Fort Worth’s east side has long been home to some very good, if unheralded, barbecue joints. Wilson’s Bar-B-Q, Smokey’s Barbeque and Mama E’s Bar-B-Que & Home Cooking may fly under the radar, but all put out quality ’cue for locals and in-the-know barbecue chasers.
Rejoining these spots is Kip’z BBq, once one of the area’s most popular barbecue restaurants. After a six-year absence, Charles “Kipz” Stone recently resurrected his tiny joint, bringing slow-cooked meats back to Evans Avenue.
Stone started out in the same one-room building just over a decade ago. Back then, his tiny place was called Mom’s BBQ, a tip of the hat to his mother, who served soul food there while he manned the barbecue.
When nearby Mama E’s opened, Stone worried customers would confuse the two and renamed his spot Kip’z, but closed it when his mother fell ill. After several occupants came and went, never bothering to change the Kip’z signage, he reopened in January, focusing solely on barbecue, smoked over hickory and pecan in a custom-built pit.
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Kip’z is small and modest, populated by friendly, chatty neighbors. There are a half-dozen tables and a single TV. This is not a place for trends or the trendy; there are no burnt ends or craft beers, just good, simple barbecue.
Brisket, ribs and sausage are served by the pound or plate, in a sandwich, or on top of a potato.
Those potatoes were the biggest we’d ever seen. People around us were transfixed as Stone delivered a loaded potato ($7.50) to our table, steam still rising, shredded cheddar and butter still melting.
The potato was “loaded” with chopped brisket, tiny pieces that packed a lot of flavor. An intense smokiness came through, even on such small pieces.
Three pieces of sliced sausage came on top, like cherries on a sundae. A mix of beef and pork, the sausage, too, had a likable amount of smoky flavor, and also a sting of spiciness; we loved its crisp, nearly blackened skin.
The small portions of brisket intrigued us enough to order a brisket sandwich ($5), a wise decision, it turned out. The sandwich contained about a quarter-pound of meat, thickly cut. Some of the pieces were more complex and flavorful than others. Those were the ones with clinging tufts of fat, which added not only moisture but a buttery, addicting richness, and crowns of peppery char.
We asked for the sauce on the side, and we were glad we did, as it was mild and complacent.
Pork spare ribs weren’t of the puny variety; these were sizable and weighty, packed with tender meat. A simple dry rub of garlic, pepper and onion powder made for excellent seasoning, pronounced but light enough to keep the focus on the meat.
With a strong dill flavor and whipped texture, housemade potato salad was the best of the sides. Corn on the cob was good, too — crunchy and firm. Baked beans could have used some jazzing up.
As is often the case with barbecue joints, luck and timing are necessities in getting what you want. If you want smoked barbecue chicken, get there early; it goes quick. On both of our visits, we weren’t quick enough. Cakes, too, made by Stone’s wife, Erica, sell out fast — another hard lesson we learned.
But we did snag some of her banana pudding, and found it to be a perfect specimen, with crunchy vanilla wafers, fresh banana slices and irresistibly sweet custard.