NEW NAME, NEW MENUThe restaurant formerly known as Union Pacific Cafe is now Pacific Table and is still on track for an early June opening from chef Felipe Armenta of The Tavern. (The railroad company with the same moniker asked that Armenta rename his upcoming second venue.) But nothing's changed about the concept -- a casual, seafood-focused destination that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in the former La Piazza space in University Park Village in Fort Worth. Armenta is recognized for turning the Hulen Street college hangout Snookie's into a family-friendly dining destination, The Tavern, offering American dishes with Southwestern flair. Expect pancakes, ahi tuna burgers, crabcakes and even sushi along with a patio flanked by an outdoor wood-burning rotisserie. 1600 S. University Drive, Fort Worth.THE BOOK ON TEXAS BARBECUEWhen it was announced that the longtime barbecue blogger Daniel "BBQ Snob" Vaughn, a Dallas resident who has journeyed miles across Texas in a continual search for the perfect ribs and black-crusted brisket gold, was named barbecue editor of Texas Monthly magazine, we couldn't help but wonder -- does this man ever get tired of barbecue? "I never get tired of good barbecue," he promises. "I never get tired of the search, either." Now Vaughn shares a glimpse of that search in his first book, The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue, to be released May 14. The hardback ($29.99), more a narrative strewn with storytelling photos than a cookbook, is also the first title in the Anthony Bourdain Books imprint from Ecco. Vaughn does profile two dozen premier pit masters, many of whom share their methods for smoking a particular cut of beef. One of Vaughn's DFW favorites is Justin Fourton of Dallas' Pecan Lodge, who offers details on smoking wagyu brisket, shown here. Vaughn says Fourton is the only pit master he has found so far who offers the pricey beef.SIBLINGS SET UP SHOPBrother and sister duo Milo and Rosalia Ramirez are busy. After the success of their growing Salsa Limón taco truck fleet, they added Gorgonzilla, a yellow-scaled monster of a gourmet grilled cheese truck, which hit the streets earlier this year. Now they've taken over the 1940s-era aluminum facade across from the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth that has been home to Topsy's Cafe, J&J Oyster Bar, Rush Street and a Quizno's. Fans can expect early morning and late night service with a menu of breakfast burritos, redfish and shrimp tacos, and green chile chicken mole along with beer, mimosas and sangria. The architecturally artsy eatery is the second brick-and-mortar location for Salsa Limón, as their mobile kitchen concept stemmed from the restaurant's original home in La Gran Plaza, lovingly referred to as "the mothership." 929 University Drive, Fort Worth, www.salsalimon.com.TRUFIRE TO SOUTHLAKEVeteran restaurateurs David Kazarian and Jay Clark, who share corporate experience from Romano's Macaroni Grill and Pei Wei, opened TruFire Kitchen & Bar in Frisco five years ago, fusing Mediterranean, Italian and American influences into a succinct menu of pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and salads. Now Southlake diners will get a taste of the duo's ingredient-focused menu when a second location opens in Southlake Town Square by midmonth. Here, Meyer lemons add zing to fire-roasted lump crab dip. Heirloom tomatoes top caprese and avocado salads. Pizza dough is made with "00" flour, a superfine premium variety imported from Italy. Kazarian tells us that signature dishes with a "cultlike" following include the spicy garlic noodles, pictured here, and the trumac -- macaroni and cheese scented with white truffle oil and creamed with butternut sauce. Toast TruFire's opening with one of the restaurant's popular fresh fruit martinis, like the blackberry smash, with muddled mint and lemons. 1239 Main St., Southlake, 817-488-6280, www.trufire.us.PARTY ON THE TERRACEAlready popular for its be-seen rooftop patio, which has served as host to many a hoppin' happy hour, the Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge has added a new back terrace, located behind the venue's auditorium and separated by a rolling garage door. Owner Bill Smith, a construction pro who crafted much of the venue's woodwork, says that only on rare occasions will the stage be revealed to guests dining outdoors. Instead, most often small bands will play on the patio to seated crowds of up to 100. The Live Oak has dropped the chicken-fried water buffalo from its continually evolving menu, scaling back to focus on sandwiches, salads and the occasional chef's special like blackened salmon over couscous, pictured here. Expect a crawfish boil on the new patio sometime in May. 1311 Lipscomb St., Fort Worth, 817-926-0968, www.theliveoak.com.CUP OF JOE AND MOREPart florist, part coffee shop, Coffee Reata brings Willow Park residents a fragrant new option for their morning java jolt. Owners Dawn Goldring, who also owns A Wild Orchid Florist in Arlington, and Davy Vestel, a monument and memorial craftsman, partnered to open the business last month inside a house just off Interstate 20 that features front-yard patio seating and a potted tree farm. Dawn says a flower shop was always on the agenda, but friends and family recommended using extra space to create a much-needed venue for lattes and conversation. Customers will find a small counter inside offering Fort Worth-based Avoca coffee (beans are ground in-house), breakfast burritos and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls. Pastries like cinnamon-coffee and carrot cakes change daily, along with light lunch specials that have included chicken wraps and pulled pork tacos. Dawn says customers are already requesting Davy's special -- the Reata macchiato topped with caramel drizzle. 