At Chasin' Tail in Lake Dallas, Too Few Puns, Too Chewy Brisket but Some Killer Sausage

Categories: Barbecue

Chris Wolfgang
This is the plate you want.
Chasin' Tail's new location, just across the Lewisville Lake bridge in Lake Dallas, is easy to find, marked as it is by a large pink pig-shaped smoker out front. I visited recently, and the sophomore in me was disappointed at the missed opportunity with the menu: no "Meat Three Way" or "Nice Sausage Platter" on the menu at all. Other than an all-you-can-eat option called the "Tail Chaser," 23-year-old me was left wanting.

I was left wanting when it came to the brisket, too. It was dry and chewy, and even some sauce couldn't revive it. It's hard to say where it went wrong, but if I had to guess, the brisket could be cooked longer and allow the fat and collagen to break down.

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How Dallas-Area Pitmasters Choose Their Wood, and How It Impacts Flavor

Categories: Barbecue

Robert Strickland
Pecan Lodge's smoker is piled with a blend of mesquite and oak.
Whether it's a 50-year tradition that leaves no choice in the matter, regional availability or a staunch preference for the specific taste derived from one wood or another, Dallas pitmasters have smoking-hot takes on which wood brings the wood in the great creosote debate.

A true post-oak disciple, Lockhart Smokehouse Plano pitmaster Will Fleishman says hickory's heavy smoke taste gets in the way of the actual protein.

"The object of the cooking process is to exalt the meat over trying to force smoke down people's throats," Fleishman says. "That's why it's part of our central Texas tradition to use exclusively post oak."

See also: Dallas' Five Best Barbecued Pork Ribs

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There Is a Sauce Station at Marshall's Bar-B-Q in Farmers Branch, and That's OK

Categories: Barbecue

Chris Wolfgang
Marshalls' meat, BS. (Before sauce).
If you find yourself in a long line for barbecue at a central Texas joint, try this for entertainment. Tell the two guys in front of you that you overheard someone in back saying they were going to douse their brisket in sauce, and causally point behind you. Aspersions will be cast, pejoratives slung, and lineages will be questioned. You, quiet instigator, slip from the melee and load up on smoked meats while the two camps duke it out. A debate on using barbecue sauce in Texas ranks just below Ford/Chevy or Aggies/Longhorns for intensity.

If you're on the saucing side of the fence, Marshall's Bar-B-Q in Farmers Branch is on your side, too. Tucked in a strip mall near Josey and Valley View Lane, Marshall's has been smoking meats since 1965. There's a catering office to handle off-site events, and there is a second location in north Carrollton.

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Write About Beer, Barbecue and Other Texas Delicacies for the Dallas Observer

Categories: Barbecue, Beer

Catherine Downes
If you have a pillow case made from this photo, you might be our new barbecue writer.
The Observer needs freelance writers to cover beer, barbecue and maybe other areas of culinary interest. Think you might be up for it? Read on, and read carefully.

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Texas Barbecue Prices Are Going Up, Thanks to Beef Prices and Your Love of Condiments

Scott Reitz
After years of lackluster barbecue, Dallas is finally home to some of the state's finest barbecue joints. But as lines wind out the doors of Lockhart Smokehouse and Pecan Lodge, other barbecue restaurants are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of food, particularly the brisket that so many of us love to eat by the pound.

In a post on barbecue enthusiast and meat tourist Bryan Norton's blog, Texas BBQ Treasure Hunt, Norton details the staggering costs that barbecue restaurants face in keeping their doors open. Any omnivore who's ever been to a grocery store knows how expensive good beef is, even the less pricey cuts used in Texas barbecue. In the beginning of 2015, brisket prices hit an all-time high, and beef prices show no sign of slowing down.

