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BBQ within 30 mins of Dallas?

Hey Chowhounds. The SO and I are taking a long weekend in Dallas in over a month from now. We are looking for a really impressive BBQ place if such a thing exists. We've looked at a lot of posts out here but we remain a bit confused so are risking starting a new thread with a topic that seems to have been well covered. Yet, the differences here are:

1) The BBQ restaurant does not have to be in Dallas proper, it is OK if it is a bit outside. An hour drive is probably too much, but a half hour-ish drive would work. If the place is only open for lunch and not dinner it would be good to know.

2) We prefer a single owner operated resto rather than a chain, though we understand Dallas is full of chains and some may be perfectly good, especially if it's a chain only in the sense that it expanded to a few restos out of one perfectly good local one and maintained quality.

2) Preferably it wouldn't be cafeteria style, though that is OK for great food.

3) It would be good if they had entrees other than meat, i.e. vegetarian or seafood, but not just veggie side orders, but also entrees. Yet, if there is an awsome place that only serves meat, it is a possibility for us.

4) The Babe's restaurant (although it is not BBQ) sounds pretty good, especially the one that serves catfish as well. We see it says it serves family style. Is that OK for two people? Also sounds like Babe's has a bunch of "entertainment" going on, singing, dancing and such. That is OK but we don't really want or need that. Is that really that way it is? Sounds touristy maybe?

5) In Dallas, a few restaurants mentioned: Sonny Bryan's (the original location good, but overrated, past it's prime?), Sammy's, and Baker's. Any further thoughts on those?

6) Mainly interested in BBQ, but if we really can't find any that is super good there, how's that S&D Oyster Company?

So any local residents especially have any good advice? Visitor advice is great too, but we prefer to eat where the locals do.

We promise to report back with the results of our quest. One caveat is, we only have the time to go to one place with all the other visiting activies already planned!


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  1. If you have to stay within Dallas, I'd say go to Sammy's or County Line. Sammy's is definitely much better than Sonny Bryan's, so don't even bother with Sonny Bryan's. County Line recently opened up a location in Garland. Although it's a chain, it sounds interesting and received a glowing review from another local hound. Nothing from Guidelive.com yet, but I'm sure they'll come up with something.

    I'd really recommend omitting the 30 minute drive requirement and making the drive to Fort Worth for Railhead BBQ. However, asides the drive, it's a place that has a cafeteria feel as it's usually pretty packed whenever I go. Considering you're coming in from out of town, it's one of the best options in the DFW area and it'd be worth the trip.

    5 Replies
    1. re: air

      Thanks for your info. Air. We'll have to look at our timeframe and see if we can get as far as Fort Worth ... it's a short weekend so it's tough to go too far, yet for something really good we can make a little side trip. Otherwise it sounds like it's Sammy's?:) I'll have to look into Railhead.

      1. re: Ianto2000

        Tanto, dont expect any vegetarian entrees at a barbecue joint, The prevailing menu theme is MEAT -- their only concession is the occasional grilled chicken sandwich, or maybe a big salad in a fried taco shell, with chopped brisket, which they will "hold" for you. Please dont take a vegetarian to these places -- they will NOT be happy.

        1. re: Cheflambo

          Ah lol, I know ... thank you Chef .... the SO eats seafood and veggies primarily, but other meat is definitely on the menu, but only if it is of good quality. Tough, dry pork would only be disappointing, but good stuff is definitely on the offer.

          1. re: Cheflambo

            I went with a vegetarian friend to a BBQ joint here. He ordered a baked potato with NO MEAT... The cook was surprised that bacon was considered a meat :)

          2. re: Ianto2000

            Depending on where you are staying in Dallas, making to Railhead won't take much longer than about 40 minutes, could be less. It is right on I-30 just west of downtown Fort Worth. To that end, I agree it is one of the better options in the area.

            In Dallas proper, in addition to those already mentioned, I would recommend Baby Back Shak on Akard in South Dallas, Big Al's on Inwood, or Bakers Ribs (they have, I think, two location: one in Deep Ellum and one on Greenville Ave. at University).

        2. regarding S&D - it's good. The oysters are tasty, although there's no selection - just Gulf Coast oysters. Othwerwise, it's pretty much broiled or fried fish and hush puppies. I've never been blown away by the place, but I do enjoy eating there.

          1. S&D is great it's a true Dallas institution. I personally normally go to one of three places if I really feel like BBQ.

            1) Clark's Outpost it's about an hours drive north of DFW http://www.clarksoutpost.com/ ** note ** they also have really good smoke trout and "sheep fries"
            2) North Main BBQ in Euless http://www.northmainbbq.com/
            3) Rudy's BBQ in Denton http://rudys.com/

            2 Replies
            1. re: irodguy

              Is it really worth driving all the way out to Tioga for Clark's? I don't want to go all the way out there for the same "sandwich grade" brisket I could get in Dallas.

              1. re: luniz

                Their Ribs and Brisket have been good on my many trips there. My own personal favorite thing however is not "meat" it's their smoked Trout. I have been part of several car gatherings there and everybody has thought it was very good.

            2. Skip Sammys and N. Main BBQ...I think Sammys is one of the worst bbq joints I have eaten at here in DFW. If you have to stay around the area go to Railhead in Fort Worth.

              I visited N. Main BBQ this past weekend and it didnt impress me much. The ribs were bone dry, no smoke flavor and small. The brisket had no flavor and minimal smoke ring. The sausage was just average for me. The smoked chicken was also very dry with no flavor. I didnt really care for the potato salad and bbq beans. The pulled pork and the bbq sauce were probably the best thing I had there. The pork had good flavor and it was really tender.

