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The best Texas barbecue


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#241 jsmeeker

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 08:22 PM

It's been said by many that Dallas doesn't really have any good BBQ. Is that true? Well, sadly, I think it has been true. There is some good BBQ in the area, but you have to head west towards Ft. Worth. Or south. But within the city limits, it's slim pickings. But things have improved lately. I hit up two spots over the past two weekends. One is very new and the other relatively new.

Pecan Lodge
Shed #2 at Dallas Famers Market


Shed #2 is an indoor building at the Dallas Farmers Market was supposed to house specialty foods and eateries. It was really, really slim pickings there. But slowly, things are improving. And Pecan Lodge is one place worth the visit. It's not strictly a BBQ place, but they do server of some very good BBQ. The only way they sell is it via a BBQ Plate. That gets you some sliced brisket, pork ribs, and a side of your choice. I asked fatty brisket and what I got was some great meat. Best I had ever had in the city of Dallas. Good smoke flavor. Tender. Moist. Really good stuff. The ribs were pretty good to. When it comes to BBQ, I really pay little attention to sides. But the beans I got were tasty. Really, if you are in downtown, go. If you aren't in downtown, but live in Dallas, go. They are opened Thursday through Sunday.

http://www.pecanlodge.com/


Lockhart Smoke House
400 W. Davis
Dallas, TX 75208

The opening of Lockhart Smoke House in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas's Oak Cliff neighborhood has been eagerly anticipated for several months. As the name implies, it seeks to recreate the BBQ one may find in the Central Texas BBQ meccas in and around Lockhart, TX. For starters, there is a connection to the Schmidt family. If I have the details right, one the owners is the grand daughter of Edgar Schmidt, owner of the original Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX. Also, the head pit master at the current Kreuz Market in Lockhart consulted on the place and helped them get setup. To stack the deck even more in their favor, they are getting their sausage FedEx'ed in from Kruez Market in Lockhart.

So, with all that said, any veteran of the Central Texas BBQ should have high expectations for this place. Things started off very icy with the place opening up the week of the Super Bowl while Dallas (and a large portion of the rest of the country) was hit by a very major winter storm. Not exactly the best time. BBQ loving friends of mine even braved the dangerous roads to go there. Initial reports were pretty good. A subsequent report last week had very high praises. So, with that, I headed down there yesterday (Sunday Feb 20, 2011) for an early lunch.

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Foodwise, the thing weakest for me were the ribs. Mine just were not very tender. I enjoyed the brisket. I didn't specify fatty or lean or anything. Just asked for brisket. The slices I got had some fat in them. I found them to be tender and juicy enough with decent smoke flavor. The shoulder clod was something I had never had before any where. While what I got wasn't as good as the brisket (it was a little dry), I think this is a cut I could really like. I found that it had some really good beef flavor. The sausage was just what you would expect with it coming from Kreuz. Awesome. I also tried a bit of pork chop that a friend of mine ordered. That was really, really dry. Didn't like it at all. Next time, I think I may concentrate on just the beef. Maybe ordering more brisket in one order will result in a better sampling.

Service wise, it was a little interesting. For people used to the central Texas meat market style of service, there wasn't anything really weird about it. But they did have their own little quirks. Paper doesn't seem to be real butcher paper. What we got this time was white. In pics I have seen previously, it was brown. Also, they wrapped up each different type of meat in it's own paper, then wrapped that all up in another piece of paper. That made unpacking it all at the table a bit of a PITA. Another thing I noticed was employees greeting people as they walked in and directing people to the back to place their orders. When we got there, someone asked if we had been there. Told them some of us had been there, but others were not but we were very familiar with the drill at the places in Lockhart, Luling, etc. Everybody was very friendly. Workers mostly young, "urban hipster" types. When I was waiting around for others to arrive, one of them walked out front and got things out of his car. A Mercedes. It wasn't as crowded as I expected. I was the first person there. If a friend didn't get stuck in traffic, we would have been the very first group to order that day. The crowd picked up, but there was never a big line of people. I've heard that weekdays are a different story. Long lines will form quickly. Get there early, I've been warned. Pricing wise, I think my order came out to $26 or $27 dollars. That was for a 1/4 lb brisket, 1/4 pound clod, two ribs, a link of sausage, and a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola. In actuality, I think the meat weighed in a bit more. Not much, though.. Not enough to make a fuss over. Pricey? Yeah. Especially the sausage. And I really didn't need two ribs. What I didn't eat, I packed up to take home.

