The Original Sonny Bryan's versus Mike Anderson's in a Brisket Showdown

sonnybryanbrisket.jpg
Gavin Cleaver
You'll be pleased to know I have not spent my downtime improving my photography skills
In honor of Sunday's sold-out Meat Fight, we're celebrating smoked animal flesh all week long in our inaugural Meat Week, in which we celebrate the procuring, cooking and face-stuffing of dead-animal flesh.

An oft-overlooked brisket is the lunchtime variety, guaranteed to make your afternoon at work a slow and lazy one. Two lunchtime establishments just north of downtown have been around for eons now, and are about fifty feet from each other. I like to imagine the owners peer at each other's buildings from the windows of their restaurants, possibly using binoculars, to see what the other one is up to. If there isn't some sort of rivalry there, I'd at least like to pretend there is one, okay?

Sonny Bryan's OG
Smokiness
Was possibly once wafted near some smoke of an indeterminate nature

Tenderness
Was veering towards dry, but not quite there, still pretty tender

Beefiness
Sliced too thin to be described as really beefy

With sauce
Delicious, because all sauce should be served in a used beer bottle

Without sauce
Like eating some beef, but in a school canteen from the 17th century, so pretty cool I suppose

Cost
$7.99 for a brisket lunch plate with two sides

A symphony of wood and smoke, the original Sonny Bryan's has been open since before the Bible was written. As soon as the cow was invented, Sonny begun to smoke it. Some people said he was a madman, but he knew that, centuries later, everyone else would catch on. Unfortunately, since then the art of a really well-smoked piece of brisket has been lost to the ages. No doubt, somewhere within the dusty confines of Sonny's there is a secret recipe, some might say an ancient text, that will tell the employees of Sonny, or the disciples as they are undoubtedly called, how to apply smoke to meat. There are, however, yet to find it.

Look, it wasn't all bad. It was pretty tender, and combined with the sauce, distinctly delicious, because it's almost impossible to go wrong with that combo, no matter how unsmoky the meat is. The tenderness was good, it just wasn't smoky enough for a good Texas piece o'brisket.

*****

mikeandersonbrisket.jpg
Gavin Cleaver
SLABS, MAN, SLABS
Mike Anderson's
Smokiness
Smoky enough for you to take a bit and go "this is definitely some smoked meat right here." So about a 7/10.

Tenderness
Pillow-soft, but not quite fatty enough to be an excellent experience.

Beefiness
Real man slices, the sort that Justin Lookadoo would declare to be fit for a wild, untamed Man of God.

With sauce
Goddammit Mike Anderson has the best sauce. He really does.

Without sauce
Still distinctly edible, lovely smoke, nicely tender.

Cost
$5 for a brisket sandwich, $10 with two sides

While not quite as weird as SB's, Mike Anderson's fine establishment, which boasts more cow-hide than a place with a lot of cow-hide, has been a fixture on Harry Hines for decades. Before I was born, Mike Anderson was chopping animals for hungry Dallasites. As a man who stands there, day in, day out, chopping meat smoked in his place, what do you think he eats for dinner? It's got to be a salad or something, right? I put on five pounds just by looking at Mike's gloves.

Although the heat-lamp warmed brisket is no world-beater, it's undoubtedly several steps above SB's in every department, and you can't beat being served meat by the man whose name is above the door. When you combine the better brisket with some of the best sauce in town you literally cannot go wrong. And $5 for a sandwich? That's like $1 more than a 7-Eleven sandwich, and when was that ever served with a smile and a vat of sauce? I would buy Mike Anderson's sauce in a bucket if it was served that way. No matter the cost of the bucket. This battle of Ancient Nearby Lunch Places is no match -- the whippersnapper Anderson takes home the gold.

Location Info

Mike Anderson's BBQ

5410 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

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10 comments
Admonkey
Admonkey

Nice, topical Lookadoo reference.

kfries1
kfries1

I'm a Philly boy that's eaten every style of BBQ. That said, Texas BBQ is still my favorite. I've tried Sonny's at every location including the original. Sonny's is still better than Dickeys but I've never had better brisket than at Mike's. I'm not even sure why anyone would try to compare them.
If I had a choice of place to compare Anderson's to, I'd ask the folks at CoA to compare it to Peggy Sue's brisket. My selfish reason would be because the baby backs at Peggy Sue's are soooooo delicious that I'd never waste a visit to eat brisket.

halldecker
halldecker

AMEN!

 I ate at both them last week,  SB's 'cause Mike is closed on Sunday.   I remember Mr. Sonny in his white paper hat,  chopping away,  waitresses calling everybody Hon.  About the time of SB's great expansion,   the meat began tasting gummy,  like it was cooked in a central kitchen and microwaved.   Or reheated over a burner.   Other than some wood to create smoke,   I agree,  there's none burning on Inwood.


I've eaten bbq from Temple to Lockhart,  and most of the places in Dallas.  Mike's is the best I've found.  He doesn't understand the concept of portion control,   apparently sees no need to raise prices.  His beef-loaded baked potato is good for at least three meals.  It's one of the best buys in Dallas,  as you note his bbq sauce is to die for. 



runDMC
runDMC

....possibly once wafted near some smoke

Now that's funny! I think, Gavin, you are first to declare that the emperor has no clothes. They serve roast beef with lots of sauce and have for years. Corporate food hiding as legacy. Sad.

Ever notice how the outside woodpile at SB's never moves. I think it's like one of those one piece ceramic fireplace logs. Looks good from 200 yds type deal, but is a total fraud.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Sonny's has been in decline since the Master passed.  The days of sitting at a grade school desk or eating off the hood of your car have passed.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@runDMC 


You said it, not me........that place hasn't grilled a a brisket since ____? Dave does a great job running the place and putting up with the owners, but, I smoke more meats in me backyard. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@Twinwillow @kergo1spaceship 



been busy as "ess" at work.....and travelin' man; been a banner year for "gittin" out of town-23 weekends were spent in the comfy confines of the woods this year sir. 

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