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Barbecue in Dallas?

lainekerr Dec 2, 2009 08:00 PM

I'm a Canadian gal who will be in Dallas on business later this month (first time in Dallas, or Texas for that matter), and I've always wanted to try authentic American barbecue. Any recommendations? I'm staying in the historic district (Commerce Street), but don't mind a short taxi ride somewhere. Thanks in advance!

  1. twinwillow Dec 2, 2009 08:29 PM

    Although the city of Dallas isn't especially noted for outstanding BBQ, there are a (very) few places I would personally recommend.
    Baker's Ribs, Greenville Avenue location ONLY! Great St. Louis cut pork ribs and pulled pork. Skip the brisket.
    Smoke. In the Belmont Hotel in Oak Cliff. A short ride South from downtown. Have the, "Big Rib".
    CT's Real Deal BBQ. It's new and I haven't tried it but I intend to.
    Sonny Bryan's BBQ. THE ORIGINAL LOCATION ONLY on Inwood road! Have the chopped beef on a bun with their incredible onion rings. Iconic Texas BBQ atmosphere.

    9 Replies
    1. re: twinwillow
      DallasDude Dec 3, 2009 09:30 AM

      Rusty's at Blue north of Toronto has nice bbq. Otherwise, what twinwillow speaks is the truth. The best Texas bbq is a bit south of Dallas. And when did we start calling that area the historic district? Suppose a well meaning hotelier.

      1. re: DallasDude
        lainekerr Dec 3, 2009 10:43 AM

        Thanks for the suggestions! Can't wait to try some of them.

        Oh, and Google Maps calls the area "historic district" - I just assumed that was accurate! :)

      2. re: twinwillow
        OCNC Dec 4, 2009 05:55 PM

        Twinwillow said everything you need to know about Q in Big D. Go to SMOKE for hands down the best barbecue in Texas and maybe in the country. Go to SOnny Brians for old timey Dallas classic barbecue. You will want to take a BATH in Sonny Brians sauce!

        1. re: OCNC
          air Dec 5, 2009 11:42 AM

          Man speaks the truth. The meats at Sonny Bryans are so dry, boring, and flavorless, can't eat them unless you smother them with sauce.

          1. re: air
            DallasDude Dec 5, 2009 11:44 AM

            I don't get the ribs there. They smoke 'em then slice each and grill 'em. Makes for a very dry product.

          2. re: OCNC
            DarnellErwinFletcher Jul 12, 2010 08:27 AM

            Are you nuts? Smoke? Best in Texas?

            Have you been to Lockhart?

          3. re: twinwillow
            sigpete67 Jul 13, 2010 05:35 AM

            Tried CT's and it was terrible. Greasy, cold and salty. Just terrible.

            1. re: twinwillow
              KeepOurFreedoms Feb 3, 2011 08:34 PM

              I was not impressed with SMOKE at all.

              1. re: KeepOurFreedoms
                CocoaNut Feb 8, 2011 09:12 AM

                Me either. Can't say I've ever seen pink, med-cooked (smoked? - don't think so) brisket - even for oven cooked. It wasn't as tough as I'd have expected, but certainly chewy. Interesting to say the least. But it's trendy, so it will be a proclaimed success until the next .......

            2. s
              sike101 Dec 3, 2009 02:16 PM

              There is a new BBQ spot right in downtown called Dr. Bell's on Main St. (one block over from Commerce) next to a great watering hole called the City Tavern. I haven't eaten there yet but have heard good things.

              If I was gonna take a cab out of downtown for anything, it wouldn't be BBQ in this town.


              1 Reply
              1. re: sike101
                twinwillow Dec 3, 2009 08:03 PM

                Re: 'sike101'. I've also heard good things about "Dr. Bell's BBQ" and I'm anxious to try it.

              2. l
                Littleman Dec 3, 2009 06:20 PM

                What about the Hard 8 BBQ near DFW..


