Heading downtown to a show at the Fox, we were planning on an early dinner and I wasn’t sure where to go. In the process of deciding, I realized that I’d never written about Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. Decision made. I’m sure most that will read this know the story of the Fox brothers, but just in case: they started barbecuing in 2000, at home, trying to re-create the barbecue that reminded them of their home in Texas. In 2004, they started serving the barbecue on Wednesdays, then Wednesday / Saturdays / Sundays, then everyday at Smith’s Olde Bar. In 2007, they opened their own place and it continually receives accolades for the quality of the barbecue. I’ve probably eaten there a dozen or more times in the last six years (including a marvelous Christmas Eve run two or three years ago when I saw on Twitter what the day’s specials were). In the storm of 2012, they lost part of the restaurant to a tree, but it came back stronger than ever, with the massive porch you see in the picture above.
There are a couple of important things to note – they get busy, they get crowded, they don’t take reservations and they won’t seat an incomplete party. But, when you are seated, the service is efficient, without seeming like you’re being rushed. We arrived around 4:15 and waited about half an hour for seating for our party of two. We were seated at a table by the porch – the best of both worlds, no sun in our eyes and a breeze through the screen next to us. We started with chicken fried ribs. These used to be offered as frequent specials, but they apparently became popular enough to add them to the menu. Technically, we didn’t start with them – they arrived at the same time as the meal, but they are offered as a starter.
The three smoked ribs are battered, then fried like chicken (hence the name), and arrived with the house white (mayo-based) barbecue sauce, and were excellent. You do, however, have to be careful when biting into them because you can’t quite tell where the bone is.
Jo ordered the sliced brisket (which is generally excellent – I can’t testify because she didn’t share a bite, but I have no reason to doubt the quality on this visit) plate, with slaw and baked beans.
Look at how they rendered that fat cap! I think Fox Brothers brisket, along with that at Moonie’s and Heirloom Market, is among the best in the city. Jo prefers the brisket at Righteous ‘Que, but agreed that this was good. As we were finishing, she asked the server how they made the slaw, as she said it was among the best she’d ever had. She tasted picking spice and when the server said that the slaw was made with pickled onions, it made sense. While the Fox brothers really do a good job with the barbecue, many of the sides are true standouts. I’ve heard that their potato salad (which is mustard-based) is in that category as well.
I ordered one of the specials – a barbecued short rib (which could only be described as a “short” rib if it came from a dinosaur. This reminded me of the ribs that tipped over Fred Flintstone’s car)
with Frito pie (brisket chili, grated cheese and onions, poured, in that order, into a bag of Fritos) and mac-n-cheese. A funny thing happened after my plate arrived. I took the picture above, and the woman at the table next to me said, “I saw you take a picture of your food. Can I take one, too?” That was a first. She intended to send it to her son.
The meat on the short rib was fork tender and pulled from the bone in a massive slab. You can see the char on the skin side. The mac-n-cheese is made with shells and multiple cheeses and is another of the standout sides. And how can you go wrong with Frito pie? The food was excellent, the service was expedient and the “feel” of the place was excellent (they were actually playing “First Wave” while we were there, a station on which I’ve been spending a lot of time lately). They also serve their barbecue “dry”, knowing that the meat can stand on it’s own smoky feet. And the sauce is good.
If you’re lucky, you’ll go there on a day when they have my favorite special – a barbecued bologna sandwich on Texas toast, with pimiento cheese and Fritos, on the sandwich. It’s stellar. And the brisket cheeseburger, with sliced brisket instead of a ground patty, is fairly awesome. And they have these brisket taquitos. And….
If you haven’t been to Fox Bros, you need to go. I think you’ll thank me later.