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.