                1. d
                  demigodh Dec 3, 2009 07:23 PM

                  don't let all the negativity about dallas bbq deter you, i'm confident you'll be pleased. Compared to the rest of Texas, Dallas has bad 'cue. Compared to the rest of the country/Canada, Dallas has great BBQ (with very few exceptions). I'll second Baker's Ribs which has some of the best ribs in town. I'd also recommend Big Al's on Inwood (i think) for bbq chicken. Lastly, I just tried a joint in Garland called Meshacks that is now my hands-down favorite bbq spot in Dallas. Truly amazing but it's takeout only so be forewarned.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: demigodh
                    DallasDude Dec 3, 2009 07:53 PM

                    Don't mean to ever be negative, believe me. However in comparison to Hill Country style bbq, Dallas is a bit weak. And I was born and raised here.

                    1. re: DallasDude
                      demigodh Dec 3, 2009 08:24 PM

                      sorry, wasn't trying to call you out or anything. i just noticed the OP is from Canada so there's practically now way she will be unhappy with dallas bbq. I agree though that it's worse (on average) than most other cities in Texas.

                    2. re: demigodh
                      Scagnetti Dec 4, 2009 07:39 AM

                      I second Big Al's Smokehouse BBQ. Good ribs, sausage and sides.

                      3125 Inwood Road
                      Dallas, TX 75235
                      (214) 350-2649

                    3. c
                      CocoaNut Dec 4, 2009 09:02 AM

                      I think you'll be pleased with the BBQ choices offered. After all, you're visiting Dallas, not Austin, not the Hill country.

                      The "original" Sonny Bryans (on Inwood) was mentioned. Please don't be sucked in by name association and hit one of the NON-original franchises going by the same name. That would NOT be a pleasant experience for you. Although it's been years since I've eaten there (Inwood), they used to only serve bbq through the day until they ran out - which was usually early afternoon. I'm not sure about the weekend hours - I think very limited if at all. Perhaps someone else will confirm or you could call.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: CocoaNut
                        twinwillow Dec 5, 2009 10:29 AM

                        Yep! They still close up after the BBQ runs out. Usually about 4:00 during the week. Some days, sooner.
                        And one of the reasons their sauce is soooooo good, is because they add beef drippings from the smoked brisket to the sauce. So, keep the Tum's handy. You'll need it. But, it's worth the burn.

                        1. re: CocoaNut
                          CocoaNut Jul 12, 2010 10:01 AM

                          I happened to drive by Sonny Bryan's Inwood location during the lunch hour a couple of months ago, stopped it, and was horribly disappointed in my very dry and tasteless, sliced brisket sandwich. Looking around, there's a reason you see sandwich eating people with sandwich in one had and bottle of sauce in the other.

                          I don't understand how very successful, family pit-master values can be so bastardized from one generation to the next. It just doesn't make sense.

                          1. re: CocoaNut
                            Scagnetti Jul 12, 2010 10:42 AM

                            It all started after Sonny died. For years, Sonny rebuffed outside offers to open other locations. He just wanted to stand behind the counter, serve barbecue and yuck it up with customers at a time when you could barely turn around in the place it was so crowded.

                            Whoever inherited the "Sonny Bryan" name sold out to commercial interests and now we are left we this embarassment to Sonny's legacy.

                            1. re: Scagnetti
                              J.R. Jul 13, 2010 08:44 AM

                              No Doubt!. 30 yr. veteran of Sonny's here. I went a year or so ago and found that not only was the beef terrible, but they had changed the bun. Now, who in the heck messes with the original concoction like that? It was almost brioche-sweet like. Sad BBQ days indeed.

                        2. l
                          lainekerr Dec 17, 2009 05:17 PM

                          Thanks again everyone! I didn't have a lot of free time, but I did get a chance to try SMOKE and it really was fantastic! I had the ribs, which the super friendly lady behind the bar promised me would "change my life", and they really were delish. Served with four different types of BBQ sauces, which I really enjoyed. I had the coleslaw and hominy casserole with green chili and cheddar, which was deadly. Would love to go back someday!

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: lainekerr
                            LewisvilleHounder Dec 18, 2009 07:01 AM

                            If you would like honest opinions about just any BBQ place in Texas I would recommend reading the reviews on Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog. Those gusy take BBQ very seriously. They have links to filter by the places here in Dallas or Fort Worth.


                            I know it is past your trip but for your return or if you ever plan to travel to the Austin area.

