Owners Ernest Morales and Chris Magallanes will officially unveil their new open-air digs, nearly a year in the works, on Saturday, October 12 at 201 E. Hattie St. Designed by Near Southside architecture firm Studio 97W, the new building features an outdoor seating area that’ll hold up to 100 people. Magallanes says eventually they’ll add vinyl curtains to heat and cool the dining area. With the new building comes a new smoker — their third — and new menu items, including cheesy grits, cornbread pudding, and collard greens.

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In the mood for barbecue? Here are Fort Worth’s top 5 options

Looking to sample the finest barbecue around town?

Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the most excellent barbecue destinations in Fort Worth, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of the best places to make your smoked brisket and pulled pork dreams a reality.

1. Heim Barbecue

PHOTO: GREG C./YELP

Topping the list is Heim Barbecue. Located at 1109 W. Magnolia Ave. in Fairmount, this food truck turned restaurant is the most popular barbecue spot in Fort Worth, boasting 4.5 stars out of 1,357 reviews on Yelp.

2. Lone Star Bar-B-Que

PHOTO: NI N./YELP

Next up is Summerfields’ Lone Star Bar-B-Que, situated at 3665 Western Center Blvd. With four stars out of 114 reviews on Yelp, the barbecue joint has proven to be a local favorite.

3. Panther City BBQ

PHOTO: Z R./YELP

Panther City BBQ, a catering service and barbecue outlet, is another much-loved go-to, with five stars out of 52 Yelp reviews. Head over to 201 E. Hattie St. to experience it for yourself.

4. Cowtown Brewing

PHOTO: SARAH D./YELP

Over in Downtown, check out Cowtown Brewing, which has earned 4.5 stars out of 70 reviews on Yelp. You can find the brewpub that serves barbecue at 1301 E. Belknap St.

5. Angelos Barbecue

PHOTO: ANGELOS BARBECUE/YELP

Finally, there’s Angelos Barbecue, a local favorite with four stars out of 324 reviews. Stop by 2533 White Settlement Road to hit up the barbecue restaurant next time you’re looking to satisfy your cravings.

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Fort Worth’s Best Barbecue Spots — From Longtime Favorites to Food Truck Finds

Fort Worth is known for its stellar barbecue, but with so many options it’s hard to narrow down which is the absolute best. Well, we did the tasting and research for you.

From classic joints to the newest food trucks, here are Fort Worth’s best barbecue restaurants. Consider it the ultimate Fort Worth barbecue guide.

Heim Barbecue

1109 W. Magnolia Avenue & 5333 White Settlement Road

Pitmaster Travis Heim and his wife, Emma, opened their first Heim location on Magnolia Ave. in 2016. They’ve recently expanded to a second location in the River District because they were always selling out. And it makes sense, their barbecue is some of the best.

From unique barbecue sandwiches and burgers to killer sides, the Heims have got barbecue down. Popular bites to try here are the bacon burnt ends, the Heimburger and BBQ Snob. You can also order classic meats like pulled pork, turkey, short rib and sausage. Sides include green chile mac & cheese, collard greens, twice baked potato salad, coleslaw and pinto beans. Finish things off with the incredible banana pudding.

Angelo’s BBQ

2533 White Settlement Road

Since 1958, Angelo’s has been serving up chopped beef sandwiches, sliced brisket and sausage plates in Fort Worth. The cafeteria-style barbecue restaurant has rustic vibes with walls lined with taxidermy. It’s the all-time classic BBQ spot in Cowtown.

Besides meat, offered by the plate or pound, Angelo’s has chicken baskets, pulled pork and brisket tacos and baked potatoes. For sides, Angelo’s offer beans, potato salad, coleslaw, green beans, mac & cheese, chili, smoked corn cobette and more. And if you still have room, grab a dessert like peach cobbler or a fried pie.

Angelo’s BBQ
Angelo’s BBQ is a classic barbecue restaurant.

Flores Barbecue

4801 Edwards Ranch Road

A newer addition to the Fort Worth barbecue scene, Flores Barbecue is already making a name for itself as a food truck. Located at The Trailhead at Clearfork, Flores is open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm.

The menu includes meats such as prime brisket, pulled pork, turkey, sausage and pork spare ribs by the half pound, plates that include two sides, sandwiches, or tacos. Side choices are slaw, potato salad, beans, or green chili grits. And of course for dessert, there’s banana pudding.

