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2 barbecue joints in North Texas make Texas Monthly’s latest list

Expect the crowds at Panther City BBQ in Fort Worth and Smoke Sessions Barbecuein Royse City to swell after today.

Texas Monthly released its list of the 25 best new barbecue joints in Texas, and Panther City and Smoke Sessions made barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn’s list. Every four years, Vaughn puts out a list of Texas’ 50 best barbecue joints, as he did in 2017. The magazine considers this 2019 list a “midterm report” — to highlight the delicious work of new businesses.

“We know that four years between lists is just a long time,” Vaughn says, especially for barbecue joints that opened just after his 2017 list came out, like Austin shop Leroy and Lewis Barbecue, named on the just-released list of 25 newcomers.  

Vaughn writes in the Texas Monthly article that “it seemed wrong to make readers wait to hear about the worthy rookies until we released our next Top 50 list,” which won’t land until 2021.

Texas Monthly also makes a list of the state’s best new restaurants, and in early 2019 it named three local shops, though none of them serve barbecue.

Both Panther City BBQ and Smoke Sessions Barbecue started as food trucks, and both are building permanent restaurants. When they open, they “are going to be able to serve so many more people,” Vaughn says.

He likes Panther City pitmasters Chris Magallanes and Ernest Morales’ stuffed jalapeno, a spicy snack of cheese and pork belly wrapped in bacon. “They’re pretty amazing,” Vaughn says. 

Look at photos of Panther City’s barbecue

  • 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 on Hattie St. in Fort Worth, Saturday, April 19, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Tom Fox/Staff Photographer
  • Panther City BBQ co-pitmasters Ernie Morales and Chris Magallanes smoke their meats on a trailer mounted Moberg smoker which is parked next to The Republic Street Bar in Fort Worth, Saturday, April 19, 2019. They have a permanent location being built on a vacant lot on the opposite side of the bar. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Tom Fox/Staff Photographer
  • Co-pitmasters Ernie Morales (left) and Chris Magallanes are building a permanent location for Panther City BBQ in a vacant lot opposite of The Republic Street Bar on Hattie St. in Fort Worth, Saturday, April 19, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Tom Fox/Staff Photographer
  • Panther City BBQ co-pitmasters Ernie Morales and Chris Magallanes are turning out barbecue for customers from their trailer adjacent to The Republic Street Bar on Hattie St. in Fort Worth, Saturday, April 19, 2019. Folks are able to eat inside the bar. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Tom Fox/Staff Photographer
  • Panther City BBQ co-pitmasters Chris Magallanes prepares brisket tacos and sandwiches with Ernie Morales in their trailer adjacent to The Republic Street Bar on Hattie St. in Fort Worth, Saturday, April 19, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Tom Fox/Staff Photographer
  • Panther City BBQ co-pitmaster Chris Magallanes (right) puts out the BBQ sign as they turn out lunch from their trailer adjacent to The Republic Street Bar on Hattie St. in Fort Worth, Saturday, April 19, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Tom Fox/Staff Photographer
  • Panther City BBQ co-pitmasters Ernie Morales and Chris Magallanes serve pork belly poppers from their trailer adjacent to The Republic Street Bar on Hattie St. in Fort Worth, Saturday, April 19, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Tom Fox/Staff Photographer
  • A permanent location for Panther City BBQ is being built in a vacant lot on the opposite side of The Republic Street Bar on Hattie St. in Fort Worth, Saturday, April 19, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Tom Fox/Staff Photographer
  • Panther City BBQ co-pitmasters Ernie Morales and Chris Magallanes cut brisket with a blade labeled Vegetarian in their trailer on Hattie St. in Fort Worth, Saturday, April 19, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Tom Fox/Staff Photographer

At Smoke Sessions, he added them to the list because of pitmaster Chad Sessions’ creativity. Beyond Sessions’ traditional menu of brisket, turkey and beef sausage, he also sometimes sells garlic-Parmesan ribs reminiscent of chicken wings. Vaughn also likes his pulled pork taco: “It’s pulled pork, barbecue sauce, chopped-up dill pickles, fried onions out of the can, and it works,” he says. “It’s really good.”

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10 best restaurants in Fort Worth dish out lots of delicious choices

The 2019 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards is our annual event celebrating the best in local food and drink, where we spotlight nominees in categories such as best bars and best chefs in Fort Worth.

The category of Restaurant of the Year represents the pinnacle, where everything comes together: food, drink, service, and atmosphere.

Thanks go to our panel of judges, consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts, who narrowed down the list to 10 finalists.