                            1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                              jaime24g Dec 21, 2009 01:32 PM

                              LH, the Gospel BBQ blog is a great piece of information.

                              What would the central Texas bbq masters say about this place called Smoke? I bet they are at home laughing at this overpriced so called bbq with their many fancy sauces. I cannot say this enough, great bbq does NOT need all these sauces. Along with picking out good quality protein and mastering the art of smoking, you cannot compare these new kids on the block to the real bbq down in central Texas. For the hounds that have had central Texas bbq, how does Smoke compare to those establishments? That is the question....

                              1. re: jaime24g
                                twinwillow Dec 21, 2009 02:03 PM

                                jaime24g ~ I totally agree. However, we're not in Central Texas. We're in Dallas! So, when in Dallas, eat at, Smoke! It's that simple.

                                1. re: twinwillow
                                  jaime24g Dec 22, 2009 09:13 AM

                                  Smoke received 2 out of 5 stars from the Gospel. Apparently Twin, Smoke is not even average. There is no need to overhype this bbq establishment, it already is overhyped. Also, I was disappointed when you mentioned Sonny Bryans as one of your top bbq places here in Dallas. Sonny Bryans has not had average bbq in years.

                                  1. re: jaime24g
                                    twinwillow Dec 22, 2009 10:49 AM

                                    I like the BBQ at Smoke very much. IMHO, It's a lot better than most places in Dallas.
                                    As far as Sonny Bryan's is concerned, you're taking my statement out of context. Read what I said again and you'll see why I recommended Sonny Bryan's.

                                    1. re: jaime24g
                                      DallasDude Feb 9, 2011 07:10 AM

                                      Odd FGB just did an event with Byres. The one that caused Hanna-Gate.

                                    2. re: twinwillow
                                      foodiedfw Feb 9, 2011 11:46 AM

                                      I am a Smoke fan as well and would definitely recommend it to an out of towner. I also heard the other day that they have a good weekend breakfast/brunch. I hope to check it out soon. I heard there was an eggs benedict made with pulled pork.

                                    3. re: jaime24g
                                      DallasDude Dec 21, 2009 02:18 PM

                                      It was my understanding that one of the guys from Gospel did the News article. I have only read their blog a few times, and do not partipate, so not a fact. Twin?

                                      1. re: jaime24g
                                        air Dec 21, 2009 02:20 PM

                                        He's been to Smoke:

                                        As of now I think it's about on par, maybe slightly better than chain BBQ and it'd be nice if it improves over time. But until that happens, getting decent 'cue requires at least an hour's drive outside the Metroplex (exception if it's DIY).

                                        1. re: air
                                          DallasDude Dec 21, 2009 02:32 PM

                                          Someone mentioned a chain called bar-b-cutie in Allen is supposed to be pretty decent. This coming from a friend of the owner of Main Street. Sadly Main Street has suffered along with the health of the owner.

                                          Anyone try this chain? I am supposed to be hitting it soon.


                                    4. re: lainekerr
                                      twinwillow Dec 19, 2009 11:26 AM

                                      I love the ribs at Smoke! Best in Dallas!

                                    5. d
                                      demigodh Dec 21, 2009 03:08 PM

                                      anyone been to Meshacks in Garland? It gets 4 stars in the Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog and having now gone twice it's my favorite 'cue joint in dallas. Ribs, brisket and links are all great. He smokes everything with 100% pecan wood and it's takeout only. Lastly, my only complaint/advice is that he smothers everything in tons of bbq sauce (hot or regular) so I recommend asking for sauce on the side if you don't like your ribs drowned in sauce. Anyone else been and if so what's your thoughts?

                                      21 Replies
                                      1. re: demigodh
                                        carter4133 Feb 8, 2011 08:38 AM

                                        I can't speak for Ft. Worth but in Dallas and its suburbs, Meshack's is the ONLY destination BBQ.

                                        For out of town visitors, I recommend Sonny Bryan's on Inwood (kitschy + average Dallas BBQ) or Sammy's in Uptown (also kitschy with below average Dallas BBQ but great sides).

                                        You can do better at Big Al's, Mac's or Bakers. But barely.

