I Tell You What, They Got Some Good Dang Ol' Meat But I Ain't Gonna Tell You Dang Ol' Where

mystery BBQ plate.jpg
Much of the time in this blog, I've been banging on about "authenticity" or "being legit" and trying to work out what that was in relation to the Texas BBQ experience. It seems that the less inviting a place is, the more authentic the experience. For example, Sonny Bryan's (OG) is tiny, made of wood and has no real tables for placing your food on. It's this struggle through the adversity of actually applying meat to face that makes it fun to eat there. Forest Hill Off The Bone had the same feeling but for different reasons: The sheer incredulity of the staff that I would talk British to them while trying to acquire meat from their tiny shack in the middle of nowhere meant I knew I was getting the proper "local" experience.

Essentially, then, I am a tourist, seeking out not only good meat, of which there has been plenty, but the feel of a venue that is so far removed from my normal experience that I am left confused, scared and enthralled, knowing that, when I do depart this sunbaked land, I will have campfire tales about my time in Texas that I can pass down through generations of baffled Europeans who will all strive to attain this mysterious "brisket".

mystery BBQ smokers.jpg
This place, though, topped them all and then some. It was utterly ridiculous, and I have never experienced anything like it. The previously mentioned two places at least had pretensions of being, if not restaurants, then at least diners. I think I am going to leave it anonymous, simply because they I doubt they had the required licenses and I want to go back there all the time until they're actually comfortable with me. This might take some time. If I thought communication problems were bad before, a room full of people who sound exactly like Boomhaur from King of the Hill soon put paid to any ideas I had of finally getting the hang of Texas.

What happened is this. I started a new job, and my new boss, having read all this Observer stuff, said "I know a fantastic place. You'll love it. It's walking distance from here." I was very excited. At lunchtime, three of us set out to arrive at what can only be described as a very small brick structure, with a miniscule, almost comical, hand-wrought metal sign over the door being the only clue that this was some sort of establishment. To the side, a couple of relatively small BBQs stood alongside some wood stored in "acquired" shopping carts. Inside, in a suffocatingly small room, there were just two long tables and a sort of sink/plates arrangement. One table was full up of the aforementioned Boomhaurs, all accent and white facial hair, some of them not wearing shoes, and the other table was free.

mystery BBQ diners.jpg
First though, we had to order. I say order, though there was one menu option, "MEAT PLATE -- $10", two meats, two sides, two bread. My third go at ordering from an increasingly irate man hidden behind a generous mustache was the charm, and even then my two sides were different to what I ordered. Have you ever not wanted to kick up a fuss so much that you're grateful that what you ordered was vaguely correct? Because that's how I felt. Not a single chance was I going to send anything back. I got ribs and brisket with a side of beans and coleslaw, and the obligatory free bread. The choice of drink was between iced tea and iced tea, and I assume there was no charge for it because people only started staring when I tried to photograph the food. In retrospect, that was a terrible idea, made worse by forgetting to turn the flash off, but I have a commitment to you, the reader, to take indistinguishably bad photographs of meat from very close up. The meat came sauced; it was very smoky and the portions were outlandishly huge. The ribs were the pick, very different, almost springy in their tenderness rather than falling straight off the bone. The brisket was tender and well-smoked, the links I tried from my boss' order were absolutely beautiful, and the sides were delicious. I couldn't finish it all, although by the end I had embraced the awkwardness and felt able to talk louder than a whisper.

We finished up by dropping cash into a bowl on the honour system (my question to my boss beforehand of "is this place cash only?" felt pretty stupid by this point) and scraping off our dishes into the trash and putting them into the sink. It was like eating at your dad's if your dad was brilliant at smoking meat but quite visibly resented you ever being born. I am going to go back again and again. I'm not telling you where it is, because it may well get closed down. My advice is to walk into a bunch of dodgy-looking shacks north of the metroplex and see if anyone gives you delicious meat. Sage advice I'm sure you'll agree.

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18 comments
seltzernator
seltzernator

Gavin, Even from the clues, I'm not sure where this is.  Looks good and would love to try it.  Also have a few recommendations for you if  you haven't already been.  1)  North Main BBQ in Euless.  It's only opened Friday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.  This a buffet.  $15. They have brisket, smoked sausage, chicken, shredded pork and ribs, plus a few sides (I LOVE their baked beans personally).  They have won NATIONAL awards.  They don't put a bunch out at a time and let it sit and get old as you would think with the word 'buffet',rather they are sitting right on the other side of the buffet line and are cutting just barely enough to take care of those that are in line.  It's quiet a haul from my place in Deep Ellum, but so worth it! 

2)  Mike Anderson's BBQ on Harry Hines.  Only opened for lunch Monday - Saturday, this place is a true Dallas treasure.  Last time I was in, CNBC was actually in there and took a pic of my plate for a special they were doing destination restaurants.  There is nothing I can say for this place that can do it justice.  3)  Hard 8 BBQ in Coppell.  I used to work a block down the street from this place, so I know it well.  You will need to arrive right at 11am when they open, or wait till about 1 or 1:30 when the ridiculous lunch rush dies down.  This is pit style BBQ.  Once you actually make it up to order, you're actually walking by open pits and pointing out what you what.  I could tell you all about this place, but I think I'll just let you take the experience in of walking through there for the first time (I think that's a big part of it).  Be warned, you WILL over-order the first time in and will have to grab a to-go box.  Cheers, and happy eating!Jamie S 

Reader
Reader

Gavin, you've been depriving yourself by not coming to Fort Worth. I invite you to check out Angelo's, seen on Food Network, and Railhead, where U.S. presidents get their BBQ.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

What's wrong with the brisket in that picture?  It has a weird, and unbrisket-like yellow color to it.

J_A_
J_A_

Gavin, I don't understand why you're always so uncomfortable in these BBQ places? Is an English accent really grounds for all the stares and what not? Imagine how a minority feels walking into one of these joints.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

"...if your dad was brilliant at smoking meat but quite visibly resented you ever being born."

 

More delicious than that delicious sounding brisket. Keeps me coming back for more.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

Sounds like the ribs were done right, you don't want the bone to just pull out..that was the only thing me and the wifey were disappointed about at Franklins.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

sounds wonderful, Im not north of metro so I doubt Ill run into this place.  But I do know a backyard in my neighborhood where we put good ribs on the table every weekend.  you should experiment in your backyard ot see if you can pull off some good bbq

todd
todd

Please update your LinkedIn profile so I can figure out where this place is.  

dallas_paul
dallas_paul

 @JaniceA "Minority"? Some of the best BBQ I've ever had the privilege of chewing on came  from smokers and kitchens owned by African-Americans. As a pale white suburbanite, I've been the "minority" in many a BBQ joint. If you never have, I question your BBQredibility.

JustSaying
JustSaying

 @JaniceA

 "Imagine how a minority feels walking into one of these joints"

 

Wait, what? I dont think Ive ever met a black person that was uncomfortable in a BBQ joint.

GavinCleaver
GavinCleaver

 @JaniceA I see what you're saying. Yes, a lot of the time having an English accent is enough for stares of incredulity, but also it doesn't help that I am quite socially awkward. I think it's more awkwardness. I tend to panic in situations I perceive as uncomfortable.

J_A_
J_A_

 @JustSaying I didn't realize black people were the only minorities.

Colin1
Colin1

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz

If it vanished without cause, it never was there. Proper Southern hospitality only grows more coy and sickeningly sweet when the other party demonstrates they aren't deserving of said hospitality.

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