Eats Beat

For big burgers and BBQ, the tiny town of Rendon is where it’s at

Fuego Burger’s basic burger is a bargain at $5.88 (crinkle fries extra).
Fuego Burger’s basic burger is a bargain at $5.88 (crinkle fries extra).

Rendon has it all.

If you want motorcycle gear, guns or fireworks, or need to pawn same, the country hamlet is always a must-stop between Burleson and Mansfield.

Now it has Fuego Burger and a new Texas-sized barbecue palace to compete with a long-standing barbecue favorite.

Smokey Mae’s Barbecue opens this weekend east of Rendon near Mansfield. More on that later.

First things first: Fuego Burger has settled into its gas-station home, and the burgers are every bit as good as Carlos Rodriguez’s burgers were at the long-lamented former Salsa Fuego in west Fort Worth.

Rodriguez has been grilling burgers in Rendon for a year while working side gigs, but now his one and only job is producing burgers, brisket tacos and quesadillas in the tiny grill in a ConocoPhillips station at Farm Road 1187 and Rendon Road.

It was empty late on Sunday afternoon. Two weary young men might have been working in any gas station-grill in America.

Yet they turned out a pristine $6 burger that looked professionally styled for a photo shoot, packed with all the flavor and style that made the old Salsa Fuego a finalist in the Burger Battle.

The thick, sweet-sourdough bun was lightly toasted. It glistened. Plump red tomato slices, lettuce and pickles peeked from beneath fresh-packed beef.

I don’t know how old that grill is, but it must date back close to the store’s opening in 1965. This Fuego Burger tasted better than the Alta Mere Drive version.

It cost $5.88. The green-chile-pepperjack Fuego version is $8.84.

A side order of brisket tacos ($1.83) was just as flavorful. Old-time crinkle-cut french fries were dusted lightly with chili powder.

Fuego Burger also serves tortas or quesadillas, a fried chicken sandwich, pork chile verde, a gyro and a BLT, along with breakfasts of chilaquiles or migas.

Fuego Burger is at 5595 E. Farm Road 1187, 817-879-9495,

Build a bigger BBQ

Smokey Mae’s Barbecue is big, as in almost a city block big.

Ace chuckwagon cook and former Fred’s Texas Cafe chef Rodney Lambert is the pitmaster, overseeing open pits smoking not only brisket and pork ribs but also ribeye steaks.

The restaurant also promotes “moonshine,” but barbecue lovers will be more interested in the giant open pits.

More on Smokey Mae’s after it opens. It opens this weekend daily for lunch and dinner at 8120 Rendon-Bloodworth Road (Farm Road 1187, the wes end of Debbie Lane); 817-592-0202,

(Yes, that’s 4 miles east of Jambo’s BBQ Shack and 9 miles east of the famous Everman tandem of Hickory Stick BBQ and Longoria’s BBQ. I predict many future south Tarrant County barbecue tours.)

Mexico wins on Cinco

Plenty of restaurants promote Cinco de Mayo gimmicks, as if the best way to celebrate a Texan leading Mexico to victory is with a frozen swirl and a churro plate.

But Paco’s Mexican Cuisine has the credibility to present its own Battle of Puebla: interior Mexico food against French cuisine, with the victory going to the best.

Paco’s owner Francisco Islas is also a veteran of Saint-Émilion Restaurant, so he is serving matching menus Friday to show the contrast.

For $24.95, diners can enjoy either a tostada; grilled quail; lamb, duck and rabbit enchiladas; and trout Veracruz, or escargot; French onion soup; lamb, duck and rabbit crêpes; and mussels in white wine sauce.

French partisans choose chocolate mousse. Mexico loyalists get tres leches cake.

Paco’s, formerly known as Paco & John’s when it operated nearby, is back with a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, wines, beers and more air conditioning than the other location.

Look for it daily at 1508 W. Magnolia Ave., 817-759-9110,

Breakfast anytime

Brewed, the popular coffee-beer hangout on West Magnolia Avenue, has found a way to make diners happy all day: breakfast.

Brewed’s biscuits, egg dishes and French toast are among the most popular menu items. So breakfast is now served all day, every day, even alongside the lunch and dinner menus.

Brewed now opens earlier, too: 7 a.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. weekends, staying open through dinner Tuesday through Saturdays and until 3 p.m. (an hour later) on Sunday.

Look for it at 801 W. Magnolia Ave.; 817-945-1545,

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538,, @EatsBeat. His column appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in