Ten50 BBQ, Whose Owner Says He's "Matched" Franklin, Sold Out on its First Day

Categories: Barbecue

tenfiftybrisket.jpg
Kellie Reynolds
The meat in question.
Months ago, when Larry Lavine, the founder of Chili's, and I shouted at each other over the sounds of drilling and hammering at his new restaurant's construction site, it was hard to imagine that that restaurant, Ten50 BBQ, would evolve into become what it has today.

Which is, for starters, a restaurant that is finally open, and already full.

Ten50 opened on Monday. This week, they are serving up the goods from 10:50 a.m. until they're sold out. While they iron out the kinks, their initial focus will be on lunch, gradually widening service to include dinner, then to-go and catering.

I arrived there Monday not long after it opened, a little alarmed to see the large parking lot filling up so quickly. It was easy to find a spot, though, thanks to the Ten50 employees standing in the lot, flagging down spaces and directing traffic. If you arrive and the parking lot is full, don't panic. You may still have another chance to satisfy the cowboy-caveman in you. They have two parking lots, and you can pull through the restaurant's "alley" in the back, accessing their overflow lot without having to circle back on to the service road.

A full parking lot equals a long line, of course, but luckily it moved pretty quickly. Although the weather wasn't scorching today, the misting fans in the line area still helped. As a bonus, servers moved through the line with samples of Meyer's Elgin sausage, which helped to tide over the hungry masses.

tenfiftyspace.jpg
Kellie Reynolds
The calm before the storm.
The restaurant, which takes its name from its address (1050 N. Central Expressway), is a 10,000-square-foot barn-like structure. The atmosphere is casual and fun, with an updated, modern country feel. There are artsy touches everywhere, such as the mural that features Dallas landmarks, located in the back alley area of the restaurant. The dining concept here is a little different from other barbecue places. Outside, you select your choice of meats right off the smokers, where it's weighed and issued a barcode indicating its cost.

Next you venture indoors to select your sides, dessert, drink, and a slab of fluffy white bread, and to peruse the small bar of accompaniments, featuring homemade pickles as well as onion slices and jalapenos. To give you a sense of the cost, 1/4 lb. of ribs, 1/4 lb. of pulled pork, a side of mac 'n' cheese, a side of coleslaw, a piece of bread and an order of banana pudding will set you back about $23.00.

Lavine and his team have placed heavy emphasis on both pillars of good barbecue -- quality cuts and precise technique -- going "through a lot of cows and pigs" in the process. Drawing inspiration from legendary Texas barbecue joints, including Franklin Barbecue and Snow's BBQ, they have set out to provide a real-deal barbecue experience. They smoke with post oak and hickory, making their own charcoal. Their Oyler pits, which are made in Mesquite, are designed to "massage" the meat as it revolves through alternate temperature zones. They cook around the clock, in two batches rather than one. One of the pitmasters, Richard McMillan, says the brisket is the "Queen of the ball. We really don't season it too much. The meat speaks for itself."

The brisket I had was tender, with a thin layer of charred crust, just the right amount of mouth-melting fat, and those beautiful, colorful layers that indicate smoking done right. The pulled pork and St. Louis pork ribs are also flavorful and tender.

We know, we know: Good barbecue doesn't need sauce. But if you want it, you'll find it here. There's a house sauce -- a spoon-coating, molasses-based sauce with tangible bits of spices and a tiny kick of heat. And there's the Carolina sauce, which is a thin, tangy, mustard/vinegar-based sauce.

There are sides, of course, too, including a chunky potato salad and crisp slaw, and 24 rotating craft beers on tap. The banana pudding is almost like Grandma used to make, smooth and creamy, with slices of fresh banana scattered throughout and topped with a puff of whipped cream.

And they serve one more thing: thick, creamy bravado.

"Franklin's in Austin is the gold standard and we think we've matched that," Levine told me. "We've got a phenomenal product."

Time -- and that line -- will tell.


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43 comments
TEN-50-BBQ
TEN-50-BBQ

Kelly & BBQ fans

I did not mean to imply that we are

another Franklin's. I respect Arron and the great job he does.There is only one Franklin's. Arron has set the bar for premium bbq and we work everyday to  also serve  a great product.Larryten 50 bbq

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I used to live at the Meadows Apts when I first moved to dallas in the 80s, and yes it was a pretty good restaurant. Is it still there? Better than its successors?

ja001
ja001

I can look at the photo of the brisket and with certainty state that they have not matched Franklin.  The fat was not properly trimmed and is not rendered.  The meat is dry.  I applaud any good barbecue, but, don't claim to be something you obviously aren't. 

matt
matt

My work colleagues and I went to ten50 for lunch on opening day, we are all pretty picky about BBQ and have been several times to Pecan Lodge, Franklin, and other greats. Ten50 has a long, long way to go to be in that company. It was an "OK" first experience, the sausage was excellent, but the brisket, ribs, and pork leave a lot to be desired.  Lean-ish brisket was dry and lacked any real smoke. The ribs were hit and miss. The pulled pork was over sauced and served cold. I'd put it slightly behind Rudy's in terms of overall quality, but at Pecan Lodge prices, this place better figure it out fast. 

