Brisket sloppy joe.
photography by Kevin Hunter Marple
|GIDDYUP: Cowboy Chow’s trite western trappings tend to overshadow the tasty food.
photography by Kevin Hunter Marple
A pair of stuffed buffalo busts surveys the dining room. Antiqued signs tout some Wild West show. Johnny Cash growls about his “burning ring of fire.” My lunch companion leans across the table and smirks. “I’m sorry. If I had known we were coming here for lunch, I would have worn my chaps and spurs today.”
Smart aleck comment aside, he was right. There’s much about Cowboy Chow that feels like a kitschy theme park. One almost expects staged gunfights at the top of every hour. At the very least, valet parking for your horse. (After all, this is Dallas.) And that’s a shame because this latest Deep Ellum lunch spot has a steller pedigree with the food to overcome its “yee-haw” trappings. Chef/owner Jason Boso—formerly of the Four Seasons Las Colinas—opened his Twisted Root Burger Co. two years ago to much fanfare. It’s down the street from Cowboy Chow and redefined the common burger joint with its everything-fresh-and-handmade concept, from hand-rolled Angus patties and fresh-cut fries to handmade ice cream and root beer. Heck, even the ketchup and mustard are freshly made at Twisted Root.
That same loving care is shown to the brisket at Cowboy Chow, which dominates the menu, and rightfully so. This is brisket of the gods. The succulent meat is braised in a variety of liquids—beer, beef stock, jalapeño juice, bourbon, and more, depending on the dish ordered—and then cooked for at least seven hours. My waiter boasted of the various brisket tacos. “Best in Dallas,” he said. He was right. In a city where brisket tacos can be found at practically every Tex-Mex dive, Cowboy Chow’s were a revelation. Whether paired with sharp cheddar and avocado-lime cream, red pepper sauce and goat cheeese, or simple jalapeños and queso fresco, the rich, tender meat mixed and mingled with its more gourmet trappings while never being overwhelmed by them. A perfect marriage.
Boso furthers his haute chuckwagon cuisine concept with some imaginative offerings. The common grilled cheese is made uncommon by sandwiching horseradish cheddar, cast-iron grilled onions, and more of that lovely brisket between buttered Texas toast. The mash tater parfait is like a western shepherd’s pie: layers of mashed potatoes, brisket, cowboy caviar, cheddar, and tortilla strips housed in a Mason jar. If you’re not into brisket, fear not. Cowboy Chow’s delicious chicken pot pie is straight up comfort food served in a cute cast-iron crock. For dessert, the homemade chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich is a steal for only $3.
Now if Boso could just pull back the reins on the clichéd ambience, talk of his Cowboy Chow would be more about the food and less about the Frontierland comparisons. Just one request: Keep the man in black. Johnny Cash is cool. Buffalo busts? Not so much.
After a lengthy renovation, the Fairmont Hotel’s Pyramid Restaurant (1717 N. Akard St. 214-720-5249)—once one of Dallas’ premier dining options—is now reopened for business, sporting a new chef (JW Foster), new decor (think celadon and moss with polished bronze accents), and—best of all—a new menu highlighting local produce, much of which is grown in the Pyramid’s own garden, planted by Foster and his Executive Sous Chef Paul Peddle on the hotel’s terrace level. The garden includes heirloom tomatoes, various veggies, and a bounty of herbs, all of which are featured in dishes such as panko crusted eggplant with fennel confit and Canadian lobster mac and cheese with lemon-thyme cornbread crust.
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