Thursday, March 31, 2011

Honey Barbecue Rib flavored potato chips

Platters of burgers and wieners hot off the grill are usually accompanied on the table with potato chips, and since 1965 when Lay's launched a barbecue flavor, those chips have often been of the barbecue variety. While I've enjoyed my share of multiple versions of barbecue flavored chips, I'd never seen a bag of chips with the specific flavor of Archer Farms' (Target) Honey Barbecue Ribs thick-cut potato chips. Not just barbecue flavor, but barbecue ribs. Would they really taste anything like ribs and not just the standard BBQ flavored dust? I had to find out.

The chips had that familiar BBQ dust flavor, but there were unfamiliar undertones of not just sugary sweetness (honey solids per the ingredient list) and something reminiscent of vinegar (vinegar solids). The "rib" flavor was most certainly supplied by a dose of natural smoke flavoring (15th of 19 ingredients). They reminded me of something I'd eaten recently, but it wasn't a rack of baby backs. They tasted much like Lay's Tangy Carolina BBQ flavor which contain brown sugar as an additional sweetener and vinegar solids as well, but not smoke flavoring. At least Archer Farms didn't go the easy route from here to umami and add some MSG, but who uses that anymore? Well, Ruffles Authentic Barbecue flavor does, as well as that natural smoke flavoring.

Overall, Lay's has six versions of BBQ flavored chips including Baked Lay's, Ruffles and Miss Vickie's. Only Ruffles and Miss Vickie's have smoke flavoring, and you might think that some brands just roll it in under the "natural flavors" heading. But you'll always know if what you're eating contains smoke flavoring because the USDA requires it to be listed separately in the ingredient list. More specifically "the labeling of natural smoke flavorings is covered by 9 CFR 317.2 (j) (3) and 381.119 (a) and by Policy Memo 117, 'Smoke Flavoring.' Natural smoke flavoring may not be listed as 'natural flavor' or 'flavor' in the ingredients statement. It may be declared as 'natural smoke flavoring' or 'smoke flavoring.' Artificial smoke flavoring must be labeled as such."

Archer Farms has a few more BBQ potato chip options as well, including Mesquite Barbecue, Maple Barbecue, and the exotic Szechuan Barbecue. So maybe nobody would mistake Honey Barbecue Rib flavored chips for meat on a bone, but the flavor had more depth than your average BBQ chip. Now Lay's needs to step up with the Smoked Brisket Flavor for us Texas BBQ lovers.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Big Al's Smokehouse Barbecue

DALLAS: Big Al's Smokehouse Barbecue
3317 Inwood Rd

Dallas, TX 75235


Open M-Sat 11-9

Update: I've found it easier in Dallas to find great ribs than great brisket. Big Al's has always been a favorite rib joint of mine, so I stopped in the other day for lunch. It's tough to order just one meat, so I thought I'd add one some turkey which I hadn't yet tried.

The sides of okra and potato salad were great as always, and the ribs did not disappoint either. They have a thin candy-like coating from a rub that's got to have some sugar in it. They aren't sticky or overly sweet, and the meat is always perfectly tender. After all three bones were thoroughly cleaned, it was turkey time. The meat was from a whole turkey breast, and as it was being sliced you could see the deep coffee brown crust. Each bite had great smokiness, and the meat was moist and well seasoned. I might just make it part of my normal Big Al's rotation.

Rating ***

2010: Big Al's has been around DFW since 1973, and they've just moved into their new place just down Inwood Road from the old location. The building may be new, but the sign, the staff and the menu are all the same, and so is the good quality 'cue.

I ordered up a three meat plate with brisket, beef ribs and pork ribs. Some toothsome and meaty flavored green beans and crispy, unsoggy cole slaw came on the side. A slightly sweet glaze covered the pork ribs, which are always a favorite of mine. The meat needs the slightest tug to get from the bone, and the meat was perfectly moist and tender. The beef ribs had the same glaze with plenty of meat. They had a bit more smokiness than the pork ribs, but required a little more effort to separate from the bone. Brisket slices were thick and delicious with a nice crust and beautiful smoke ring. The meat was tender with well rendered fat on the edges. The only thing lacking was a robust level of smoke.

