Eats Beat

‘A big year for barbecue’: A state-ranked favorite moves to Fort Worth

If you don’t go to Flores Barbecue by 11 a.m. Thursday through Sunday this week, then you’ll have to wait months for North Texas’ closest rendition of Central Texas barbecue.

Noon might be too late. The brisket ran out at 1:40 p.m. last Saturday, and that was before word spread that Flores, a Texas Monthly top-50 barbecue haven, will move in April to the Trailhead at Clearfork in Fort Worth.

Owner Michael Wyont, a San Marcos guy who moved to small-town Whitney so a baby could be closer to the grandparents, will close Feb. 3 and reopen in Fort Worth first as a food trailer, then by 2020 in a new restaurant and bar on Edwards Ranch Road near Press Cafe.

Wyont dazzled guests at a Clearfork pop-up last month, particularly with brisket, sausage, beef ribs, Central Texas sauces and brisket tacos on housemade tortillas.

The new Flores Barbecue in Fort Worth will combine traditional barbecue like that served in Lockhart or Luling with South Texas spices and flavors such as pollo asado or smoked carnitas, he said.

At the Whitney restaurant last weekend, regulars from as far away as Austin were asking directions to Clearfork.

“You know that big Neiman Marcus on the new tollway?” one man said in line. “That’s where he’s gonna be cookin’.”

Not quite. But Clearfork developer Crawford Edwards has long sought a barbecue concept and visited Flores in Whitney after it won the Texas Monthly ranking.

Fort Worth restaurateur Louis Lambert, a co-founder of Dutch’s Hamburgers and founder of Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue in Austin, is an investor and will help Flores gear up for all-day service, Wyont said.

“He has a wealth of knowledge I’m looking forward to picking up,” Wyont said.

He described his cooking as “Central Texas style, just a little salt and pepper and long slow cooking over [post oak] wood fires, with a little bit of Tex-Mex spin.”

He started Flores as a food truck in San Marcos, then moved it to Whitney.

“The good thing about a town like this is that everybody’s nosy, so people came in to see us and we got a little following right away,” Wyont said.

He quickly moved into a former bar on Texas 22 east of town.

“Then the magazine hit and it was crazy,” he said.

He was thinking about expanding to Hillsboro when the Clearfork offer came up.

A sign at Flores Barbecue announces its move to Fort Worth. Bud Kennedy

Last week, he finally posted a sign: “It is with deep regret that we must inform you … [that] after much consideration & prayer … we have decided to accept an amazing opportunity.”

Texas Monthly’s “barbecue editor,” Daniel Vaughn, praised the move: “With Flores Barbecue coming to town, Fort Worth continues a recent string of notable barbecue news.

Heim BBQ is working on a second location, and Panther City BBQ is planning a brick-and-mortar, both to open this year. Derek Allan’s Texas Barbecue says they’re getting close to opening, and Joe Riscky of the Riscky’s BBQ family just opened a Saturday-only barbecue joint of his own.

“This is shaping up to be a big breakout year for barbecue in Fort Worth.”

The restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday this week, technically until midafternoon but it’s been running out of everything earlier.

The line at Flores Barbecue in Whitney Jan. 26 was 10-20 deep all day. Bud Kennedy

By midafternoon last Saturday, the line had been 10-20 deep all day. There was nothing left but the elote-like jalapeno creamed corn, housemade pickles and banana pudding. So line up early.

Flores Barbecue is at 2222 Texas 22, 10 miles west of the Hillsboro courthouse square; 254-580-3576. Look for it soon at 4801 Edwards Ranch Road,

If you drive Interstate 35W to Whitney, you’ll find that the popular Country Store roadside bakery and deli from Grandview has moved south to downtown Itasca.

Stop in for fresh breads, big deli sandwiches, pies and cookies, or for natural-food grocery shopping. It’s open from morning to midafternoon Tuesday through Saturday; 102 W. Main St., Itasca, 817-866-4312.

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.