It was pretty easy to tell that the guy asking about tofu was being facetious. We were, after all, standing in line for a sample plate from Black’s Barbecue, a Lockhart-based joint with a hungry following, and ribs were being sliced off a rack right in front of us.
And there was barbecue all around at BBQ at Billy Bob’s Texas, the kickoff event for the second Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival, which runs through Sunday at various venues. Barbecue from the veterans, like Cousin’s, Cooper’s and Riscky’s. Barbecue from the relative upstarts, like BBQ on the Brazos and Billy’s Oak Acres. Barbecue from restaurants where the menus go beyond brisket, ribs and sausage, like Reata and Woodshed Smokehouse.
The tofu guy also cracked, “I thought this was a vegetarian convention.” Well, Cooper’s had a jalapeño on its combo plate —nice touch — but there wasn’t even much coleslaw or potato salad in sight. Although we’re pretty sure most of the beer, wine and spirits that were available were meatless.
The kickoff event, held like last year’s kickoff in a pitlike section of Billy Bob’s with some tables set up on the sides, seemed to address some of the few problems that arose at the inaugural FWFWF. It was a lot easier to move around this year, with things more spread out, and this year there were usually three trash cans within my line of sight, as opposed to last year, when it seemed hard to find three trash cans in the whole serving area.
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Each barbecue joint put together a “small” plate, usually a sampling of ribs/brisket/pulled pork/sausage or some combination of any or all of the above. But most of the portions were generous, and sampling everything became a challenge that some accepted but we declined.
We liked most of what we did sample, but standouts were the fall-off-the-bone ribs from Black’s, which had us stripping the bone clean and then looking for more meat; Lockhart Smokehouse’s inventive smoked grape, mushroom and bacon salad (although what we really loved on that plate was the tender, spicy sausage); the pulled pork from Billy’s Oak Acres; and the brisket-and-sausage combo from BBQ on the Brazos.
There was also plenty of beer, from North Texas breweries including Granbury’s Revolver and Dallas’ Deep Ellum brewery, and lots of wine as well as whiskey from Fort Worth’s Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. So we can’t just give the barbecue credit for filling us up. But it did do a lot of the work.
For some tips on how to navigate the festival, check out my preview by clicking here.