Smoked Meat Chic
Jul 05, 2016 10:48AM ● Published by Ashley Pape
Texans are fiercely loyal to our style of barbecue, but 18th & Vine is here to challenge that. Barbecue purists may scoff, though; this is the kind of place that takes reservations, offers a full bar and also serves chef-created steak and seafood dishes. Surely any barbecue worth its sauce wouldn’t be found in a place with nice napkins. But 18th & Vine is shaking up this mentality. The upscale restaurant blazed onto the Dallas food scene last fall with its take on barbecue: Kansas City-style all the way.
The restaurant’s style is sweet, spicy and smoky, from the rubs and woods to the sauces. All the meats are cooked low and slow over hickory and oak. Pit Boss Matt Dallman says, “Everything is made with lots of time and love.”
Dallman moved from Kansas City to Dallas in 2001 and started the restaurant after missing the barbecue from his home state. He has racked up a slew of accolades for his pit prowess, including a Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival Judges Choice Award in March. “I didn’t know how it’d go, taking pulled pork to a brisket party,” he says, laughing, “but at the end of the day, we believed in our ’cue.”
The menu at 18th & Vine is indeed heavy with the restaurant’s award-winning barbecue. The lunch and dinner menus are laden with options including brisket, house-made sausage, chicken, pulled pork, turkey and ribs. There’s even a cauliflower “steak,” the restaurant’s vegetarian option.
Sandwiches such as The Lester (grilled cheese with brisket) and The Basie (brisket, jalapeños and pepper jack cheese) star exclusively on the lunch menu. Accompanied by one of the restaurant’s side dishes such as Pit Beans or Jalapeño Cheese Grits, each plate is a hearty mouth-pleaser of a meal.
For those with bigger appetites, barbecue plates are the way to go. Available all day, each dish is loaded with a half pound or full pound of meat. Whichever size you order, though, it feels like you get more. The portion sizes are far from skimpy.
When it comes to barbecue that pays homage to Kansas City, the pork ribs are more authentic than perhaps anything else on the menu. They’re incredibly tender and saucy, with just the right balance of sweet and smoky.
If you opt to take your meal to go, we love that you can grab a gallon of lemonade, iced tea or Arnold Palmer. It feels pricey at $10 a jug, but we think it’s the perfect way to wash down some good, true-blue barbecue. And while we love sweet tea as much as the next Texan, it’s refreshing to have options.
Smoked meats are center stage at 18th & Vine, but there are plenty of chef-crafted entrées should you want to explore something different. Scott Gottlich, a classically trained chef, is at the helm of the restaurant’s composed dishes. He says he loves “taking classic combinations and bending them to work with the cooking technique of barbecue.”
One example is the Wood-Kissed Salmon, which is served with pit-creamed corn and roasted tomato. This dish is bright and mellow all at once. It’s an intriguing combination of flavors. The Smoked Pork Chop is another dish to try. The pork is flavorful and tender, but the sides—vanilla sweet potatoes and pickled plums—almost steal the show. The potatoes are velvety and fragrant. We happily scooped up every last bite.
The atmosphere at 18th & Vine also sets it apart from other barbecue establishments. The downstairs main dining room pays tribute to jazz and blues legends, which is appropriate since the restaurant is named after a popular jazz district in Kansas City. Upstairs is The Roost, a lively music venue and bar.
“We’re excited about everything going on in The Roost. It’s a key part of what 18th & Vine means—honoring the history of jazz and giving the local music scene a place to set up shop,” says Dallman. “Plus, live music pairs so well with barbecue.” And, if you’re looking for a cool spot to impress your Dallas friends, it’s available to rent for private parties.
We say put your allegiance to Texas barbecue aside—at least for a meal at 18th & Vine. It’s easily one of the best purveyors of smoked meats in Big D. Go on and give it a try. We have a feeling you’ll like it.
18th & vine
4100 Maple Ave.