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BBQ Safari: Avondale Station in Fort Worth

Avondale Station BBQ

12259 Business Highway 287 N., Fort Worth

817-439-4623; www.avondalestationbbq.com


Posted 5:30pm on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013

On our quest to find the Holy Grail of Texas BBQ, I’ve traveled to some far-off places — Everman, Arlington, even Dallas — so when I heard about Avondale Station, I hit the road north, traveling from Fort Worth, through Saginaw and out the other side to arrive in … Fort Worth.

I drove right past this place because of a lack of signage, but I actually took that as a good omen. A good BBQ joint doesn’t need to advertise.

Avondale is in a converted filling station, which earns it authenticity points as well. Inside, you order ’cue through a window, and it’s delivered in a foam take-out container. Sit in your choice of mismatched wooden chairs. All of these things are positive signs for an experienced BBQ geek like myself. BBQ needs no fancy building, service or silverware.

I ordered the three-meat combo plate: ribs, brisket and sausage for $10.99. And for dessert, homemade banana pudding. The staff seemed nice enough, which worried me — in an authentic Texas BBQ dispensary, the staff should be indifferent or downright surly. But not to worry. When I looked at my receipt, they’d charged me an extra $1.25 for ordering ribs (without any warning), and when I asked where my dessert was I was told they were out of all desserts — despite having charged me $3.29 for it. This is the kind of dedication I’m looking for.

Avondale’s brisket is served in razor-thin slices that are perfectly tender, and have a nice bovine flavor to them. There is a thin smoke ring (a layer of pink formed just below the surface of the brisket from exposure to the smoke) and thin crust from the proprietary rub. The restaurant uses pecan wood for its smoke, and that gives the ’cue a mild flavor; the smoke doesn’t overpower the meat. Texture was as good as it gets.

The ribs were also perfectly prepared, although Avondale used spare ribs instead of St. Louis cut. The meat pulled away cleanly from the bone with each bite, without taking the whole chunk of meat with it. This is how pigsicles are supposed to be done. Avondale has its own ketchup-based sauce, but it wasn’t needed. Good meat needs no sauce.

Sausage was also first-rate, some of the best I’ve had. At most BBQ places, I try all three standard meats the first time, then narrow it down to favorites when I come back. At Avondale, all three were good, and I’d probably order a three-meat combo again.

For sides, I tried the fried okra and potato salad. The okra was solid, the potato salad some of the best standard mustard-based fare I’ve had in a BBQ joint.

Despite not having any previous BBQ business experience, Mike Tidwell opened this joint in 2007, and developed the recipes himself. His children, Mitch and Jennifer, run it now.

So is it the holy grail? Well, it gets real close. It’s in a repurposed building with minimal signage, and the staff is suitably distant. The ’cue is well-executed, and while it may not be the best in any one category, it was very good in all of them — a terrific everyday BBQ joint (as long as you check your receipt).

We’re still looking for the Holy Grail of Texas BBQ. If you think you know where it is, leave us a comment on DFW.com.

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