Panther City BBQ

201 E. Hattie Street

Also a food truck, Panther City BBQ started in 2014. All meats are cooked on-site in a smoker over 100 percent Post Oak wood. It’s open on Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 am to sold out and Sundays from 12 pm till everything is sold out. Panther City also does catering for groups.

Smoked meats offered are Black Angus prime brisket, pulled pork, Duroc pork spare ribs, turkey, pork belly burnt ends, jalapeno cheese sausage, cracked pepper sausage and smoked bologna. On Fridays, they have prime beef short rib.

For twists on classic BBQ, Panther City makes pork belly poppers, brisket tacos, and brisket elote cups. Sides include potato salad, mac & cheese, Borracho beans, creamed corn and house made spicy vinegar slaw.

Panther City BBQ
Since 2014, Panther City BBQ has been serving brisket sandwiches out of a food truck.

Joe Riscky’s Barbecue

1734 E. El Paso Street

Great-grandson of Joe Riscky, who opened the original Riscky’s Barbecue in 1927, a new generation Joe ventured out on his own to open his own BBQ restaurant called Joe Riscky’s Barbecue. It’s located in a prime spot, right across from Wild Acre Brewing in the Southside.

After splitting from the family business, Joe has created his own menu of great barbecue. The new spot has brisket sandwiches, tamales, turkey, ribs and more. Sides include mac & cheese, coleslaw, potato salad and beans. There’s indoor and spacious outdoor seating to enjoy your meal.

Derek Allan’s Texas Barbecue

1116 8th Avenue

New to the Fort Worth barbecue scene is Derek Allan’s. The new restaurant is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 am to whenever they sell out (3 pm-ish). All of the meat that they serve is from Wagyu cattle, such as brisket, sausage, beef, and smoked meatloaf.

A couple of Derek Allen’s sandwiches are the Dirty Texan with brisket, sausage, pickles and onion and the Bless Your Gut with brisket, sausage, pork, slaw and pickled onion. Chipotle mac & cheese is a unique side on the menu.

They also have classics like pinto beans, slaw, and potato salad. And for dessert either try the banana pudding or pecan pie parfait, both made with handmade vanilla.

From corporate world to smoked meats: meet the men behind popular ‘Panther City BBQ’

Friends Chris Magallanes and Ernie Morales took the leap in 2018 and opened a BBQ trailer on Fort Worth’s near southside and haven’t looked back since.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Out of a tiny trailer on a quiet Fort Worth street, two men are living out their dreams, one brisket at a time.

“I do [pinch myself] all the time, I definitely do all the time,” said Chris Magallanes, one of the owners of Panther City BBQ. The business is located on the city’s near southside.

Magallanes and his longtime friend Ernie Morales worked in the corporate audio visual world for years, but they lived for the weekends when they fired up the smoker. The men said they learned to cook in their backyards.

“That’s how we would socialize is cooking, really,” Magallanes said. “It brought everyone together.”

After taking first place in the first BBQ competition they ever entered, things started to pick up steam. In 2018, the duo quit their jobs with the audio visual company and opened Panther City BBQ.

“It was very scary!” they said. 

But within their first few months, Texas Monthly did a favorable write up on the startup and they saw their crowds grow nearly immediately.

Now, day after day, people line up for sausage, ribs, even elote– Mexican street corn– with their brisket on top.

“I like seeing people get away from the gas and the industrial size, super easy-to-control smokers,” he said. “This is as old school as it gets.”

The men behind Panther City have quickly found themselves on the receiving end of big BBQ accolades.

“We made the 2019 Texas Monthly list of top 25 new BBQ joints in Texas,” Magallanes said of their most recent mention. 

And if their perch near Main and Pennsylvania looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same exact spot that Heim BBQ got its start, also in a trailer.

“Is there something in the water here?” WFAA asked the duo.

“Yeah, you would think so, but same thing with Travis and Emma [Heim],” Magallanes said. “Hard work will pay off.”

They’re now building a permanent spot on the property, next to Republic Bar, the bar where people currently take the barbecue to eat. They hope to keep the BBQ coming for years there.

“There’s just something about coming in at 3:00 in the morning and the peacefulness over the city and lighting these smokers up,” Magallanes said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

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