Given the fact that they've only been in the new place for a week now, I thought it might take a while for them to get into their groove, but this is the same quality protein I've come to expect from Big Al's.

Big Al's Smokehouse BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


1971 Singleton Blvd
Dallas, TX 75334
Open M-Thur 10:30-1:45am, F-Sat 10:30-2:45am, Sun 10:30-11:45pm

Update: I drive by Odom's every Monday evening, but I always seem to have already made some other plans for dinner. Yesterday was different, and I dropped in on a tip from a friend that Odom's offers an off-menu burnt end type sandwich covered in spicy sauce. Only a blank stare greeted my inquiry, so the sandwich wasn't to be. Instead, I was told to just order a rib tip sandwich. A few minutes later I was headed home with a brown bag of smokiness and a brick of chocolate cake.

To get to the meat takes several levels of unwrapping. First you unroll the top of the paper bag, then unclench the foil wrapper, and finally peel away the now soggy white bread. Underneath were eight fat and juicy ribs, but certainly not the promised rib tips. I'm plenty familiar with the quality of these ribs, but this time they were my sole focus. There is no heavy rub. Just enough salt, smoke and time work together to create perfectly moist, tender meat that doesn't fall from the bone. A dip in the thin vinegar heavy sauce flecked with cracked black pepper complimented the sweet meat rather than overwhelming. Six ribs in, I realized I was eating some of the best ribs in Dallas, and I made a personal vow to make more Monday evening stops at Odom's.

Rating ***

2010: I walked into Odom's just as Michael Vick was scoring his third touchdown of the first quarter in a recent Monday Night Football game. As I waited for my order, the two televisions on either end of the room had their volume cranked, but their timing was a bit off making for an odd echo in the empty dining room. This being more an East Texas style joint, I decided to try the East Texas specialties of hot links and chopped beef, but I couldn't leave the place without a few ribs. You don't get a choice on sides. Everyone gets a whipped potato salad heavy on the mustard and pickles and some smokey pinto beans.

Ribs were perfectly tender with nicely rendered fat. The meat had great flavor and good touch of smoke. The meat still clings to the bone, but yields easily with a little tooth pressure. Hot links are heavy on the black pepper and pretty light on the heat. They have just the right amount of fat with a chewy casing. The meat is rich and smokey but could have used more heat.

A chopped beef sandwich is generally made with the point end of the brisket that is much fattier than the flat that is usually reserved for the sliced portions. Odom's definitely uses the point meat, and maybe some extra rendered fat added. The bottom bun was soaked with sauce and liquid fat. No butter needed on this bun. The meat had good smokiness and plenty of crust mixed in with the meat. I much preferred it to the sliced beef I had on my previous visit, and saw no need to order the large sandwich. The small has plenty of meat is dirt cheap, fat and all.

2008: A harvest moon lit an otherwise dim parking lot. The scent of wood smoke hung heavy in the air as I passed through the door beside the prominent "NO GUNS" sign. A rag-tag clientele waited on mostly to-go orders as a clueless couple stood at the counter asking directions to Frisco. I patiently watched the Cowboys on the fuzzy TV in the corner until the equally fuzzy directions were doled out by the man behind the counter with a large gold grill. The cashier finally asked to take my order, and I requested a two-meat plate with brisket and ribs, and I was informed that the proper term was a "Mixed Plate". After a brief encounter with a harmless pan-handler in the parking lot, I was on my way home to feast.

The mixed plate consists of three slices of white bread, BBQ beans, potato salad, five slices of brisket, two large spare ribs cut in half, and thankfully, sauce on the side. All this for $8.20! The brisket was mostly gray with the slightest of smoke lines. Any crust had tragically been discarded. While there was little smoke, the overall flavor was fine if a little roast-beefy. The slices were perfectly tender with well rendered fat. Although the brisket fell shy of stellar, the ribs more than made up for it. These ribs had a slightly sweet rub that formed a beautiful deep red crust with excellent smoke flavor. The smoke flavor permeated this tender rib meat creating great flavor throughout. The only knock on these ribs was a thin layer of unrendered fat lying just below the incredible crust. Although I'd suggest coming here just before the sun dips below the horizon, I would brave the dark of night for another order of those ribs.

