If you can recognize all the signs of a great barbecue joint, then it’s no wonder that Off the Bone BBQ in Forest Hill (on the southeast side of Fort Worth and not connected to the restaurant with the same name in Dallas) has reached the pinnacle of local barbecue establishments. A “Keep Out” sign sits atop a haphazard pile of wood in the corner of the gravel parking lot, the ghost of the previous restaurant’s name is still visible behind the bold letters “B.B.Q.” on the monument sign out front, and all of it surrounds a rehabbed Dairy Queen that now houses North Texas’ finest barbecue joint.
Marilyn and Eddie Brown run this joint, which gets little fanfare from the local press. Eddie has proven to be a consistent and congenial pit master. His chain-link-enclosed, custom cast-iron pit, which he picked up at an auction a few years back, belches pecan and oak smoke out back.
Each meat is given great care. The sausage will soon be house-made, once Eddie gets the recipe right. He had a special recipe produced for the restaurant by a sausage maker in Cleburne, but he recently passed away, taking the recipe with him. In the meantime, Eddie gets hot links from Smokey Denmark Sausage Company in Austin, where they have been producing high-quality peppery beef links for 35 years.
Briskets are slow-smoked for up to 20 hours, which is evidenced by their thick, black crust and deep red smoke ring. The meat isn’t falling-apart tender but requires just enough tooth to bite through. He leaves a bit of perfectly rendered fat on each slice. Ribs have a substantial crust, which imparts a robust smokiness to every bite. These thick, meaty ribs aren’t the grocery store version with barely any meat on the bones. The meat is rosy, with amazing smoky flavor and well-rendered fat. Other than the usual sides, they offer smoked bologna and chicken wings. No matter what you order, if it has seen the inside of Eddie’s pit, you know it’s going to be good