By Steven Doyle
Summer is in full swing and thoughts of the backyard bird smoking for a few hours is awfully enticing, but not nearly as provoking as meandering stealthily into a few dozen barbecue joints our city has to offer. And that is just what we have been doing over the course of the past few weeks.
Dallas has a reputation for being a barbecue city, but in actuality we haven’t been able to back up those bragging rights until just the past few years. Sure, in earlier days before mass production took over the city, and with the passing of legends such as Sonny Bryan, many would say we were doing well with our ribs and briskets. But only in the past several years did we actually experience this marvelous renaissance of smoke. Dallas now is a contender and we have a list to direct you to some of the best ribs, brisket and house-made sausages the city has experienced in many, many years.
The Breakdown: The only downside to the No. 1 barbeque restaurant in Dallas is the terrible hours. Unless you are into beefy late breakfasts or can withstand waiting in line behind hundreds of hungry enthusiasts, Pecan Lodge can prove difficult at best. But if you are one of the fortunate few hundred people who each day withstand the long lines that snake across the bowels of Shed Two at the Dallas Farmers Market from Wednesdays through Sundays, you’ll experience amazing ribs that easily relent from the bone along with comestible brisket and house-made spicy sausages smoked just feet away from where you stand in line.
Pro Tip: Follow these boys on Facebook and find out when they are serving burnt ends, which are the cap of the brisket, cubed and sauced then smoked for an additional few hours to create this amazing flavor bomb.
Side Kicks: The Mac and Cheese is smacked with green chile and bacon.
Clientele: BBQ purists and Guy Fieri fan boys
The Breakdown: Open all day, but they often run out of the good stuff just after lunch. Upside is they smoke all day for a fresh supply of meat for the dinner crowd. Look for kick-ass brisket smacked down with post oak for an ethereal flavor profile that is all Texas. The sausages are imported from Kreuz in Lockhart, Texas, and are insanely good. You order by the pound here, and it is best to spread your wealth amongst a trifecta of meats and include the mouth-watering ribs.
Pro Tip: Thursday is beef rib day, and you’d best wear your big boy eatin’ pants, because those ribs are monsters. Follow these folks on Facebook for additional specials like the occasional goat or lamb cooked whole for your dining pleasure.
Side Kicks: Bleu Cheese laden slaw is amazing, as is the Rib Jam available only when they feel like making it.
Clientele: Hungry BBQ pros in the know and Oak Cliff hipsters.
The Breakdown: The rib plays king at this Garland BBQ outpost. Smoked with hickory you will enjoy a rack sold for just over $10 a pound, or part of a healthy diet which would include a trio of meats including a juiced up brisket or hot link. This is an old school walk-up smoke house found road side and ready.
Pro Tip: Take on the sausage wrap which is no more than a link wrapped in white bread and served with sauce for dipping. Arrive early and bring a lawn chair or be prepared to sit on the hood of your car.
Side Kicks: Baked beans are the only side we would order, but the cobbler is a worthy component.
Clientele: Neighborhood families, local businesses on break and an occasional tourist.
The Breakdown: Open only during the day and Mike Anderson can usually be found at the carving station offering a good story and fantastic sliced brisket. The ribs are formidable as well, but the bacon wrapped, brisket stuffed jalapeno is nearly a meal unto itself. A fistful of the jalapenos could satisfy any hombre. Anderson also is known for his giant stuffed baked potatoes.
Pro Tip: Go early and order enough to take home for later.
Side Kicks: Sides at most BBQ haunts are usually after thoughts, but the potato salad and other sides are all house-made and will remind you of mom (if your mom can cook as well as Mike’s). Sides are served buffet style so you can go piggy
on it if you wish.
Clientele: Blue collars and docs between heart surgeries from nearby Parkland.
The Breakdown: Owned by Jack Perkins, the celebrated restaurateur who runs Maple and Motor Burger in Dallas, Slow Bone is the latest addition to the BBQ landscape. We dare say that Slow Bone is a happy work in progress with excellent potential. The restaurant is working out kinks with recipes, but the brisket is a winner and enough to justify being added to this list. There is a choice of sauces to make your meat happy, but it stands just fine without any additional seasoning. The ribs are very good, but by the time this is printed I suspect will be closer to amazeballs delicious since there are a few changes afoot which could actually elevate Slow Bone up in rank.
Pro Tip: Avoid busy hours during lunch for parking.
Side Kicks: Amazing Brussels sprouts with cauliflower (just order it dammit) and a fantastic mac and cheese with a jalapeno kick.
Clientele: Excited BBQ fantastic and educated foodie types who follow the likes of the owner.
Off the Bone
The Breakdown: Ribs. Off the Bone serves other items besides ribs, but the baby backs are what this place is all about. In fact there is an all-youcan-eat option for the insanely hungry. The sliced brisket and smoked chicken also are formidable adversaries in the BBQ realm.
Pro Tip: Great place to sober up since they are open late on weekends for après bar crowd, but be aware since this is located next to the police station on Lamar.
Side Kicks: The Cole slaw and charro beans are the way to go here, but save room for dessert. The cakes are all home-made from scratch.
Clientele: Cops and neighbors from South Side at Lamar.
Hard Eight BBQ
The Breakdown: For those willing to make the trek up to Coppell great BBQ is to be had. The brisket (moist and flavorful) is a must and the ribs fall off the bone. Get the jalapeno sausage for some kick. The chicken is very underrated. It’s a pick-and-poke spot, cafeteria style. The meats are sold by the pound. You’ve been warned!
Pro Tip: Go early because the line starts early and this beer swilling crowd comes hungry.
Side Kicks: Grilled corn and the beans complement the BBQ nicely. Save room for the apple cobbler if you have a sweet tooth.
Clientele: Neighborhood families, local businessmen and BBQ diehards.
Back Country Bar-B-Q
The Breakdown: They’ve been around since 1975 and a Greenville Avenue staple. So with tradition comes expertise. The chopped beef sandwich is one of the best in town. The ribs are cooked to perfection with a sweet rub that adds a nice flavor. Add some sauce as it won’t drown the flavor. An overlooked meat that they do well is turkey, sandwich or dinner; you won’t be disappointed. Spacious dining area with a very legitimate old school feel. Plus they have the friendliest staff you’ll ever meet.
Pro Tip: The Friday two meat combo of brisket and hot links will make your day.
Side Kicks: The large baked potato with beef rivals the best in the city. The spinach casserole might be the best kept secret. The hot beans are a nice change of pace.
Clientele: Loyalists and the lunch rush crowd from nearby businesses