There I was sitting at Malone’s Pub, a cozy little bar on the outskirts of downtown that Chow, Baby discovered in its quest for non-smoking taverns, when a man wearing an apron walked up to my table and asked me and my pal if we wanted some barbecue. Despite having just eaten a helping of fajita nachos ($8) at LaGrave Field earlier that evening, I jumped at the chance, as did my friend.
I figured it was fate or the foodie gods telling me that ballpark nachos, as a meal, were sacrilege. Besides, I’m just not the sort of person who refuses a random stranger offering me a plate of ’cue.
As it turns out, the man in the apron was Steve, the namesake of Big Steve’s Barbecue. Rather than a food truck, Big Steve’s operation is a giant rolling smoker hitched to the back of a pickup truck. I think he’s got the right idea: He hops from bar to bar seeking out those who want something better than pretzels to soak up the booze. He’s also got a great product.
It felt a little like doing a drug deal, following Steve out into the street to check out his product. He opened the giant metal door of his smoker to reveal a lavish bounty of meat. In the back of his truck sat various condiments, sauces, ice, and other supplies.
I opted for the hot links ($7), served on a hamburger bun with pickles. The links were intensely smoky, owing to their having soaked for hours in the sweet nectar of oak wood. The casing on the sausage had a nice snap, and the meat had a sharp chile pepper spice. The chopped brisket sandwich ($7) had the same intense oak flavor and was slathered in a zesty sauce.
My only complaint about the experience was the lack of onions and jalapeños, but I guess you can’t be too picky when sitting in a bar eating barbecue bought from the back of a truck.
Something similar happened to me a few months back. I was at The Where House, a smoky den filled with hipsters wearing tank tops and skinny jeans, to watch a friend’s band. All at once, the throng began to lurch out the front door en masse, as though they were a cell of sleeper agents whose brain implants had just been activated.
When I went outside to make sure the zombie apocalypse hadn’t started, I saw that the people were just lining up for the Lee’s Grilled Cheese food truck. The rolling diner is a build-your-own sandwich operation with some interesting features. I opted for the Back Breaker ($8.99), a gooey goliath stuffed with mac ’n’ cheese, pulled pork barbecue, and silken, sharp cheddar.
Eating the decadent masterpiece, I felt like a 2-year old, trying to get more of it in my mouth than on my shirt. The mac ’n’ cheese was creamy and rich, the pork was tender and juicy, and the mountain of cheddar on top made my mouth look like a cheese harp.
Lee’s has a storefront location in North Fort Worth (5040 N. Tarrant Pkwy.) that I’m dying to try. After a few bites I understood the hipster kids’ mass move to the door. It was a mesmerizing sandwich.
It’s kind of exciting when the food comes and finds you. Then again, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a bad meal after three drinks.
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