Winners will be announced at the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards party on April 25 at Fashion Industry Gallery. We’ll applaud the winners, sip cocktails, and dine on bites provided by the nominees. Tickets are on sale now.

Here are our 10 nominees for the 2019 Tastemaker Awards Restaurant of the Year:

B&B Butchers & Restaurant
Upscale steakhouse and traditional butcher shop from Houston was one of the first restaurants to open at the Shops at Clearfork, in 2017. Beef is the thing: It serves Texas and Japanese Wagyu beef — it’s one of a small coterie of restaurants in the U.S. offering 100 percent authentic, A5 certified Kobe beef from Tajima cattle — as well as in-house dry-aged USDA Prime beef, all hand-cut in the on-premise butcher shop. It also boasts one of the most extensive brunch menus in Fort Worth.

Blue Sushi
With its atmospheric lighting and enormous, tranquil aquarium full of exotic fish, this W. 7th area sushi bar and restaurant is perfect for date nights. Don’t be misled by the glitzy atmosphere — the sushi is amazingly good, and so are the cocktails, all of which  you can get at bargain prices during their extended happy hours. They also offer a lengthy selection of vegan sushi that’s vastly popular not only with vegans but with those who veer away from raw fish. A small patio offers a ringside seat to the W. 7th St. action.

Clay Pigeon
Chef and repeat Tastemaker nominee Marcus Paslay launched his portfolio of restaurants (Piattello, plus a Stockyards restaurant TBD) with this rustic, farm-to-table restaurant that he opened in 2013. Mostly everything on the menu is made from scratch, including a rotating house-made pasta, grilled duck breast with blue cheese grits, and grilled Niman Ranch pork chop. Clay Pigeon was ahead of the curve on craft cocktails and also features an extensive wine list.

Progressive Southern restaurant is an import from Austin, from Keith House and James Robert, beloved for its innovative takes on nostalgic dishes such as shrimp and grits, biscuits, and fried chicken. Fried catfish, for example, comes with smoked uni tartar. Freshly prepared biscuits are the big deal here, but pay close attention to the massive fried-chicken sandwich, smeared with chicken-fat mayo, and lobster-crawfish pot pie.

Fine-dining downtown restaurant is one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Fort Worth, with a great bar scene and a menu featuring prime steaks and creative New American fare paired with fine wines in elegant, contemporary decor. Chef Blaine Staniford and owner Adam Jones went on to open an also-popular casual sibling nearby, Little Red Wasp, but they keep things fresh at Grace with special tasting menus including an all-veggie option.

Gus’s Fried Chicken
Memphis-based restaurant featured on Food Channel shows such as The Best Thing I Ever Ate has developed a cult following for its spicy, crispy chicken. Unlike Nashville hot chicken that can deliver an almost painful level of heat, the chicken at Gus’s delivers a more mild tingle. It’s fried in peanut oil and features a crunchy crispy skin. Every meal comes with slightly sweet beans, slaw, and a slice of white bread.

Mercury Chophouse
Former downtown Fort Worth staple has decamped to Arlington where its steakhouse menu and attentive service has won over a new crowd. Located in the space formerly occupied by Cacharel, Arlington’s previous fine-dining experience, Mercury has a classic steakhouse vibe with wood paneling, piano bar, and great views. The menu includes steak, lamb shank, pan-seared foie gras, and seafood.

Panther City BBQ
Since opening in January, Fort Worth’s top barbecue trailer has made a name for itself for its expertly smoked brisket, beef sandwich, pork belly burnt ends, and inventive sides, such as brisket-spiked elote. Panther City will have a permanent home in its own backyard when it opens a sit-down restaurant in a new building going up at its current location at 201 E. Hattie St.

Spiral Diner
Spiral Diner is a trailblazer not only because it’s a vegan restaurant in cattle county, but because it anticipated one o the biggest foodie trends of the decade, as the sales and popularity of vegan food continues to explode. But they’re not great just because they’re a trend. With more than a decade under their belt, they continue to refine their diner food recipes, and have some of the best cakes, pies, and baked goods around. Fort Worth was the original and now they have always-mobbed locations in Dallas and Denton.

Taco Heads
Tacos are taken seriously at this Fort Worth joint, which founder (and Tastemaker Awards nominee) Sarah Castillo founded as a series of food trucks. The concept expanded to catering and brick-and-mortar restaurant after demand soared; she’s since opened a location on Dallas’ trendy Henderson Avenue. Breakfast is the best; order a flour taco filled with eggs, Wright bacon, and aged cheddar, plus a corn taco filled with eggs, garlic-oregano potatoes, and aged cheddar.

