It takes a special type of dedication for a restaurant owner to stock his or her menu almost entirely with made-from-scratch items. The decision to use pre-cut versus hand-cut fries or store-bought versus homemade dressing begs the question: Who’d know the difference? Well, a lot of people would, at least according to the owners of Avondale Station BBQ, where the components of each dish have been carefully cut, smoked, and blended from the owner’s original recipes for the past seven years.
The small eatery hugs busy Saginaw Boulevard, but take one step inside, and the hustle and bustle give way to a calm atmosphere. The sparsely decorated eating area holds only a few tables. When I visited, two gentlemen in ranch attire were sitting at one table, chatting about local news. The one visible staff member –– the cook and cashier, apparently –– was all too happy to boast about the fare. It felt more like a home than a restaurant.
The first dish out was the Haystack: a thick bed of hand-cut, skin-on fries topped with melted cheese, chopped red onions, sliced jalapeños, and a pound (!) of chopped beef brisket. You had to arrange your bites carefully to get all of the ingredients into your mouth at the same time, but the extra effort was more than worth it. Every bite was pure decadence. And the beef, which had a subtle pecan-wood flavor that wasn’t overly smoky, was mouthwateringly delicious: tender, beefy, and just a little salty.
The Haystack came with Avondale’s barbecue sauce. In true Texas fashion, the sauce is ketchup-based, but apple cider vinegar and spicy mustard gave it an unexpected and welcome zing.
For my entrée –– the two-meat plate (three large ribs, a sliced sausage link, toast, coleslaw, and baked beans) –– the sauce was optional but much appreciated. The ribs, which had a light, smoky crust from the pecan wood used to smoke them, were tender and succulent. The sausage was a bit on the boring side and could have used some extra spice (a minor problem quickly solved by Avondale’s sauce).
The coleslaw wasn’t your typical drowned-in-mayonnaise afterthought but rather a refreshing, generous serving of hand-cut cabbage and carrots combined only with a strong cider vinegar. The blend worked great.
The beans had a nice, thick roux and just the right balance of salt, chiles, and pork fat to make them sing.
Eating barbecue in the 817 can often be an exercise in monotony: lots of dry mesquite-smoked dishes smothered in generic sauce. At Avondale Station BBQ, however, it’s just as much about how the food is prepared as it is about what comes out on the plates.
Avondale Station BBQ
12259 US 287, FW. 817-439-4623. 11am-7pm Tue-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Haystack ………………. $6.99
Two-meat plate ……… $9.25