How a Texan found brisket where she least expected it.

By Mariah Tyler
August 14, 2019
Mariah Tyler

In the spring, I found myself in one of the most beloved food cities in the world, where I had long dreamed of devouring cheese, duck confit, and wine from the Loire Valley. Paris is known for many cliches that turn out to be charming, like the ubiquity of berets and striped blouses and baguettes, but what I did not expect was to find myself eating tacos and barbecue brisket—my favorite dishes from my home state of Texas.

The night we found Texas barbecue at MELT in Les Batignolles—a neighborhood in the 17th arrondissement—followed a long day of touring the palace of Versailles and soaking up its extravagance. The restaurant was the tiny sliver of home I didn't know I needed. Before opening MELT, which is the first authentic Texas barbecue joint in Paris, owners Antoine Martinez and Jean Ganizate were inspired by a visit to New York City (and a stop at Mighty Quinn’s), leading them to travel to Texas for research in search of authentic barbecue from Austin to Dallas. It was in Dallas they met the then-pitmaster of Pecan Lodge, Jeffrey Howard, and later convinced him to move to Paris and help open the restaurant's first location. Fast-forward just a couple of years, and there is a second location and a new young pitmaster, Douglas Herrara.

As we arrived for dinner, there was no long line outside, nor any telltale aroma of a smoker, which aroused some suspicions, but we were still committed to the adventure. The menu was fairly standard, and influenced by all styles of Southern BBQ—there was everything from ribs to pulled pork to brisket, and the sides seemed like an appealing, well-considered list of starches and greens.

Once we stepped inside, the warm scent of smoking wood revealed itself. We ordered brisket by the pound and the wood-fired chicken, Mexico City-style, with sides of crispy Brussels sprouts and cheese fries. To drink? To my disbelief, the menu listed Lone Star Beer, a Texas staple and a cheap beer hard to find anywhere outside of Texas. I hope Parisians know about the visual riddles on the underside of the bottle caps.

Mariah Tyler

The brisket was surprisingly good, and the flavor of the chicken topped with grilled pineapple transported us home. For a barbecue place across the ocean and miles away from the smokers of Texas, the meal was quality—far better than some barbecue-style menus in New York.

By lineage, I’m as Texan as they come; generations of my family hail from the Lone Star state. At family gatherings, we have barbecue, when we travel to other Texas cities, we have barbecue, and when I left Texas for New York, my last meal was barbecue. It’s something I eat every time I go home. For a Parisian restaurant to be inspired by Texas barbecue, I felt a sense of pride. That two vastly different worlds could connect like this proved Texas barbecue is just that good and can find a home anywhere it’s done right, especially at MELT.

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