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Fort Worth’s 10 Best Barbecue Restaurants — Why Panther City Is Now the New Barbecue Capital of Texas

Where the Smoked Meats Rule Thanks to Creative Pitmasters

BY // 06.13.23

The pace in Fort Worth was once so lazy, that it was said that a wild panther could nap in the middle of the road. That tall tale earned the city its beloved Panther City moniker. While the pace of life in the nation’s 13th largest city continues to increase, its most famous pitmasters still take their time, smoking their barbecue low and slow. And it shows. Fort Worth is home to some of the best barbecue joints in the state. Which means the country. But what are the 10 Best Barbecue Joints in Fort Worth?

One thing’s certain. At all of them, you’ll need to get in line early and you might want to relax with a frosty schooner. Here are Fort Worth’s 10 Best Barbecue Joints (listed alphabetically):

Brix Barbecue

Crowds have been lining up in a parking lot on Bryan Avenue to get their Brix fix, from the smokestream for years now. Now pitmaster Trevor Sales is nearing completion of his first “Brix and mortar” restaurant. It is expected to open around the July 4th weekend at 1012 South Main.

Sales is a Chicago transplant with a real passion for central Texas barbecue. His Brix Barbecue is well known for its tender ribs, juicy brisket and, yes, a specialty Brix burger. When you stop by, be sure to say hello to the operation’s namesake, Brix the boxer terrier rescue dog that never leaves Sales’ side.

BBQ – Ashley and Dayne Weaver of Dayne’s Craft Barbecue with members of their team
Ashley and Dayne Weaver of Dayne’s Craft Barbecue with members of their team

Dayne’s Craft Barbecue

Still serving out of its food truck in the Westland neighborhood of Fort Worth, Dayne’s Craft Barbecue is a bonafied Top 50 Barbecue Joint in the state, as ranked by Texas Monthly. Soon, Dayne and Ashley Weaver will open their first-ever brick-and-mortar restaurant too.

Some of Dayne’s specialty items include a luscious bacon brisket, some stellar smoked sausage and a creamy mac and cheese dusted with garlic herb panko crumbs and a dash of truffle oil.

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BBQ – F-1 Smokehouse will open its first restaurant along University soon.
F-1 Smokehouse will open its first restaurant along University soon.

F1 Smokehouse

This is an up-and-coming Fort Worth barbecue haven. The first iteration of F1 Smokehouse is set up near Felipe Armenta’s Press Cafe, along the Trinity River. The first restaurant location of F1 Smokehouse will open soon in the former Austin City Tacos spot along University Drive. The menu has continued to evolve with some creative takes and a few healthier options. There’s even a vegan cauliflower dish.

Start your splurge with hushpuppies and chili butter, an order of maple peppercorn glazed crispy bacon, or the watermelon salad with cucumber, feta and mint. Then, you can continue your barbecue feast with Korean kalbi style baby back ribs, sweet tea brined half chicken, or housemade ketchup smoked meatloaf.

Of course, traditional Texas style beef brisket and jalepeno cheddar sausage are also on the F1 smokehouse menu.

Goldee's designed its own smoker with M and M Barbecue Company. For the home cook who has everything, what more could you want? Especially considering Goldee's is one of Fort Worth's Best Barbecue Joints.
Goldee’s designed its own smoker with M and M Barbecue Company. For the home cook who has everything, what more could you want? Especially considering Goldee’s is one of Fort Worth’s Best Barbecue Joints.

Goldee’s Barbecue

Goldee’s is the No. 1 ranked barbecue spot in the entire state in Texas Monthly’s latest barbecue bible. Since then, Goldee’s website has added a much-needed section: Goldee’s Line Tips. The biggest suggestion? Arriving sometime between 8 am and 10 am even though Goldee’s Barbecue does not open till 11 am on the three days a week it is open (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays).

Seriously, bring sunscreen and a lawn chair. It’ll be worth the wait.

Brisket orders come half lean and half fatty in order to be mindful of everyone in line. You came this far, you might as well taste the best both ways anyway. But you can also go to school at Goldee’s. Really.

It offers brisket, sausage and rib classes that consistently sell out with students coming from all over the country to pick up some tricks of the trade — at $700 per class.

BBQ – Heim Barbecue will add its fourth location in Mansfield by September.
Heim Barbecue will add its fourth location in Mansfield by September.

Heim BBQ

The little mom-and-pop has grown substantially since its early days (Heim began on the same site that is now home to Panther City BBQ) with multiple restaurants in Fort Worth and one in Dallas. Travis and Emma Heim built their burgeoning barbecue empire on burnt bacon ends and that rich and tangy brown sugar barbecue sauce. But don’t overlook Heim’s pulled pork and meaty beef ribs. Or try the BBQ Snob sandwich. It is loaded with a whole link of jalapeño cheddar sausage, a half pound of chopped brisket and topped with bacon burnt ends on a jalapeño cheddar bun.

