Before I moved to Texas, pulled pork was the center of my barbecue universe. I smoked shoulders in my backyard a few times a year, serving the shredded meat on cheap white bread buns with creamy slaw. For the first few years of my barbecue endeavors I'd offer half of the meat dressed with a vinegar-based sauce and the other half with a ketchup-based sauce that still had tang. The vinegar meat was always decimated first, and after a while, I left the ketchup bottle in the fridge entirely.
Moving to Texas, though, has a way of reframing a person's outlook on the world of smoked meats. I encountered exemplary brisket at Pecan Lodge, and then again at Franklin's. Pulled pork sandwiches slowly faded into the background as I became bovine obsessed. In fact, until recently, I hadn't ordered a pulled pork sandwich but maybe a handful of times while spending more than four years in Texas. None of those sandwiches were memorable.
Until now. Dallas, meet The Dizzy, a pulled pork sandwich that has restored my curiosity for the art form. The meat has a very subtle sweetness that's juxtaposed with a tangy slaw of cabbage and julienned green apple. It's tart, but not tart enough. So after one bite I hit the sandwich hard with a shaker bottle of what my bartender called mustard mop. I tucked the three house-brined pickle slices sharing the tray up under the bun. I then inhaled this sandwich in no more than seven bites. I contemplated ordering a second.
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That Granny Smith apple points to a barbecue joint thats considerably more fancy than the lodges, smoke shacks and other hovels that turn out amazing smoked meats around Texas. Fancy and barbecue are two things that don't typically get along well, but I think the folks at 18th & Vine are onto something. I'm still not ready to drink a glass of Malbec with my barbecue, as the menu suggests, but you could almost get away with taking a date to a place like this. And the list of local and other delicious beers goes on and on.
18th & Vine BBQ, 4100 Maple Ave., 18thandvinebbq.com, 214-443-8335