We arrived in Dallas on Saturday afternoon, picked up the car and headed straight for downtown Dallas (well after a few trips round the highways of Dallas – driving in the US is weird!).
My plan was to get straight out and hit a BBQ joint for dinner, but jet-lag, a crazy week at work and coming from 12 degrees to 35 meant that BBQ would be on the agenda for Sunday. We found a little place nearby our hotel called Hoffbrau, settled in and happy days they even had smoked sirloin on the menu! This came in 8oz Ladies portion and 12oz Gentleman’s (not sure you could get away with that back home!). I went for the gentleman’s portion with (of course) mac n cheese side and we were off to a pretty good start:
Not the best smoked meat ever, but it did have a nice smoky, peppery taste, and it was tender and fell apart, the fat around the edge, was also crazy good, for a non-smokehouse it was surprisingly good, although I guess we were in Dallas!
Sunday morning arrived and I, for the first time in months, jumped out of bed early with the same excitement as a kid on Christmas morning – today was the day I got to try some bona fide, Texan BBQ. As I found out from my copious amount of research there are 2 great BBQ joints in Dallas, Pecan Lodge and Lockhart. It had taken me a while but I finally settled on Lockhart as the one to try.
I had heard it had some great Brisket, kickass ribs – and their Jalapeno mac n cheese was worth a trip on its own. The place opened at 11, and being a Sunday we needed to get there as early as possible.
We arrived about ten past 11 – just after (to my annoyance) a coach of Americans rolled through the doors, but we were in, having left our guns at the entrance of course!
I was in the queue ready to go just after 11, with the place already buzzing and a considerable queue already formed.
After an agonising hour in the queue – watching these guys work their magic from various angles, it was my turn. They have a massive smoker behind the counter and someone there just hacking up huge slabs of meat, as you can see here.
In Texan smokehouses, you buy by the weight rather than by pieces, something totally new to me. I went classic (copying the guy in front to be honest), 1 pound of brisket, 1 pound of pork ribs, and 2 sausages – 1 plain 1 spicy. Some slaw and their famous jalapeno mac n cheese on the side.
This was wrapped in butchers paper and served on a tray, no frills eating! As their mantra states:
This was what faced us – not a bad Sunday lunch
Where to begin with this, the highlight for sure was the brisket, moist, tender, very fatty, it pulled apart in your fingers and tasted fantastic, meaty, very, very smokey and with that beautiful dark, crunchy bark. It was fantastic, the best brisket I had tasted by a country mile (until Franklins – see next post!). It was worth the trip alone and definitely didn’t need any sauce or fork! As you can see I was pretty happy with it!
The ribs were also good, nice and smokey, maybe not quite as tender as I would have hoped for, but I’m nitpicking here. They tasted great and again had such a rich smokey flavour.
Finally the sausages – the plain one was OK, nothing special (I mean we do do pretty good sausages in the UK to be fair) but the spicy jalapeno was a game changer, it had a proper kick, lovely meaty pork taste, I don’t know how it was cooked, I think probably in the smoker for a short while.
Finally the famous mac n cheese – it was great, really hot jalapenos cut through the creamy cheese. I love the US mac n cheese, it has that fake, craft cheese taste which is awesome and it’s so creamy and rich, it’s awesome.
We got through most of it, and I rolled out of Lockhart a very happy customer. Texan BBQ is completely different to back home, it really is another level. The smokiness they get is just intense, and so much better than I get myself at home. I know they have all this amazing gear and these crazy smokers, but they have the touch and the knowledge that takes years to get – and it really pays off.
So that was BBQ joint number 1 – we didn’t have time to visit Pecan Lodge, but you should always leave something to come back for! Next stop was Austin – the real home of BBQ and the legendary Franklins was top of the list …