After months of waiting, there is much rejoicing among DFW's barbecue faithful. With a week of soft openings under their belt, Heim Barbecue & Catering officially opened their brick and mortar location on Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth on Saturday, Aug. 6.
We'll start with the bad news first: Yes, there's still a queue for Travis Heim's wildly popular barbecue, with some people lining up well before opening to get in on the action. On the plus side, the sidewalk leading up to Heim has pockets of shade which offer relief from the oppressive summer sunshine; opening weekend diners adapted quickly and waited for space to open in the shady spot ahead of them before vacating their previous one. A cabana covering provided more shade just outside the main entrance, next to the walk-up window for the bar.
Which brings us to the first bit of good news: There's a walkup window for the bar. A cold beer (or three) makes waiting outside when it's 99 degrees at 11 a.m. much more tolerable. Once cooler temps arrive, there's a small patio with additional tables and chairs set up in the courtyard to accommodate more diners.
Inside, Heim's new digs throw off a Texas industrial vibe. The bar spans half of one wall, while the other half by the main entrance serves to guide patrons to the counter to place their order. As a nod to their food truck beginnings, the day's menu is still written on butcher paper and taped to the wall behind the counter. The remainder of the dining space is filled with wood-topped tables, while various panels of reclaimed lumber and old painted doors adorn the ceiling.
Of course, the interior could feature rotted wood walls decorated with colorful scribbles from a hyperactive 2-year-old and no one would care, because the barbecue continues to be top-notch. The brisket still has the perfect level of smokiness oozing through it, never overpowering the beef flavor.
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Meanwhile, you could drive all day and still not find an equal to Heim's pulled pork. It's good enough to stand alone, or add a splash of Heim's thin, sweet sauce or go full Memphis-style and mix in the red-cabbage coleslaw for a sweet crunch.
True carnivores will want to avail themselves of the Niman Ranch beef rib, although some advanced planning may be required; they average a pound and a half each. The outside of the rib is covered with a salty black bark, and underneath, tender short rib meat and expertly rendered fat that explode with flavor. We'd also be remiss if we didn't mention that the bacon burnt ends are still on the menu. There's not much to say that hasn't already been said about Heim's sweet and salty pork morsels, but if the entire world ate pork, they could be the key to world peace. And if that didn't work, then there's always Emma Heim's phenomenal banana pudding to sway the nonbelievers.
Travis and Emma Heim had shut down their food trailer in March to put the finishing touches on the restaurant, which was originally planned to open in June. The extra wait has only served to build demand, which may not be satiated any time soon. During Saturday's grand opening, Heim went through 1,500 pounds of barbecue and 300 pounds of potato salad before selling out, and Sunday was a sellout as well. Late arrivals can always hit the bar for a drink, which will be open until 10 every night Heim operates, and Heim mentions via Facebook that a bar menu is in the works. Now that some of North Texas' best barbecue is being served with a roof overhead, there's little reason left not to visit.
Heim Barbecue, 1109 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth