For years, Dallas residents have been fed with the mantra that for great Texas barbecue they had to head south to Central Texas towns with names like Lockhart and Taylor (roughly the same distance away as Alpha Centauri). In the last two or three years that necessity has become less clear as aspirational entrants have opened in Dallas (Pecan Lodge; Off the Bone), famous names have expanded to include the city (Kreuz Market opened two locations under the name Lockhart) and existing businesses have raised their game (Hard Eight). The latest new entrant is Ten50 BBQ (names after its street number on North Central Expressway) in Richardson.
Ten50 is a cathedral to Texas barbecue in the dimensional as well as the spiritual sense. The substantial place seats 300 and has separate rooms for private functions (monthly meetings of the Richardson Vegetarian Society?) and a patio (not dog-friendly at the moment but it may become so with an impending remodel) that belts out live music in the summer. However, don’t conclude that quantity is a substitute for quality. This place is the only one I know of (other than Franklin in Austin) to use USDA Prime for the brisket. You may say that the grade of beef matters less in barbecue, with its cooking times stretching into millennia, than with premium cut steaks where the 1,800-degree F sear lasts seconds. Fair enough, but some practitioners are happy to pay the extra.
Exaggeration aside, there is somebody on-site managing the smoking process 24-hours-a-day. Each side of brisket gets approximately 14 hours over post oak at 200-degree F in a rotisserie-type oven to promote even cooking. You order outside from a pitmaster who oversees a giant warming rack stuffed with each type of meat (customers of Hard Eight will recognize the setup). During busy times, two racks run in parallel. They respect the ‘cue. The meat is not sliced until you order, so the brisket sides, for example, are whole and you can point to a specific part of the meat that you want. If burnt ends are your thing, just point at the one you want. Two types of sauce are on offer, depending whether you like it sweet or vinegary.
There is more emphasis on provenance than you find in barbecue circles (where it is normally non-existent). For example, some of the sausage comes from Meyer’s in Elgin, The range of items on the one-page menu is wisely small. Brisket, sausage, pulled pork, pork ribs, turkey, and chicken. "Torpedoes," which are chicken or brisket stuffed jalapeños. No beef ribs yet but I have heard a rumor that they are forthcoming. Sides are the usuals, but include a notable four-cheese mac ‘n cheese. Drinks include fresh lime margaritas but the list is anchored by 24 (rotating) beers with an emphasis on craft and local (if you really hate yourself you can get a Bud Light). Unfortunately, Pecan Lodge’s insight that barbecue brisket is magical with Texas Tempranillo did not make it through the focus group stage.
North Texans will still want to weather the I-35 traffic and tear down the Austin Autobahn to get their heads straight about Texas-style barbecue, but now it can be an annual sojourn rather than a quarterly necessity. Ten50 just nailed another Dallas zip code where good, and authentic, Texas barbecue can be found close to home.