The Cattle Exchange

2nd & Main St.
Canadian, TX 79014

Phone: (806) 323-6755
Hours: M-Sat 11-9
Website: www.cookya.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CattleExchangeRestaurant

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

TMBBQ Rating: 3.0

TMBBQ Buzz

Comments from our joint finder app.
The hunt for the best barbecue continues with the second joint today. This is a small victory as I have always wanted to hit more than one restaurant on the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ establishments in a single day. Billy's Old Fashion Barbecue happens to be number 9. I have a hair less than four years to visit the other 41 before the list is updated. I have my work cut out for me as these places are as far at 500 miles from home. I wasn't hungry when we rolled into Jasper, but I was here to eat barbecue. I knew I wanted brisket and when we found the dilapidated restaurant, I knew we were going to experience some magic. I chose the sliced brisket sandwich. I wasn't expecting this monstrosity as it was quite large. Topped with pickles and onions, this sauce soaked sandwich was perfect. I only wish I had ordered the sauce on the side. The sauce was decent, but I came for the meat. The sliced brisket was very nice. It was juicy and the fat was rendered beautifully. It was a bit toothsome, but it certainly wasn't tough. I had forgotten to ask for untrimmed meat, so I was pleased when I saw that the crusty bark was intact. The meat had a mild flavor. Not too much smoke, and it wasn't overpowered with seasoning. It was a simple, beefy masterpiece. At only 2 1/2 hours from home, I can see myself loading up the family for a nice meaty adventure. This is easily a 4.0/5.0. Well done, Texas Monthly. This BBQ doesn't disappoint.
Theodore Luoma @ Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ, 2014-08-31 01:12:51
It has been a few months since I was able to hunt for some good Texas BBQ. It is a bit of a tradition that my oldest daughter, Alli, and I enjoy. I'm not a hunter, so we aren't likely to go kill deer as we spend time together, but we have our own game we like to track down. We decided to have lunch at the Hitch-N-Post in Livingston, TX. It's 3 1/2 hours from home so we had time to work up an appetite. We both ordered untrimmed fatty brisket which in my estimation, is the best tasting meat. I usually try the sausage as well, but we are planning an early supper at another BBQ place and I don't want to gorge myself. The brisket, though cooked, could probably have used another four hours in the smoker to completely render the fat and make the meat fork tender. I actually had to use a knife to cut the meat. There was a beautiful smoke ring and a decent crust, but I was hoping for a denser crust. Then again, this ain't Lockhart. The beans were good, but they were punched up canned beans. The potato salad probably came from Brookshire Brothers, but I came for the meat. The sides are just a bonus. Apparently, the proprietor has a policy to give free cake to first time customers. He was a really nice BBQ enthusiast as he asked if I had tried Snow's in Lexington. Then he started showing me pictures of BBQ joints on his phone. The ambience was a schlockfest with old tricycles dangling from the ceiling and tiki umbrellas reminiscent of Gilligan's Island. It was enjoyable soaking it in while I soaked up sauce with my bread. The food was good. I would rate it a 3.0/5.0, but with the outstanding service and friendly atmosphere, I rate it a solid 3.5. Hitch-N-Post is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Theodore Luoma @ Hitch-N-Post BBQ, 2014-08-30 18:24:06
It has been a few months since I was able to hunt for some good Texas BBQ. It is a bit of a tradition that my oldest daughter, Alli, and I enjoy. I'm not a hunter, so we aren't likely to go kill deer as we spend time together, but we have our own game we like to track down. We decided to have lunch at the Hitch-N-Post in Livingston, TX. It's 3 1/2 hours from home so we had time to work up an appetite. We both ordered untrimmed fatty brisket which in my estimation, is the best tasting meat. I usually try the sausage as well, but we are planning an early supper at another BBQ place and I don't want to gorge myself. The brisket, though cooked, could probably have used another four hours in the smoker to completely render the fat and make the meat fork tender. I actually had to use a knife to cut the meat. There was a beautiful smoke ring and a decent crust, but I was hoping for a denser crust. Then again, this ain't Lockhart. The beans were good, but they were punched up canned beans. The potato salad probably came from Brookshire Brothers, but I came for the meat. The sides are just a bonus. Apparently, the proprietor has a policy to give free cake to first time customers. He was a really nice BBQ enthusiast as he asked if I had tried Snow's in Lexington. Then he started showing me pictures of BBQ joints on his phone. The ambience was a schlockfest with old tricycles dangling from the ceiling and tiki umbrellas reminiscent of Gilligan's Island. It was enjoyable soaking it in while I soaked up sauce with my bread. The food was good. I would rate it a 3.0/5.0, but with the outstanding service and friendly atmosphere, I rate it a solid 3.5. Hitch-N-Post is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Theodore Luoma @ Hitch-N-Post BBQ, 2014-08-30 18:24:05
Third in line pound of lean got two ends and a sausage PERFECTION worth the drive ft worth good food good folks
doug_wallace @ Louie Mueller Barbecue, 2014-08-30 15:38:00
Loved that there was no wait unlike that other place on East 6th. Fatty brisket was as advertised. Pepper on crust was perfect. Jalapeño sausage was okay. Loved the cheesy squash - my new favorite side. No beef ribs today sadly. Drank the BBQ sauce too; very good stuff.
Rahul Yaratha @ John Mueller Meat Co., 2014-08-29 16:44:19
Brisket was moist, but tough. Needed more smoke. Spare ribs were ok.
mrb @ Rudy’s Bar-B-Q, 2014-08-27 02:53:29
Stopped at Rudy's at Leon Springs. Not good. Brisket was moist but tough. Ribs were fair.
mrb @ , 2014-08-27 02:47:40
How do we get KB's BBQ on the finder for Victoria TX?
Kent Sistrunk @ , 2014-08-26 17:54:51
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Review

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.

Comments

  • 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?