Chow, Baby’s whole house has that heavenly bouquet of smoke, the kind that signals the very best Texas barbecue. True, most of the aroma is due to the fact that Chow, Baby forgot to open the chimney damper last week when lighting the first fire of the season, but some of it, particularly around the kitchen counters, is thanks to take-out from the Sausage Shoppe (1302 E. Seminary Dr.).

Caveat: This yummy-smelling shop is in one of those Southside neighborhoods that some folks might find scary after dark. It’s pretty desolate, except for the next-door convenience store that is heavily populated by teens drinking very large bottles of beer and wearing what Chow, Baby has recently learned is called “urban clothing.” And listening to what Chow, Baby believes is called “rap music.” But the Sausage Shoppe’s fragrance, and the window sign reading “Lip-Popping Good,” made Chow, Baby forget its ageist paranoia and scamper inside the warm, homey, deli-like restaurant.

Pass on the brisket ($8/lb): Though flavorful and smoke-ringed, it had the gummy texture of roast beef rather than the proper fall-apartness. Oh, but the smoked sausage ($6/lb), which owner Ivy Chambers and his family-staff make fresh every morning – Chow, Baby could spend the rest of its life trying to decide if the beef or the pork is the tastier. (And in the afterlife it could start on the breakfast sausage.) Both are joyfully plump and meaty (very little fat), with mouth-watering fresh spices. Warning: No matter how good the pork sausage sandwich ($3.25) smells, do not try to eat it in the car – the house-made sweet-tangy barbecue sauce clings like glue to the steering wheel. Instead, pick at the juicy smoked chicken ($6/plate with potato salad and baked beans). And save the ultra-flaky fried pies ($2) for eating in front of the home fires, where tossed-in crumbs make pretty blue sparks. Heavenly.


Cold Stones, and Creamery

“Boy, John Woolley and Brett Allen sure have some snowballs, opening a new frozen-dessert store just as the winter weather starts kicking in.” Now there’s a great childish-joke lead. In point of fact, though (not that facts ever interfere with Chow, Baby’s leads), Woolley’s Frozen Custard actually opened its second location, at 124 Grapevine Hwy. in Hurst, back in temperature-appropriate August. But it was cold when Chow, Baby visited, and that’s what counts (to Chow, Baby, anyway).

Except for requiring Chow, Baby to make a left turn in the middle of Grapevine Highway, the new store is much like the original one (7630 N. Beach St.). Every day, Woolley’s makes a fresh batch of its frozen custard, which is like ice cream, only better: more egg yolk, more silkiness, more creaminess. Best of all, they don’t even try to make a low-fat version. You can get your custard in a cup or cone ($1-$3); in a sundae, malt, or split ($3-$4.50); or in a concrete ($2.30-$ limited only by your imagination). “Concretes” are custards blended with any or all of a zillion ingredients, including Heath bars, mangos, yellow cake mix, and pretzels. For the uncreative, staff suggestions are posted. Chow, Baby chose a pint of “Dan’s Favorite,” chocolate custard with peanut butter sauce and brownie chunks ($3.45); a pint of wow-it-tastes-just-like crème brulée ($2.95); and a quart of flavor-of-the-month pumpkin pie ($4.95) They don’t make pretty sparks, but they’re great for eating in front of the home fires.

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