Chow Town

Loose ends from an Oklahoma, Dallas barbecue road trip

Sonny Bryan’s spareribs, potato salad and brisket.
Sonny Bryan’s spareribs, potato salad and brisket. Special to The Star

Except for the original Sonny Bryan’s and Dickey’s, Dallas barbecue has had an unremarkable reputation over the past several decades.

Lockhart, Austin, Elgin and Taylor, on the other hand, have attracted the most accolades.

But thanks to Pecan Lodge; Lockhart Smokehouse; 18th & Vine; Smoke; Slow Bone; Ten50 and a few other newcomers, Dallas is carving a niche as a barbecue lover’s destination.

Silly me thought it possible to cover the Dallas barbecue scene over a couple of days. Not so. A return trip is in the works, but prior to that, here are some loose ends from the most recent trip.

Ten50 BBQ has staked out a big footprint in metro Dallas’ Richardson suburb. It is large enough to accommodate crowds of drop-in diners as well as private parties. Cement floors, wood, steel and red bricks lend comfort food ambiance to the large dining spaces.

In the tradition of Texas barbecue markets, you choose portions of beef, ribs, sausage, turkey and chicken breast while meat cutters slice, weigh and plate your selections on butcher paper covered trays. Sides and beverages are ordered further down the line. Our selections of lightly seasoned, gently smoked spareribs, sausage, brisket and large beef rib were spot-on tender and flavorful with a well-balanced juicy lean/fat ratio. Cold mugs of Shiner Bock were a perfect complement.

Regulars who have been going there since childhood told me that little has changed over the years at Sonny Bryan’s Original Smokehouse Barbecue. It’s a tiny place with a huge reputation. After dine-in customers order, pay and pick up their food with a bottle of warm sauce, they squeeze into a boxcar-size adjoining room lined with vintage school desk-style seating. The room is adorned with old signs, historical memorabilia, ranch hand boots and framed photos.

William Jennings Bryan Jr., aka Sonny, opened his famous roadside smokehouse in 1958 following a Bryan’s Barbecue tradition begun in 1910 by his grandfather Elias Bryan and continued by Sonny’s dad, William Jennings Brian, founder of the former Red Bryan’s Smokehouse. Sonny sold the business in 1989, a few months before his death from cancer.

The new owners have maintained the original location while expanding the brand to larger, more upscale stores throughout the Dallas metro area. I love the taste of history mixed with smoky brisket, ribs, onion rings, potato salad, warm sauce, bread roll and beans at the original smokehouse.

Woody B’s, nestled in a strip shopping center in suburban Richardson, is ideal for hungry carryout customers. Founder, pitmaster and proprietor Woody Berry opened the place after retiring from an executive level restaurant management career spanning more than 30 years.

Not one to settle into a sedentary lifestyle, Woody opened Woody B’s in 2011. He smokes brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, sausage and lemon-peppered salmon in a mesquite-fueled Oyler pit he calls The Beast. Barbecue fresh from the pit is sealed in plastic bags and refrigerated for take-out, to be reheated, bag and all, in boiling water.

Although Woody’s salmon and the smoked chicken mac n’ cheese are house favorites, demand for all of his smoked meats, sides and Gigi’s Fudge Ripple Cookies is constant.

On your way home from Dallas to Kansas City, set your GPS for a roadside lunch at Buffalo’s BBQ in Sperry, Okla. You’ll know why pitmaster/proprietor Donny Teel is a Jack Daniel’s and American Royal world champion when you take your first bite of his barbecue. Teel’s ribs, bologna, brisket, turkey, chicken, hot links and Polish sausage is some of the best on the planet.

It’s good to know that when business or pleasure takes you to Dallas, you will not feel deprived of great barbecue while you’re away from our barbecue lover’s paradise, Kansas City.

Ardie Davis founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. His most recent releases are America’s Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with chef Paul Kirk, and Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style .