Odoms Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, March 28, 2011

BBQ in the News

Texas Monthly's own Pat Sharpe provides her ode to the brisket in this month's issue. Without irony she writes "We love brisket because cooking it is a spiritual path". Amen.

For some insight to a man who has successfully charted that spiritual path towards brisket perfection, check out this video chat with Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin.

Also from Texas Monthly is a story I just discovered since I was a month or two behind in my reading. TM provided their list of the 175 most important moments in Texas history. One of the few food related moments came to the list from Pat Sharpe, and that was the opening of Kreuz Market 111 years ago in Lockhart.

A local list of great up and coming Oak Cliff eateries was written by Sarah Eveans of Quick DFW. The list of course includes Lockhart Smokehouse and Luckie's among some other non-BBQ options.

Smoke gets a little love from John T. Edge by way of Garden & Gun magazine, but they don't have the story online.

If you can find an issue of Taste of the South Magazine (I can't), then you can read an article by the boys at Man Up Texas BBQ.

Finally, if you'd like to check out my recently published review of Peggy Sue BBQ in D Magazine, I'd love to hear your thoughts whether you agree or disagree with my assessment.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

DFW Airport BBQ

My day job has required frequent trips to DFW Airport of late, so much so that I haven't been able to eat enough BBQ. I decided to remedy that on one occasion where my driving time was particularly brisk, and I had a few free minutes. In order to not be a complete masochist and eat what would probably be pretty poor sliced brisket, I opted to compare chopped beef sandwiches.

The first stop was in Terminal D at gate 18. Railhead Smokehouse BBQ offers a regular and Texas sized sandwich, and being in the Lone Star State, I went for the big one. A pile of premixed beef and sauce were scooped onto the unheated sesame bun. So much sauce was added to the mix that the consistency was more soupy than sloppy joe, but shared the dentures-welcome consistency. This was by far the worst of three sandwiches, but it's unclear which Railhead location to blame. The Fort Worth operation and the Willow Park locations are run independently. Oddly, the receipt had "Two Podner's" printed on top which is a Dallas based joint near fair park whose owner is a well known airport vendor. Anyone else out there have a clue?

The second stop was just a few gates away at gate D 28 for Cousin's BBQ (also available at gate B27). The meat here is not presauced, and comes piled atop a buttered and lightly grilled bun. The meat had good consistency with bits of meat and crust. A bit of sauce didn't drown out the smoky flavor of the meat, and the sides here are top notch for airport food. This would have even been a good option outside the airport.

The final joint was a few stops on the Skylink away at gate A 18 (also at C 6 and E 12). Dickey's does one better than Cousin's by chopping the meat to order. I found this quite remarkable given the time required for this extra step, but loved the ability to ask for specific cuts to be chopped. This sandwich may have been tops if they'd paid some attention to the cold bun which was odd given that buns for the po-boys were grilled to order. The meat and sauce here worked well together, and in a pinch, I'll no longer turn my nose up at Dickey's chopped beef sandwich as an option.

Do I really think you can find great BBQ in an airport? Not really, but I thought some fellow travelers might want to know if there's anything decent out there. If you find yourself at DFW Airport and you're anywhere near Terminal C or D, then Cousin's should be your stop. Dickey's will do in a pinch, but don't bother with Railhead.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lockhart Smokehouse

DALLAS: Lockhart Smokehouse
400 West Davis
Dallas, TX 75208
Open Daily 10:30-meat runs out‎

Update: It's good people, and it's $15 per pound good too. Three visits over the last three weeks have confirmed it. Brisket has morphed from very good to nearly perfect over those last three visits since my last review. The sausage just keeps getting better too, although it's not quite to the level of making an all-beef convert out of me. My affection for the clod here is well documented, and the pork chop has always been top notch. The problem for me is with the big and meaty spare ribs whose inconsistency is frustrating.


