Nearly 1,000 people plowed through a trough of smoked brisket, ribs, sausage and other barbecue essentials Thursday night at the W.R. Watt Arena, officially kicking off the third annual Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival.
The BBQ Showdown, the first of six festival events that run through Sunday citywide, was a competition and showcase featuring 15 local and regional pitmasters. It found a new home at Watt Arena, after being at Billy Bob’s Texas for two years.
“It’s a lot better than it was last year,” said Daniel Vaughn, a Texas Monthly barbecue writer best known by his nickname, BBQ Snob. “Last year, it was like a maze. There’s a better flow to it this year. The quality of the barbecue is better, too.”
Each participant dished out two to four items, from giant beef ribs to prime rib to chicken and waffles.
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When the smoke cleared, a panel of five judges including Vaughn named recent Dallas upstart 18th and Vine as the winner of the event’s “Best Bite” award. The restaurant was recognized for its Kansas City-style pulled pork, collard greens and pickled red onions.
Vaughn later said that his personal favorites included brisket from Fort Worth’s Cousin’s BBQ and BBQ on the Brazos, a tiny joint in a Texaco station in Cresson.
Other participants included Heim BBQ and Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ in Fort Worth, Meat U Anywhere BBQ in Grapevine, Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas and Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart.
The festival continues Friday with two events: the Main Event, in which the city’s top chefs offer samplings of their cuisine, and a desserts-and-drinks event, Late Night Desserts After Dark at Panther Island Pavilion.
Information at http://fortworthfoodandwinefestival.com