The sprawling Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill is now open near Northwest Highway and I-35, and motorhead Richard Rawlings hopes his new venture just might parlay his reality show fame into culinary stardom.
Reality TV junkies and car nerds will recognize Rawlings from the smash hit Discovery Channel show Fast N' Loud, which chronicles the day-to-day happenings at Gas Monkey Garage, the North Dallas auto shop specializing in classic cars and hot rods that Rawlings co-owns with master mechanic Aaron Kaufman.
"I want Gas Monkey to become an international destination for people who come through town," Rawlings proclaimed. General Manager Alex Mendonsa, a House of Blues veteran, says their aim is to make Gas Monkey "the premier live music and dining venue in Dallas." They want to embrace Texas acts — the Old 97s are up this Saturday — while also showcasing national talent. (There was a hint that someone whose name rhymes with Wank Hilliams III would be stopping by later this month.)
It's not all cars and live music, though; there is the matter of food to consider. Tender brisket (yes, it's beef, not monkey) is one of the smoked meats on offer at the Gas Monkey, and it's serious business: Texas-raised Black Angus, smoked for 15 hours over post oak and sporting a lipstick-red smoke ring topped by a charred, peppery crust.
Found-wood paneling and rustic furniture line a long, open room holding both the huge bar and dining space (a whopping 19,000 square feet total). Fingers of gas flame flicker at a window (on the inside — only the cooks will get burned!) peeking into the partially open kitchen. Outdoors, two multi-tiered decks surround another large stage with its own bar. A little pond with ducks and egrets — who've no doubt heard about the brisket by now — adds to the quirky charm of the place.
Back to that brisket: According to chef David Hollister (formerly of H2 Gourmet Burger Co. and Yucatan Taco Stand, both in Fort Worth), he uses mild post oak instead of mesquite because he doesn't want to overwhelm the natural flavor of Meyer Natural Angus beef (no antibiotics, humane handling). You'll find that gentle smokiness echoed in the starters of blackened tomato salsa, smoked cheddar queso and peppered bacon guacamole. Other house-smoked meats include short ribs, hot links, chicken and baby back ribs. But really, the brisket.
The evolving menu may look like roadhouse grub at first glance, but with Hollister manning the grill and smoker, you should expect it to be a cut above: Besides the aforementioned smoked meats, there's also pork belly cracklings with a chipotle-brown sugar spice rub; chili made with local pale ale and short ribs; a variety of burgers including the El Jefe with onion jam, pork rind fried jalapeno, cheddar, bacon and a fried quail egg; and even a few unique salads, including the intriguing-sounding The Wrangler, with spicy pistachios, lardons and blue cheese. Chef Hollister also consulted on the beer menu, which features an extensive local brew selection to go both with the food and in the food.
Gas Monkey is open for dinner and live music right now, with lunch soon to follow. I'll see you out on the deck as soon as the weather turns from 'butt-cheeks-stuck-on-the-seat' blistering to merely 'another-Peticolas-oughta-do-the-trick' sweltering.
· Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill [Official]