Opening a barbecue joint where two others had closed (Cotton Belt Bar-B-Que and Big Barn Bar-B-Que) takes some courage. But with a long menu, good prices, and succulent ’cue, Back Forty Smokehouse may be working its claim here for the long run.
The building, originally a feed store, has the right appearance. A large, inviting patio provides great outdoor space, weather permitting. Inside, the walls are free from the typical cowboy knickknacks that dominate the décor in many BBQ joints. A simple brick-and-plaster wall leads you to a buffet-style line. If you forget to grab a beer while ordering, you’ll get a second chance at the bar in the dining area.
The Frito pie was served as a quasi-appetizer but would have done equally well as an entrée. This wasn’t your typical corn snack-and-chili mishmash. Yes, there was the obligatory bed of Fritos, but atop the crispy chips were thick chunks of juicy brisket, sweet pinto beans, and sweet barbecue sauce with a slight spicy kick. A generous dollop of tangy sour cream and shreds of cheddar finished off this delectable dish.
The two-meat combo plate came with a wide range of smoked or slow-cooked meats to choose from as well as two sides and a slice of buttered white bread. All the choices in the world couldn’t distract this barbecue fan from the classics: ribs and brisket.
Four ribs came out with a distinctive hickory flavor that complemented a dry rub, heavy on the pepper. The experience would have been perfect, but these ribs were served lukewarm. A generous serving of sliced brisket came with two options — lean or moist. By “moist” they probably mean “fatty,” but apparently restaurants are aware of people’s health consciousness these days. Both types were everything a brisket lover could want. The hickory-infused, peppery dry rub was a bit strong but didn’t hide the natural flavors of the tender cuts of beef. Sliced okra, fried in a peppery batter, and pillowy mashed potatoes with a white gravy finished off this main course.
The dessert menu offered another great Texas tradition: cobbler. Peach wasn’t available, so we grabbed the apple. Cinnamon-infused apple slices contrasted with the texture of the thick, buttery, and flaky crust. This was a real winner.
Most self-service restaurants leave you high and dry once you settle down at your table. Not here. Several friendly servers came by to take empty plates and refill drinks.
While many barbecue restaurants focus on the meat first and sides second, the wide choices of salads, sandwiches, fresh sides, and great desserts at Back Forty Smokehouse gave us plenty of reasons to return.
[box_info]Back Forty Smokehouse
8021 Main St, NRH. 817-428-2225. 11am-4pm Sun, 11am-9pm Tue-Wed, 11am-10pm Thu, 11am-12am Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Frito pie …………………..$7.99
Two meat combo plate …$11.99
Apple cobbler ……………$2.59