On a lunch trip with a friend I was spotted immediately. They were offering rib tip samples with every order, so I grabbed a couple along with my brisket, clod and sausage. These rib tips had a wet looking sheen on them from the salty rub bringing out the moisture of the meat. These tips had good smoke and adequate tenderness that made me hope for some rib improvement on my next visit. Brisket on this visit had all the great flavor qualities of a top notch brisket, but was a tad dry and chewy. An inquisitive manager was polite with his questioning, and genuinely interested on improving his product.


I dropped off a decoy to order for me on the next visit in hopes that there would be no specialty cuts. Anonymity of food critics is a well known aspiration, but I have a small advantage in that the food type I write about cannot be quickly remedied. The brisket that I'm served has probably been smoking for upwards of 10 hours, but there are better cuts than others on that brisket, and I wanted to be sure I wasn't getting preferential treatment. The meat that came out in the paper that ran clear with juices was just as good as the previous visit. Ribs again had an odd but good flavor from a rub heavy on aromatics including coriander and a dozen or so other ingredients. No matter the seasoning, the meat was tough to separate from the bone, and simply tasted underdone. All of that powder-heavy rub also hindered a nice crust from forming. I was going to stop at this point, but a friend invited me to dinner the day before I planned to post the review, so I thought I'd hold off.


What resulted at dinner service were the same chewy ribs and some of the best brisket I have eaten anywhere, and the finest I have eaten in Dallas. The end cut from the point is a fatty crusty delicacy that was given its proper due here. After one bite, the three tablemates were fighting over the rest. Luckily we had plenty of sliced point meat to move onto. The fat that remained on each of these slices was so richly flavored, intensely smoky, and perfectly silky that it was consumed more quickly than the meat. Each new bite built on the last until the hefty portion of meat had been annihilated. The brisket from this meal could stand against any I've had at Kreuz Market, which is why I've wrestled so much with the star rating. Based on the inconsistent ribs it's tough to go beyond three stars, but with brisket being done this well before they're even two months old, I've got to give it a strong recommendation for anyone looking for great BBQ in Dallas.

Rating ****

2/25/11: Last Friday I went to Lockhart Smokehouse to give it another try, and I wasn't alone. Normally I try to be as unassuming as possible, but I had a cameraman with me on this trip. Just about everyone took notice as I made my way to the back, and I was immediately spotted before I placed my order. When I asked for a rib from the guy at the counter, he yelled back to the cutter "One Full Custom rib, please!"

As Turk kept filming away for a recent story in the local Advocate Magazine, I kept taking down large hunks of meat. Ends cuts from the clod were even better than the first trip with plenty of smoke and crispy, fatty nuggets of concentrated flavor. The ends cut pork chop weighed in at 3/4 pound alone, and had great smoke and flavor, but really needed more smoker time to tenderize. Ribs were underdone and tough, but the rub flavor was more subdued, and the smokiness was certainly there. These guys just need more work to be considered good ribs.

Besides the clod, the sausage was the day's best item. It was incredibly juicy (as seen in the video above) with great snap and great beefy flavor. This link had taken to the smoke much better than the previous visit, and if they keep doing it this well the marketing of the Kreuz name will be more than just for show. I plan to return soon for another taste of the brisket and to see if they'll take my solicited rib critiques to heart.

Rating - Pending

2/2/2011: Soon. That was the preemtive answer posted on the doors of Lockhart Smokehouse for the past few weeks. This morning, that sign came down and was replaced with a "Now Open" sign. Dallasites rejoiced, and a few of them even braved the icy roads to try it on their first day of business.

