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Barbecue in Dallas?

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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!

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  1. 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.
    Enjoy!

    9 Replies
    1. re: twinwillow

      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

        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

        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

          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

            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

            Are you nuts? Smoke? Best in Texas?

            Have you been to Lockhart?

          3. re: twinwillow

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

            1. re: twinwillow

              I was not impressed with SMOKE at all.

              1. re: KeepOurFreedoms

                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. 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.

              drbellsbbq.com

              1 Reply
              1. re: sike101

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

              2. What about the Hard 8 BBQ near DFW..

                http://hardeightbbq.com/

                1. 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

                    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

                      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

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

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

                    3. 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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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. 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

                            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.

                            http://fcg-bbq.blogspot.com/

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  Twin,
                                  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

                                    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

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

                                    2. re: twinwillow

                                      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

                                      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

                                        He's been to Smoke:
                                        http://fcg-bbq.blogspot.com/2009/11/s...

                                        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

                                          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.

                                          http://www.bar-b-cutie.com/

                                    4. re: lainekerr

                                      I love the ribs at Smoke! Best in Dallas!

                                    5. 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

                                        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

                                          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

                                            I definitely concur!

                                            1. re: twinwillow

                                              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

                                                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

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

                                                  1. re: carter4133

                                                    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

                                                      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

                                                        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

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

                                                          HOLY MOLY!!!! The stress of success?

                                                          1. re: twinwillow

                                                            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

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

                                                              1. re: air

                                                                air: +1

                                                                1. re: DallasDude

                                                                  air: plus 2 here.

                                                              2. re: twinwillow

                                                                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

                                                                  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

                                                                    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

                                                                      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

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

                                                      2. re: carter4133

                                                        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

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

                                                1. 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

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

                                                    1. re: Chazz27

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

                                                    2. 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

                                                        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

                                                          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. 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

                                                            ever tried the CFS or tex-mex?

                                                          2. 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.