                                        1. re: carter4133
                                          CocoaNut Feb 8, 2011 09:09 AM

                                          Never been to the other place, but skip Sonny Bryans totally. Terrible example of BBQ from anywhere. It may be the original location, but it's a far cry from the original masterpiece BBQ that once *was* Sonny Bryan.

                                          1. re: CocoaNut
                                            twinwillow Feb 8, 2011 01:03 PM

                                            I definitely concur!

                                            1. re: twinwillow
                                              carter4133 Feb 8, 2011 01:33 PM

                                              outside of big al's, mac's or baker's ribs, what place in Dallas is better than sonny bryans? I agree sonny bryans sucks but where else would you send a visitor if they insist on eating BBQ in Dallas?

                                              below are the places I've been to. Not many of these are much better than Sonny Bryan's on Inwood:

                                              mike anderson's (harry hines) -- about as good as sonny bryan's
                                              peggy sues (snider plaza) -- good fried pies, not much else
                                              smokey john's (love field area) -- better than sonny bryan's but a slightly different style bbq. zero atmosphere therefore most bbq visitors will be disappointed in recommendation
                                              baker's ribs -- slightly better than sonny bryan's; a pretty good recommendation for a visitor, though nothing to write home about
                                              meshack's -- as I mentioned before, best bbq in dallas or suburbs (excl ft worth and mid-cities)
                                              CT's real deal -- no thanks. love checking out bbq and fried fish joints in this neighborhood but CT's isn't in the top of the class.
                                              mac's bbq -- was once my favorite bbq spot in dallas but I've had extremely inconsistent results the past 4-5 years. plus, his prices keep going up.
                                              baby back shak -- this is the only other bbq place (besides meshack's) in dallas that I would actually seek out. I like one item on the menu -- the ribs. not really texas bbq but great stuff.
                                              big al's -- sometimes the brisket is pretty good. bbq chicken isn't bad. nothing to write home about. I conceded earlier that it was better than sonny bryan's, and believe is sits squarely above the dallas average; however, not destination bbq
                                              sweet georgia brown -- not sure if this is still open as I haven't been in a few years but decent bbq. beats CT's in the category in my opinion. not really texas bbq. plus, mostly a soul food cafeteria line.
                                              backcountry bbq -- more average dallas bbq... would probably put it neck and neck with sonny bryan's
                                              dickey's -- the only place in town that servers worse bbq than sammy's. of course not sides and no "texas bbq" atmosphere
                                              pappas -- good beef ribs. not a bad recommendation. probably better than sonny bryan's or sammy's in terms of an "out of towner" rec. not sure why it escaped me earlier.
                                              spring creek -- ugh..
                                              smoke -- not a bad restaurant but not really a traditional texas bbq place. if someone ask for bbq and you send them here, you might as well send them to first chinese bbq, imo.
                                              pecan lodge catering -- full custom bbq and scott @ dallasfood missed on this one in my opinion. roast beefy and a horrible tasting rub from the half a dozen times I've been here.

                                              those of you that think sonny bryan's is so terrible, what places have I missed?

                                              here's to hoping the new lockhart smokehouse in OC fills the void. if it is anything like the joke that the kreuz folks opened in manhattan a few years ago (hill country bbq), I'll pass.

                                              dallas is a good enough food city for me but still a horrible bbq destination.

                                              1. re: carter4133
                                                twinwillow Feb 8, 2011 02:42 PM

                                                Sorry, I'm sticking to what I've said before: Sonny Bryan's is the bottom of the barrel.

                                                CocoaNut said it best"
                                                "It may be the original location, but it's a far cry from the original masterpiece BBQ that once *was* Sonny Bryan".
                                                'Nuff said.

                                                1. re: twinwillow
                                                  carter4133 Feb 8, 2011 07:28 PM

                                                  14 months ago you were recommending sonny's on inwood and now it is bottom of the barrel? got it.

                                                  1. re: carter4133
                                                    twinwillow Feb 9, 2011 06:18 AM

                                                    That was 14 months ago. A lot has changed since then. And in answering the OP's request, I wanted to recommend SB's for this out of towner because, although they probably wouldn't know the difference, they would at least get the "iconic" Texas atmosphere they expressed interest in. In another comment, I merely recommended their chopped beef and described their sauce. And since then, I've read distressing reports about their onion rings not being nearly as good as they used to be.
                                                    So, stop picking my comments apart and take them in the context as they were intended in response to other comments in this thread.
                                                    As I said, 14 months is a long time and many changes have occurred in the restaurant business. Dr. Bell's closed their doors and even Smoke has toned down their BBQ and switched to a newer style menu. Happily, Smoke's "Big Rib" is just as good as it always was.

