A few short years ago, it was almost a struggle to find 10 great barbecue places in Dallas-Fort Worth. But we're in good barbecue times now. All across Texas, there's increased attention on smoked meat, both on the part of the people doing the smoking and the people doing the eating. That's spilled over into DFW, which has been the fortunate recipient of a big wave of barbecue openings.
Combining some from here (Dallas) and some from there (Fort Worth), we've collated a completely up-to-date list. Here are the 10 best barbecue restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth:
18th & Vine
This is the least traditional restaurant on the list, with its in-town address, elegant wainscoting on the walls, and chef-driven menu with cauliflower right next to brisket and ribs. 18th & Vine does Kansas City-style, birthplace of the crusty, caramelized burnt ends that are now the rage at many barbecue joints in Texas. The menu, a collaboration between founder/pit master Matt Dallman and chef Scott Gottlich, is barbecue with a little something extra, including pulled pork and barbecue salmon. In addition to the signature burnt ends, standouts include a grilled-cheese sandwich with brisket for lunch and the fried okra, in a crunchy-crisp crust.
Homey chain with two branches serves the needs of residents in the far northern zones of Frisco or McKinney, where the locals line up at the dinner hour. Half the appeal is the barbecue; the other lure is that it's all-you-can-eat, although at $18.99, you pay for it. Meats include sausage, St. Louis-style ribs, smoked chicken, turkey, ham, pulled pork, and the star of the show, an exemplary brisket, available sliced or chopped. The mac and cheese is creamy, and the jalapeño poppers — stuffed with marbled brisket and cream cheese and covered in a sweet barbecue glaze — are a must.
Baby chain with two branches — in Bishop Arts and old downtown Plano — has a connection to barbecue royalty, aka Kreuz Market in Lockhart; its signature sausages are on the menu here. Despite the tony neighborhoods they're located in, these feel like authentic barbecue pits, with guys who cut your meat to order and stack it, unadorned, on brown paper, adding an appreciated informality. The sides aren't much to speak of, as they're all pre-packed into plastic containers, boo. But the ribs and brisket are worth the trip, not to mention the bar with lots of craft beer.
Pecan Lodge brought its lines from its stand at the Dallas Farmers Market when it moved to its current location in Deep Ellum. Ribs and brisket are the pick, in fatty or lean, or spooned atop a baked sweet potato in a winning dish called the Hot Mess. But it gets nearly as much attention for its buttermilk fried chicken. The media loves it too: Texas Monthly included Pecan Lodge on its list of top barbecue joints in the state, and it was spotlighted by Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
Cafeteria-style barbecue spot opened in the Design District in 2013 with cute touches, such as the retro melamine partitioned trays. Brisket comes with an admirable blackened crust, and the sides are justifiably praised, with options such as sweet potato casserole, collard greens, and a jalapeño mac and cheese that has a little kick. The sleeper item is the fried chicken, which gets its unique flavor from sitting in a smoked brine before it gets fried, with a thick crunchy shell.
At nearly 60 years old, the elder statesman of Fort Worth's barbecue scene remains a viable option, even with all the new talent in town. Particularly good are the pork ribs, fat and meaty, and you can't beat its chopped brisket sandwich, a messy beauty topped with pickles, mustard, onions, and good sauce. Part of Angelo's charm is its unchanged atmosphere — servers call you "sweetie," goblets of beer are so cold your first gulp hurts, and there's six decades worth of taxidermy including a wooly bear that greets each visitor. There's truly nothing else like it in the city.
BBQ on the Brazos
Barbecue lovers don't mind a long drive for good 'cue. A trip to BBQ on the Brazos will involve both, as John Sanford's 2-year-old restaurant is 30 minutes from Fort Worth, in a Texaco gas station in Cresson. Brisket alone is worth the trek. Each slice comes crowned with a thick layer of crust; fat melts away at the touch of your tongue. Sides are good, too, especially the cornbread salad, made with cornbread crumbles, green onions, and sweet pickles. Early birds dig the breakfast tacos, made with eggs, brisket, and housemade flour tortillas.
Billy's Oak Acres BBQ
No other spot in Fort Worth defines the phrase "barbecue joint" as well as former bounty hunter Billy Woodrich's delightfully disheveled spot, located in a run-down old building in northwest Fort Worth, on the old grounds of Hip Pocket Theater. His pulled-pork sandwich is outasite. Ribs and brisket are solid through and through. And desserts such as buttermilk pie are made from scratch.
First at their truck and now at their recently opened brick-and-mortar on Magnolia Avenue, Travis and Emma Heim are putting out some of the best barbecue in the city, and the lines that wrap around the block prove it. Bacon burnt ends — bite-size pieces of candied pork belly — have garnered the Heims a lot of attention, but the hallmark of any good barbecue joint is brisket, and Heim's is stellar. Each slice is branded with a smoke ring; a healthy ribbon of fat; and smoky, peppery crust. In the next few weeks, the restaurant will begin serving a bar menu, consisting of, among other things, bacon burnt ends and a "good, greasy cheeseburger," Travis Heim says.
Of the holy trinity of brisket, ribs, and sausage, the sausage is often given the least thought. Many barbecue places settle for serving commercial links. But at this family-owned spot in south Fort Worth, it's the star. For more than two decades, the Chambers family has been making its own beef and pork sausage, attracting locals and in-the-know barbecue-lovers first to a location on Seminary Drive and now to a larger spot in far south Fort Worth, near Everman. Even though the handmade sausage is available in sandwiches and on plates, most customers order it by the link and eat it with their bare hands; no forks, no bread. It's that good.