Certainly this is the most anticipated BBQ joint to open in our fair city...ever. Several meat preview posts have hit the web, and it was given a mention in the New York Times before it was even open for business. The one and only Roy Perez, pitmaster at the heralded Kreuz Market, acted as mentor to chef made pitmaster, Tim McLaughlin, and several months ago they announced their plan to serve the famous sausage from Kreuz (which just arrived yesterday via FedEx). Everything was set for the opening, and excitement had built. Everything, that is, but a register full of cash. Inside the doors this morning I found a dozen or so folks milling around. It was past the 10:30 opening time, but the bank lost electricity so they couldn't get the cash they needed. By 10:50 they opened the line for credit cards only. This being Dallas, everyone was monetarily prepared.

Trying to be inconspicuous, I ordered a little of everything. Meat prices are listed by the half pound, (brisket is $15/pound, $2 higher than the best in the state at Franklin BBQ) but they'll slice you off a quarter pound of any sliced meat. Meat is sliced to order on a large table behind the ordering counter then weighed on brown packaging paper. This paper didn't stand up well against any of the moist meats, so they may need to go to true butcher paper for everyone to make it to their table without any dropping incidents. I made it to my table with Forrest, a loyal FCGBBQ reader who braved the weather as well with his wife, and he promptly spilled his Coke in my lap. It wasn't his fault. He was trying to pry apart a slice of the tough brisket and his hand slipped. This brisket had good smoky flavor and was well seasoned, but needed more time (maybe a few hours) on the smoker to tenderize and render some of that fat. Ribs had the same pros and cons, but the end cut from the pork chop made me forget all about it. Moist, tender and smoky with just the right amount of fatty goodness made this a go-to cut. The aforementioned jalapeno sausage was also a winner with plenty of heat any very little greasy filler.

The best cut by far was the uncommon clod. While more familiar to Central Texas BBQ fans, this is a cut not used anywhere else in Dallas. I was happy to see it on their menu when it was posted a few days ago, and was even happier to eat it. Well smoked, perfectly tender and immensely flavorful, it was good enough to get more to-go. Chicken, which isn't my favorite smoked meat was fine, and the deviled eggs which use a different meat in the fillings that rotate daily was worth ordering again. I realize that I'm posting this just as the lunch crowd is dying down on their first day, so a rating won't be in order until after a few visits over the next couple of weeks. What I will say is that this place is doing it right. They smoke with all wood in a Dallas made Bewley pit, and they know the importance of their prime product - meat. They showed some real potential today which should embolden the hope for Dallasites salivating for true Central Texas style BBQ that can be found without a four hour drive. I'll happily be back.

Lockhart Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Robb Walsh vs. BBQ - James Beard Awards

The James Beard Award finalists were announced today, and for the first time in his life, Robb Walsh is going head-to-head against barbecue. In the "Food Culture and Travel" category for writing, Robb has been nominated (with co-authors Rick Bragg and Francine Maroukian) for “The Southerner’s Guide to Oysters”, while former Dallas Morning News food critic Bill Addison has been nominated in the same category for "BBQ 2010" in a guide to the barbecue scene of his new city, Atlanta. Given that my guide to DFW BBQ wasn't nominated, I'm rooting for Robb.

In other BBQ related James Beard news, Pig: King of the Southern Table
was nominated for American Cooking books. I don't have a copy, but ribs are on the cover. Here's hoping there's a recipe or two inside that requires a smoker.

Although no local restaurants made the list, there are some notable local media nominations. City of Ate, the Dallas Observer's food blog has been nominated, as well as City of Ate contributor Alice Laussade for the Humor category.

Finally, to revisit the best article I've read on the subject of charcuterie is Katharine Shilcutt's article for the Houston Press "Designer Meats". It's certainly worth a read if the subject interests you.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Woody's Bar-B-Q

ARLINGTON: Woody's Bar-B-Q
405 N. Fielder Plaza

Arlington, TX 76012


Open Sun-Thur 11-9, F 11-10, Sat 11-11

This Florida chain opened about 30 years back, and I guess they felt like what was missing from Arlington, Texas was some Florida style BBQ. The building anchors a nondescript strip center, and the interior is full of collected kitsch. Servers work the tables inside, or as I did, you can order to go directly from the bartender. He suggested the fries when I ordered the two-meat plate, and I opted for the beans alongside the sliced beef and ribs.

