Two Podners Bar-B-Que & Seafood (Dallas, TX)
Today I had a little time to kill for lunch, so I headed toward Fair Park to sample Two Podners Bar-B-Que & Seafood. Ordinarily I would be worried about a barbecue joint that doesn't focus solely on smoked meat, but since the only "seafood" they have on the menu is fried catfish, it seemed worth the risk.
The drive-thru line here is really helpful if you want your food to go, but otherwise it makes it a little difficult for dine-in customers to park. I had to wait almost 5 minutes for a break in the line just so I could pull through the parking lot. Part of this is poor design and planning, although the general rudeness of the drive-thru customers was also to blame.
Judging by the interior setup, coupled with the existing drive-thru, I'm about 98% certain that Two Podners used to be a McDonald's. It even had the telltale red and yellow booths, which were ragged and nearly falling apart at the seams. What was once most likely a playground area is now used for outdoor patio seating.
After a few questions for the server behind the counter, I ended up ordering a Combo Plate of ribs and sliced brisket, with sweet potatoes and pinto beans on the side. When I ordered, the server asked if I wanted "mild or hot". I didn't really understand the question, so I naturally picked hot. She handed me my order, and I soon realized that she was asking about the barbecue sauce which would inevitably be poured all over my meat. Sigh. As I paid for my food I noticed that refills are free for soda, but apparently the same isn't true for punch or lemonade, despite the fact that they're all self-serve fountain drinks. Undaunted, I picked up a big glass of lemonade.
I picked pinto beans over baked beans, mostly because I feared the baked variety would originate from a can. They were tasty with a good amount of salt. The onions and peppers mixed in added no crunch and not much flavor either. It was a decent side dish, but not spectacular. The sweet potatoes were pleasantly sweet and had a good softness to them. That being said, they were nothing to write home about either.
Sad as I was about the heavy dose of sauce my meat had received, I can rarely resist a brisket in any form. There was a good smoke ring and a nice black crust, but even by looking at it I could tell that the brisket was completely dried out. It was tough and chewy, even for a lean cut. My roll of silverware came only with a fork and spoon, but a knife was definitely required here. As promised, the sauce was rather spicy, which is good because it was the only part of the brisket that had any real flavor. I stopped eating the brisket after only 3 bites.
The ribs were some of the saddest little ribs I've been served in a while. The meat was tough and chewy, just like the brisket. The thick slathering of sauce precluded any possibility of tasting smoke, although there may not have been any to begin with judging by the brisket I'd just eaten. I didn't see any smokey hue to the ribs either, but it could have been hidden by the sauce, so who knows for sure. I managed to salvage half of one rib from the sauce, only to find no flavors other than meat and just a hint of salt.
I hate to waste food or money, but today I ended up discarding half of my ribs and 3/4 of my brisket, plus the majority of the sides. I almost gave Two Podners two stars solely because of their tasty lemonade, but they don't deserve it.
On a final note, I found this quote in a Facebook review of Two Podners, and I couldn't help but include it here out of pure enjoyment: "I went there about a month ago and they had put oniceos in they greens they was nastey, i said you told them to put that o in them greens that cuts the taste in it+!" All things considered, I guess I'm glad I ordered sweet potatoes instead of "they nastey greens."