We had the rare opportunity to try a new BBQ joint on its second day of operation today. Plans were set into motion when Texas BBQ Posse member Gary Barber spotted a big smoker at the corner of Commerce and Walton Streets while at lunch in Deep Ellum the day before.
Ernest and Francine Williams opened Mama Faye's BBQ at 2933 Commerce on Thursday. The joint is named after Francine's mother Faye, who supplied the sauce recipe, a family secret that dates back to the 1900s. They are already known in Deep Ellum for their mobile operation, selling sandwiches in front of several clubs on the weekend.
Ernest is cooking off his smoker until his permanent wood-burning pit is built, construction starts next week. No gas-fed commercial smoker for Mama Faye's, Ernest does not believe in it. "The hard way to do it is with wood," he says, "but that's the best way."
When we arrived shortly before noon, there was one other customer eating in the space that has housed several restaurants in the past few years, most recently Po-Bill's Cafe. The restaurant still shows signs of Po-Bill's and will be remodeled in January. The place should be all Mama Faye's within a month or so.
Five of us ordered and we were all reasonably impressed, especially once we learned this was their second day of business. What was great was the smoke in the meat, strong yet not overwhelming. Ernest uses a rare mix of pecan, hickory and pear wood, an interesting combo that leads to a unique taste. Some of the meat was a tad dry, but taste more than made up for it. I had the combo plate of ribs, brisket and hot links and thought this place has some serious promise.
The speed of service was slow, but you have to give them time to get their workflow down. Ernest says the have bugs have to be worked out of their operation, but they'll get there.
Here's a few comments from the Posse:
Gary Barber: "The sliced beef sandwich had a great smokey flavor, felt it was cut a little early and was a little too dry. I love that you can get peach cobbler as a side, nice veggie loophole. Don't let the Mastercard/Visa sign on the door fool you, bring cash."
Gary Jacobson: "There was a very nice smoke taste on all three meats — chopped brisket, pork ribs, sausage — that came with the combo plate. Everything was a little dry, but I’d love to go back when the place has worked out its serving kinks. If the chickens we saw are any indication, Ernest’s barbecue, fresh off the smoker, could be great."
Ahna Hubnik: "The pork ribs were meaty!! And for once, I forgot to say no sauce and it didn’t ruin the meat. The tangy, spicy sauce actually complimented the pork. And the simple choice of “Coke or water,” was great, Keep It Simple Silly."
David Woo: "The bark on the ribs was very tasty. Service was very slow, but they just opened. I'm sure things will pick up as they get their feet on the ground."
Mama Faye's BBQ, 2933 Commerce St, Dallas, TX, 214-486-9846. Open 7 days a week, 10am-10pm.
Photos by Gary Barber,top, & Chris Wilkins