Fort Worth is becoming the next big barbecue city in Texas, and you can tell.
Even the working-class barbecue restaurants are better than ever.
If you don’t think so, go try the new Patriotic Pig in North Richland Hills.
There is nothing trendy about the Patriotic Pig. It does not serve duck sausage, or brisket-banana pudding, or anything with fennel.
This is North Richland Hills, not North Austin. The trailer outside promotes the “Smoky Taste of Freedom.”
Signs welcome military veterans and anyone with a firearms license. A sign at the front door says “We Supporr Your 2nd Amendment Right — Carry On.”
The Patriotic Pig serves body shop workers, car repair crews, firefighters, Sunday church crowds and anybody who can find 3900 Rufe Snow Drive at Harmonson Road.
But the barbecue is way better than the setting.
If the Patriotic Pig had opened five years ago, we’d be crowing about the new temple of pork ribs.
Army veteran Marc Smith and his wife Gina were doing well at catering, so they decided to open the Pig in a former barbecue restaurant near Boulevard 26.
The brisket is prime ($8 sandwich, $12 plate, $20 pound). OK, there’s lots of great brisket around these days.
But the real star of the menu is Smith’s premium large Duroc pork spareribs ($16 plate or pound).
These are big, thick, sweet ribs, best with the Patriotic Pig’s regular sweet sauce. There’s also a cayenne spicy sauce.
The same premium pork shows up in the pulled-pork sandwiches and plates, along with the pork-belly-burnt-end beans and bacon green beans.
If you or a family member loves bacon, you can have an all-pork-and-bacon meal.
Besides the pork, the oak-smoked turkey breast ($16 pound) is well worth trying. Patriotic Pig also seves two kinds of sausage.
The “patriotic” theme goes a little far. A giant baked potato with pulled pork is called the “Liberty Spud (The American Way).”
But honestly, this is one of the best traditional cafeteria-line barbecue restaurants to open in a while, not counting the trendy new hot spots like Panther City BBQ or Derek Allan’s Texas BBQ.