It’s a fact that barbecue reigns king in the Lone Star State– and if you haven’t experienced it first hand, you basically haven’t been living. But if you thought the only place to find good barbecue was in Central Texas, think again. The Dallas area boasts more than its fair share of award-winning smokehouses serving up just about every style of barbecue you can think of.
Arguably, the most iconic spot in town (thanks to being featured on shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) is Pecan Lodge, a veritable temple to wood-fired meats that’s as famous for its long lines as it is for its mind-blowing barbecue. Though, Pecan Lodge isn’t the only major player on the scene. There’s also newcomer Hurtado Barbecue slinging it up Tex-Mex style, and hidden gems like CattleAck BBQ, a hole-in-the-wall joint that’s open for lunch two days a week. And, of course no best Dallas area barbecue listing is complete without mentioning the legendary Lockhart Smokehouse, which serves what many locals consider as the most authentic Central Texas-style barbecue in town.
If all these places are whetting your appetite, then keep reading to find out where you can feast on everything from succulent brisket to finger-licking ribs, sausages, burnt ends and other smokey delights.
Back in action after a devastating fire in 2017, this family-owned joint has been doling out hickory smoked barbecue to legions of fans for over thirty years. All the usual suspects are here: slow-cooked brisket, juicy ribs, house-made sausages, ham, turkey and chicken plus sides of collard greens, candied sweet potatoes, and mac and cheese. In addition to barbecue, the menu also features items such as fried catfish, blackened tilapia and old-fashioned burgers. Worth seeking out are the daily specials, which include everything from meatloaf to turkey & dressing. As for dessert? Three words: Butter Bomb Cake.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Smokey John’s is the best place to get a barbecue fix for an exceptionally reasonable price.
Ilene’s expert tip: Smokey John’s has a secret menu that includes a food coma baked potato.
This decidedly upscale Oak Lawn meat palace not only specializes in Kansas City-style barbecue (think sweet-glazed ribs and crusty burnt ends), but it also serves up an assortment of chef-created dishes such as grilled salmon served on smoked cauliflower puree, and burnt ends shepherd’s pie filled with peas, carrots, and barbecue mashed potatoes. Barbecue aficionados will probably want to go with the “Whole Sha-Bang,” which includes a pound of ‘cue plus an app, two sides and dessert. Pair it all up with a spicy craft cocktail like the Mexicutioner, made with Cimarron Tequila, mezcal, jalapeno and pineapple.
Recommended for Barbecue because: This is the only place in Dallas to get authentic Kansas City barbecue.
Ilene’s expert tip: Score $5 bar snacks, $4 drafts, $5 glasses of wine and $6 cocktails during Happy Hour, from 4-7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Named for the ideal internal temperature of a perfectly smoked brisket, this popular East Dallas spot offers some of best small-batch craft smoked meats in town. In fact, it’s received numerous accolades over the few years it has been open, and it’s even been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. As for the goods: all proteins (salmon, brisket, duck, bison, sausages, chicken and more) are smoked with pecan and oak, and served up in traditional combo plates as well as in salads, tacos, and sandwiches. Bonus: they also sell smoked meat to-go in vacuum-sealed pouches for easy preparation at home.
Recommended for Barbecue because: One90 Smoked Meats is a great place to get BBQ to go.
Ilene’s expert tip: There are several tables set up outside for dining, but generally, this is a place to grab and go. They also offer curbside pickup.
This Deep Ellum BBQ spot comes by way of brothers Mike and Mark Black whose family’s barbecue roots go back to 1932 when the first Black’s Barbecue opened in Lockhart, Texas. Set in a sprawling 11,000 square foot space sporting two massive outdoor patios, Black’s serves up everything from brisket to ribs, turkey and sausage which is cooked over post oak wood in offset smokers on the property. The meat is offered by the pound or in sandwiches; and sides include baked potato salad, cole slaw, mac-n-cheese, cream corn, pinto beans, green beans and Mexican rice. Save space for desserts like peach cobbler and banana pudding.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Terry Black’s Barbecue is ranked one of the top barbecue joints in the state by Texas Monthly.
Ilene’s expert tip: Terry Black’s has its own parking lot. They also sell whole slabs of frozen brisket for $24 per pound at the restaurant, plus shoppers can find vacuum-sealed barbecue items available at local Tom Thumb grocery stores.
