For this week's BBQ Safari, we hit up a more traditional, old-school barbecue joint. We're talking Angelo's Bar-B-Que, on White Settlement Road in Fort Worth.
Angelo's is a Funkytown legend, going back to 1958. It's nationally famous, and the website boasts an impressive list of celebrities that have been spotted there. The atmosphere hits all the marks, like only a vintage joint can. Outside, you'll find dated signage, wood siding, stacks of firewood and no landscaping to speak of. Walk through the doors and it just flat out looks like a barbecue joint should. There's a smoky, dingy tinge to everything, dim lighting, yellowed plastic menu boards, a serving line where you can get your own 'cue, and walls covered by animal heads and '70s wood paneling. This is BBQ Heaven.
We snagged a cool octagonal table in the front dining room (there are two fairly large dining rooms) and they actually have a waitress who will come to your table if you don't want to get in line like a real Texan; I was with a friend from California, so we just got a table. The waitress was friendly and efficient but not so friendly that she seemed inauthentic. We got our food quickly, and she kept our drinks filled.
I started out with a combo order of pork ribs and brisket. It was served on Styrofoam (good sign), and came with a couple of slices of bread, a standard mustard-based potato salad, beans and some really decent coleslaw -- but who cares about all that. BBQ is all about the meat.
The ribs had awesome flavor, a good smoke ring and were coated with one of the better dry rubs I've ever experienced. It was peppery with plenty of bite to it. The sauce (what little I used) had a nice mix of heat and vinegary tang. While the flavor was right on the money, the ribs were a little too fall-off-the-bone. I think ribs should have a bit more substance to them. The same could be said of the brisket, which was cooked just a tad past optimal. The flavor was perfect, but it fell apart in strands like a pot roast.
Portions were a bit small for me, so they were probably perfect for mortals. I felt the need to order 1/4 pound of hot links to finish the meal off, and although it isn't something they produce in-house, it had a good bite and was tasty dipped in a little sauce.
Which brings us to dessert: We skipped it. Angelo's offerings included banana pudding from a can (one employee described it as "disappointing") and pre-packaged fried pies you can get at any gas station. Seriously, Angelo's?
So atmosphere-wise, we are talking a 10 out 10 (unless you are offended by taxidermy, in which case you probably should check out www.spiraldiner.com). The 'cue is great and mostly deserving of Angelo's reputation, but I'm searching for perfection -- the holy grail of Texas barbecue -- and I haven't found it yet.
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