So, how was it? Is it the best BBQ place in the City of Dallas? I think based on my recent experiences, Pecan Lodge had better meat on my visit there compared to my visit to Lockhart Smokehouse. But in the strictest sense, Pecan Lodge isn't really just a BBQ joint. Overall, I think Lockhart Smokehouse has excellent potential to become the top place in Dallas proper. I'll certainly go back. Sunday mornings seem to be a good time to go crowd wise. Plus, the traffic going down is easy (as long as you don't try to come down Central and cutover over on Woodall Rodgers) There isn't any BETTER true BBQ place closer to me.

http://www.lockharts....com/index.html

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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#242 bmdaniel

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 05:38 AM

Jeff -

I've recently tried both of these as well. I agree with giving the meat nod to Pecan Lodge - it seems to me that Lockhart still has some kinks to work out. When I went I thought the pork ribs were over salted (which is very hard to accomplish with my salty tastes), and the shoulder was almost inedibly dry. Still, on the whole, I agree that even with the ups and downs it was the best of what we have in Dallas (with the best things being the brisket and the sausage).

I'm still hoping they'll settle in a bit and up their game to the Lockhart standard.

#243 jsmeeker

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 11:19 AM

Jeff -

I've recently tried both of these as well. I agree with giving the meat nod to Pecan Lodge - it seems to me that Lockhart still has some kinks to work out. When I went I thought the pork ribs were over salted (which is very hard to accomplish with my salty tastes), and the shoulder was almost inedibly dry. Still, on the whole, I agree that even with the ups and downs it was the best of what we have in Dallas (with the best things being the brisket and the sausage).

I'm still hoping they'll settle in a bit and up their game to the Lockhart standard.


It's interesting you bring up the salt issue on the ribs. A friend of mine said the exact same thing about the ribs on his initial visit. Very salty. But this past weekend when we were both there, he said it wasn't a problem at all. In fact, he felt that they had gone too far the opposite direction. But I didn't find them to be UNDER seasoned.

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#244 bmdaniel

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 11:46 AM

Hopefully it's just an issue of getting the kinks worked out - definitely a lot of promise there.

#245 jsmeeker

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 01:46 PM

This past weekend, I made another trek to Central Texas with several Dallas area friends and a few out of state friends (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Los Angeles). Some of the places we hit were new to me. Some were not. But I'll cut to the chase and talk a little bit about the place we thought was the clear winner.

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Franklin BBQ

Franklin BBQ is in Austin. Right in the city, just a block east of I-35 on 11th street. In fact, they just moved to their new location a few weeks ago. Previously, they operated as a "food trailer" with a setup in a parking lot. They had their smokers there and served out of an old camper trailer. Now, they are in a full blown permanent restaurant space. Due to some confusion over the time they opened, we arrived REALLY early. About 9:15 AM, thiking they opened at 10:00. But they didn't. They open at 11:00. this turned out to be OK because we were the FIRST people there. Within a few minutes, some more people arrived. By the time they opened the doors at 11:00 AM, there must fave been 80-90 people in line.

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Owner. Pit Master. BBQ God. Aaron Franklin.

Aaron is the owner. As you can see, he is a young guy. From what I gather, he's only been doing BBQ professionally for a year or two. His family has some BBQ restaurant background, but it's nothing like the long history of the Central Texas BBQ meccas in Lockhart or Taylor or Luling. Due to our early arrival, we were able to chat with him brifely as he tended to the smokers. They actually moved the smokers from the old, original location, to a lot behind the restaurant. This was a sign of good things to come. Franklin had been highly regarded in their original location. I was a little worried moving meant new pits. But that was not to be. They are still using the original ones. In the future, he plans to build a new brick pit to add capacity


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Aaron opened the door promptly at 11:00 AM. My group got the first order. Aaron led us to he coutner where he proceeded to slice up some brisket for us. Some fatty. Some lean. We finished out the order with pork ribs and sausage. The standard Central Texas three meat combo.


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Our tray of brisket, sausage, and pork ribs. We polished this all off in about 10 minutes.


The BBQ here was outstanding. Best brisket I have ever had. Pork ribs were really good too. A friend that doesn't really even like pork ribs enjoyed them! Sausage was pretty good too. Not the best. But good. But since brisket is the king of meats in Central Texas BBQ, having the best ever brisket gives the crown to Franklin.

In the past, people would ask "Where do I get good BBQ in Austin?" My stock answer was always Lockhart. Or Luling. Or Taylor. But no more. Now, my answer is different. It's Frankln. And I'm almost bold enough to suggest that people skip the drive to the small towns. Just go to Franklin. But get there early. They were sold out and closed up before 2:00 PM the day we went.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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#246 Rico

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 11:31 AM

Great write-up, Jeff.

A few of my buddies and I rented an RV and are making a 4-day barbecue trek through central Texas next weekend - Franklin is first on the list; makes me a little sad that we're going to be starting out with what could be the very best ...

