Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Heim Barbecue - Fort Worth

This Review Is For Their Previous Location. Heim has now moved into their Brick & Mortar Location on Magnolia.

There was a time in their infancy that eating at places like Pecan Lodge and even Franklin BBQ, did not require a significant time investment.  They drew buzz from the locals in those early days but the crowds did not explode until the mainstream media picked up on it and drew hordes of outsiders in.  For a while, these places were delightful neighborhood secrets.  But secrets this juicy will always get out.

Heim Barbecue opened at the end of February and they already have the community buzzing.  Their lines have steadily grown each week since setting their trailer up outside of Republic Street Bar.  I think Heim could very well be reaching their tipping point and when that publicity bubble pops, you can expect that line to grow exponentially.

Travis and Emma Heim own and operate the Heim Barbecue trailer.  Currently they offer service just twice a week, opening for lunch on Saturday at 11:00AM and serving dinner Wednesday nights starting at 5:00PM.  I managed to make a visit for both sessions this week.  (Note: Their hours have now changed to a more traditional schedule of Friday-Sunday; 11:00AM - 3:00PM)

I arrived last Saturday morning at 10:15, which I thought would be unnecessarily early for the 11:00AM opening, but I was admittedly excited about this visit.  Our early arrival had us sixth in line and we were soon surrounded by locals who have made visits to Heim their Saturday tradition.  I was told by multiple people that the line, which stretched to 30 people at opening, was the longest they’d seen yet.  They were more proud than annoyed by the growing lines and I was encouraged to write a Yelp review for the local business because “it’s shameful that they’re listed as the seventh best BBQ place in Fort Worth”.  After taking a second visit to confirm, I can agree wholeheartedly.  So let me let you in on their secret.


I made my selections from the menu, which was hand-written on butcher paper and taped to the side of the trailer.  I loaded up with brisket, baby back ribs, pulled pork, sausage and Heim’s signature item: bacon burnt ends.  The Heims use the central Texas standard of post oak on all of their meats.  You are not going to find that type of wood in the area so they have to source their wood from a few hours away.
A collection of meats from Heim Barbecue in Fort Worth

My order of brisket included lean and moist cuts and both were picturesque.  The deep hued smoke ring was thick underneath the hefty black bark. A thin layer of perfectly rendered fat flanked the bottom of the lean slices.  The slices were just a bit thicker than a width of a pencil and held together well in hand.  The meat then yielded entirely to my teeth upon first bite.  And what a bite that was.  Flavor from the hefty oak smoke melted into the heavy black pepper seasoning resulting in meaty bliss.  The fat was buttery and rich and just further elevated the meat.  The brisket in its flavor and texture drew as near to perfection as almost any I have found in this quest for the perfect meat.

The bacon burnt ends are more than just a novelty on the menu. These cubed bites of pork belly are cured before they are smoked, resulting in some great, easy-to-eat hors d’oeuvres. The cubes are firm on the outside but provide a nice, meaty chew. The flavor is a combination of black pepper with a tangy sweetness from the syrupy glaze. It's an interesting but beautiful combination of taste. These are priced by the quarter pound (rather than by the half pound like the other meats) and that is how the Heims suggest you order them. You could probably go through more than a quarter pound on accident, so this suggestion is probably more of a medical disclaimer.

Beautiful "Bacon Burnt Ends" at Heim Barbecue

The ribs drop off a bit from the previous meats - which is to say they fall somewhere below perfect. The baby backs are small, but meaty, showcasing a deep maroon and slightly sticky crust. The meat holds well to the bone but releases with a slight tug, appropriately leaving the shape of your bite in the meat. On my first visit, the ribs were a bit sweeter and less smoky than I typically prefer, but I found a better balance on my second visit. Either way, the ribs were good but just had less character than the two previous meats.

The pulled pork missed the mark for me. Its flavor was rather subdued with minimal smoke. It looked good with pieces of pink meat and dark crust evident in the pile of shredded pork.  But overall, it was rather dry and unremarkable.

Meats from my second trip to Heim Barbecue

The sausage is a jalapeno and cheddar link sourced locally.  Heim Barbecue does not make their own sausage, but said they went through many different links before selecting this one as their sole sausage option.  It is a good sausage and is spicier than most.  It was well prepared, providing a nice crisp snap to the casing.


The two sides on the menu were coleslaw and a potato salad. Neither were the traditional picnic fair. The slaw was a simple serving of slightly creamy red cabbage. It was a crispy, straightforward slaw that was refreshing on this hot day.  The “twice baked potato salad” had all the notes of a baked potato. The two large scoops held plenty of sour cream, bacon and cheese. And if that sounds good, it was.

Potato Salad and Slaw from Heim Barbecue in Fort Worth

The sauce was interesting but remained untouched on most plates. It's entirely evident that the base is apple cider vinegar as every taste strikes apple. It has an apple-y sweetness and actually plays well with the pork (the only meat that could benefit from the stuff).

The setting is humble as the trailer sits on the gravelly patio of Republic Street Bar. Meats can be eaten on the multiple picnic tables orderly assembled outside or taken inside to enjoy alongside air conditioning. The bar provides all necessary beverages, including a good selection of local craft beer and cocktails.

Heim Barbecue sits outside of Republic Street Bar

The ordering process is simple: you order at the window that Travis mans so that he can cut the meat to your specifications and while he cuts, you pay Emma who also dishes out sides.  It’s only a two person operation, which makes this process slower than most. Expanding their hours will require another employee, which is something that they are looking into.  Additional help will certainly make the line move faster, however if Heim’s popularity explodes as I expect, they will also be seeing more patrons, making more pit space another priority.  The Heims are very hospitable and friendly, recognizing their customers and welcoming them to their establishment.  They conversed with patrons as the meat was cut and ensured that each customer has been satisfied.  It turns out that the meat is not the only thing that is keeping their customers loyal.


Heim Barbecue is just too good to stay a secret.  The brisket is absolutely the best I have found in the Metroplex; it is phenomenal.  The bacon burnt ends are also very good and worth a trip in themselves.  The pork ribs round out a good supporting cast of meats that are overshadowed by the magic of the brisket and bacon.  Put Heim at the top of your to do list because you will want to visit before the popularity swells even more.  And also because it’s really, REALLY good barbecue.

Address: 1109 W. Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth, Texas
Phone: 817-876-2741
Hours: Wednesday - Monday: 11AM - Sell Out

*All Grades Are Based Solely on the Quality of Texas BBQ Offered at the Joint. We Aren't Looking for Burgers or Catfish!

My Grading Scale:

A = This is some of the finest BBQ you'll find anywhere. It is worth a roadtrip in itself along with any required wait.
B = This is very good BBQ, even if it is over an hour away, consider making the drive.
C = This is just average BBQ but it's worth a stop in a pinch.
D = This is a poor example of Texas BBQ. Even if it's the only place around, skip it. Apologize to any non-Texans that have eaten here.
F = This is not only a bad Texas BBQ, it is probably not suitable for human consumption.

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