Four firecracker ideas for Fourth of July dining:
▪ The new Hard Eight BBQ in Burleson is open, all 12,000 square feet of barbecue palace.
Hard Eight is known for Hill Country-style barbecue smoked over an open pit outside, and carved there by the pitmaster as you watch.
But don’t miss the steaks. Hard Eight’s open-grill rib-eyes have that backyard-grilling taste.
In an era of small craft barbecue stands, Hard Eight goes big at the new fifth location, 220 N. Burleson Blvd.
All Hard Eight offers is brisket, prime rib, sirloin, pork ribs, two kinds of sausage, pork chops, pulled pork, ham, turkey, chicken, sirloin or chicken kebabs and chicken- or shrimp-jalapeno poppers.
The eight side dishes include free, serve-yourself pintos.
It’s open until 10 p.m. July 4. Look for it on the east side of Interstate 35W just north of East Renfro Street. If you’re coming from Fort Worth, take the Renfro turnaround udner Interstate 35W; 817-367-9824, hardeightbbq.com.
▪ The Fourth of July is one of the best days to dine out, because everybody else is gone or getting ready for the fireworks show.
Joe T. García’s will serve its full weekend brunch menu all day on the Fourth, including the excellent chiles rellenos and specialty dishes. If you’ve only tried the fajitas or combination plate, go check out the full menu.
Same for Babe’s Chicken Dinner House: It’s a great day to beat the line at 10 area locations including Arlington and North Richland Hills, open until 9 p.m. for dinner; babeschicken.com.
▪ July 5 is an even better day to beat the lines and dine out in restaurants that are usually too crowded.
The morning after a holiday is when you’ll find a short lunch line at Joe T.’s, Heim Barbecue or another craft barbecue favorite.
If you’re daring, try breakfast or early lunch at Magnolia Table in Waco, the Southern-cooking restaurant from the Chip and Joanna Gaines empire, It’s open at breakfast and lunch; 2132 S. Valley Mills Drive, on the Circle in Waco, 833-843-0590, magnolia.com/table.
▪ For true red-white-and-blue dining, try the Ol’ South Pancake House’s buckwheat pancakes or mini-pancake “Dutch baby” sampler, and load either one up with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.