I had two days for a whirlwind Chowhound tour for my first time in the state of Texas, and somewhere in between meals I had to squeeze in work commitments.
When I landed at DFW, my first order of business was bbq. I wanted to go to a traditional bbq place with big smokers and a huge pile of wood out back, so I headed out to Hutchins BBQ in McKinney. It did not disappoint. It opens at 11am, and there was a line by the time I got there at 10:45am. When they opened, the line had tripled. It took a while to get in as the front counter is cramped and there are a lot of choices to make. I went with the all-you-can-eat since I wanted to try a little of everything. Despite my protestations, they gave me a lot of everything. They start you off with three meats, and after you sit down, a server brings you more.
First up is the brisket. In my hometown of DC, Texas bbq has become a thing, and some of the places have been compared favorably to famous places in Texas. But the places in DC rely a lot more on salt than Hutchins, and the brisket has some sugar in the rub that turned the exterior into a crunchy ‘meat candy’. This was better.
The pork ribs are divine, though in a perfect world I prefer a bit more pull. The firecrackers are small fat links that are juicy and only a bit spicy. The turkey was a revelation, thickly sliced and like butter. The ham was ordinary, the pulled pork was wet and salty, so not as good as Memphis, though I wouldn’t say no to a sandwich. The burnt ends were good.
I then spent some time walking the trails at the Heard Wildlife and Nature Center. A surprising place where you can go from blackland prairie to swamp to a cedar forest in the blink of an eye.
Afterwards, I grabbed a horchata at a popular heladeria, La Real Michoacana, served from a large metal bin in a refrigerated case. Another revelation, and the best I’ve had since being in Spain. It was all creamy and smooth and not as sweet as the gritty and watery fountain version back home. I am still dreaming about it.
Nearby I hit up Taqueria Hernandez for sopes, a specialty that’s hard to find back home. Here they are larger than I expected, and shaped like a pie crust, filled with meat and topped with crema, lettuce, queso, and tomato. The chicharon and the lengua were stewed and needed some of their salsa to cut into the fattiness. Al pastor was delicious. This was an impressive meal.
The next day in Fort Worth, I took advice on Chowhound for Nonna Tata, a postage stamp family-run Italian place with no website. I was glad I did. Just five wooden tables with stools. Minimal effort was made as a nod to cuteness, and this was a treat. I ordered a special of homemade pasta (think tortellini on steroids) stuffed with a coarsely ground mixture of several meats including ham and mortadella. It was very nice. For dessert I ordered the ‘chocolate cup’ (as described on Chowhound) but is listed as chilled mousse on the menu. It was a portion meant for two or more. When I first dug in it looked like ice cream, but it was indeed a very rich and dark mousse. I couldn’t stop eating it.
Before heading back to the airport I went in to Tacos Los Tavaros in Hurst for a cabeza torta. It was very tasty and oh so sloppy in a good way. And a satisfying end to a quick trip.