The Cattle Exchange

2nd & Main St.
Canadian, TX 79014

Phone: (806) 323-6755
Hours: M-Sat 11-9

Opened 2001
Pitmaster Milton Cooke
Method mesquite in a gas-fired rotisserie

TMBBQ Rating: 3.0


Comments from our joint finder app.
Went for "My Ribs" and "Your Ribs". Both good but latter wins out. Brisket definitely dry; was hard for me to get into. Sausage was okay. Definitely try key lime pie. Enjoyed the decor. Overall a good, not great Q place.
Rahul Yaratha @ Big Boys Barbecue, 2014-09-17 23:24:47
Brisket sandwich was good. And that's all she wrote as there is nothing else (chicken, sausage, turkey, potato salad, etc). Not even my friends who all went to Tech even heard of this place. Scratching my head on such a high TM ranking.
Rahul Yaratha @ Tom and Bingo’s Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que, 2014-09-17 23:21:48
We had Friday night dinner here. Brisket was tender and delicious. A little too much fat for my husband, but my daughter and I thought it was PERFECT. Good seasoning and good bark. No sauce needed. Homemade creamed corn is the best I have ever had. Coleslaw is delicious and not overdressed. We finished the meal with the homemade fried strawberry pies - one of the tastiest desserts I have ever put in my mouth. Live music. Dishes served family style. <$40 for 3 people including soft drinks and several beers. Definitely will go back!
Marcy Newman @ Two Bros. BBQ Market, 2014-09-17 22:16:13
Just average
David Monasmith @ Crossroads Smokehouse, 2014-09-17 17:42:33
Brisket was good, pulled pork over sauced. Over all it was ok at best. Prob won't be back here. I was surprised it made the TM list, I think they missed it on this list.
epp @ Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, 2014-09-15 17:43:26
Amazing! Every time!
John Brotherton @ Snow’s BBQ, 2014-09-13 13:22:59
Three meat combo with gravy excellent
doug_wallace @ Tony DeMaria’s Bar-B-Q, 2014-09-12 15:49:29
Was unbelievable. Now the brisket was another story, it was chewy and bland. This place was always my favorite go to joint. The first place I went to eat upon arriving in Austin. The last 4 times over a six month period have been disappointing, seems like his heart is not into it.
Bob Conti @ John Mueller Meat Co., 2014-09-11 23:41:28
More Buzz →


Cattle Exchange BBQ 01

February 25, 2014

Canadian, Texas is out there. In the already secluded Texas Panhandle, it stands alone anchoring the northeast corner. Amarillo is over a hundred miles away, and the next town of any consequence is two hundred miles east in Oklahoma City. With so little to visit nearby, Canadian has worked to make their downtown an oasis of handsome structures and brick covered streets for the three thousand residents here. The historic Palace Theater was recently renovated, the Citadelle Art Museum opened a few years back, and in 2001 The Cattle Exchange opened in the refurbished Moody Hotel.

The Moody Hotel and the town was once a hub for the cattle trade, but Canadian never really recovered economically from the Depression when they lost forty percent of their population. Even into this century there wasn’t a local option for a good steak, which is one of the reasons Milton and Julie Cook decided to open this place. Those mesquite grilled steaks are a feature of the menu, and there’s even some Tex-Mex and a few salads thrown in, but I was there for barbecue.

Walking through the large wooden door into the spacious foyer felt like I was entering a hotel lobby. The ceilings are high and light pours through the windows along the large dining room that looks out onto Main Street. A large menu is posted above the front desk, and you better peruse it quickly. There is a full service wait staff, but you’re expected to place your full order and pay before you take a seat. That’s also the same time you decide on the tip you’ll leave if paying by credit card. It’s a decision-intense experience to start things off, especially with all the barbecue being concealed behind the doors of the kitchen.

Cattle Exchange BBQ 03


One decision that is made for you are the sides that come with any barbecue plate. Beans were gussied up with peppers and onions, and the cole slaw tasted fresh. The potato salad was heavy on mayonnaise and sour cream, but at least it was homemade. A mini loaf of warm sourdough on the side was a nice steakhouse touch. You won’t have a meal of afterthoughts here.

The barbecue was nice to look at. Brisket has a rosy smoke ring and a deep black crust, but the slices from the flat were dry and tasted of stale smoke. They boast a secret rub, but it could have used more salt and less paprika. To be fair, after trying three terrible versions of brisket in nearby Borger and Perryton, this one should be commended for being one of the better options in the area.

The sausage from a Hill Country supplier was juicy and well seasoned, but it hardly tasted like it had been smoked. Big spare ribs were the best option, but would have made a better impression after a little more cooking time. The meat was smoky with a flavorful crust, but it was just a bit undercooked. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t get them again.

Cattle Exchange BBQ 02

No matter how your meal starts at The Cattle Exchange, it’s sure to end on a high note. Once the server has confirmed your meal’s completion, you’ll be given a complimentary bowl of warm bread pudding. They put all that excess sourdough to good use here with a sweet and slightly boozy dessert. You’ll want to stick around for your serving.

Much has changed in Texas barbecue in the eleven years since The Cattle Exchange was listed in the Top 50 BBQ joints by Texas Monthly back in 2003. Maybe they’ve slipped since then, or more likely, everyone else got that much better (remember that in 2003 Sonny Bryan’s was still considered great). Their current absence on the list also shows just how big Texas is. It may no longer be one of the fifty best in the state, but it’s the best option for brisket and ribs within a hundred miles.


  • Uncle Bill

    Just curious, but it’s pretty obvious you didn’t like the BBQ here. What makes it a 3 on the TMBBQ scale? That seems extremely generous.

    • Daniel Vaughn

      There’s wasn’t anything really bad here, and I did like the ribs. In a city like Austin it wouldn’t have rated as high, but I took into account that it is truly the best barbecue in the Panhandle outside of Amarillo. compared to what I found in Perryton, Cattle Exchange might as well be Louie Mueller.

  • Reid Winger

    Just curious if you stopped at Ivy’s Hungry Cowboy in Spearman, Texas, while in the Panhandle?