Somewhere, in a far-flung part of Fort Worth, there is a corner of land that will remain forever Texas. It's in Texas, obviously, but that's not quite what I'm driving at here. The BBQ Ranch, a recently opened barbecue restaurant in the corner of five acres of ranch, is so very Texan that it's almost painful. If it were any more Texan, this would be where Big Tex spent his yearly vacation.
What I'm trying to say is that the BBQ Ranch delivers the sort of classic rural barbecue experience that nowhere else in Dallas-Fort Worth possibly could. And it's very lovely.
Five acres is smaller than it sounds, mind you. Deciding to go for a pre-dinner walk around the lovely surroundings, we realized, when the walk ended after five minutes, that our car had been in sight the whole time. I never was very good at acres.
The ranch itself, which is an actual honest-to-goodness ranch that the family owners decided to open up as a barbecue restaurant and kind of cool event space, feels like it's in the kind of wilderness that usually takes a few hours' drive in Texas. But it's not. It's like twenty minutes north of Fort Worth.
There's that game thing where you try and throw washers into a hole (I'm pretty sure it's called "washers"). There's that other game where you try and throw horseshoes onto a pole (I'm pretty sure it's called "horseshoes"). There are some deckchairs, positioned erroneously close to where children are flinging horseshoes. That's Texas, though. To hell with health and safety, if an adult gets a horseshoe in the face, it's all in the name of good clean family fun.
Oh, the barbecue, yes. That's off to the side, in a delightful little shack with bench seating and the expected Texas barbecue decorations, which are often more horsehoes, but also old, greying pictures, signs from the 1950s, and cute pieces of southern wisdom.
It's not bad at all, the brisket being appreciably moist as well as just enough smoky, the sausage being perfectly acceptable, and the ribs being smoked just right, although lacking much in the way of a rub. We also tried the pulled pork (delightful, actually), and the chicken, because we had to order a certain amount of meats. Fuck chicken.
What they do have is a very good jalapeno popper, wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cream cheese and brisket, and a world-class peach cobbler, for some reason. It's really extraordinarily good. You could say it was peachy. Tip your waitress.
They also have an extraordinarily friendly owner, who briefly on our walk kept pace with us in a golf cart to make absolutely sure we were 100% enjoying ourselves. Even better, the beer is extraordinarily cheap for a restaurant, like $3 a bottle cheap. When we were there, one of the most unlikely bands I've ever seen was playing. I don't think anyone was under the age of 65, and the bass player looked like she'd come direct from the casino. The harmonica player, who only seemed to play harmonica once every 3 songs, spent the rest of the time peering into a notebook six inches from his face. It was perfect. I would see that band again in a heartbeat.
Here's the kicker -- so often, when we drive to a restaurant, we find ourselves driving for longer than we spend at the restaurant. At the BBQ Ranch, what they've done is created a nice family day out in tandem with a restaurant. You can drive there, which in the Grander Scheme of Texas Things (tm) isn't a very long way, and rather than spend an hour there eating, you can spend four hours, as we did, playing silly games, eating the odd thing, watching the band they have every night after 6pm, and just having a jolly good old-fashioned time. It's very nice.
It's better considered as a destination for a day out than a particularly desirable smoked meat experience, but I don't see many of your favorite Dallas barbecue restaurants buying up five acres and relocating to the countryside any time soon. If you've always wanted a day out among smoked meat and horseshoes, then it doesn't get any better.
You can find the BBQ Ranch at 10250 Western Oaks Rd, Fort Worth, TX 76108.
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