FORT WORTH, Texas — There's no denying how sweet it is to take a risk and have it pay off. Or, in this case, less sweet; more smoky.
"We didn't have any expectation, but we do know we put our heart and soul into our food," said Chris Magallanes, one of the owners of Panther City BBQ.
WFAA first met the guys behind the popular Fort Worth BBQ joint back in July 2019. They'd left their corporate jobs and were slingin' cue from a smoking-hot trailer outside the Republic Street Bar on Hattie Street.
Since then, the bar owners built them a permanent space and things have been great, as they serve BBQ from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., or whenever they run out.
But Magallanes said he and his co-owner Ernie Morales quickly noticed something when they'd head into work to start cooking.
"We were coming in at 3 in the morning, just after the bar closes for the night," he said, "seeing pizza boxes in the trash, Uber Eats boxes."
Magallanes said he saw a business opportunity.
"That's where La Pantera Tacos was born."
That's right; late-night street tacos, to be offered from the very same space as Panther City BBQ.
But, here's the rub.
"Other than eating a lot of tacos, none of us really had a lot of taco experience," Magallanes said.
But they knew they had great smoked meats and sauces. So along with Ernie's brother Stephan Morales, their appointed "taquero," they tasted tacos all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area while perfecting their own recipes. This year, they launched "La Pantera Tacos y Mas," which opens shortly after Panther City closes, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
They've already been written up in Texas Monthly.
"It's kind of crazy to me, you know," said Morales, who'd previously worked for a company that built police cars.
Now, people line up for late-night al pastor, tri-tip tacos and more. All the meat is smoked, just as you'd find it during the day.
But there is one thing that is disappearing.
"A lot fewer pizza boxes," Magallanes said, laughing.