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Panther City BBQ in Fort Worth

My son rolled down the window as we pulled into an empty parking lot of the Republic Street Bar in Fort Worth. “It smells like barbecue,” he said approvingly. Expecting a line on a sunny Saturday morning, we had arrived a little before opening at Panther City BBQ, which operates the food truck beside the bar. Co-owner Chris Magallanes assured me the crowds do come, but usually around the noon hour. After weeks of foul weather, he was hoping for a big day to help pay off the shiny, week-old offset smoker parked behind the truck.

Panther City BBQ (the name is an homage to Fort Worth’s “Panther City” nickname) started serving barbecue out of the food truck in January after Republic Street Bar, which owns the truck, announced it was up for grabs when another barbecue vendor called it quits. “It was a bad time of year to open a food truck,” Magallanes says, but he felt like they needed to jump on the opportunity. He, along with his partner, Ernest Morales, had found success on the competition circuit and as part-time barbecue vendors, but this is their first permanent spot. Some barbecue nostalgia comes with the site, which is where Heim BBQ launched its flourishing business—Panther City BBQ even includes a Heim homage on the menu.

Panther City BBQ
Pork belly poppers are among the best BBQ bites of the year.

“They made it so popular, and they’re so good at it,” Magallanes says of Heim’s famous pork belly burnt ends. Panther City is serving its own version, with plenty of similarities to Heim’s, but it’s gone a step further with the pork belly poppers. They were advertised three for $5 on a sheet of butcher paper taped up next to the menu. It’s easily the best deal at the truck and deserves a spot on the permanent menu. A half jalapeño is filled with cream cheese and a cube of pork belly burnt end, then wrapped in bacon before a final smoke. It’s genius. The thin bacon created a crisp exterior, while the burnt end underneath was more yielding and juicy. The seeds have been removed from the jalapeños, so the flavor of the pepper came through. It was one of the best bites of barbecue creativity I’ve had this year.

They weren’t the only good deal on the menu. Prime smoked brisket was $18 a pound, and a generous three-meat plate is just $16. Both the fatty and lean brisket were well-cooked, tender, and moist. It’s certainly in the upper echelon of Fort Worth brisket, although I would have liked a little more smoke flavor. Huge spare ribs needed more time in the smoker to tenderize, but that could be chalked up to the new smoker. I liked the juicy pulled pork better. It gets a squirt of vinegar sauce before serving and is good on its own or as a sandwich. I added some of the pork onto the smoked bologna sandwich, which needed some more oomph.

Panther City BBQ

Now that it has a new smoker, Panther City is planning to modify its old cabinet smoker into a dedicated sausage cooker. The owners hope to make their own links, but for now they have a solid duo of jalapeño/cheese and black pepper sausage from Syracuse Sausage in Ponder. For sides, there’s an excellent red-skinned potato salad with chunks of celery. The creamed corn is very thick, more like gravy corn, with a sprinkle of cheese over top. I’d recommend the mac and cheese (which is really shells) instead—just eat it first; it’s extra cheesy, but also turns to concrete if allowed to cool. Finish the meal off with a cup of classic banana pudding, which was the only dessert available.

There’s a lot to like about this Fort Worth newcomer, and the pork belly burnt ends are just the start. Magallanes said they’ve tried to shake off the comparisons to Heim given the location and that signature menu item. I don’t think it’s anything they should shy away from. Heim BBQ is the current gold standard of Fort Worth barbecue, and Panther City BBQ is now their closest competition in the city.

Panther City BBQ

201 E Hattie St., Fort Worth
Thur-Sat 11-7, Sun 12-4
Pitmasters: Chris Magallanes and Ernest Morales
Method: Oak and hickory in an offset smoker
Year opened: 2018

Original article

Fort Worth’s top barbecue trailer graduates to genuine restaurant

Fort Worth’s top barbecue trailer has found a permanent home, in its own backyard. Panther City BBQ, a popular ‘cue trailer at 201 E. Hattie St., parked next to Republic Street Bar on the city’s south side, will move into a new building, to be built exactly where its trailer now resides.

Construction will begin in January, says co-owner Chris Magallanes, and should be finished up by summer.

“We really wanted to stay in this area,” says Magallanes, who runs Panther City BBQ with business partner Ernest Morales. “We’ve had offers to go here, go there, but this is where we’ve really felt at home.”

