Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's not just Austin, something big is happening in Dallas BBQ, too

These five joints are leading a BBQ renaissance in the Dallas area. (Photos ©Chris Wilkins and Jim Rossman)

Reader interaction is terrific. On our story in The Dallas Morning News about Austin's barbecue renaissance, one online reader -- going by the moniker "J" -- wrote:

"Too bad the BBQ scene in DFW stinks."

I responded to "J" that the sentiment is wrong. There's a barbecue renaissance in Dallas, too.

From the Posse's extensive touring, we put Pecan Lodge at the Farmers Market among the top two or three joints in the state. If Texas Monthly's new rankings (the June issue) don't agree, we'll call them out again.

Also, we think Lockhart Smokehouse in the Bishops Arts District and Meshacks's in Garland are easily among the Top 50.

And from our blog traffic statistics, it's clear that readers like the new 3 Stacks Smoke and Tap House in Frisco and Jack Perkins's new joint, Slow Bone, near downtown Dallas.

Not to mention a very interesting concept, Work, expected to open soon in Deep Ellum.

These are definitely interesting times in Dallas barbecue.

If you need more evidence of Dallas' own barbecue renaissance, consider:

-- Pecan Lodge owner/pitmaster Justin Fourton said last week that his place will add a day of business, Wednesdays, beginning the first full week of June. Pecan Lodge has only been open Thursday through Sunday.

-- Lockhart Smokehouse owner Jeff Bergus confirmed Saturday that he is looking at adding a second location. Speculation has focused on a near northern suburb of Dallas. "These things take time," Bergus said.

My first lunch at Slow Bone BBQ, two-meat platter with brisket and cilantro sausage. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins)

20 comments:

  1. Too many sides and not enough meat in that pic, but does look tasty!

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  2. In all honesty, I have no idea why y'all love Pecan Lodge as much as you do.

    They break 2 cardinal sins of BBQ and I'll start with the lesser of the two.

    1. When you order, you wait for the meat to be served to you; they don't open up the smoker and cut the meat in front of you. That was my first red flag.

    2. This second reason right here should disqualify them all together. I had a chance to look in the back, where all the meat is and I discovered... All the meat are sitting under heat lamps! Yes! They take the meat from the smoker, they cut it up and leave it out on the counter (until someone orders it) sitting under a heat lamp! Now this does two things to meat and it showed. The meat will cool off very quickly, going to Pecan Lodge is not a leisure experience, it's a race against the clock, the heat lamps have ruined the meat and lastly it takes away the juices in the fat. Some moist brisket tasted dry in the fat.

    I'm telling you the truth, go see for yourself.

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    1. While I would normally agree 100% with your very astute assertions, I can tell you that the brisket I have sampled at Pecan Lodge rivals any I have tried at the Lockhart trifecta (Kreuz, Smitty's, and Blacks) and is just as good as that I recently sampled at Franklin's in Austin. The only better brisket I have had would be at the now defunct JMueller's pit in south Austin, but even then it's close. Heat lamp or not, Pecan Lodge is still turning out some remarkable BBQ and while their sausage pales in comparison to that at Lockhart Smokehouse (Kreuz imported), their briset and ribs are 2nd to none in my humble opinion.

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    2. Let's address them in order:

      1. This is Dallas. If you want to cook on an offset smoker like Justin does, it has to be outside. I'm sure you've noticed the screen-porch structure outside the kitchen where the meat is cooked. The Farmer's Market does not lend itself to the layout you and I are used to with more traditional BBQ joints.

      2. WIth the length of the line and the speed at which they serve (it is very fast from the time you pay until your name is called, I'm guessing they go through a whole brisket every 15 minutes or less and racks of ribs probably last 10 minutes on the counter at the most before they're served and gone.
      I've seen the workings there and meat isn't stored under those lamps for any significant length of time.

      Pecan Lodge gets the love because it's easily the best BBQ in 150 miles in any direction.
      It sucks for atmosphere. I wish Justin and Diane had a joint like Louie Muellers, but for now, the meat has to be the star...and it totally is.

