The barbecue turned out to be divine, and the crew left exhausted but with very full, happy bellies. Photo by Andrew Hall
Goldee’s BBQ, 4645 Dick Price Rd, FW.
817-480-4131. 11am-sold out Fri-Sun.

Sweaty, reddened bodies glistening in the merciless summer sun. Collections of camping chairs circled around coolers and the occasional umbrella. A considerable crowd inching and winding through the orange-coned path of the parking lot toward the pearly gates of Goldee’s BBQ.

Photo by Andrew Hall

This is how I willingly spent one scorching Saturday morning in July. I hesitate to say “morning,” as the five of us daring enough to brave this endeavor only managed to emerge from Texas Monthly’s 2021 top-rated barbecue joint at about 2:30 p.m. — after having arrived at 8:30 a.m. to an already substantial queue.

The crew had convened at Goldee’s to celebrate a friend’s promotion at work, and the man of the hour had invited us to make a day of the adventure with booze and games. Who can say no to that?

Umbrellas helped shield the crowds from an unforgiving midday sun.
Photo by Sasha Maksimik

As we staked a claim in what would soon become the middle of the line, ’twas as if, rather than slaughtered livestock, my friends and I were the giant slabs of meat roasting on spits as our flesh sizzled. Luckily, in the end, we were the ones doing the consuming — exceptional ’cue, to boot.

My first draft of this article wove a tale of hungry hordes plodding toward their fate in a sun-ravaged stupor. While there’s some truth to that (albeit exaggerated), it’s an incomplete portrait of the experience. For as oppressively stifling as it was, a sense of hopefulness hung thick in the air as visitors to the dive on Dick Price Road kept their fingers firmly crossed that they’d arrived in time to get a taste of the acclaimed meats before the place had sold out for the day.

Much like the sport people make of tailgating before a football game, these hundred or so people enthusiastically showed up (equipped, no less!) early in the morning on a weekend just at the prospect of sinking their teeth into the best-rated barbecue in the Lone Star State. For some, that was sufficient motivation to rise and give a spirited middle finger to the excessive heat warning.

To the credit of the Goldee’s staff, they provided much-needed and appreciated essentials. A large pen with foldable chairs and a cooler of water bottles ensured most had a place to rest their rumps and hydrate. The staff even set up several makeshift misting stations: fans duct-taped to buckets filled with water connected to a rudimentary tubing system. Though I come from a family of engineers, I couldn’t tell you how the DIY’d misters worked — just that they somehow did, and they were a hot commodity.

At 10 a.m., a young, tattooed woman in a smock, the designated herald, appeared from the trailer home-sized Goldee’s with what looked like a toy megaphone to announce the “rules.” Most of these centered on staying cool and avoiding passing out. She gave her scripted spiel twice: once to the folks in the front, who must have arrived weeks prior (or maybe an hour before sunrise), and another to the poor schlubs who’d missed the memo and rolled up that very morning. I was one of those schlubs.

Visitors to the dive on Dick Price Road kept their fingers firmly crossed that they’d arrived in time to get a taste of the acclaimed meats before the place had sold out for the day.
Photo by Christina Berger

This was a whole event: the loaned-out chairs, makeshift misting devices, orange cones, mini megaphone, and detailed protocol. The waiting. There’s even a page of “line tips” on Goldee’s website for the scouts among us who like to come prepared.

And it’s best that you do, because the place is open only Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to whenever they sell out, so it’s imperative to grab a prime spot in line, since there’s no guarantee that what you want will still be available by the time you arrive at the counter inside hours later.

This seemed to heighten the excitement of the whole affair. Every time the harbinger appeared with her trusty bullhorn in hand, people held their breath. Had they sold out of the ribs? Brisket? Turkey? Any of the succulent meats for which all had endured the wrath of the fiery sky orb? Groans of despair and sighs of relief rang out down the line as she carried out her duty.

To channel Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw for a moment, “It made me wonder …” What must it be like to become a seemingly overnight success? It’s heartening to see a small local joint like Goldee’s, with its off-the-beaten-path location and nondescript street-facing sign simply stating “BBQ,” enjoy such success (celebrity, even) now that it’s been put on the map, so to speak. Mere days after our jaunt to the teensy establishment in southeast Fort Worth, The New York Times even featured it on a list of top barbecue spots in Texas.

“Is any food worth that amount of suffering?”

The editor of this very paper posed that question of my full-day experience at Goldee’s, and, after several drafts, I still don’t have an answer.

Maybe that’s the thrill of it. Maybe the anticipation, much like religiosity and the hope that whatever awaits after this life will be worth the sacrifice, keeps the people coming back. Maybe, with everything that’s going on in the world, the promise of top-notch barbecue and full, happy bellies is enough to shine a little light in the darkness.

Or maybe barbecue is just barbecue, and we’re all simply searching for something to believe in and fill our time before we shuffle off this mortal coil. You could say Goldee’s ain’t a bad deity to worship — especially since the barbecue turned out to be divine.

After waiting several hours, the group’s collective eyes may have been bigger than its stomachs.
Photo by Andrew Hall