The new building, which Magallanes estimates will be about 3,000 square feet, will feature an indoor/outdoor seating area that’ll hold up to 80 people. Currently, Panther City’s dining area is comprised of an outdoor deck and patio.

“The biggest challenge with that obviously has been the weather,” Magallanes says. “We’ll be able to use heaters when it’s cold and fans when it’s warm. We’ll be able to close it off to keep the weather out or open it up when it’s nice.” 

The new structure will also feature an indoor smokehouse big enough to accommodate their two current smokers, plus a soon-to-arrive third. They’ll have plenty of additional kitchen space, too. So long cramped trailer, hello full kitchen.

“That’s probably what we’re most excited about,” Magallanes says. “We’re not able to do everything we want, when we want. There’s just not enough space in that small trailer.”

The move comes almost one year after they arrived on the Near Southside. Since opening in January, the two have made a name for themselves for their expertly smoked brisket and inventive sides, such as brisket-spiked elote. Their specialty item, pork belly poppers, caught the attention of BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn, who, in a review of Panther City BBQ, called them “genius.”

With the new building will come new menu items, including housemade sausage, of both the beef and pork varieties. More sides are coming, too, like cheesy grits, cornbread pudding, and collard greens. “Some of the sides will be brand-new,” Magallanes says. “And some will be sides that we’ve done in the past but don’t have the space to make all the time in the trailer.”

Once the new spot is up and running, hours will be extended. Currently, they’re open 11 am until they sell out of meat, which is generally around 2 pm. “We’ll have the space to do dinner service now,” Magallanes says. “We’ll do some nightly specials, like steaks and prime rib.”

The building is being designed by Studio 97W, the Near Southside architecture firm that also designed the nearby Heim BBQ, Taco Heads’ Montgomery Street location, Melt Ice Creams, and Pedego Electric Bikes.

Panther City’s spot will closely resemble the Pedego building, in that it will be in the form of a shed, accented with metal trim and siding and concrete floors. 

Seating will be at communal and picnic tables. “We still want the place to have a backyard barbecue feel,” Magallanes says.

Eventually, the trailer will be phased out and used only for catering and off-site events. The trailer will remain open during construction.

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The Fort Worth Food Truck Starter Pack: 16 Trucks to Try

by Marissa Alvarado

Just ‘cause they’re on wheels doesn’t mean food trucks venture too far from home. And, lucky for us, these delicious mobile dining stations call Fort Worth home.

With offerings ranging from Hawaiian shrimp to New Orleans beignets, Fort Worth food trucks are as diverse as it gets. Need help figuring out which to try first? Here are 16 recommendations.

Panther City BBQ

Where to find it: 201 E. Hattie St.
The buzz over Panther City BBQ grew significantly after Texas Monthly’s BBQ Snob, Daniel Wright, paid the food truck a visit. He especially raved about Panther City’s Pork Belly Poppers — a jalapeño stuffed with cream cheese and a pork belly burnt end.

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Panther City BBQ – Heim Is Getting Competition

There is a new trend in BBQ. You find a unique individual that truly knows what they are doing and that person starts a food truck or a very simple joint. It is endearing to see the simplicity of the BBQ restaurant because a bbq restaurant doesn’t need much. Then everyone experiences how great the not overly done BBQ is and takes a break from the over complicated part of life. Then EVERYONE discovers the BBQ join and people know its great because you cant get any food unless you wait in line for over an hour. Panther City BBQ is on its way to elite status within Fort Worth.

Fort Worth is slowly growing its BBQ scene to be able to compete with the rest of Texas. Texas requires a lot of intense smoke at a low and slow temperature in order to achieve the peak bark and tenderness. Heim currently has the top spot in Fort Worth but is honestly in a league of its own until Panther City BBQ has pulled up to the scene. Its pulled up to the scene because they operate out of a food truck. I am an expecting father so I am working on my dad joke level puns :).

I had the pleasure of trying this place out with one of my best friends. He told me that I had to give it a try so I trusted my buddies judgement. I pull up to the location and I am immediately struck with a case of deja vu. Panther City BBQ is located off the side of Republic Street Bar. This is a location that is very familiar to the current BBQ king of Fort Worth. I remember one of the last weekends of Heim being a food truck, I waited for three hours outside of Republic Street Bar to get some BBQ for them to run out of food. It was a great day….

But I pursued on following my buddy! We walked up and he distracted me from my failed memory with some incredible news in his own life and we ordered the cowtown platter to try the brisket, sausage, and pulled pork. I should also state that I specifically asked for the edge piece of brisket so that I could truly experience the spice and bark that they get on their brisket and holy hot damn. IT WAS GOOOOOOOD.