Travis and Emma Heim’s Fort Worth’s cult barbecue haven now has a third outpost in Dallas near Love Field, and with it comes everything from brisket, ribs and pulled pork to sausages, and of course, the famed bacon burnt ends. Brisket-topped burgers, jalapeño-cheddar-sausage corn dogs and loaded potato skins also make appearances along with scratch-made sides like green chile mac n’ cheese and collard greens. Not to be missed is Emma’s homemade banana pudding; it’s worth its weight in gold. Did we mention the burnt end and egg breakfast tacos? Come early, items sell out fast.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Heim is the best place to snag brisket loaded burgers and burnt ends.
Ilene’s expert tip: Heim features wings on Wednesdays along with $2 off all Texas beer in drafts and cans.
Named after the official barbecue capital of Texas, this popular Bishop Arts smokehouse serves what many locals consider to be the most authentic Central Texas-style barbecue in town. Which is no surprise since co-owner Jill Bergus happens to be a member of the family who owns the legendary Kreuz Market in Lockhart. In fact, several of Kreuz Market’s specialties show up on the menu here, including their famous sausages, and a special cut of beef known as shoulder clod. Rounding out the offerings are spareribs, pork chops, smoked turkey, chicken, and of course, brisket. Not sure about what to order? No worries they’ll let you sample the goods before you decide.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Lockhart is the only place in Dallas where you can get Kreuz Market’s legendary sausage.
Ilene’s expert tip: Happy hour drink specials are on offer from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Note that Lockhart also has locations in Plano and Arlington.
Regardless of which location you go to (Frisco or McKinney), trying to get a table at this family-run smoked meat mecca usually involves a little patience. Which should come as no surprise since this place ranks as one of the top BBQ joints in the state. The brisket might be the biggest seller here, but don’t sleep on the slow-smoked St. Louis-style spareribs, jalapeno sausages or the “Texas twinkies” (brisket and cream cheese stuffed jalapeño poppers wrapped in bacon). Head here on the weekend when you can score some gargantuan beef ribs, seasoned and smoked to perfection.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Hutchins BBQ is rated as one of the best barbecue joints in Texas.
Ilene’s expert tip: Score free peach cobbler or banana pudding when you dine in.
After garnering a devoted following for his Tex-Mex style barbecue served from a trailer, Brandon Hurtado’s long-awaited brick-and-mortar spot in Arlington opened just three weeks before the pandemic struck. But despite the COVID-19 restrictions, the restaurant not only survived, it thrived, thanks to a booming takeout and delivery operation while the dining room was closed. Now that everything is back open, expect to find a menu running the gambit from prime brisket, beef ribs and house-made sausages to smoked quail and birria brisket tacos. No matter what protein you order, the hatch chile mac and cheese is a must.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Hurtado is the best place in the metroplex to find Tex-Mex inspired barbecue specialties.
Ilene’s expert tip: Breakfast barbecue items are sold all day Friday-Sunday. Order online and skip the line.
Featured on such shows as Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Man Fire Food, this Deep Ellum hot spot is as famous for its long lines as it is for its epic barbecue. But as they say, good things come to those who wait, and those good things include house-made sausages, mesquite smoked brisket, mouthwatering ribs and more. Try it all by ordering “The Trough,” where you and four of your carnivore friends can dig into a feast of beef rib, pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork and sausage links. Other hits include fried chicken and a brisket and chipotle cream cheese stuffed sweet potato dubbed the “Hot Mess.” Don’t get us started on the peach cobbler.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Texas Monthly magazine ranked Pecan Lodge as one of the best in the state.
Ilene’s expert tip: Bypass the lines by dining at the bar or by ordering 5-lbs or more of meat at the express counter.
Just getting into this cult destination can feel like cause for celebration. After all, it’s ranked the third best barbecue joint (according to Texas Monthly) in the state.
So as expected, you’ll most certainly encounter a line. And oh yeah, the place is only open from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and the first Saturday of the month. But for those looking for smoked meat nirvana, this is the place. The pork ribs are massive, the smoked ribeyes are perfection, and the intensely marbled Akaushi beef brisket is the stuff barbecue dreams are made of. Other standouts include pastrami burnt ends (when they have them), and a signature sandwich called the Toddfather, made with a trifecta of brisket, pulled pork and hot link sausage. Don’t skip dessert, the crack cake is wicked.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Texas Monthly ranked Cattleack as Texas’ No. 3 barbecue joint.
Ilene’s expert tip: If you don’t want a long wait, arrive at least 30 minutes before opening. And be sure to sign up for the e-newsletter to stay in-the-know about Cattleack’s food specials and upcoming events.