Dallas and Fort Worth have a burgeoning barbecue scene that has come to prominence in just the past five years. The opening of Meshack’s in Garland was closely succeeded by Pecan Lodge and Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas. Over on the Fort Worth side, Billy’s Oak Acres, Jambo’s Rib Shack in Rendon, and BBQ on the Brazos in Cresson have recently joined the established ranks of Cousin’s, Angelo’s, and Railhead.
Whereas the Austin BBQ Guide is focused inside the city limits, this territory is vast. The barbecue joints that populate this list are from seven counties. It’s an hour’s drive from Billy’s Oak Acres on the northwest side of Fort Worth over to 4-T’s BBQ in Forney. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is massive, and your appetite will have to be too if you want to conquer this list.
*Denotes a Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ Joint
Sometimes barbecue requires a little patience. You’ll have to wait in line at these joints, but it’ll be worth it when you have a tray full of smoked meat in your hands. It also shouldn’t be much of a surprise that you might have to contend with loads of other barbecue fans at these three locations, because they are the best barbecue joints on this list.
Pecan Lodge*; Dallas – Yes, people wait over an hour here for meat, but you don’t have to. There’s an express line for those who want to order more than five pounds of meat. “The Trough,” which includes a bit of each meat, counts toward this minimum, so bring some friends (or make some) and order the Trough with little to no wait. Don’t miss the fried chicken either. Open Wednesday through Sunday.
Lockhart Smokehouse*; Dallas & Plano – The food at both locations is outstanding, but the new Plano location might just be the busier one these days. As always, Friday through Sunday are the most crowded, so get here early, or just come on a weekday. They cook in two batches every day so the meat is fresh for dinner, but expect the meat to be sold out, at least temporarily, around 2:00 p.m.
Hutchins BBQ*; McKinney – The line is pretty steady through the lunch and dinner rushes, but it moves fast. Saturday means giant beef ribs. The brisket is also excellent, and the smoked chicken is some of the best anywhere.
Barbecue in Texas is a lunchtime food, and some joints don’t bother staying open any later than the lunch hour. You’re guaranteed fresh meat at these locations, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
The Slow Bone Barbeque; Dallas – Great smoked meats in Dallas without a line, and ridiculously good sides to go with it all. Try all three sausages, or just get a pile of fatty brisket. Also check for other brisket-based specials, like chili and tamales, for another way to enjoy smoked beef. Expect the “sold out” sign at 2:00 p.m.
Cattleack BBQ; Dallas – Don’t come here unless it’s a Friday (they’ll open for lunch on Thursdays soon), since they only serve one day a week. Make sure to get a beef rib. Expect the “sold out” sign at 2:00 p.m. or earlier.
Mike Anderson’s BBQ House; Dallas – Solid barbecue and a huge array of sides are available until they close the doors at 2:30 p.m.
Mac’s Bar-B-Que; Dallas – Only open for weekday lunches, until 2:00 p.m. Expect a great chopped beef sandwich and some of the best fries in Dallas.
Bailey’s Bar-B-Que; Fort Worth – They’re only open on weekdays, and only until 4:00 p.m. Don’t expect to eat anything that doesn’t come on a bun, but be sure to add some of their spicy sauce to whatever you order.
DINNER & A DRINK:
If barbecue in Texas is a lunchtime food, then it can sometimes be tough to find a place to have a relaxing dinner and a few beers or cocktails. You can wet your whistle at all of these while enjoying smoked meats into the late hours.
Smoke; Dallas – Open until 10:00 on weekdays and 11:00 on Friday and Saturday. The bar can provide some great cocktails, but the Big Rib and the smoked pork chops are the star of the dinner menu.
Peggy Sue BBQ; Dallas – Open until 9:00 on weekdays and 10:00 on Friday and Saturday. Get the saucy baby back ribs, and don’t forget the fried pies.
Billy’s Oak Acres Bar-B-Que; Fort Worth – Open until 9:00 p.m. every day but Sunday. They have great barbecue, incredible desserts, and a few good local beers on tap.
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Q; Fort Worth – Open until 8:30 on weekdays and 9:30 on Friday and Saturday. Get a beef rib and a Big Chop along with a bucket of longnecks.
Woodshed Smokehouse; Fort Worth – Open until 11:00 p.m. daily. The ribs are good, but the best item here is the lamb brisket when available. The beer list is impressive compared to other local barbecue joints.
3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House; Frisco – Open until 10:00 on weekdays and 11:00 on Friday and Saturday. They probably have the largest bar menu of any barbecue joint in the area. See below.
If it’s getting late and you still need some barbecue, there aren’t a ton of options. Here’s a solid list of a few, some of which serve barbecue until the midnight hour.
Cousin’s Bar-B-Q*; Forth Worth – Open 11:00 to 9:00 every day but Sunday. Ask for the brisket fatty, and grab a slice of homemade cake if there’s any left.
Odom’s Bar-B-Que; Dallas – Open 10:30 to 11:00 every day. The smoky pork ribs coated with the thin barbecue sauce are a perfect match for the excellent greens and mac & cheese.