They don’t seem to over complicate the rub for the brisket. There is a healthy dose of salt and fresh cracked black pepper coating the entire outside of the brisket. That combined with the post oak wood truly just spoke to my heart. Post oak wood should honestly be considered Texas royalty. The official wood of Lockhart TX which has been dubbed the bbq capital of Texas. Panther City utilizes this post oak wood for their smoking and man you can tell. I learned about post oak wood by taking a BBQ tour through Lockhart with my dad. We decided one Sunday to just drive out there and give all of the top three BBQ restaurants a try. To this day it is still one of my all time favorite memories with my dad. The high heat of the post oak creates a steady smoke and temperature to break down the brisket to become incredibly tender.

In addition, this post oak did one hell of a number on the pulled pork. I was not expecting to like that nearly as much as I did. The sausage was definitely an above average sausage but thanks to the overwhelming quality of the brisket and the pulled pork was overshadowed. Our plate came with two sides which we tried the creamed corn and smoke mac and cheese. The smoked mac and cheese was great. You could taste the smokiness from the BBQ going into it. The creamed corn is also just a weakness of mine. I was so happy to see it on the menu. Panther City BBQ seemed to just keep it simple but also jazz it up slightly. The creamed corn seemed to have a sort of cotija cheese that was included with it that really elevated it beyond just the traditional recipe.

In addition to the sides, the meat came with sides of pickles, jalapenos, and pickled onions. I know that all of these traditionally go with Texas BBQ but I have never really had too much of a taste for them. That is until today. The pickled onions were incredible and gave phenomenal depth to the flavor profile in the edge pieces of brisket. The vinegar broke through the smokiness to create a flavor profile that I will be thinking about for days to come.

All of this incredible flavor and experience without a line! Granted I think that my experience is a little out of the ordinary, but it was still my experience! All I can say is that Heim has some serious competition and I dont see Panther City BBQ lasting too long out of a food truck alone. This BBQ is INCREDIBLE and needs to be experience by as much of Fort Worth as possible. So there you have it Fort Worth! Get out there and eat it!’

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Meet Chris Magallanes and Ernest Morales of Panther City BBQ in Fort Worth

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Magallanes and Ernest Morales.

Chris and Ernest, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We started doing competition BBQ and slowly built requests for catering and pop events via word of mouth. The requests became more frequent to the point we both had to take a lot of time off of our regular day jobs. In January, a fixed location for our food truck became available and we had to make a decision to either keep doing the weekend gig, or go full time BBQ. Full time BBQ it was.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It was a slow start. We knew starting a food truck in January would be tough, but we were determined to stick it out and ride through until warmer weather.

Panther City BBQ – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We specialize in central Texas style BBQ. We are known for our slow smoked meats as well as twists on traditional BBQ. We are most proud of the time and effort we put into the food we put out. A typical day is 17-18 hours long. I feel the traditional cook of all wood on an offset pit sets us apart from most local BBQ companies who use gas fired pits.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I think success in our industry is defined by the smiles we put on the faces of hungry customers. There is no better feeling than when someone approaches our food truck after a meal to tell us” you guys knocked it out of the park.” This isn’t a get rich business, but if we can pay our bills and put smiles on faces, then we have succeeded.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 201 E Hattie St
    Fort Worth TX 76104
  • Website:
  • Phone: 817-300-3743
  • Email:

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Fort Worth’s New Panther City BBQ Serves Stellar Barbecue at a Bargain

You’re only three steps out of the car when the smell of barbecue smoke hits your nose at Panther City BBQ — possibly fewer, depending on where you park. It’s the olfactory signal that lets you know you’re in the right place.

Barbecue fans familiar with this side of DFW will recognize the location immediately; Heim Barbecue got its start in similar fashion on this very spot, selling meats out of a trailer next to the Republic Street Bar, which led to its permanent spot less than a mile away. Panther City BBQ has been smoking meats since 2014 but only started serving at this spot in January, after another barbecue purveyor called it quits.

Panther City’s selection of barbecued meats is as ambitious as any brick-and-mortar shop. There’s brisket, pulled pork, spare ribs and two kinds of sausage, as you’d expect. But you’ll also find smoked turkey breast, smoked bologna and, as a nod to Heim, pork belly burnt ends. All that meat is smoked with post oak and hickory in two smokers sitting just behind the trailer.


Panther City's barbecue basics are some of the best in Fort Worth.