                1. re: coppellite

                  Worst suggestion I've seen so far. Rudy's is no better than Sonny Bryan's.

                  1. re: air

                    I totally disagree their meat taste of smoke nothing at Sonny Bryan's even reasonables smoke.

                    1. re: irodguy

                      Not sure what your definition of good BBQ is. Been to all the good ones in the hill country, and short of driving there...Sonny Bryans was excellent. Angelos....not so much (Juiciest brisket with a smoke flavor I've ever had). Two places on I35 in Lewisville...Sugar Baby's (don't bother)..pulled pork was OK -Sauce really bad)....Brisket --gave it to my dog. The really big pig Just north of Lake Lewisville, heading south on I35. Ok when I want to drive 2 miles instead of 50. Will be trying Railhead today when I get of work

                2. Just browse this site...bbq is an enigma in Dallas and Scott did a wonderful job trying to break the code. Hope you have a good time in DFW.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: adkim

                    Adkim, just wanted to thank you for the Dallasfood link, it's been a fun resource. Just looked at the reviews, no time to delve into the message boards there as well, though ideally we would have. Printed up a ton of BBQ reviews with great photos, and read through the Tex/Mex reviews as well.

                  2. My family and I and everyone I know who's been LOVE Babe's. I don't think of it (either the one in Carrollton or the original in Roanoke) as being touristy at all. They are very Texan-y. Two people with the family style service of sides is fine - they just bring out as much as needed and will keep bringing it as long as you want.

                    Seems like everyone pooh-pooh's Sonny Bryant's these days and I hadn't been there in ages until about a week ago when a guy from California I was working with wanted to go. He'd read about it somewhere. So we went for lunch and I thought the ribs were wonderful. We went a bit later in the day - maybe around 1.30 p.m. so it wasn't packed. Sitting in an old school desk in a tiny restaurant chowing down on ribs, big fat onion rings and cold ice tea on a hot summer day was a pretty darn good experience.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pearlgoddess

                      I'd go to the new Hard Eight Barbecue in Coppell north of the airport. They're out of Stephenville and are a traditional central Texas style joint. Lots of choices besides great brisket and ribs like tenderloin, sirloins, and huge pork chops. Excellent sides and desserts.

                      Sorry but no place thats a barbecue joint caters to vegetarians, not just in Texas but anywhere.

                      Babe's is excellent fried chicken and sides. I recommend avoiding catfish at anyplace that doesn't specialize in catfish. I also recommend avoiding gulf oysters this time of year.

                      David's in Arlington is from the Sonny Bryan family and is consistent. Besides Railhead in Ft Worth, Angelo's is also excellent. Avoid all restaurants that have Riscky's in the name. Also avoid the corporate chains like Colter's, Shady Oak, Spring Creek, Dickey's.

                      1. re: Texzilla

                        I'm revoking my rec of Hard Eight here. I've had a great experience, but it appears they are having terrible consistency issues.

                    2. I don't even know what to do with all this info. lol, going this weekend so doing some last minute figuring out. Very little "free" time. Thanks all so much this is great.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ianto2000

                        Looks like we'll go to Babe's chicken for lunch, Avila's or Cafe San Miguel for dinner depending on how fancy we feel, and BBQ from either Bakers, Mac's, or Back Country, mostly on info. from another site, some of which matched on here. Too far to venture to Railhead, sadly. Time became more of a consideration ....

                        1. re: Ianto2000

                          Piggy-backed on these suggestions for a weekend trip up to Dallas from Houston - - to go to the State Fair (had first/last corny dog)! I have been trying to hit all of the Texas BBQ joints in Lochart, Austin, Houston - - and Sonnys is good. Surprising to find it as an oasis in new development. Also tried Kellers for a hamburger - - another unique place worth trying; and Hattie's in Bishop Arts District. Hattie's was suggested in another string - - I liked the atmosphere of area and establishment, but upscale southern food was just okay. Would not return.

                      2. Due to numerous changes of schedules and plans, we had to put aside our top 3 choices and go to a convenient place, which turned out to be Peggy Sue's. Long story short we planned on going to the Dallas version of Babe's Chicken, called Bubba's, only to find it was counter service only, no table service. We were aghast, after all our hard research.

                        Fortunately we had seen Peggy Sue's around the corner, and at least we had heard of it and had seen some reasonable reviews. It was "OK", and I was very glad it was there for an emergency backup to salvage my rep.

                        Contrary to a detailed review I had read on the dallasfood.org website (each item was very different than described there), the brisket was VERY smoky, a little dry, and tender enough, the dry rub ribs were pretty touch and dry, and the baby back ribs were fall off the bone tender and very good, though probably not up to central Texas standards. What really stood out were the side orders, everything was extremely fresh, hot and really just out of the fryer or pot. Fried okra, fresh green spinach, a wonderful squash/corn/cheese combo. The onion rings were very good but just short of out of this world. The table BBQ sauce was completely average, especially the spicy version. I've heard the decor is interesting but it's not at all. I'd go there if I were in the neighborhood and craving baby back ribs.

                        Thanks for all your posts and I'm glad some got some further use out of this thread. Hopefully next time, which sadly will be a while from now, we can try Bakers or even make the trip to Railhead, in fact, I think we will make that trip.

                        1. Here's a link that has my review of Babe's chicken in Carollton at the end. Much better than Bubbas in Dallas.