Off the Bone Barbeque; Dallas – They close up shop early (5:00 p.m.) during the week, but you can quench your craving for good brisket and ribs until midnight on the weekends. Don’t miss the fried corn.
Gas Monkey Bar & Grill; Dallas – Open until 11:00 p.m. on the weekdays and 2:00 a.m. on the weekends. Their beef short rib for $17 is one of the best barbecue values in town.
Big Al’s Smokehouse; Dallas – Open 10:00 to 9:00 daily. Ask for fatty brisket, and don’t come here without ordering some of their sweet glazed pork ribs.
Riscky’s Bar-B-Q; Fort Worth – The Sundance Square location stays open until 10:00 Tuesday through Thursday and 11:00 on the weekends. That means $10 AYCE beef back ribs until late into the night.
Smokey’s Barbeque; Fort Worth – Open until 8:00 during the week and 9:00 on the weekends. Get the sweet glazed ribs and a slice of buttermilk pie.
Not everyone can do everything well, but that doesn’t mean these joints don’t have a few items that make them worth a visit.
Off the Bone; Forest Hill – It’s hard to find better smoked ribs than the simply seasoned baby backs they serve here.
Mama E’s BBQ & Home Cooking; Fort Worth – Sometimes all you need is a chopped beef sandwich and some pie. This is where to get it.
Baby Back Shak; Dallas – Where else can you get boudin as a side item? The ribs and cornish hen are the stellar smoked meat options here.
Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que; Dallas – The soul food sides go best with the pork ribs and the homemade beef sausage.
Here are a few places to find quality barbecue near a Cowboys or Rangers game in Arlington or a NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Crossroads Smokehouse; Arlington – The Cowboys play just across the street and the Rangers’ stadium isn’t far either. Try all four of their meats on a very reasonable $15 platter.
Hard Eight BBQ; Roanoke – This is the newest location of this mini-chain, and it’s just minutes from Texas Motor Speedway. The barbecue is good, but the best deal is the made-to-order 16-ounce ribeye cooked over live mesquite coals.
Sometimes you have just the length of a layover to get your Texas barbecue fix. These will all do the trick, but take a taxi off airport property for best results.
Bartley’s Bar-B-Q*; Grapevine - 4.1 miles from the north entrance of DFW Airport. Get the ribs and the pecan cobbler.
Hard Eight BBQ; Coppell – 4.0 miles from the north entrance of DFW Airport. Order an array of barbecue straight from the pits.
North Main BBQ; Euless – 4.4 miles from the south entrance of DFW Airport. Take a quick trip through the buffet, but don’t come unless it’s Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Cousin’s Bar-B-Q*; DFW Airport - Inside DFW Airport at gates B27, B47, and D28. This is the best barbecue in the airport.
Salt Lick BBQ; DFW Airport - Inside DFW Airport at gate A16. If you can’t get out of the airport for your barbecue, you can get a fine chopped beef sandwich here.
These names will probably be familiar. They are legendary, and therefore they will forever remain on brochures and ill-informed “Best of” BBQ lists. The barbecue at a couple of these isn’t bad, but none are reasons alone to travel to DFW.
Angelo’s; Fort Worth – This is the best of the living legends. I like the the ribs better than the brisket, but the cold beer helps if the meat isn’t up to par.
Railhead Smokehouse BBQ; Fort Worth – This rival to Angelo’s pumps out decent smoked meats, but they sell a whole lot more beer in schooners.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit; Dallas – Their big yellow cups hold lots of iced tea, and they have free soft-serve.
Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse; Dallas – Come in and take a look at the cool school desks at the original location on Inwood. Get some onion rings if you’re hungry.
Not all the good stuff fits inside the major city limits, but every one of these joints warrants a mini road trip. You can even hit them all up in a single epic journey, but be prepared to put about 250 miles on your car.
3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House; Frisco – This far-north outpost finally brought great barbecue to Frisco. The beef and pork ribs are great, and the brisket ain’t too shabby either.
Meshack’s Bar-B-Que Shack*; Garland – They sell out soon after lunch every day that they’re open. Get the ribs and Da Jasper sandwich.
4-T’s Bar-B-Que; Forney – I’m not sure which I like better: the sweet glazed baby back ribs or the smoked chicken.
Randy’s Bar-B-Que; Red Oak – The ribs and fatty brisket can be great here.
Longoria’s BBQ*; Everman – Come for the unique brisket sausage, and be sure to bring home some of their homemade beef jerky.
Jambo’s BBQ Shack; Rendon – They just started making their own beef sausage here, and it’s fantastic. The giant pork chops on Friday and the even bigger five-meat Jambo Texan sandwich are both worth the trip. Lunch only.
Del Norte Tacos; Godley – Get a chile relleno stuffed with smoked brisket or pork, and you’ll leave happy.
BBQ on the Brazos; Cresson – Some of the best brisket in the area is being served here, but nothing they smoke is bad. Get here before 1:00 if you want a little of everything.