And have you tried Slabs in mesquite? A carryout-only place, it deserves to be in the conversation with Pecan Lodge and Lockhart, in my humble view. The guy uses hickory, and while it could use a little better bark, the brisket's got a great texture. Big smoke ring, too, which I like. His sausage is really good, as well, though I don't think he makes it in-house. But very good, regardless.

Edited by Rico, 05 April 2011 - 11:39 AM.


#247 jsmeeker

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 02:06 PM

Slabs? No. Have not tried it. Have not heard of it until now. I'll have to look into it. What is on your itinerary? Here is where I went over the weekend.


Friday

Louie Mueller (Taylor)
City Market (Luling)
Luling Barbecue (Luling)
Kreuz Market (Lockhart)

Satruday
Snow's (Lexington)
City Meat Market (Giddings)
City Market (Luling)

Sunday
Franklin Barbecue (Austin)

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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#248 kaszeta

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 02:09 PM

In the past, people would ask "Where do I get good BBQ in Austin?" My stock answer was always Lockhart. Or Luling. Or Taylor. But no more. Now, my answer is different. It's Frankln. And I'm almost bold enough to suggest that people skip the drive to the small towns. Just go to Franklin. But get there early. They were sold out and closed up before 2:00 PM the day we went.


As another member of jsmeeker's party, I'll definite concur with this. The payoff for the effort was several orders of magnitude better for Franklin. The combination of quality vs proximity more than made up for the long line. While I loved the brisket at Snow's, it's hard to justify the travel time from any place you might be coming from. Really, going on overall quality and accessibility, it's really, really hard to argue anything but Franklin.

#249 bmdaniel

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 02:10 PM

Curious why you went to Luling City Market twice?

Also, very impressive that you liked Franklin's the best when it was your 8th visit (high risk of being BBQ'd out, if such a thing is possible). Really need to get down there.

#250 jsmeeker

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 02:25 PM

Curious why you went to Luling City Market twice?

Also, very impressive that you liked Franklin's the best when it was your 8th visit (high risk of being BBQ'd out, if such a thing is possible). Really need to get down there.



We went twice because not everyone in the group was able to make it there on Friday due to their travel logisitics and schedules. The veterans of this group that have done BBQ runs before have found that City Market in Luling has been conistently solid across all three meats on every visit. After the early morning run to Snows, then a quick trip to Giddings, it was clear we could make the hour and a half trek Luling to get some lunch at peak time. It was worth it because overall, it was best that day, too.

Snows brisket was really good. But the ribs were not good at all. The sausage wasn't so hot, either. Honeslty, we were kinda dissappointed with it, given the hype and the long drive very early in the AM to get there. Still, we were glad we gave it a try. City Meat Market in Giddings was OK. Brisket chewy. Sausage decent. Much better than Snows. My understanding is that Snows gets sausage from there. So, clearly, there were smoking issues with it up the road in Lexington.

Franklin was really that good. Even after all the meat we packed away the two days prior, it was quite obivous to everyone that it reigned supreme.

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#251 kaszeta

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 04:54 PM

Snows brisket was really good. But the ribs were not good at all. The sausage wasn't so hot, either. Honeslty, we were kinda dissappointed with it, given the hype and the long drive very early in the AM to get there. Still, we were glad we gave it a try. City Meat Market in Giddings was OK. Brisket chewy. Sausage decent. Much better than Snows. My understanding is that Snows gets sausage from there. So, clearly, there were smoking issues with it up the road in Lexington.

Franklin was really that good. Even after all the meat we packed away the two days prior, it was quite obivous to everyone that it reigned supreme.


Yeah, if I was rating places just on the brisket, Snow's was probably my second best place after Franklin. But it sank pretty far down in the ratings looking at the whole three-meat experience, well behind City Market in Luling, which was consistently good across the board. I was impressed with both City Market and Franklin's for both being able to give us barbecue that we enjoyed even when both were experienced by a crowd that was already getting more than a little weary of barbecue.

#252 jsmeeker

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 05:09 PM

Hi Kaszeta,

Welcome to the eGullet Society. I'm glad you joined our ranks to share your experiences with Central Texas BBQ. It's always good to get perspectives from other people. We all have things we like and don't like. And we don't always agree on what is good or not so good. Of course, frequently we do. And I know we all agreed Franklin was the champ this trip.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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#253 jsmeeker

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 04:09 PM

On Labor day, I made a return visit to Lockhart Smokehouse in Oak Cliff (Dallas). This time, I skipped the ribs and only ordered brisket (moist) and a link of Kruez sausage. The brisket was really great. Tender. juicy. falvorful. Better than what I had on the first visit. Some of the best I have had in Dallas. It's on par with Pecan Lodge. Really, I think those are two very solid places that are within the city limits.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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#254 Chris Hennes

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 11:26 AM

I just returned from Smitty's and Kreuz, having eaten at Franklin yesterday. Judging BBQ is a pain in part because there is so much variability in the quality depending on things like wind direction and speed. It's fascinating to read back through this topic to see where others' experience has been the same as my own and where it differs. Franklin had the best texture of the three, in my opinion, but I have a preference for brisket that has been broken down just to the point of falling apart: this is not the style at Smitty's or Kreuz. Unfortunately, I found the bark to be much too salty at Franklin. At Smitty's I thought they cooked the brisket too hot and too fast, it was borderline tough. Kreuz, our last stop, split the difference and was our clear favorite. I like Smitty's sausage the best because it took real advantage of the smoke flavor. None of the sausage had a particularly good texture, but that's the norm for this sausage style it seems. I did not sample the ribs, pork, etc. at any of these places.

