*** October 14, 2010 update: This Keller location is now closed. It appears they will relocate to far north Ft. Worth ***
We haven't covered any barbecue to date, and that's one type of food where the independents thrive in the DFW area. I'm probably not the world's biggest BBQ fan, mainly due to the inconsistencies in the different types of sauces. See, Mr. RJG is not a fan of sweet food, except for dessert of course. I like my sauces spicy, and as mentioned many times before, the hotter the better.
I saw an interesting special on the Food Channel about the different kinds of barbecue around the nation (or it may have even been the Travel Channel - no couldn't be, they only show poker anymore :-P). It was a contest, as in who has the best, judged by a panel of BBQ connoisseurs. The challengers were Kansas City, Memphis, Texas and North Carolina. Despite my Texan heritage, I have tended to gravitate towards the Memphis style, as they typically feature sauces focused on spice rather than sweet. Of course, I'm talking generalities here - don't want anyone getting all upset now. Honestly, I don't think there is a standard Texan barbecue flavor - we seem to be the most disparate of the bunch. I don't think I've ever had "North Carolinan" barbecue, or at least something with that name, but based on the description in the show, it definitely didn't sound like my cup of pulled pork if you know what I mean. Funny, I don't even remember who won... I want to say Memphis did. For more info on the different variations of BBQ around America, this is a pretty good synopsis: http://www.bbq-sauces.com/
All this just to say: Cousin's is awesome! Their regular barbecue sauce is thick, with a great smoky flavor, not sweet at all. They also offer a very spicy thin sauce, similar to a Cajun concoction. I find mixing the two together creates a sublime experience. As for the meats, they're all slow cooked, and I love every one of them: Beef brisket, chopped brisket, turkey, ham, German sausage, etc... For many folks, the sides are just as important as the BBQ itself. But not for Mr. RJG, who suddenly goes Atkins diet at these places (well, I do partake in breaking bread). Most sides are too heavy in the starch department for me, and seem like a quick way to wider waistline. Still, if they have corn on the cob or dirty rice, I tend to order plates... Cousin's doesn't have the latter, so I tend to stick to sandwiches or meats only. And you know what? Fine with me! And while Mrs. RJG is not a huge fan of meat only dishes, she's OK with it when talking Cousin's. Since Mrs. RJG looks like a fashion model, she won't go near the sides either...
Cousin's is a local chain, with 4 Tarrant county locations plus 2 at DFW Airport. NE Tarrant gets the Keller location, and from what I can tell, it's the only one that is takeout only (maybe the DFW locations are too - funny for all the travel I do, I hadn't seen them - ah, I see now, Terminal B and D are not my usual departure areas). The Keller location is in a little old "shotgun" style building off of Keller Parkway not too far east from US 377. Mr. RJH always likes to see the word "Commissary" when local chains branch out - as it really underscores the notion that local chains tend to be extensions of an independent original.
For me, Cousin's is the best barbecue I've had in DFW. To be fair, I haven't tried a fraction of the places, but of the handful I have, Cousin's is the best.
While on the topic of BBQ, this allows me an opportunity to shine a light on a great blog called Fort Worth Hole in the Wall. I have a link to the side. I came across this site in March, and reading his quick wit and similar outlook towards independents, I decided it was time to get off my butt and start this blog - about 2 years after I intended to... He's done a nice overview of many of the Ft. Worth BBQ places. Read here: http://fortworthholeinthewall.blogspot.com/2008/04/bbbbq-review.html Looks like Cousin's didn't score as well as it did for me. Though I've never been to the Ft. Worth location - but I think it's the original.