                                                    1. re: twinwillow
                                                      carter4133 Feb 9, 2011 07:11 AM

                                                      Twinwillow, I understand. If you'll read my original comment you'll see that my recommendation of SB's was for an out-of-towner looking for Texas-style BBQ in Dallas as well.

                                                      I haven't been to Sonny Bryan's on Inwood in a couple of years. Sad to hear that the quality has slipped since then. Especially since it wasn't very good the last time I ate there.

                                                      Have you been to Meshacks? I wouldn't send an anonymous out of towner there but I'd certainly send anyone that lives in the central, northern or eastern parts of DFW. Really, really good stuff.

                                                      1. re: carter4133
                                                        twinwillow Feb 9, 2011 08:08 AM

                                                        Thank you and please excuse my rant.
                                                        Sonny Bryan's has really slipped since Sonny died and the family sold it to a corporate minded entity (I think a group of attorneys).
                                                        I well remember the days when Sonny used to stand behind the counter bouncing up and down chopping brisket for the sandwiches.
                                                        Which IMHO was the best thing to eat there. Especially, loaded with raw onions and that great, fat laden sauce that gave me heartburn for two days. I never liked their ribs but occasionally, I would allow myself an order of their (used to be fantastic) fried onion rings.
                                                        I haven't been to Meshacks primarily because it's strictly take-out and, I wasn't happy hearing a few negative things said about the owner on Yelp

                                                        1. re: twinwillow
                                                          CocoaNut Feb 9, 2011 08:46 AM

                                                          >> I wasn't happy hearing a few negative things said about the owner on Yelp

                                                          HOLY MOLY!!!! The stress of success?

                                                          1. re: twinwillow
                                                            air Feb 9, 2011 10:09 AM

                                                            Oh come on. Those are both horribly weak reasons to not go to Meshack's. Based on that, you'd also have a problem with a place like Wingfield's and I could never picture you trying Franklin BBQ in Austin. And especially whatever you may have heard about Travis - who by the way, has always been very amiable every time I've picked up some 'cue there.

                                                            Honestly, Yelp reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt, even moreso for the extremely drawn out and exaggerated dramatic ones. Practically all of the Dallas content there is useless.

                                                            1. re: CocoaNut
                                                              twinwillow Feb 9, 2011 10:43 AM

                                                              My son lives in Austin and LOVES Franklin's BBQ! I'm very eager to try it.

                                                              1. re: air
                                                                DallasDude Feb 9, 2011 11:12 AM

                                                                air: +1

                                                                1. re: DallasDude
                                                                  twinwillow Feb 9, 2011 11:20 AM

                                                                  air: plus 2 here.

                                                              2. re: twinwillow
                                                                Webra1 Feb 9, 2011 11:02 AM

                                                                Meshacks is very worth the drive, especially for the ribs. Baby Back Shak ribs used to be our favorite, but they pale in comparison. Only difference is we prefer the BBQ sauce at BBS, but you barely need any anyway.

                                                                I found the owner to be extremely nice and accommodating. He knew I was coming in from Downtown Dallas to pick up my order and called me while I was on my way to see how far along I was so he could cut the meat just right before I arrived so they would still be hot.

                                                                1. re: Webra1
                                                                  twinwillow Feb 9, 2011 11:23 AM

                                                                  That settles it! I'm gonna try it as soon as I can thaw out. I'll just take it home and eat it.

                                                                  1. re: twinwillow
                                                                    Webra1 Feb 10, 2011 11:02 AM

                                                                    I suggest you go to Meshacks on a Sat or Sun, as soon as they open. We've been by twice in the afternoon and they have been out of ribs and just about everything else.

                                                                    1. re: Webra1
                                                                      air Feb 10, 2011 11:18 AM

                                                                      Did they change their hours? I haven't been in a couple months, but from what I remember, they are in business starting at 10:30 Tuesday to Saturday until they sell out; and not open Monday or Sunday. Also cash only.