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#255 jsmeeker

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 11:29 AM

what about the smoke? Which had the best smoke flavor? That's where it's at!!

:cool:

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#256 SpaghettiWestern

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:51 PM

I just returned from Smitty's and Kreuz, having eaten at Franklin yesterday. Judging BBQ is a pain in part because there is so much variability in the quality depending on things like wind direction and speed. It's fascinating to read back through this topic to see where others' experience has been the same as my own and where it differs. Franklin had the best texture of the three, in my opinion, but I have a preference for brisket that has been broken down just to the point of falling apart: this is not the style at Smitty's or Kreuz. Unfortunately, I found the bark to be much too salty at Franklin. At Smitty's I thought they cooked the brisket too hot and too fast, it was borderline tough. Kreuz, our last stop, split the difference and was our clear favorite. I like Smitty's sausage the best because it took real advantage of the smoke flavor. None of the sausage had a particularly good texture, but that's the norm for this sausage style it seems. I did not sample the ribs, pork, etc. at any of these places.



CHRIS ! you went all the way to Lockhart and you didnt go to BLACKS ?
why?
Its usually the best of the bunch in Lockhart....the brisket is usually top of the heap.

#257 Chris Hennes

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:55 PM

I can only take so much brisket: two lunches was plenty for me! I'm going to have to eat vegetarian for a week to recover as it is. Jeff, the flavor of all three briskets was excellent, I wouldn't choose one over the other on that basis, especially considering the dramatic textural differences.

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#258 SpaghettiWestern

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 01:07 PM

I can only take so much brisket: two lunches was plenty for me! I'm going to have to eat vegetarian for a week to recover as it is. Jeff, the flavor of all three briskets was excellent, I wouldn't choose one over the other on that basis, especially considering the dramatic textural differences.


I guess it must be me but ... i cant leave any destination food joint without taking something home. LOL
sorry you didnt think to stop at Blacks just for a bit of brisket to take with you.

On your next trip.... dont forget to include Blacks...... i think you'll enjoy it.

#259 WJConrad

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:45 PM

On your next trip.... dont forget to include Blacks...... i think you'll enjoy it.


Black's has amazing turkey and beef rib too. They're very very nice about letting people take pictures of their smoker, and the owner even found and commented on our blog post when we got back from our road trip and posted them.

#260 jsmeeker

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:07 AM

I'm back in Austin for another BBQ run. Friday wasn't spent in Lockhart or Luling. Not in Taylor or Elgin. It was spent all within the city of Austin. And we didn't even go to Franklin. But we had some great BBQ.


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First up is J Mueller BBQ. A cart/trailer setup on South 1st street. John Mueller has an interesting past. Descendent of BBQ royalty in Taylor, TX. He had a place in Austin several years ago. But that closed. Now he is back. And it's great. Very good brisket. Some of the best lean I've ever had. The sausage? That was the best central Texas style BBQ sausage I've ever had. Good beef rib too. The family's signature heavy with black pepper rub is present here. I'm a big fan of it, so it works for me. But others are less enthusiastic.






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After J. Mueller, we headed to North Austin to Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew on North Lamar. Not sure how long this place has been around. But if you have seen 'Dazed and Confused', you are familiar with the actual building. Stiles Switch is located in what was the pool hall in that film. There is no pool now, but there is still beer. And some very respectable BBQ.


BBQ in Austin proper is getting better. And that's a good thing.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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#261 Twyst

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:22 AM

Really late to this thread, but add another vote for franklin's. Ive been living in Austin for about a year now and they are definitely the best game in town, although at times Im not sure they are worth the sometimes INSANE lines you are forced to wait in.

#262 jsmeeker

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 05:00 PM

We hit Franklin today. Bypassed the line and wait by pre-ordering. They make you do it by whole briskets. We go two. Wound up with 9.85 lbs of awesome BBQ goodness.

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#263 justj4

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 12:13 PM

From a Dallas perspective:

I thought sonny bryans was good, odoms was great near oak cliff, and mike andersons was amazing. Smoke is on my list to try, pecan lodge was also fantastic.