While construction costs ultimately forced the Heims to pull the plug on a planned Hudson Oaks restaurant, the expansion continues.

“Burleson is full steam ahead,” Travis Heim tells PaperCity Fort Worth. “Planning for an early September open. It’s going to be a really awesome spot with a rooftop bar and seating. Plus music stage for live music overlooking the Melva Campbell Plaza and park. We can’t wait to get Burleson open.”

BBQ – Hurtado’s Mexicue take includes birra tacos.
Hurtado’s Mexicue take includes birra tacos.

Hurtado BBQ

Hurtado BBQ is another member of the Texas Monthly Top 50 club. It landed first in Arlington, before taking over a spot in Fort Worth’s hospital district (which was formerly home to Derek Allan’s). Pitmaster Brandon Hurtado calls his style Mexicue. It ranges from classic jalapeno cheddar links and poblano Oaxaca to queso-filled Fundido.

During baseball season, you can find Hurtado at Globe Life Field too.

Hurtado’s excellent ribs, brisket, pulled pork and elotes are also worth the trip. The extravagant El Jefe Platter gives devotees and first timers a taste of Hurtado, including two sides, alongside one third pound of brisket, ribs, pulled pork, a quarter chicken and burnt ends. It’s a feast for $50.

BBQ – Ernest Morales reps the 817 on his hand and his hat as he and Chris Magallanes brought home a Guiness Book World Record last year. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Ernest Morales reps the 817 on his hand and his hat as he and Chris Magallanes brought home a Guiness Book World Record last year. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Panther City BBQ

Panther City BBQ pitmasters Chris Magallanes and Ernest Morales landed on Texas Monthly’s Top 10 and now they are Guinness Book World Record holders after a true marathon grilling session last year.

What began as essentially a lean-to shack is now a covered space and expanding indoor-outdoor dining experience. That means shade to cue up in and air conditioning inside the renovated former Republic Bar space that Panther City calls home. HQ is just across E. Hattie Street, and Panther City BBQ’s popular BBQU invites grill masters from all around to learn their seasoning and smoking advice inside those hallowed smoker cages.

BBQ – Life is too short to live in Dallas has long been the motto at Fort Worth’s Railhead Smokehouse.
Life is too short to live in Dallas has long been the motto at Fort Worth’s Railhead Smokehouse.

Railhead Smokehouse

After 37 years, life is still “too short to live in Dallas.” Or so the T-shirts and koozies read at Railhead Smokehouse. Hard to believe Rep. Charlie Geren rolled the dice on a former beer barn along West Vickery back in 1986. Railhead’s present location is now at the corner of Montgomery Avenue. But the barbecue is still as coveted as it ever was.

Railhead Smokehouse serves up scores of chopped beef sandwiches and some of the most consistent pork ribs in Fort Worth.

Geren has remained a member of the Texas House of Representatives since 2003. While business has always traditionally taken place on the golf course in Fort Worth, I guarantee that a lot of deals have been struck at the Railhead over a frosty schooner as well.

BBQ – Derrick and Kesha Walker serving excited fans at last April’s Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Derrick and Kesha Walker serving excited fans at last April’s Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Smoke-A-Holics

Smoke-A-Holics Derrick and Kesha Walker add a touch of soul to their Texas-style barbecue. This is another Texas Monthly Top 50 Barbecue Joint, serving the Morningside neighborhood of Fort Worth. At Smoke-A-Holics, you’ll find juicy brisket and tender ribs, alongside rarities like smoked bologna and salami. Smoke-A-Holics’ Cajun style creamed corn and fresh collard greens are other specialties of the house.

The Big Mac Bowl is layered with smoked mac and cheese, chopped brisket and house sausage. Or try the truly Southern loaded cornbread topped with brisket, baked beans, shredded cheese, sour cream and sauce.

BBQ – Woodshed – The Butcher’s Sandwich is like a tour of the smokehouse.
Woodshed – The Butcher’s Sandwich is like a tour of the smokehouse.

Woodshed Smokehouse

Woodshed Smokehouse allowed Fort Worth celebrity chef Tim Love to plant one of the first riverside restaurants in town. That happened back in 2012. Love’s then “new cue” menu and unbeatable atmosphere are still solid today. Utilizing a variety of woods — from oak and pecan to hickory and mesquite — it’s all about the smoke at the Woodshed Smokehouse.

Unique spins include a smoked whitefish dip served with camp bread, and a smoked bock beer fondue. The butcher’s sandwich is filled with a smorgasbord of chopped brisket, pulled pork, the daily sausage offering, house mustard and pickles, with a bit of traditional coleslaw.

Or bring friends along to order the six hour-smoked beef shin. The massive, meaty presentation includes fresh ricotta, smoked oil, borracha beans, three kale salad and fresh tortillas.

I mean you could strike up your own backyard barbecue this summer. But if you’re in a barbecue mecca like Fort Worth, why would you?

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