One lucky barbecue restaurant in Fort Worth has earned a spot on a new list by the state's top BBQ expert. Texas Monthly has released a list of Best New Barbecue Restaurants, and Panther City BBQ is on it.
This popular barbecue trailer on Fort Worth's south side comes in at an impressive No. 8.
The magazine's barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn calls the list a "midterm report," which he's providing as a way to keep up with what he calls a "staggering" number of openings that have occurred since the magazine published its top 50 BBQ joints in 2017.
This list has 25 entries, most spread across central Texas. The No. 1 pick is LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, a foodie-ish place where they put kimchi on their sandwiches that opened in Austin in 2017.
As Malcolm Mayhew reported for CultureMap in 2018, Panther City is in the process of upgrading from trailer to real restaurant. Vaughn calls it a good imitation of Fort Worth's Heim Barbecue:
"Fort Worth's Heim Barbecue is the originator of the pork belly burnt end, but when Panther City BBQ took over the lot where the Heim trailer once parked, they did their best imitation," he says. "It's good, but more impressive is how they pair it with a jalapeño, which they cut in half, stuff with cheese, top with the pork belly, and wrap in bacon. There are plenty more smoked meats to love too. A brick-and-mortar on the site should be completed later this year."
Panther City also earned a spot on CultureMap's 10 Best Restaurants in Fort Worth, as part of our annual Tastemaker Awards.
One other restaurant in the DFW made the list: Smoke Sessions Barbecue, which opened in Royse City in 2017 at 307 W. Texas Hwy 66.
"Chad and Jessica Sessions moved their food truck one town over from Fate to Royse City last year and at press time were moving again, to a spot on Highway 66, where they plan to open a brick-and-mortar," the list says. "But thanks to flawless smoked brisket, stunning house-made sausages, and an array of satisfying sides made from scratch, it’s worth the trip for Dallasites who are willing to drive an hour or so."
Vaughn gives praise to Smoke Sessions' unusual offering of tacos, which they feature one day a week.
"Tuesday is taco day," Vaughn says. "I like the smoked barbacoa and brisket, both of which are served with pickled onions, cilantro, and crema. But things get wild with the pulled-pork taco. I never thought I’d enjoy a taco with chopped dill pickles and fried onions from a can until I tried it here."
Vaughn acknowledges that many of the restaurants on the list are trailers and pop-ups. "Our rules require that a place have a permanent address and regular hours," he says.
This is the second time Texas Monthly has done a midterm barbecue report focused exclusively on new barbecue joints; the first time was in 2015.
"The level of activity in the Texas barbecue scene had gotten so intense that it seemed wrong to make readers wait to hear about the worthy rookies until we released our next Top 50 list, which comes out every four years," Vaughn says. The next top 50 list comes out in 2021.
"And things have only gotten more intense lately," he says. "When I compiled my last midterm report, I easily narrowed my picks down to 25. This year, though, it was harder because there was a lot more great new barbecue to evaluate."