Fort Worth's top barbecue trailer graduates to genuine restaurant
Fort Worth's top barbecue trailer has found a permanent home, in its own backyard. Panther City BBQ, a popular 'cue trailer at 201 E. Hattie St., parked next to Republic Street Bar on the city's south side, will move into a new building, to be built exactly where its trailer now resides.
Construction will begin in January, says co-owner Chris Magallanes, and should be finished up by summer.
“We really wanted to stay in this area,” says Magallanes, who runs Panther City BBQ with business partner Ernest Morales. “We’ve had offers to go here, go there, but this is where we’ve really felt at home.”
The new building, which Magallanes estimates will be about 3,000 square feet, will feature an indoor/outdoor seating area that’ll hold up to 80 people. Currently, Panther City’s dining area is comprised of an outdoor deck and patio.
“The biggest challenge with that obviously has been the weather,” Magallanes says. “We’ll be able to use heaters when it’s cold and fans when it’s warm. We’ll be able to close it off to keep the weather out or open it up when it’s nice.”
The new structure will also feature an indoor smokehouse big enough to accommodate their two current smokers, plus a soon-to-arrive third. They’ll have plenty of additional kitchen space, too. So long cramped trailer, hello full kitchen.
“That’s probably what we’re most excited about,” Magallanes says. “We’re not able to do everything we want, when we want. There’s just not enough space in that small trailer.”
The move comes almost one year after they arrived on the Near Southside. Since opening in January, the two have made a name for themselves for their expertly smoked brisket and inventive sides, such as brisket-spiked elote. Their specialty item, pork belly poppers, caught the attention of BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn, who, in a review of Panther City BBQ, called them “genius.”
With the new building will come new menu items, including housemade sausage, of both the beef and pork varieties. More sides are coming, too, like cheesy grits, cornbread pudding, and collard greens. “Some of the sides will be brand-new,” Magallanes says. “And some will be sides that we’ve done in the past but don’t have the space to make all the time in the trailer.”
Once the new spot is up and running, hours will be extended. Currently, they’re open 11 am until they sell out of meat, which is generally around 2 pm. “We’ll have the space to do dinner service now,” Magallanes says. “We’ll do some nightly specials, like steaks and prime rib.”
The building is being designed by Studio 97W, the Near Southside architecture firm that also designed the nearby Heim BBQ, Taco Heads’ Montgomery Street location, Melt Ice Creams, and Pedego Electric Bikes.
Panther City’s spot will closely resemble the Pedego building, in that it will be in the form of a shed, accented with metal trim and siding and concrete floors.
Seating will be at communal and picnic tables. “We still want the place to have a backyard barbecue feel,” Magallanes says.
Eventually, the trailer will be phased out and used only for catering and off-site events. The trailer will remain open during construction.