In Texas, we do things different from the rest of the planet and we’re proud of that. We’re not the South, we’re Texas. Texans like their things Texan.
America knows this, accepts it and panders to it. It’s why there are “Texas Edition” trucks (ever seen a Delaware Edition?), Texas toast and Texas BBQ. Bad mouthing great things Texas, especially BBQ, could quite possibly get you shot.
When Pitmaster Matt Dallman and Chef Scott Gottlich (Bijoux) set out to launch 18th & Vine BBQ, a Kansas City-style BBQ joint in the heart of BBQ country, it likely gave them pause.
A quick illustrative example from the comments section of a recent Texas Monthly article talking about this restaurant opening:
“Hahahaha…Kansas City BBQ in Texas? What’s next, ugly girls at our bars? Ha. Ummmm…you might wanna…yeah, good luck with that.”
That pretty much sums up the attitude 18th and Vine is up against. Luckily, Scott is a Texan and Matt married one (kinda counts), so they knew what they were going to have to do to win over the side-eye of Dallas dinners. The food and experience needed to be something that was so good it couldn’t be hated on. Now open and clicking for about 4 months, I’d say they did just that.
A recent lunch at Maple Avenue’s newest (fancy-ish) farmhouse BBQ joint had me licking my plate.
I have a soft spot for dining establishments located in an old house. It delivers a level of character and an authenticity that is very hard to manufacture. We sat at a two-top next to a window, delivering lovely natural light with full view of the large dining room. Wood floors, well-decorated, Jazz performers on the walls, high ceilings with photo-worthy lighting rounded out the aesthetic. The space is done right.
But then the food came and our surroundings didn’t really matter.
Started with the now infamous Kansas City invented Burnt Ends, which came quickly, perfectly crispy, and covered in the kind of sweet sauce I’d consider bathing in. Homemade pickles and onions made each beefy bite, perfect. Just look at this plate!
Had the meal stopped right there, I’d still be writing this based solely on that dish. But the meal didn’t end there and thank God it didn’t.
Sandwiches followed and neither one disappointed. My lunch date rocked The Dizzy, which featured a sizable helping of pulled pork and apple cider slaw on a fresh bun. Seasoned fries were crispy and didn’t leave you with greasy fingers or a salt explosion in your mouth.
I had what all red-blooded Americans should eat for lunch, a brisket grilled cheese. Succulent brisket, glorious melted cheese sandwiched between two big-ass pieces of toast, make The Lester something special. Finger licking and picture worthy, indeed.
Extra sauce was found on each table, so you can get as crazy sloppy as you want with your meal. I’m a sauce guy so half a bottle later I can say yeah, the sauce is really good. It was sweet, which I’m into, with just the right amount of bite from the vinegar. I wouldn’t mind a “spicy” version of the same sauce but I know that’s not too traditional. Either way, it paired well with everything we ate.
Based on the full house at lunch, I’m hoping for the continued success of 18th and Vine. If you’re still unsure if KC BBQ is right for you with your super deep Texas roots, I say get off your high horse and be prepared to have your mind changed.
See you at dinner.