Serious barbecue is happening on Greenville Avenue with the opening of Louie King BBQ, with a famous name manning the pit: Will Fleischman, the one-time pitmaster at Lockhart Smokehouse, TV competitor, and cookbook author.
The restaurant has opened in the former Daddy Jack's space at 1916 Greenville Ave. and comes from Sameer Patel and Patrick Bruce, the duo who've lit up Lower Greenville with concepts such as Feed Company, the restaurant and bourbon lounge, as well as Leela's Wine Bar + ABV establishment.
Louie King's menu is definitely not the same old barbecue you find everywhere else. It includes Akuashi brisket, St. Louis ribs, shaved pork loin, turkey, Pittsburgh hot links, and rabbit sliders. Sides include mac and cheese, tater salad, charro beans, and "Memaw's freezer slaw."
Fleischman describes it as "Highland Park food with a trailer-park sensibility."
Fleischman is an epic sort of figure who began his barbecue career with Lockhart Smokehouse, which he helped open in Oak Cliff and then Plano. He left Lockhart when other opportunities, such as his 2016 cookbook Smoking Meat: Perfect the Art of Cooking with Smoke, came along.
His brisket has been featured on the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods America, and he was a competitor on season 4 of Destination America's BBQ Pitmasters. In 2012, he was named one of the ten best pitmasters in the South by Southern Living magazine.
"Lockhart is where I started my barbecue adventure, and that took me to touring the country with my ugly mug on a truck, driving from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, promoting barbecue pits and peddling my cookbook," he says.
When he got back to Texas, he joined his longtime friend and chef Oliver Sitrin at Blind Butcher, then became so enamored with the Lower Greenville scene that he joined Feed Company, where he fine-tuned their barbecue operation.
That's when Bruce and Patel, who own Feed Company, came to him and said, "We've got this space, what do you think about doing a barbecue joint?"
"My initial reaction was, 'I don't want anything to do with that,'" Fleischman says. "Barbecue was my life and I enjoyed it but it's a lot of hours and it was like killing something you love."
But eventually he was won over, not in the least because of the opportunity to explore a different direction in the cuisine.
"I am focused on higher end proteins that nobody else is doing on a volume basis," he says. "We're doing Akuashi HeartBrand brisket — which you might see as a special feature elsewhere, but nobody is doing that on a menu. We're doing pulled rabbit sliders."
"The model at Louie King is an old-school no-frills barbecue joint, no table service, where we cut the meat to order and throw it on a piece of butcher paper on a sheet tray," he says. "It's a straightforward menu with traditional barbecue — but an experience unlike any other barbecue you've ever had."
He's also not focused on one barbecue style. "I'm gonna blame that on writing the cookbook," he says. "I'm doing St. Louis-style ribs, and a riff on turkey with herbs de provence and black pepper that doesn't resemble the turkey you expect at a barbecue place."
The hot links are from Pittsburg, Texas, and are made with 75 percent offal including beef heart and beef tripe.
His sides are one-of-a-kind, with a real chef-driven flair.
"Our potato salad has vinegar, Cabot white cheddar, and chives — no mustard or mayo," he says. "The cole slaw is a recipe from my Italian great-grandmother and is frozen. We dress the cole slaw and freeze it, and it's the most unusual thing you've ever seen."
Owners Patel and Bruce are fully committed, even dropping $30,000 for a Bewley handmade barbecue pit, which earned the stamp of approval by the BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn.
"We're working towards creating a whole different energy on this part of Greenville Avenue," Patel says.