I love BBQ.
It’s kind of a problem.
I have waited in line for hours in the baking sun, driven hundreds of miles almost just to try a place I heard was good, and find myself constantly researching the next big thing.
I’ll forever remember the first time I tasted Aaron Franklin’s masterpiece in Austin, the first bite of Pecan Lodge, and the sweet, sweet magic of Travis Heim’s bacon burnt ends.
But, for those of us in Fort Worth, the need to drive hundreds of miles to get good Q is moot - there is more than enough amazing BBQ being smoked right here in our backyard.
I have long preached at the alter of Heim BBQ on Magnolia; what Travis and Emma have built is as good as it gets, and it doesn’t hurt that they are big Frog fans (and have helped close the deal on several big time recruits when they happen to end up at Heim BBQ for a meal). And while their success speaks for itself, with a second restaurant opened on the Northside, they are no longer alone, as several new joints have popped up to try and take a piece of the Fort Worth BBQ pie.
The most recent entrant is Derek Allen’s Texas Barbecue, a true family affair offering a simple menu in a small space with one of the worst parking lots in all of town. But while getting into the space isn’t great, whatever it takes is well worth it. I ventured to DATB after weeks of drooling over social media posts earlier this week, and was not disappointed. I beat the lunch rush by just a few minutes, waiting behind a handful of people as I perused the menu. Waygu brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, turkey, and homemade sausage highlight the menu, with smoked meatloaf and beef ribs offered as well on Fridays and Saturdays. They also offer several sandwiches, including the Dirty Texas (brisket and sausage) and the Bless Your Gut (which has a little of everything). Sides include pinto beans, chipotle mac, slaw, and potato salad.
Wanting to try the brisket and sausage, I ordered the Dirty Texan, with a side of mac on suggestion of the cashier - Derek’s wife. A true family affair, Mrs. Allan takes the orders, her father does the dishes, and Derek works the smoker and prepares the meals. It’s a small operation, but everything is smooth and you can tell a lot of love goes into the meal.
The sandwich came on a basic white bun, with pickled onions, white onions, and pickles. Derek Allan has two sauces - a traditional semi-sweet sauce with a nice vinegar kick, and a “black bbq sauce” that seems more like a mop sauce in consistency. Both were delicious, though the meat certainly didn’t need any dressing.
Wagyu is fattier by nature, of course, and there was plenty of marbling in my portion, without being overwhelming. I ate the sausage separately; flavorful and rich, it had the consistency of homemade and lacked the lovely ‘snap’, but was really tasty overall. The brisket had a beautiful dark bark (thanks to the Dalmatian rub that Derek uses and sells in store), but the spice was very subtle and served to showcase the beefy flavor of the Wagyu as opposed to over power it. It ate well on its own and between the bun.
The pickled onions helped cut through the richness, and the chipotle mac was some of the best I have had anywhere. Often, it seems BBQ restaurants offer a mac and cheese that seems gummy and plain - this was definitely not that. It had just enough spice to be interesting, and the pasta was perfectly cooked. It was cheesy without being overdone. There was also a nice crumb on top that added good texture.
Derek Allan’s isn’t cheap - you’ll pay upwards of $20 per pound for their premium brisket. The sandwich was fairly priced for the portion size, and I did not go home hungry. I was too full to give their banana pudding a try, which was unfortunate, but I guess that means I have to go back.
And that won’t be a burden at all.
Derek Allan’s Texas Barbecue is located at 1116 8TH Avenue in Fort Worth (Rosedale and 8th). They are open Tuesday - Saturday from 11am to sold out (generally around 2:00pm). You can preorder online and they sell their rubs, homemade vanilla, and swag online as well.
Welcome to the Fort Worth BBQ family, Derek!