4110 Interstate 20, Willow Park, 817-594-7711.FDR SPECIAL ALFRESCOWord is that Franklin D. Roosevelt frequented the west side's Original Mexican Eats Cafe during his many visits to Fort Worth in the 1930s, requesting the quintessential Tex-Mex offering -- one beef taco, one chili cheese enchilada and one bean chalupa, topped with two sunnyside-up eggs in an unusual twist. Today the combo is known as the Roosevelt Special and is considered the landmark cafe's signature dish. Now patrons can enjoy the classic on The Original's new patio. Located behind the restaurant and enclosed in stone, the new partially covered outdoor dining area seats about 60, and features a small fountain and outdoor bar. We bet if FDR visited today, he'd order his namesake dish paired with margarita-filled cactus glass to enjoy alfresco. 4713 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-738-6226, www.originalmexicaneatscafe.com.NOTEBOOKAt the annual Texas Steak Cookoff in downtown Hico, more than 100 backyard chefs from across the state will showcase their grilling skills. Thousands will visit May 18 for Texas wine tastings, live music, vendor booths and chargrilled rib-eye steaks. A $25 wristband allows hors d'oeuvre samplings (think grilled bacon-wrapped jalapeños) followed by a 12-ounce steak dinner with all the fixin's from your cookoff team of choice. www.texassteakcookoff.com.At Pantego Bay Gulf Coast Cafe, which opened last month near the University of Texas at Arlington, landlubbers looking for a taste of the Gulf Coast will find butterfly shrimp, seafood chowder, oyster po-boys and more. The eclectic, casual eatery features a full bar, outdoor patio and even a full-size sailboat, dubbed the Pantego Bay, out front. 2233 W. Park Row Drive, Pantego, 817-303-4853.Former Houston country club chef Kraig Thome is planning a May 8 opening for his lunch cafe, Canteen, next door to his 5-year-old casual seafood eatery, Gogo Gumbo, in Boyd. Thome is recognized for putting the small Wise County town on the map as an unpretentious culinary destination for seafood specialties like seared Georges Bank scallops and Chilean sea bass. 124 W. Rock Island, Boyd.Grace Restaurant will host a 90/10 six-course dinner May 17 featuring richly marbled 10+ wagyu beef (the highest grade available) along with wines that have scored 90 points or more in Wine Spectator. Special guests include master sommelier Melissa Monosoff and meat guru Rick Hamilton. $150, 777 Main St., Fort Worth, 817-877-3388, www.gracefortworth.com.Texas author Carmen Goldwaithe will season between-course conversation with stories of gutsy gals profiled in her book Texas Dames: Sassy and Savvy Women Throughout Lone Star History during a Central Market Southlake cooking class. Titled "A Salute to Sassy & Savvy Dames," the class will feature grilled Gulf shrimp, cowgirl beans, dainty steak fingers and brandied peach bread pudding. The class is 6:30 pm. May 17; $55, 1425 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake, 817-310-5664, www.centralmarket.com.
Pecan Lodge's Smoked Wagyu Brisket
Meat: Whole 8- to 10-pound locally raised wagyu brisket. (Recommended source: SalasSpur Meats, available at Local Yocal in McKinney, http://local
Rub: Our brisket rub is a trade secret, but this is a good all-purpose rub that will get the job done: 6 parts paprika, 3 parts garlic powder, 3 parts onion powder, 2 parts salt, 1 part black pepper. Mix thoroughly in a bowl and apply liberally to all sides of the brisket. Apply an additional layer of butcher's-grind black pepper and kosher salt until it looks right.
Wood: Seasoned Texas mesquite
Pit: 1/4-inch-thick steel custom offset pit. Our firebox is offset to the rear of the pit. Most pits will have the firebox offset to the left or right. We get more even temperatures this way and it allows us to use more grate space than usual.
Fire: 250 degrees
Time: 10 to 12 hours
It's done when: We rely on a thermometer to check the progress of the brisket, but the decision to pull it off the pit is based on feel. When it gets to 190 degrees we're close, but only experienced hands will know when it's time to call it.
Rest the meat: Not necessary, but if it finishes early, wrap it in foil and put it in a small ice chest until ready to serve.
Pro tip: The secret to great barbecue isn't in the rub; it's how you manage the fire, and not necessarily the temperature of your cooking chamber. Pay attention to how the wood burns and watch the smoke coming out of your stack. We can tell how hot our fire is burning by smell alone. If it's too hot, the wood incinerates and burns without smoking.