Blues exchange

Texas Blues Cafe brings more than brisket to the 'burbs

Everything was pretty much what you'd expect from a barbecue joint, though all the food was lukewarm and the well-meaning service was disorganized. Kelly's got free-lance chef Ben Ivey in the kitchen backing him up and turning out personal specialties like chili and desserts.

The truth is, though the posted hours are lunch and dinner, Texas Blues is actually a late-night barbecue place. Even on Mondays, the music starts at 9:30 p.m., when the musicians wake up, and that's when the place is jammed and the joint starts jumping. The late-night menu features barbecue-based snacks and drinking food like rib baskets and brisket nachos. (There's a full bar and a good selection of beer.) Restaurants are never just about the food and Texas Blues proves the point.

When we returned on a Saturday night, the place was SRO and the dance floor was full. Loughborough's white-boy blues band was playing but the Rev. Fillmore stepped up to sing and drew the rest of the crowd away from rib baskets and onto the dance floor, some even jumping on stage to sing along. It was a surprisingly soulful scene for suburban Lakewood.

DuPre draws on her strong connections to R.L. Griffin's Blues Palace near Fair Park to book Texas Blues and she says each night attracts a different kind of crowd, according to the music.

From what we saw, Texas Blues is building its own special audience, a mix of black and white, young and old, collegiate and professional. In Dallas, where restaurants are as demographically specific as most of its neighborhoods, Texas Blues Cafe is an anomaly. DuPre and company have made a conscious effort to attract South Dallas to North Dallas, and there's traffic on the bridge.

So far, the blues exchange program is working. And the barbecue is fine, too.

Texas Blues Cafe, 316 Hillside Village (Mockingbird and Abrams), 824-7600. Open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sunday jazz brunch starts in April.

Texas Blues Cafe:
Pulled Pork Sandwich $3.25
Two-Meat Combination Plate $6.95

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