Photos by Janie Pace ~
Panther City BBQ began life as a food truck in Fort Worth’s Near Southside when friends Chris Magallanes and Earnest Morales won an amateur barbecue competition in 2014. They quit their jobs and decided to go whole-hog into barbecue. The two chose the name in honor of Fort Worth’s Panther City nickname.
They’ve come a long way: In October 2021, Panther City BBQ made #10 on Texas Monthly’s esteemed Annual Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas.
All the meats at Panther City BBQ are post-oak-smoked on-site in a huge meat smoker. There’s a line of people, usually the length of the building, waiting to place their order.
After waiting my turn, I ordered the Hell’s Half Acre — humorously named for the gambling, lawlessness, and red-light district in Fort Worth 150 years ago. This plate generously feeds four people with a half-pound each of brisket, pulled pork, beef garlic sausage, pork ribs, smoked turkey, and pork belly burnt ends. The meats were mouthwateringly tender. The pork ribs fell off the-bone.
And a delicious barbecue marinade covered the crispy pork belly burnt ends in whole.
My three sides were traditional borracha beans, potato salad, and house-made spicy vinegar slaw. The homemade dill pickles are vinegar marinated cucumber slices with plenty of fresh dill flavor, complementing the vinegar-based barbeque sauce with the meats.
Panther City BBQ offers a section called BBQ Twists on the menu. Within that, you must try the Pork Belly Poppers: half a jalapeno filled with cream cheese and a cube of pork belly burnt end, then wrapped in bacon and smoked. You get three with your order. Delicious!
The Brisket Elote Cup is traditional Mexican grilled corn on the cob, shucked and cooked over scorching coals until the kernels begin to char. This gives the corn a sweet, nutty, rich flavor. Then the corn is cut off the cob and blended with finely crumbled Cotija cheese, Mexican crema, or sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, cilantro, and powdered chili. Finally, the corn is topped with a lime squeeze and a big scoop of chopped brisket with a jalapeno slice. Unforgettable! It’s a meal in and of itself.
Pro tip: Save room for a cup of classic banana pudding, Nutter Butter cheesecake pudding, or smoked pecan bread pudding. Each would make the perfect end to a great meal.
Panther City BBQ also offers barbeque classes. Called BBQU (BBQ University), these courses are limited to 15 students and teach all about the art of barbeque, from the ins and outs of a smoker to meat selection and seasoning, and beyond.
Note: Panther City BBQ is located at 201 E. Hattie Street in Fort Worth, 682-499-5618 and is closed Monday, Tuesday, and the last Sunday of the month.