The Top 5 Barbecue Joints in Dallas

Contributor
Where to go to satisfy your carnivorous cravings
bbq

Pecan Lodge

At Pecan Lodge, the meat is slow smoked over oak and hickory.

The echoes of “you have to go to central Texas to get good barbecue” are still ringing in the ears of Dallasites, but the facts on the ground have shifted dramatically. Like nature abhorring a vacuum, barbecue vendors pretending to the throne of being Really Good Barbecue have appeared from all corners over the last five years. As a result, Dallas, while not claiming to being Lockhart (the legislatively proclaimed Barbecue Capital of Texas) can claim to have Lockhart’s (two of them in fact), and some other great barbecue joints as well.

Some background for those not lucky enough to live in Texas: Texas is one of the great barbecue centers of the U.S. The meme here is brisket, smoked long and slow to produce juicy softness to the flesh, a crispy intense crust, and hints of the type of wood used in the smoking. Debate rages over the best wood, with hickory, post oak, mesquite and pecan the most popular.   

Sauce is always served on the side. It is perhaps the one ‘staple’ of Texas barbecue where the customer will let the pit hand exercise his creativity and customize the result. Thus, some barbecue vendors create spicy sauces. A contrast to the usual sweet sauce.

Utensils are optional. At some places requests for them will meet blank stares that say “are you looking for a doctor?”.

That said. Folks welcome exponents of other styles of barbecue. Thus, we have Kansas City style and Memphis style barbecue, although I have yet to find Carolina style.

In the list below I decided to go with the best barbecue available in town and not require that the style be Texas. That results in a Kansas City style place making the cut, and an innovator who sees smoking as a technology which he will bring to any protein or vegetable, as the mood takes him.

Pecan Lodge
Food Style: Texas barbecue
Rank: 1
The finest expression of Texas style barbecue in the Dallas area. They make the brisket talk.

Smoke
Food Style: Innovative Texas BBQ
Rank: 2
The most innovative barbecue place in town. Chef/owner Tim Byers won a James Beard award for writing down how and why everything should be smoked. They say that, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, fortunately, all Tim Byers had was a smoker, and we are the beneficiaries. This is the kind of place you could lift out of Dallas and plonk in any food capital and it would be packed.

18th & Vine
Food Style: Kansas City Barbecue
Rank: 3
A new (2015) addition to the Dallas barbecue scene. Ex-Kansan Matt Dallman sates his homesickness with his Kansas City barbecue. Especially cool is that he teamed with Scott Gottlich, who formerly had one of the temples of haute cuisine in Dallas (Bijoux) to broaden the menu with a smoker-sware dynamic range that doesn't ever border on poncy. This model answers so many questions about barbecue that one is stunned it did not happen earlier. There is also a blues club upstairs and an (adapted) menu moves there as well.

Ten 50 BBQ
Food Style: Texas barbecue
Rank: 4
Giant barn by the freeway in Richardson that keeps Pecan Lodge honest as they keep turning out good Texas barbecue.

Off The Bone
Food Style: Texas barbecue
Rank: 5
Off the bone and overlooked might be the owner's lament here. However, just a half mile from the convention center is a family-run barbecue joint that consistently does a good job.

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