In a barbecue business that is increasingly elite and trendy, Smoke'N Ash BBQ is anything but.
A young daughter took orders for pitmaster Patrick Hicks as another young girl doodled at a dining table in the south Arlington restaurant.
The sparsely decorated strip shopping-center space included a life-size Dak Prescott cardboard cutout and an unexplained basketball left on the floor.
In other words, Smoke'N Ash had great hole-in-the-wall potential, and lived up to every bit.
In its fourth month, Hicks' small restaurant on Matlock Road has won gushing reviews on social media for his hickory-smoked brisket and ribs, formerly served from a food truck parked nearby.
This is the 'tweener part of Arlington. It's a couple of miles from Mansfield, but a couple of miles from south Arlington restaurants.
The nearest popular restaurant is the new second location of J's Casa Burger on Matlock. (More on burgers in another column.)
So Smoke'N Ash BBQ has a good market, and serves it well with huge barbecue platters piled high.
A combination platter featured above-average brisket with a good bark, soft enough to make a great sandwich.
Ribs were thick but not as tender as the brisket. The hot-link sausage was a standout, also probably good as a sandwich.
The green beans came with ham and jalapeños on top, adding to the flavor. The okra was not strikingly good but seemed handmade.
Other side dishes include the typical beans, potato salad and slaw. (The macaroni and cheese was sold out, so it must be good.)
One of Smoke'N Ash's big sellers is a stuffed baked potato. Desserts included a homemade chocolate cake or pineapple cake topped with pineapple, sort of a right-side-up cake.
New Mansfield burgers, and a Sunday breakfast
Mansfield's burger battle has cranked up a notch:
▪ A new Twisted Root Burger Co. has opened downtown, joining a market that already includes a new Jakes Burgers, plus Fuego Burger and old hometown favorites at Joe's Coffee Shop and Our Place.
The newest Twisted Root continues chef Jason Boso's tradition of gourmet burgers ($7-$12), including a daily game burger (it was wild boar one day this week), salads and frozen-custard shakes ($5).
There's the fabled Twisted Root serve-yourself pickle bar, always an attraction, plus fried pickles.
The bar serves liquored-up shakes ($8) with banana and Bailey's, Oreo and amaretto or chocolate chips and creme de menthe.
The new Root, the 19th, is open daily for lunch and dinner at 109 S. Main St., in downtown Mansfield next to Boso's forthcoming Tacos & Avocados and neighbor Mellow Mushroom; 817-435-8414, twistedrootburgerco.com.
▪ On a hilltop along the new Texas 360 tollway, Jakes Burgers is drawing a crowd for both daily burgers and Sunday brunch.
Like the Fort Worth and Grapevine locations, the Mansfield Jakes serves an excellent breakfast. But so far Mansfield only serves it on Sundays.
After the burgers, it's ice cream time
Not new, but worth a stop in Mansfield: Helado's Handcrafted Ice Cream and Pops.
It's an ice cream shop and ice-cream pops stand in one, with about eight flavors of premium ice cream (including “Cookie Monster”) plus about 15 flavors of frozen ice pops or ice-cream pops.
This is a full-service ice cream stand. They can serve you chile pops or cream pops, ice-cream sandwiches, snow cones (in flavors such as “Strawberry Dreams” or “Tamarindo Loco”) and cookies or churros.