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Dallas' Five Best Barbecued Pork Ribs

Categories: Barbecue

Sarah Yu
Dear ribs from Off The Bone: Please get in my mouth.
For all we go on about brisket, the pork rib has a beauty all its own. Beloved in greater swathes of the country than brisket, it's nevertheless shunned across the Lone Star state as an not so worthy of barbecue. Well, if Kevin Spacey on House of Cards is constantly eating them, they're good enough for us too.

The thing is, it's very difficult to get a great brisket and a great rib going at the same time. Lots of places have a good to great one or the other, and the same is true with this list, as all the places here have average to non-existent brisket. Nevertheless, the art form of the perfectly smoked rib deserves a category all of its own, so here's to the perfect rib, which is smoky, tender, falling but not plummeting off the bone, and not skimping with the meat.

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Fatman's BBQ Is Great Southern Barbecue, Just Not Texas Barbecue

Gavin Cleaver
This is the entire customer space.
Somewhere over on the east side of the airport, on an unassuming street corner, lies the tiniest hole in the wall barbecue restaurant I've ever seen. The front of the house is just a waiting room with two chairs, a window for orders, and for some reason a guitar, fully set up ready to go with an amp and pedal, all plugged in. It looks like a London cab dispatch office, and if you've never seen one of those, that's for the best.

The sign outside, in contrast to all the other signs in the strip mall, lights up, so a circle round the block including a near-miss with a pick-up truck in the dark eventually leads us to spot Fatman's BBQ (3701 Esters Rd, Irving, TX 75038) when we're about three feet from it. Even then it looks like the building next door. In summary, it is not easy to find this place. At all.

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And the Winners of Meat Fight 2014 Are ...

Robert Strickland
The Meat Fight judges included Aaron Franklin, Jack Perkins, Daniel Vaughn and Jusitn Fourton.
Imagine this: Saturday night, while you and your fuzzy-ass slippers shiffled to the thermostat to crank your heater to 11, four teams of fancy chefs were huddled around smokers in a muddy West Dallas parking lot, drinking beer and cooking meat overnight in freezing temperatures, all in the name of charity. All in the name of Meat Fight.

This was the fifth year of the Fight, a charity barbecue competition founded by our longtime and award-hoarding Cheap Bastard columnist, Alice Laussade, and her husband, Mike. (The Observer is a sponsor.) It was the largest yet, held in a drafty warehouse across the street from Trinity Groves.

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How the Slow Bone Smokes its Sausage

Categories: Barbecue

Slow Bone
What a sausage fest.
In "Shigging," we ask barbecue experts to give us some specifics about how they smoke their meats. In the spirit of barbecue secretiveness and competitiveness, they're allowed to lie once.

This week, for Shigging, we're switching meats. For the moment, we're moving on from brisket, and we'll be asking Jeffery C. Hobbs of The Slow Bone about his sausage. Sausages. We hear the joke and we don't care.

What kinds of sausage do you offer at Slow Bone?

Old Time: fine grind, spicy, toothsome with a great snap. Smoked Cilantro: coarse grind, herby and juicy.

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Al's Beef, a Respected Chicago-Style Dog, Is Coming to Dallas. How Well Will It Travel?

Mr. Beef offers Italian beef sandwiches made with roasts cooked on site.
Earlier this week, news that Chicago-based Al's Beef would set up multiple locations in the Dallas area bubbled up like oil droplets in a pan of simmering jus. Much like Five Guys hired former Redskins player Mark Moseley to head up the burger chain's expansions, Al's Beef turned to Chicago Bears legend Mike Ditka to aid with theirs. They even named a hot dog after him. It's called the "spicy jumbo Ditka dog," and it's topped with onions, mustard and sport peppers.

Ditka's not just Ditkaing around; he's shipping Al's locations all over the country. There are now Al's beef in Las Vegas and California, and now five locations are planned for Texas, in and around Dallas. The first one will land in Addison, ironically in a space that used to house a Texadelphia, which sold a Texan take on Philadelphia's namesake sandwich.

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