Beans were sweet and tasted from a can, and the fries were standard issue crinkle cut. This joint seems to shoot for a crowd pleasing level of mediocrity, and they hit that target squarely. Nothing was off putting, but as with the sides, the meats were certainly forgettable. Lean as could be brisket had little smoke, and barely any flavor besides a roast beefiness. Ribs were adequately cooked, and came from the bone easily. Again, these bones lacked smokiness, but had a bit more kick than the beef from a hearty rub. I may have gone in with some expectations that Florida BBQ wasn't going to wow me, but I came away with the clear affirmation.

Rating **
Woody's on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

BBQ in the News

This week, CNN seems to settle a question I asked a while back. That is just how do you spell 'barbecue'? So far, voters are partial to one of my favorites, 'BBQ'.

The folks from a site with much better photography than this one went on a two part trip to Central Texas. This LA based blog, eat drink + be merry tried some of the best, and made me feel like I was there the whole way through. Check out the two part series here and here.

A Manhattan BBQ joint that fancies themselves as Texas style has opened a new location in DC to much anticipation. Have any of my readers tried the Manhattan location of Hill Country BBQ?

I also found a couple of great infographics on the world's, and more specifically the US's current and historical levels of meat consumption. Our level of beef consumption has been cut by about a third since the mid-seventies. I don't think my personal levels would have the same trend.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Eddlemon's BBQ

GRAND PRAIRIE: Eddlemon's BBQ 3202
SE 14th St
Grand Prairie, TX 75052

Open Daily during course hours

At the beginning of their history, so many of the Central Texas BBQ meccas were once meat markets. Over time the popularity of their smoked meats eclipsed the popularity or the profit margins of their traditional business, until the day when the scales no longer weighed raw meat. Here in North Texas we have our own version of that story that involves a golf course and a Tongan brick mason.

Eddlemon's Food Shop began their long history in Grand Prairie in 1953. Over the years they started smoking meats and expanded to three meat market locations in the area. The only former location I could find was at 105 Clarice St. in Grand Prairie. Times got tough a few years back which is when brothers Johnny and Joe Eddlemon decided it was best to close up shop in 2006. At around the same time, the city of Grand Prairie was looking for a food vendor at their public golf course on the shore of Mountain Creek Lake. The Eddlemon brothers just needed a pit. Instead of grabbing a few gas fired ovens in an auction, they hired a Tongan artisan to build a new brick and steel wood fired pit. It's out back in a screened enclosure, and a tall aged Eddlemon's sign is propped alongside.

While I cautiously opened the doors into the pit area (is it open to the public?) I heard a voice behind me asking if I'd like a tour. Wheeling around sheepishly, I found Johnny Eddlemon dressed in all black and ready for a catering gig. He told me the story of the pits and some family history, then urged me to come back and have a sit down meal. He had spotted me using my to-go order as a photo model on the hood of my car.

For a place that takes their 'cue so seriously that they'd build a giant brick pit from the ground up, the sauced meat was a surprise. Ribs are not a menu option, so I opted for the sliced brisket, German sausage, and 'almost world famous' hot links. From-the-can sides were forgettable, but the meat was worth another trip. Tender brisket had captured some of that pecan smoke, but it also had grill marks and a grill-like flavor. My guess is this is from the seasoned grates that sit motionless in the smoker. Hot links had these same marks, but not the same smoke. They were a notch above the spicy bologna links that pervade the Oklahoma BBQ scene, but they were ground too fine for my liking. German sausage was excellent. These North Texas links (from an unknown supplier) had a great snap, good smoke and some unique spices. I finished every thick chunk of sausage and still couldn't pinpoint that flavor. Maybe I'll ask next time, and Ill certainly ask for my plate without the sweet and smoky sauce. There's no need here.

Rating ***
Eddlemon's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Chinese BBQ

When I was visiting Crossroads Smokehouse in Arlington, Brent Deen mentioned a great place for barbecued duck down the road, if I was up for some multi-cultural BBQ. After a failed stop at the already closed T-Bones BBQ across the street, I wheeled into the First Chinese BBQ parking lot.

