Eats Beat

A BBQ stand that’s much more: catfish, veggies and desserts at Lady & the Pit in Handley

Brisket, pulled pork, squash casserole and fried zucchini at Lady & the Pit.
Brisket, pulled pork, squash casserole and fried zucchini at Lady & the Pit. bud@star-telegram.com

To the list of great home cooking and soul food restaurants like Drew’s Place and Rosako’s Soul Food & BBQ, add one in the Handley neighborhood of far east Fort Worth.

Open a year since moving from the South Padre Island beach area, Lady & the Pit looks at first glance like another Texas barbecue stand.

Do not be deceived.

Lady & the Pit serves much more than barbecue: chicken-fried steak, baked or smoked chicken, neckbones, greens, squash casserole — and desserts such as banana pudding or pineapple cream pie.

It’s one of the most well-rounded menus in east Fort Worth, and some of the best vegetables on any side of Fort Worth.

Two recent trips to Lady & the Pit showed owner Natasha Smith and pitmaster Kenneth Barton can do more than smoke meat.

Along with some of the softest and sweetest pulled pork around, she also serves fried catfish worth the trip, yams, hand-battered fried zucchini and a caramel-pecan cake comparable to that sold in high-end steakhouses.

Smith’s restaurant had four-star ratings on social media in Port Isabel and Brownsville, but she moved home last year and took over a former pizza restaurant on Handley Drive near Meadowbrook Drive.

The brisket is soft and lean. But the real star of the barbecue menu is the pulled pork and smoked chicken.

Plates are $8.99-$11.99, or $14.99 for a two-meat combination plate.

Lady & the Pit is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday, lunch Sunday at 2220 Handley Drive; 682-301-1888, facebook.com/LadyAndThePit.

Old-timer Smokey’s upholding tradition

For every new barbecue restaurant in east Fort Worth, there is an old one still upholding tradition.

Smokey’s BBQ has changed owners in its 40 years on East Lancaster Avenue, but the old flavor remains.

A generation ago, Smokey’s and its now-gone Arlington cousin, Gaylen’s, dominated barbecue business for diners traveling to and from Six Flags or Rangers games.

Smokey’s doesn’t serve the same cut of ribs anymore. (Too bad.)

But everything else at the old restaurant — a converted Dairy Queen and before that a bacon-burger hangout named the Circle (C) Char Bar — measured up to memory, and some of the items were better.

The brisket remains soft and thick-cut. The ranch beans still have the same touch of chili-powder flavor. The potato salad is the right shade of yellow.

Smokey’s now offers a full sauce-and-relish bar with pico, peppers and sweet-and-spicy pickles.

A “Cool Hand Luke” three-meat combination plate costs $13.69. There’s a burger basket for $6.99.

Smokey’s is open from lunch through early dinner (or sellout) Tuesdays through Saturdays, and for lunch Sundays; 5300 E. Lancaster Ave., 817-451-8222, smokeysbbqtx.com.

Arlington ready for more ‘Mo’

Mo’s Best Eatery is back.

Owner Moath Zaben built a reputation for juicy burgers and housemade pastrami for years at his southwest Arlington grill before illness and then a failed relocation took him out of action.

After some fits and starts, his new location in south Arlington is scheduled to open next week.

Mo’s new menu features kebabs, shawarma and Middle Eastern dishes, but also brings back his housemade pastrami and corned beef subs in half-pound, 1-pound or 2-pound sizes.

Burgers come in classic style or as the “Big O” with roasted truffled mushrooms, housemade pastrami and bacon and Swiss cheese ($11).

Mo’s also offers pastas and flatbreads.

It will be open for lunch and dinner daily except Mondays at 4306 Matlock Road; 817-617-2211, facebook.com/moseatery.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, @EatsBeat.

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