EPanther City’s barbecue basics are some of the best in Fort Worth.Chris Wolfgang


The benefits of serving out of a food truck are obvious to new restaurateurs; not needing to worry about a full building and the obligations that come with it are a boon to the bottom line. That fiscal bonus translates to the menu at Panther City, where the per-pound prices for meats seem be a dollar or two less than what we’re used to. And on our three-meat plate of brisket, spare ribs and jalapeño-cheddar sausage, along with a side of macaroni and cheese and borracho beans, we were struck by the amount of food we got for just $16. In fact, it may be the barbecue bargain of the year.

Better yet, our $16 bought us some top-notch barbecue. Two generous slices of lean brisket sported a smoke ring that would be the envy of any backyard pit boss, as well as a nicely rendered fat cap pebbled with a peppery bark. The brisket was perhaps a touch light on smokiness but was juicier than any slice of lean brisket has any right to be.

Equally delicious was the sausage, with a thick casing that had wilted under the smoke but held in copious amounts of ground meat, jalapeños and cheese morsels. Rounding out our trio of meats, the massive spare rib had lots of tender meat on the bone, and we picked up bits of sweetness in the spicy rub.

For $16, Panther City's three-meat tray may be the barbecue bargain of the year.

For $16, Panther City’s three-meat tray may be the barbecue bargain of the year.Chris Wolfgang

The macaroni and cheese held true to promise, and we thought the borracho beans, in their thin and spicy broth, were a unique choice. The other side options are a red-skin potato salad and creamed corn, and banana pudding is the sole dessert choice.

We hoped to try more of Panther City’s offerings; in addition to the pork belly burnt ends, there was a pork belly jalapeño popper and brisket elotes as a special on the day we visited. But honestly, we were too stuffed from the three-meat combo to order any more food.

The only curiosity about Panther City BBQ is the lack of a crowd. Don’t get us wrong — not having to wait in the summer heat for barbecue this good is a bonus in our books, but it was somewhat surprising to see only three other sales made in the hour of our visit. Judging by Panther City’s Facebook feed, selling out seems to happen regularly, so perhaps we were fortunate to miss the crowds with our Saturday visit just as the truck opened for the day.

By comparison, we drove by Heim after we left, and a modest queue of patrons had already spilled out on the sidewalk. The draw of air conditioning can’t be overstated in Texas, but if the line at Heim ever deters you, you can do much worse than to skip over to Panther City’s food truck to fill your barbecue fix.

Panther City BBQ, 201 E. Hattie St., Fort Worth

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Panther City BBQ: Its Own Animal

It would be too easy, not to mention unfair, to compare Panther City BBQ to Heim Barbecue & Catering. The former truck/trailer has set up shop on the patio of Republic Street Bar (201 E Hattie St, 817-615-9360), the same humble locale where the Heim juggernaut first took root and became a critical –– and commercial –– darling.

Panther City is no doubt hoping Emma and Travis Heim left some of their mojo on Republic’s spacious two-tiered patio, which is appointed with several picnic-style tables and benches and a modest stage for live music. I didn’t ask the PCB folks if they have the Heim-like ambition to start a (soon to be) sprawling ’cue empire, grace Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Barbecue list, and have seemingly permanent hour-long waits at their storefront. But who wouldn’t want to be that successful? 

OK. OK. I told myself I wouldn’t write a column about Heim. Focus, Chow, Baby. And go …

On a recent cold weekday lunch, my guest and I gorged on a royal banquet of meats and sides at Panther City – the weather chased us inside the cozy environs of Republic, where we were forced to day drink. There was a modest line and wait, but it was nothing compared to the lines when Heim first got going. And PCB’s portions are right on level with … Damnit. Stop it, CB.

If you’re looking to really get to know Panther City in one visit, try the Cowtown Platter ($25), a dump-truck’s worth of snappy, spicy jalapeño sausage, a lush dune of chopped beef, and two beautiful-looking thick slabs of brisket (which were overcooked when I was there), all served alongside rich, spicy mac ’n’ cheese, creamy potato salad, marinated onions, sliced pickles, and wheels of jalapeño. The plate can easily feed two

The mobile kitchen had sold out of burnt bacon ends, which is one of my favs at Heim. (Shit! Sorry.) So the nice guy taking orders offered me tender slices of perfectly smoky and moist turkey ($16 a pound) instead.

Lunch specials started at $5 on the day I visited, and those portions looked beyond ample. You won’t find many lunch bargains for that price, well, anywhere.

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