A buzzy barbecue restaurant that favors the northern suburbs of Dallas is opening a new location. Tender Smokehouse, a family-owned Texas pit BBQ joint focused on good barbecue and service to match, will open a location in Aubrey, at 26781 SH 380, in what was formerly a Firehouse Bar & Grill.
A spokesperson confirmed that Aubrey would be their third location, and will open after the first of the year.
Tender Smokehouse was founded by owner Dante Ramirez, who logged 25-plus years in the food service and catering industry before opening the first location in Celina in September 2017.
They do Wagyu and 1855 Prime brisket, pulled pork, sausage, both original and jalapeno-cheddar, and turkey breast by the pound and in sandwiches.
Specialties include beef ribs, spare ribs, and Frito pie. They have a sandwich called the Sledgehammer, featuring brisket and sausage held together between Texas toast; and another called El Jefe, which combines brisket, pork, and sausage, stacked with BBQ beans and garnished with a spare rib. Their Prime brisket sandwich was featured in Texas Monthly.
There are baked potatoes and baked sweet potatoes, which you can get loaded with and without meat; and a quartet of sides including potato salad, pineapple slaw with chunks of pineapple, barbecue baked beans, and mac & cheese.
Tender takes pride in using local products, featuring Wagyu from Heart Brand Beef and private stock pickles from the Hunn Family.
Ramirez earned his barbecue experience while working at Red Hot and Blue in Flower Mound, and has overseen a number of catering operations at companies such as Mary Kay, Inc., Abuelo's Mexican, and Consolidated Restaurant Operations, where he created CRO Catering with Gene Street and CRO's senior management staff.
A Dallas Observer story notes that Tender has generated its share of buzz, thanks to the news that former Major League Baseball player Torii Hunter was an investor in the restaurant, as well as a 2019 Yelp survey that put Tender Smokehouse in the No. 2 slot on its list of top places to eat in the country.
A second Tender Smokehouse opened in Frisco in May 2019, in the space that was once 3 Stacks Smokehouse.
The atmosphere at their restaurants is modern-rustic with industrial touches. But Tender serves its barbecue in the old-school way: on metal trays lined with parchment paper, and each order comes with raw white onions, pickles, and a slice of Texas toast.