Just inside the doors is a glass case displaying options that range from calamari to smoked pork and whole ducks. Ducks are available whole or halved. Half a duck was more than I could eat, so I watched as the man chopped earnestly with swift strikes from a cleaver until the half duck was separated into easily handled morsels.

Duck fat is silky smooth, and this stuff was perfectly rendered. Incredibly moist and flavorful meat clung to the remaining bones beneath crispy skin. I had to remind myself of the remaining BBQ stops I had on the day, or I may have finished it off. It's been a few years, but this was reminiscent of the duck I had at another location of First Chinese BBQ in Richardson. I'd suggest getting a half duck to start, or you may find yourself rather full after eating a whole duck on your own.

First Chinese BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Crossroads Smokehouse

ARLINGTON: Crossroads Smokehouse
1006 N Collins St

Arlington, TX 76011


Open M-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-10, Sun 11-7-ish

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2011: I could have sworn the newest location of the Eddie Deen chain was caddy corner of the monstrous Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, but I drove up and down the Collins Street looking for Crossroads Smokehouse with no luck. I had to stop in a nearby parking lot to look up the directions only to realize that it was hidden behind the Walgreen's and Panda Express that I'd seen a few blocks back. Pulling into the parking lot I could see the banner hanging from the storefront, evidence of the joint's young age. Just inside the doors, a pair of bright new shiny Southern Pride pits sit prominently along with the rest of the kitchen equipment behind a glass display window.

A few minutes after sitting down to a hefty three meat plate of hot links, ribs and brisket, pitmaster Brent Deen sat down with me to chat. I knew him from multiple visits to Smokey's in Fort Worth, but he'd been recently relegated to Jackson Street BBQ in Kaufman for the past few months before being tapped by dad to come open this latest location. They opened on Super Bowl weekend, and have had steady business since. Brent explained his preference for the baby backs rather than the spare ribs served a Smokey's, but the seasoning varied little. A post-smoking brown sugar glaze gave a nice counterpoint to the cayenne and black pepper heat in the rub. These ribs were perfectly tender and smoky, and I have vowed to try and replicate them at home (I'll let you know how that goes next weekend). Hot links here are just as juicy and flavorful as those at Smokey's, but they no longer get them from Costco. Rather, they now go straight to the source to cut out the middleman. Brisket slices from the flat had good smoke and great flavor from the same rub that goes on the ribs. Not enough fat was left on these slices, and they were just a tad dry, but this was good eating brisket.

I inquired further about the Southern Prides, which I'm not usually a huge fan of. Brent explained that all of the briskets that make their way to the multiple Eddie Deen locations around the region start in giant rotisserie smokers in their Terrell commissary. After five or so hours in these wood fired J&R manufacturing smokers, they are packed up and shipped to each location, and finished in each store's on site smoker. Brent explained that he understood the negative opinions of Southern Pride smokers, but assured me that they use plenty of wood in their gas fired behemoths. The truth was in the quality of the meat, and it looks like the family business has another location to be proud of. Now if they'd just get a Dallas location opened.

Rating ****
Eddie Deen's Crossroads Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Woody B's BBQ

1980 Nantucket Dr
Richardson, TX 75080
Open Tues-Sat 11-7

Although Woody Berry didn't intend it, his boil-in-bag concept that was almost an afterthought, has become the focus of many reviews. This reheating method is getting a few comments over on SideDish and Pegasus News, and I was certainly skeptical when making my purchase. I thought I'd get as many of the offerings as I could since I was going to welcome home Smokemasterone's new baby, and I wanted the proud parents to have some options. The Berry's are very proud owners and were happy to show us "The Beast" which is an Oyler smoker which holds court in a crammed kitchen. There's just enough room to open the firebox door and feed in the logs of mesquite wood. After the tour, we took our sack full of plastic baggies and made our way over to casa de SM1. A boiling pot of water and 15 minutes later, we were cracking open a sack of pulled pork.

