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Review: Bartley's BBQ in Grapevine

Bartley's BBQ 413 E Northwest Hwy Grapevine 817-481-3212 http://www.bartleysbbq.com Hours: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, Saturday; closed Sunday, Monday.

Posted 4:07pm on Tuesday, Oct. 09, 2012

The first thing you’ll notice about Bartley’s is the barbecue-scented uppercut that hits you in the nostrils as you walk through the door.

That’s the smell of meat-driven success. After all, the place has been around since 1968 and at its current location since 1995. That’s plenty of time for the smell of brisket to permeate the walls.

The menu is simple, a meat lover’s paradise of beef, chicken, sausage, turkey and even bologna. You can order two-meat ($9.99) or three-meat ($10.99) plates, sandwiches, and meat by the pound ($12.99 per pound).

If it’s your first visit, though, you’ll want the All-U-Can-Eat ($16.99) plate, which gives you access to Bartley’s beefy arsenal.

The tender brisket is a safe option — usually my go-to protein when it comes to barbecue — but even better are the ribs. They’re firm yet moist, seasoned well and can be enjoyed without sauce.

The bologna is a welcome addition, a meat we rarely see on a barbecue menu. But unlike the ribs, it’s overly seasoned — much too salty. Still, we like that it’s an option.

There’s also smoky dark and white meat chicken. Of the two, we prefer the more flavorful dark meat. Though, the white meat goes very well with Bartley’s thin and lightly tangy barbecue sauce.

The two hits here are definitely the sausage and turkey. Sausage is sweet and juicy and slightly spicy with every bite. Danger level on the over-eating meter? High. I’d easily destroy a whole plate of the sausage by myself.

The folks at Bartley’s experimented with several turkey recipes while collecting feedback from customers. In the end, they went with a Cajun rub, which was a huge hit. It’s now part of the menu and it’s just as savory (if not more) than everything else.

Slow down, though. You’ll need room for several side dishes, including spicy jalapeño-infused tater tots, beans, pudding and the sweet, soothing pecan cobbler, like a textured pudding with pecans on top — the perfect complement to a meaty meal.

It’s really no surprise that we loved the place. When a restaurant’s been running for so long, it’s a dead giveaway it is doing it right.

But for me, it’s the sweet, smoky smell that did it. One whiff and it’s barbecue love.

As a bonus, my shirt still smelled like brisket the morning after. I’m never washing that shirt again.

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