Food & Drink

It's not Southwestern anymore

You gotta build a following with the basics before veering into experimentation -- if the Beatles'd released "I Am the Walrus" in '63, people would still be saying "The Who?". Starting simple before ramping up, Dr. Bell's BBQ, opening Wednesday.A dine-in/takeout/delivery joint with corrugated steel-lined walls, rooftop vent-fan lampshades, tabletop cacti, and plentiful images of Elvis, Bell's is helmed by a native-son chef who, over time, plans to rep both stages of his career: his early years at Austin's Ruby's BBQ (which 20yrs later still serves his recipes), and more recent higher-end gigs at The Mercury, Aurora, and Citizen, which despite Sasha Cohen's backing, wasn't "Unstoppable". For the first few weeks, the menu will rest on classics: seven pecan-smoked meats (brisket, pulled pork, hot links, turkey breast, beef/pork ribs, chicken) offered on sandwiches, soft tacos, sliders, and plates, plus nine sides including sweet pork-n-beans, baked mac, and collard greens boiled down with onion, garlic, sugar, and ham hock, inspiring you to pull your sluggish dance-floor standby, the "Pop 'n Hock". To keep the bbq interesting, come fall the Doctor will start serving less traditional weekend dishes involving nuanced takes on pork bellies, lamb chops, whole duck, and more, in keeping with his credo "I'll smoke just about any critter" (then listen to Pink Floyd with their bones).For unconscionable fatties, Bell's serves up seven pies, from pecan to buttermilk brulee. Booze is BYOB to start, but by mid-October they'll be serving frozen agave-wine margaritas, sangria, several upscale, minimally marked-up reds/whites/Champagnes, and beer that can be ordered to-go by the case -- take one down yourself, and...ku ku ka brew.