Last week I was looking for a new barbecue dispensary, part of our never-ending quest to find the Holy Grail of Texas BBQ. I turned to an Internet message board that is dedicated to fighting ignorance. The board is built around Cecil Adams’ Straight Dope column, and over the decades it has attracted experts in every field imaginable. Need to know what to do with a chunk of anthracite, or what it’s like to be a prison doctor? There’s someone there to answer that. Science, philosophy, music, all have their place, and when one of the conversations turned to barbecue (specifically ribs), I had to have a closer look. One of the administrators, Fort Worth native Lynn Bodoni, suggested Poor Daddy’s BBQ in North Richland Hills. I hadn’t heard of this place, but given the source, I had to try it out.
Poor Daddy’s is a freestanding building with not much in the way of signage (a point for authenticity). When you walk in, there’s a lot of ranch house clutter, old windows for dividers, and a line for you to get your ’cue yourself, as God intended. So far so good.
I ordered my usual three-meat plate ($12.99) with brisket, ribs and sausage. For sides I had the beans, potato salad and banana pudding. Plates were foam picnic plates, cutlery was plastic, and the sauce was in a big, warm, serve-it-yourself soup kettle. So far everything was looking perfect.
When they served the beans, the guy behind the counter had to add water to them. I was worried about this until I tasted them — they were awesome. Best barbecue beans I’ve had yet. Potato salad was home-made and tasty, as was the pudding. Good sides, but that’s not what we are here for — this is all about the meat.
The brisket had a respectable smoke ring (a pink layer formed around the outside of the brisket from the smoke). Indeed, through the open door at the back of the kitchen, I could see what seemed to be a wood-fired pit. The texture of the brisket was nice, flavor was decent, but not earth-shattering. A solid everyday brisket. The sauce (on the side) was very tasty. It’s a sweet/spicy concoction and fairly thick and heavy. Too much easily overpowered the brisket, so use it sparingly.
The pork ribs also had a nearly perfect texture. You could take a solid bite from a rib and it came off cleanly without the rib falling apart. They had a nice pork flavor and decent spice rub.
The sausage was pretty much run of the mill — a good vehicle to ingest the sauce — but didn’t hold up well on its own.
The downside, however, was that all the meats were nearly cold when I got them. Not refrigerator-cold, and a bit over room temperature, but cold enough that chef Robert Irvine would be yelling at the staff if this was on his reality show. It was late in the evening, but that’s no excuse.
So, at least on this night, this was not the holy grail we have been seeking. The ’cue is well executed, and other than the serving temperature, quite enjoyable. I’d visit this place for an everyday barbecue fix. But we’re still looking for the perfect ’cue joint. If you’ve got suggestions, let us know on DFW.com.