Chow Town

Kansas City barbecue, jazz find a home in Dallas

Burnt ends.
Burnt ends. Special to The Star

Kansas City is Matt Dallman’s hometown. Barbecue is in his DNA.

He was raised on barbecue, learned the art of barbecue and has competed in barbecue contests, including the American Royal World Series of Barbecue.

Today Dallman smokes meat to the beat of Kansas City jazz in Dallas. Why would Dallman do that? He married a Texas girl. They settled in Dallas. Now, with three children and his co-owner wife, Kimi, he’s in the Great State of Texas for the long haul.

However, as everybody knows: you can take a Chow Towner out of Kansas City, but you can’t take Kansas City out of a Chow Towner.

18th & Vine BBQ is a Kansas City barbecue and live music emporium, where “struttin’ with some barbecue” means more than the primal enjoyment of smoked meat. Dallman knows, like Chow Town’s Lindsay Shannon at B.B.’s Lawnside, that jazz and blues make barbecue taste better.

The timing of 18th & Vine’s October opening last year was providential, a genius idea or simply darned good luck. All eyes were on the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. Local former Kansas Citians, visiting Kansas Citians and Royals fans from all over flocked to 18th & Vine BBQ to watch the games, eat, drink and be merry.

It is also great for business when Dallas native, KC Royals pitcher Chris Young, stops by for barbecue.

18th & Vine’s barbecue feast is a medley of heavenly hickory smoked burnt ends, spareribs, brisket, house-made sausage, pulled pork, chicken, smoked/fried wings, pork chops, pork belly, beef cheek, coffee rubbed barbecue quail, pit-fired oysters, smoke-kissed salmon and grouper.

Sides, crafted by Dallas native, exceptionally talented chef and partner Scott Gottlich, range from what my good friends and dining companions Howard Taylor and Gary Bronkema call “above C-level,” to “A-plus.” I say they’re all A-level or above.

Introducing Kansas City style barbecue to Dallas is a genius idea. Since Kansas City freely credits Texas barbecue as a core influence, Texans taste familiar flavors in 18th & Vine’s barbecue. Bones will not be thrown at the bounty from Dallman’s dual chamber Pit Boss made by The Good One.

The 18th & Vine meats we sampled earned all A’s:

▪ Burnt ends: tender, juicy, lightly seasoned; heavy smoke; no bark.

▪ Brisket: lean, tender, smoke-kissed.

▪ Spareribs: tender, smoke-kissed, lightly seasoned, competition-style.

▪ Pulled pork: flavorful, with good mix of bark and tender meat.

▪ Housemade sausage: ground pork fused with signature herbs, spices, cheese, jalapeno and smoke.

Next time we’ll try the beef cheek, pork chop, pork belly, oysters, salmon, grouper, chicken and quail.

Gottlich’s sides were superb:

▪ Jalapeno cheese grits: way above C-level; a notch below Kansas City Char Bar’s cheesy grits and Miss Mary Bobo’s cheesy garlic grits in Lynchburg, Tenn.

▪ Collard greens: full-flavored Southern-style, laced with bacon and onion.

▪ Texas fried okra: battered, fresh, deep-fried — delicious with or without the house dip.

We’ll get the pit beans, apple cider slaw and seasoned fries next time.

18th & Vine’s Cauliflower Steak is not to be missed. It’s a big slice from a full head of cauliflower, blanched, smoked until tender, served on a bed of creamy pureed cauliflower with a squiggle of pesto. Good enough to convert wavering omnivores into vegans.

The dinner menu includes suggested beer or wine pairings with each entrée. And yes, Chow Town’s hometown Boulevard brews are on the bar menu.

In addition to product knowledge, servers are required to pass a KC barbecue literacy test.

Thanks to Platte County Parks & Recreation director and barbecue buddy Brian Nowotny for urging me to check out 18th & Vine BBQ. It’s a winner.

18th & Vine Kansas City Barbecue is located at 4100 Maple Avenue at Throckmorton in Dallas. Its telephone is 214-443-8335 and can be found on the web at

Ardie Davis founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. His most recent releases are America’s Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with chef Paul Kirk, and Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style .