You may remember Heim Barbecue from a baseball kerfuffle a few years ago. Jose Bautista, then of the Blue Jays, did a high slide into second while Rougned Odor of the Rangers was trying to turn a double play. One thing led to another, including Odor connecting on a roundhouse right to Bautista. Odor got an eight game suspension, but also — the ever-present silver lining — an offer of free barbecue for life from Heim Barbecue. ESPN, ever eager for something besides sports to discuss, hopped on the story. Toronto fans hopped on the phone and left, uh, unfriendly voice messages on the Heim answering machine. I listened to one of the messages and was struck by the lack of variety in the epithets and the utter absence of metaphor. Embarrassing. The silver linings for the Heims: no Torontans came to Texas to execute their death threats, and the Heims made enough money from Ranger fans to move from a trailer to a brick and mortar restaurant.
Well, now Heim Barbecue has other claims to fame. Meet the Heimburger, the invention of Emma and Travis Heim.
The Heimburger is a mixture of finely chopped smoked brisket and raw hamburger meat cooked on a flat top grill. It’s mostly hamburger, but the barbecue taste apparently comes through loud and strong. The whole thing is topped with bacon burnt ends jam.
Bacon burnt ends? That’s another source of Heim fame. They take a pork belly, cure it in sugary stuff, smoke it, cut it into bite-sized chunks, and work additional magic. The result is basically pork, fat, and sugar. As you know, I think sugar on pork is gilding the lily. I once bought a pound of maple-cured bacon by mistake, and promptly threw it away. Such is the state of Western Civilization, however, that lots of people disagree, and Heim does a land office business in bacon burnt ends.
The pork belly jam is made from bacon burnt ends, butter, sugar, and Buffalo Trace bourbon. Grill the patty on a flat top, slap on some jam, add a slice of American cheese, and put it, perhaps with a second patty, as pictured above, on a sweet sourdough bun, and you have a Heimburger.
I like the concept, at least minus all that sugar. Is there really such a thing as a sweet sourdough bun? I would skip the jam (setting aside the Buffalo Trace for its proper use), and replace the jam with some pickled jalapeño slices. That sounds a lot better, and would help avoid trips to the gym and the dentist. Not that I have anything against gyms, on principle, anyway; nor do I have anything against dentists, or at least no more than anyone else who at the age of four was taken to a US Army dentist, one Capt. Hook, and tortured for what must have been seconds.
I haven’t been to Heim, or even to Fort Worth since 2010. Fort Worth is great, and Heim is supposed to be very good. It certainly has soared since its humble start. People wait in line for their brisket and ribs, Heim’s third source of fame. One possible reason for the popularity of the Heimburger is that you can skip the line for barbecue and go straight to the bar and get a Heimburger.
Heim Barbecue started four years ago with a food stand stocked with two briskets and $100 cash. The barbecue was good enough for them to graduate to a trailer and then, with that boost from Rougned Odor, to a restaurant on West Magnolia in the Fairmont section of Fort Worth. The Heims, Travis and Emma, recently opened a second, much larger Heim in the River District overlooking the West Fork of the Trinity River. They have a six-foot flat top grill there on which they can cook a lot of Heimburgers.
I know you’re wondering: Rougned Odor’s name is a combination of the first names of his grandparents, Douglas and Nedia, adjusted to fit a family tradition of beginning first names with an R. He has a brother named Rougned Jose and an uncle named Rouglas, so you see, it’s a fairly common name.
Heim is definitely worth a visit. I’d love to get back to Fort Worth. I welcome reactions to the Heimburger, the bacon burnt ends, and especially their barbecue. Except from Canadians.
Give it a try.
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