                                                                      1. re: air
                                                                        Webra1 Feb 14, 2011 09:41 AM

                                                                        Sorry - my error! They are still closed on Sun and Mon.

                                                      2. re: carter4133
                                                        CocoaNut Feb 9, 2011 05:22 AM

                                                        Pecan Lodge is a joke. Fact. I'd prefer Hard Eight and I'm not a fan of it.

                                                        You might try North Main BBQ in Euless for the simple reason I think it's the only one you haven't tried. It's ok, but is not in the same league as the BBQ Trail. They're only open Fri, Sat and Sun, buffet or sandwich, BYOB.

                                                        1. re: CocoaNut
                                                          carter4133 Feb 9, 2011 06:11 AM

                                                          north main is on my list. I've heard good things.

                                                          I also need to do a proper crawl through the mid-cities and fort worth.

                                                          I literally went to pecan lodge 6x over a 3 month period trying to figure out what I was "missing." just not impressed.

                                              2. u
                                                uninvited guest Dec 22, 2009 11:11 AM

                                                Can't go wrong with the dry rub ribs, sausage or brisket at Red Hot and Blue and I love their potato salad!

                                                1. c
                                                  Chazz27 Dec 23, 2009 02:51 PM

                                                  I live in the area but am from Missouri. I also used to live in Memphis. Nothing can beat Kansas City or Memphis barbecue. I haven't found any barbecue here that can beat what I've had in KC or Memphis. I agree though that Red, Hot and Blue is about as close to KC and Memphis BBQ as you can get.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chazz27
                                                    twinwillow Dec 23, 2009 03:55 PM

                                                    Visit Central Texas around the Austin area and then come back and tell us what you think.

                                                    1. re: Chazz27
                                                      twinwillow Jul 11, 2010 02:57 PM

                                                      I'll have to admit, Red, Hot & Blue's BBQ isn't half bad.

                                                    2. c
                                                      CocoaNut Jul 11, 2010 12:59 PM

                                                      I've been meaning to pose the question: How is the BBQ at Pappas on NW Hwy? As long as it's been there, I've never been. As long as it's been there, whenever I pass by, I always think, I should stop in one day and see what its about.

                                                      Oddly, with all the Dallas BBQ bashing that crops up on this (and other) board, I've never seen Pappas mentioned - for the good or the bad.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: CocoaNut
                                                        air Jul 11, 2010 04:24 PM

                                                        Awful, awful, awful. Dry ribs and brisket that is no better than roast beef. I refuse to go back. Full Custom BBQ has been there as well and he had a better experience than me.

                                                        1. re: CocoaNut
                                                          carter4133 Feb 9, 2011 07:50 AM

                                                          beef ribs are some of the best in Dallas (again, not saying much). as air mentioned, the rest of the bbq is pretty crappy.

                                                        2. DallasDude Feb 9, 2011 07:13 AM

                                                          If you ever make it to the Rahr Brewery tour check out Jesus BBQ (sorry twin), they sell a lot of different things like CFS and TexMex, but their bbq is pretty damned good. Had a sliced sammy and it had a robust bark, intense smoke ring and plenty of juciness to make the sandwich perfect. It is just around the corner from Rahr in FW and has been there for something like 42 years.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: DallasDude
                                                            carter4133 Feb 9, 2011 07:51 AM

                                                            ever tried the CFS or tex-mex?

                                                          2. d
                                                            DrnknMc Feb 14, 2011 10:07 AM

                                                            I'll first suggest you exit Dallas proper and head to the nearby hinterlands.

                                                            I've found two good BBQ places within 20-30mins of Dallas, that are worth driving to.

                                                            First, is Randy's in Red Oak, Tx. Just about 15-20min south of DT to Red Oak Road. Real wood smoker, family owned and operated, good all the way around.

                                                            Second, is Sammy Walkers in Rowlett. I've seen some ancient bad reviews so I cannot speak to what it was like 3 yrs ago. Just the last year. It's good... the sausage is from the Hill Country and the ribs are to die for. The sides are ok, but I don't go there for sides.

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