Eats Beat

A 90¢ BBQ sandwich? Yes, because this Fort Worth restaurant’s been around 90 years

That’s a 91-cent chopped barbecue sandwich, a special price through Thursday at all Riscky’s. (They’re usually five for $7.)
That’s a 91-cent chopped barbecue sandwich, a special price through Thursday at all Riscky’s. (They’re usually five for $7.) bud@star-telegram.com

The durable Riscky’s, one of Fort Worth’s oldest businesses of any kind, is celebrating 90 years with 90-cent chopped barbecue sandwiches through Thursday.

But what’s amazing is that the Polish-American meat-market family’s legacy goes back more than a century in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

When the family hosts an anniversary celebration Thursday afternoon in the Stockyards Station restaurant, it will also remember the history of immigrant Joe Riscky. He came to Fort Worth from what is now Belarus in 1911, working in the packinghouse for $9 a week and saving to marry fellow immigrant Marcilia Bunkervitch.

About 1920, “Mary” Riscky’s family opened a grocery on Clinton Avenue near the Stockyards. In 1927, Joe and Mary took over and renamed a turn-of-the-century grocery 2 miles west on Azle Avenue, then the main highway to Jacksboro and West Texas ranches.

That Riscky’s at 2314 Azle Ave. was rebuilt in 1950, but remains the family’s flagship store for brisket, pork ribs, all-you-can-eat beef ribs, beef stew, limas and homemade chili.

The celebration Thursday is at 5 p.m. at the Stockyards location, 140 E. Exchange Ave. Rahr Brewing and KFWR/95.9 FM “The Ranch” will be on hand.

About those 90-cent chopped barbecue sandwiches: They come with a choice of sauce, mustard, pickle or onion.

OK, so this isn’t craft barbecue. It’s not bad for 90 cents, or even for the regular price ($2.99 with fries, or five for $7).

Riscky’s menu doesn’t have the staggering prices of today’s craft barbecue restaurants. A sliced brisket plate is $10.99, or $11.99 as a two-meat combo. Brisket costs $14.99 per pound.

“We feel like we’ve helped a lot of people through hard times,” co-owner Eddie Sullivan said.

“Everybody else is charging so much — we just want to help people feed their family.”

The homemade limas — “butter beans” — cost $4. Chili season started this week, along with brisket beef stew.

Riscky’s has eight restaurants, including a steakhouse and burger grill in the Stockyards. But the best Riscky’s remains the mothership on Azle Avenue, which still looks like a 1950s grocery.

(There isn’t enough parking there for the 90th anniversary party, Sullivan said.)

Also notable: the Azle Avenue location opens at 8 a.m. daily except Sunday; 817-624-8662.

Larger restaurants serve lunch and dinner daily at 300 Main St. in Sundance Square, 140 E. Exchange Ave., or 6701 Camp Bowie Blvd.; risckys.com.

Which restaurant is the oldest? (Or is it in a hotel?)

What are the oldest restaurants in Fort Worth and Tarrant County?

This might sound odd, but it’s time to update the list:

▪ The oldest might be Carshon’s Kosher Market, the forerunner of today’s Carshon’s Deli. Carshon’s has officially claimed a 1928 opening date in an old downtown location, although historians trace it to a 1925 partnership with the Chicotsky family.

But a 1940s Star-Telegram news story quotes one of the owners saying Carshon’s had been open 25 years. That would push the deli back to an opening between 1915 and 1920.

▪ Or is it Riscky’s Steakhouse? The previous owners, the Yordanoff family, opened a restaurant in the Stockyards in 1920 and are believed to be the first restarateurs anywhere to serve calf fries. But the steakhouse was closed many years before Riscky’s reopened it.

▪ ▪ The Hilton Fort Worth opened as the Hotel Texas on Sept. 30, 1921, and its Cafe Texas is presumed to be Fort Worth’s oldest restaurant in the same location.

▪ The Paris Coffee Shop opened in 1926 on West Magnolia Avenue under owner Vic Paris, but later was sold to current owner Mike Smith’s family and moved a block west on Magnolia.

▪ The Original Mexican Restaurant claims a 1926 opening on Camp Bowie Boulevard, but contemporary records indicate the Pineda family opened it in 1930.

▪ Bailey’s Barbeque in downtown Fort Worth opened in 1931, making it one of Texas’ oldest continuously operating barbecue restaurants in the same family.

The 1930s also brought the Arlington Steak House (now Jambo’s Bar-B-Q Shack), Joe T. Garcia’s and the Mexican Inn Cafes.

Know of an older restaurant, club or hotel dining room? Email bud@budkennedy.com or leave a message at 817-390-7538.

Chicken-fried fandom, unite: This is your day

Texans might argue whether the official state food should be barbecue or chili.

But Thursday marks a holiday near to many Texans’ hearts: Texas Chicken-Fried Steak Day.

Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe is serving a $7.99 chicken-fried steak or chicken special to mark the occasion.

(The Sundance Square location reopened Tuesday after remodeling.)

Dallas restaurants such as Norma’s Cafe and Allgood Cafe typically offer Chicken-Fried Steak Day specials.

For the best chicken-fried steaks of all, don’t bypass legendary Mary’s Cafe in Strawn, Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ or Horseshoe Hill Cafe in Fort Worth.

For a deal, Theresa’s Dixie House Cafes offer chicken-fried steak or chicken for $4.99 Mondays and Wednesdays.

Guy Fieri co-hosted the Carnival Kids BBQ Challenge at the State Fair. The winning chef earned a free Carnival cruise.

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

  Comments