For two years, I’ve been telling myself that I needed to check out the Heritage Table, in Frisco. When I finally made it this week, owner Rich Vana told me not to feel bad about taking so long. “I have friends who live in Dallas who were in my wedding that haven’t been here,” he said with a laugh. Once a food writer, Vana crossed over to the other side in 2014, serving brisket tacos and burgers at pop-ups in the Dallas area. He gathered a following ( I enjoyed his brisket tacos in 2015) and in 2017, he opened his restaurant in a converted 1917 Victorian mansion on Frisco’s Main Street. It’s not a barbecue joint, but there are a few smoked items on the menu.

What finally got me here? A few days ago, Vana posted a photo of his newest creation, a smoked pork belly pastrami, on Instagram to announce the upcoming spring menu, and I was powerless. The rust-colored bark, from pecan smoke, surrounded the fatty glistening layers of pork and fat. Pastrami has become a barbecue novelty across Texas, with pastrami beef ribs and briskets showing up on special boards, but the only pastrami I’d seen made from pork belly was in Brooklyn. Now it’s on the lunch menu in Frisco every day in the form of the Porkstrami Panini at the Heritage Table.

Vana prides himself in making food from scratch whenever possible at the Heritage Table. The sandwich starts with the foundation of pork belly that’s been dry-cured for ten days. Vana uses a rub of salt, pepper, juniper, coriander, and mustard. It’s then smoked for three hours, and finished in the oven. The meat has a mellow smoke and a restrained saltiness. It’s a fatty cut, so this isn’t some lean sandwich; there’s plenty in there to balance the pork’s richness, though. Vana also makes the sauerkraut. It takes less time than the pastrami, spending just five days fermenting. That means it’s not broken down all the way like a normal sauerkraut. The acidity is there, but the sweetness and some crunch remain from the cabbage.

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The restaurant also bakes its own bread. The sandwich comes on what Vana describes as a French loaf. It’s sliced thin so that the bread doesn’t overwhelm the sandwich, which isn’t piled high with pastrami like you’d find at a New York deli. A swipe of Russian dressing, also made in house, is flecked with large chunks of Heritage Table dill pickles. The melted provolone is the only item not made by the restaurant. In all, there are an astounding amount of hours tied up in this one sandwich on the lunch menu, but it’s worth it. The sweet and sour balance from the sauerkraut is matched by the same balance in the dressing, both of which play against the rich, salty flavors of the fatty pork belly. It’s a fantastic sandwich.

porkstrami
A freshly made batch of banana pudding from the Heritage Table.

That smoker isn’t just for pastrami, either. Other reasons for me to come back are the smoked turkey sandwich with avocado and bacon, on the daily menu, and baby back ribs on Fridays. Vana dry-brines whole racks of ribs in a bacon cure, then smokes them for what he calls “bacon on the bone.” Finish it all off with a new dessert of homemade banana pudding with caramel, whipped cream, and a hint of lemon juice. It may have taken a while to get to the Heritage Table, but I’m glad they showed me that I really was missing out on something special in Frisco.

The Heritage Table
7110 Main St.
Frisco, TX 75033