Will definitely give it another try, the turkey looked good and the chicken-stuffed jalapenos were solid, but the main attractions had little to offer over run-of-the-mill BBQ places in town. Sorry to sound like Yelp reviewer, but the comparison with Franklins is a joke, and the cocky attitude and build-smoker/they-will-come attitude of this place is wearing thin fast. 





brent.johnstone
brent.johnstone

Aaron Franklin owns Franklin Barbecue.  Aaron Franklin's restaurant is Franklin Barbecue.  There is no such place named Franklin's Barbecue.  Why is that so freakin' hard, even for food writers?

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Franklin's may be his inspiration but the operation sure sounds like Hard 8. I have a problem with a brand new operator claiming such lofty stature before he's done a spits worth of business. Braggarts rarely make good.

maybe1
maybe1

Can't wait to try it!

Greg820
Greg820

It takes a good three months to break in a smoker and get all of the stars aligned.  Just ask Lockhart and Slow Bone about their first 90 days in the business.  After that, some adjustments here and there to dial it in even more.  Offer some interesting sides, ditch the plain white bread, and you are good to go.  Best wishes to them.

jacobtaylor0505
jacobtaylor0505

I've never had bbq off an Oyler that actually stood out as anything other than ordinary. Maybe it's been the cook, but that's been my experience...

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

I'm very familiar with Larry Lavine's restaurant background. I think If anyone can pull this off, he can. However, it's way to soon to start comparing Ten50 BBQ to Franklin's. I'm very eager to try  their brisket and ribs soon to draw my own opinion.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

I'd be interested in hearing @bbqsnobs opinion on this joint being equal to Franklin's.  That's strong, strong patting oneself on the back.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

Looks just like Franklin's for sure.

CaffeineQueen
CaffeineQueen

@TEN-50-BBQ , Larry Lavine is one of the nicest, most humble people you could ever hope to meet. I am sure he did not mean to disrespect or offend anyone with his statement about Franklin Barbecue. He has put a lot of effort into creating some great barbecue, and in my opinion, there's enough room for everyone. From: Kellie Reynolds

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@primi_timpano Gone! The whole building has been demolished. I think something else is there in it's place now.

shawnH1234
shawnH1234

@matt I guess I'll still have to make the trek to meshachs for this general area even though it is kind of far.

Metroplexual
Metroplexual

@brent.johnstone  Reminds me of way back when when the nightspot Elan was called Elan's by so many.  Of course that has nothing to do with BBQ. I'm going to try Ten50 today.  I hope I don't waste my time and $23. 

scambs04
scambs04

@primi_timpano He is far from a new operator. The very first sentence says that he is the founder of Chili's.  

Stazzio
Stazzio

@Greg820  Slow Bone sucks major azz. Just ask Jack Perkins.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@Greg820 I definitely agree about ditching the white bread. Jack Perkins over at Slow Bone won't allow any white bread in the restaurant. 

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

And where does Chili's rank on the BBQ scale. I think they have ribs, but I've never tried them.

Greg820
Greg820

@Twinwillow Yeah, tradition is one thing, but it should not stand in the way of flavor. White bread is tasteless, doesn't absorb sauce, flattens to the thickness of toilet paper when any stress is applied, and in gerneral has no reason to be anywhere near quality BBQ. As you can tell, it is a sore point with me.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@bigjondaniel @scott.reitz dont make me post pictures of our home smoked brisket from this past weekend here too.  I've already hit one CoA post with it

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@primi_timpano The original Chili's (at Meadow & Greenville) founded by Larry Lavine and subsequently sold to Brinker International, is a far, far cry from the Chili's as we know it today.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I saw Merken's photo and it looked like a real deal meat fight challenge.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@G_David I sure the fuck could go for a Monte Cristo from Bennigans right about now. I really dug their fries, too.

AliceLaussade
AliceLaussade

@primi_timpano I think he's just super good at food photography. Probably had a blogger help him. Only way to know for sure is to make him make meats for me. Get to it, @ScottsMerkin

AliceLaussade
AliceLaussade

@JustSaying @G_David I sold 1.000 orders of those when I waited tables at the one in the Galleria. My nickname was "Tortuga." In Spanish, that means, "great awesome."

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@JustSaying @G_David Bennigans is making a comeback, and if your search hard, you can still find one or two open in the metroplex.  I too loved the Monte Fucking Cristo

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Scott, I hardly need to speak for Alice but I think she wants a sit down, chew up live at the smoker invitation.

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