If they had a marketing firm, I'm guessing they wouldn't feature many photos of the product before debagging it. Once we got it into a bowl, you could smell the smokiness and see the pulled strands of meat. The flavor had a hint of vinegar which helped to keep it moist, and it went perfectly with the crispy slaw.

While waiting for it all to boil, we cracked open a bag of unheated (per owner's instructions) smoked salmon. The meat was delicate, perfectly seasoned, with just the right amount of smoke. Mesquite has a reputation for creating an oversmoked flavor, but this was spot on. It was obvious why this is one of his best sellers.

The next evening back at my place it was time for another boil-fest. A pound and a half of brisket (they need to work on the package size options) and a half rack of ribs sat in the pot for 15 minutes, and dinner was ready. Brisket is a cut that is nearly impossible to heat up successfully once it's been sliced, but this beef was moist, tender and succulent. I was amazed at how well it retained a fresh flavor, and the smokiness was undeniable. One knock is that slices from the point had some unrendered fat, but this was some good brisket.

Ribs were presauced, but the addition was subtle. The meat came off the bone too easily, but after the hot bath, it's no wonder they got a bit too tender. These baby backs had a bit of fat, but it was all nicely rendered and the smoky flavors melded nicely with the black pepper in the rub. I was certainly impressed.

Given the absolute BBQ desert in the Richardson area, I could certainly see this place prospering if they just put out passable 'cue, but from what I tried, this place goes a few steps above passable. Customers will need to understand that this is not BBQ to-go. It is BBQ with some assembly required, but it's worth the effort. And if you're feeling lazy, a few slabs of that salmon would make for an even quicker dinner. I'll be back.

Rating ***

02/2011: Woody B's is a new venture in Richardson from Woody Berry, an experienced caterer. Rather than abandon a successful business to try and lure diners to a sit-down place, with all the risk and debt that entails, Mr. Berry has tried to find a middle-ground between caterer and restauranteur. Woody B's is take-out only, but that doesn't quite tell the tale. I walked in just after noon on a Saturday to find a front room that consists of a register and two glass-fronted reach ins. One a cooler, one a freezer. I may be the minor hand here at FCG-BBQ, but I'm willing to bet the BBQ Snob hasn't needed a colander in the quest for 'que. Everything is pre-packaged and the meats come shrink wrapped in boil-in bags. I'm not sure if this is a novel approach, but it is my first encounter.

Mr. Berry was tending the register, introduced himself immediately and ran me through the available options. He uses an Oyler pit nicknamed "The Beast". It is enshrined on one wall by way of a mural. The setup uses the small storefront to maximum efficiency and allows catering to continue without conflicting with the more fickle demands of a regular dining location. One drawback to the customer is that portion sizes are decided for you. This was a meal for two, so almost two pounds of brisket was all I could handle home without knowing how successful the boiling process might turn out. I did take some cole slaw for roughage. Fresh made cookies from the misses are also on offer. Meat came home, pot went on cooktop and 20 minutes later, dinner had arrived. It was certainly simple. The additional time at home does appear to do a better job of retaining true BBQ flavor than the ubiquitous warmed foil tray.

I got a distinct smoke bouquet when cutting the bag open. No sauce was applied and the meat was fairly dry, so removing it from the bag just took a couple brisk tugs. Once plated, it looked the part. Deep dark crust, solid smoke line. There were pieces from two parts of the cut, upper thick flat (?) and narrower mid-point perhaps. The point slices were losing integrity but had excellent flavor. The crustiest parts of the flat were terrific. The broadest pieces took a little more aggressive tug to get through than is ideal and, predictably, had the least concentrated flavor. All was cooked to a reassuring standard. The accompanying sauce was thick and sweet with a modestly tangy finish. I would have to imagine blackstrap mollasses is one of the sweeteners. The slaw was a broad cut, lightly dressed and refreshing.

Overall, the brisket is a three star effort. I'll have to hold off on a rating for the whole operation until I've had a chance to sample the babybacks. If the boil-in-bag process looks good to you, I think their product can easily outshine the take-out options of the area's old standbys.

Woody B's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.