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Inside Fort Worth’s Growing Barbecue Empire

At Texas Monthly’s top barbecue spot Goldee’s and its new companion restaurant Ribbee’s, meat and sides get equal billing

While working at other barbecue joints in and around Austin, Texas, friends and fellow pitmasters Jalen Heard, Jonny White, and Lane Milne saved up their money to eventually fund their own operation: Goldee’s opened just outside Fort Worth in February 2020 — and its dining room was effectively shuttered by the onset of the pandemic just five weeks later. But the team endured, and today, Goldee’s is considered one of the state’s top barbecue spots, with a companion restaurant, Ribbee’s, making its debut just last month.

Ribbee’s is a simple rib shack by design, says White, offering four flavors of baby back ribs and one style beef ribs. Each baby back rack gets the same rub before it goes into the smoke; what differentiates them is the sauce, particularly a fan favorite hot honey sauce that’s good enough to bottle. “I’m not really trying to win a James Beard [Award],” White says. “I’m trying to serve food very fast, and [make it] good.”

Meanwhile, at Goldee’s, prep day involves the team tackling meat and sides. In addition to the 13-hour-smoked brisket, Heard and Milne prep and test a couple specials: a dry-brined and smoked peri-peri chicken featuring a peri-peri sauce made with bell peppers, onion, cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, white pepper, bay leaf, and paprika — “it’s really just kind of like a salsa,” Heard says. A Brussels sprouts side is cooked in the rotisserie and served au gratin. “Most barbecue spots might nail the meats but usually the sides are kind of lacking,” Heard says. “We wanted to be the whole meal.”

The meat and sides — plus the #1 spot on Texas Monthly’s vaunted barbecue rankings in 2021 — has drawn hour-long lines; one father-and-son duo told Eater they’d started the day’s line by arriving at 5:55 a.m. According to Heard, that fervor is appreciated but not totally necessary. “If you just wanna come eat, don’t show up until like 9:30 a.m.,” Heard says. “Or do what you want — we love it. But y’all could be getting a little more sleep.”