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    4. @Rick, I wouldn't say Lockhart trifecta is where you find the best brisket, that's usually Kruez (Smitty for the ribs and Blacks for the sausage (and Chisholm Trail Barbq for chicken)). I call this little day tripped the "Tour De Lockhart". Franklin does the best BBQ in Austin (currently) and when you say Austin you might as well say the world, right?

      I felt with Pecan Lodge, they nailed the smoke ring, the bark was top notch and they use the traditional salt and pepper seasoning. In the 4 or 5 times I've been I've had dried out fat and cold meat after 5 minutes. The ribs are amazing, I would take Smitty's over them but best in Dallas. Once again though, if I order a 3 meat plate and I haven't touched the ribs in 5 minutes or less, I have some cold meat waiting for me.

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    5. From my one experience at PL...I asked for fatty brisket and was unfortunately served lean which had the great smoke flavor but slightly dry. The ribs were on par with a handful of other joints too I've tried recently. Nothing spectacular per say. I will return again only because there is so much hype but due to finances, I can't spread myself too thin with revisiting the same joints repeatedly such as the Posse or Vaughn. I have to base on one time experiences which consistency can always vary with each visit and product judged differently by each individual.

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  3. Justin Fourton needs to add another cash register. its cool to have a line and sell out every day but its not cool to wait for 2 hours for lunch. i remember the good ol days when i could stroll into PL and not have to wait 2 mins. im glad theyre having a lot of success but lets make an effort to expedite the line.

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    1. Totally agree about the second register. They're going to start opening on Wednesdays starting in June. That might help some.

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  4. 3 Stacks didn't sound too impressive based on the review from City of Ate, but I'm looking forward to trying FM Smoke House in Irving.

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    1. FM Smokehouse was average on my only trip there, but I'll have to give them another visit to start forming an opinion. Nice place. Good looking interior and bar area.
      They have a wait staff, which is not my favorite type of BBQ joint.

      Too bad the Observer review of 3 Stacks was 2/3 hating on Frisco and 1/3 saying the meat was pretty decent. Posse visitors to 3 Stacks said it has promise.

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    2. The City of Ate review was very disparaging more on Frisco then what should have been the focus of the article.

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  5. Let's tap the brakes just a little bit on The Slow Bone.

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  6. You can tap your brakes all you like Ronnie.
    Gary Jacobson and I had a great lunch today at The Slow Bone.

    Brisket was solid. Ribs were very good and the Old Time sausage was very nice. I also had a very good brisket tamale.
    The green bean casserole is from scratch (they make their own mushroom soup, then fry their own fresh onions and use fresh green beans) and the brussel sprout/cauliflower au gratin was great too. Plus the hushpuppies were moist and delicious.
    The line was a steady 15-20 the entire lunch hour today and all the tables were full.

    I hope Jack keeps up the momentum. He was cutting meat today as well.

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    1. I have to agree on releasing the brakes. My first experience was pretty stable considering. A second visit is planned soon for consistency purposes. So far so good.

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  7. 3 stacks was mediocre at best, and Rossman knows I know a little about decent BBQ (not to his level.). No smoke ring, the brisket had very little smoke flavor, and the turkey was pretty dry. I even told the manager and he said he'd being me another piece of brisket and it wasn't any better.

    The sides are good, especially their twice baked potato salad.

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  8. Y'all have to try Hutchins BBQ in McKinney, it's hands down my favorite q around. Y'all keep talking about places that have just opened and are missing true BBQ greatness. The only thing that not perfect here is the sausage, but I talked to the pit man the other day and he said they should have there own homemade sausage with in a month or two.

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    1. Hutchins is on my to-do list. All my Plano/Frisco/Allen friends have good things to say. Perhaps another local tour is in order.

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  9. a Hot Link Sandwich actually sounded pretty good. I opted to forgo the side dishes and eat my sandwich a la carte.

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