An Englishman in BBQ Sauce

An expatriate Brit learns to love Texas, one pound of brisket at a time.

Lockhart Smokehouse is definitely the place that had been most relentlessly recommended to me by everyone. It had become something of a mantra — get the clod, use your hands, no sauce. You can see the problem with this, aside from what on earth clod is. I built this blog on barbecue sauce, in much the same way Starship built that city on rock and roll. The idea of Texas BBQ without sauce is anathema to me. Still, I don't really know anything, as we have hopefully established by now. I decided to go with it. All the meat. No sauce. Obviously no sides though; this isn't some sort of party buffet for 8-year-olds.

Parking around Lockhart is pretty difficult, but you can always get a side street or something and walk a bit, something that seems as alien to Dallas as a sauceless brisket does to me. You can smell the glorious combination of smoke and meat that is Lockhart from like a block away. The venue is legit, from its concrete floors to its Texan signs on the wall to its dark and shady bar. It's everything I dreamed of when I somehow ended up living in Texas.

The advance party returns from the well-hidden meat counter with bad news. They are out of clod, chicken and burnt ends! I am destined never to discover what clod is. I knew we should have got here at 11 a.m. and eaten barbecue all day. Still, though, there is brisket galore. More brisket than I could ever hope to eat. I get a pound of brisket ($15), a special Kreuz sausage for $5 and three ribs for about $6. This is between three of us, I hasten to add. I'm not a machine.

This won't be a review so much as a eulogy to the meat that has departed this earth. The sausage is fantastic, the outer skin has bite and snap, but the innards are crumbly and meaty. No crap goes in these sausages. The pork ribs were wonderfully smoky, tender and delicious.

The brisket though. It deserves its own paragraph. It's insane. I have no idea how I'm going to describe it. It falls apart in your hands, and the meat isn't even the best bit. The burned outsides and the fatty parts pretty much make me cry. They're weirdly sweet, but chewy, meaty and smoky. Imagine if someone made the greatest chocolate you'd ever tasted, but out of delicious meat. Then imagine you were surrounded by your best friends and your family, and that someone was paying for you to eat this chocolate meat, while you drank incredibly cheap alcohol. Exactly.

As for the sauce? It's like putting some really delicious crack in front of a crack addict that only very recently stopped using crack. Resistance is futile.


Off the Bone

5144 Mansfield Highway, Forest Hill, 817-563-7000

This barbecue joint is legit in a way that Lockhart Smokehouse or Sonny Bryan's isn't — you could easily mistake it for a gas station, building-wise, and there are no stylized frills whatsoever. It's not trying to be anything.

We order a rib basket ($7.99) and a two-meat plate of brisket and sausage, with sides of macaroni cheese and okra ($12.99). I get a raspberry iced tea and can hear my forefathers weeping at this desecration of tea. We go to the fast-food style booths, and it comes out in the adorable little red baskets, fried-chicken style. There is a ketchup-squeezy-bottle-dispenser-thing of BBQ sauce, which worries me. I needn't have worried. The sauce is an absolute beauty, kind of spicy and sweet, with a definite tang of vinegar.

The brisket, well, Lockhart has ruined me. It was OK, pretty good, nothing special. The smoky outside is very nicely done, but there's not enough of it. The sausage, again, pretty good. The ribs, though. Christ. They are pleading to fall off the bone; they are burnt crisp on the outside and melt in the mouth on the inside. By the time we are done with them, the once-full squeezy bottle of sauce is one-third full and there are entirely clean ribs scattered around the table. It requires all my restraint not to simply put sauce on the bones and use them as some sort of horrific Popsicle.


Mama Faye's BBQ

2933 Commerce St., 214-486-9846

To my eternal shame, for all the time I have spent in Deep Ellum I had no idea of the existence of Mama Faye's BBQ. Neither, it seems, do the other residents of Dallas. The restaurant is completely deserted when the stepson and I enter — we had a long debate, standing outside, over whether the place was even open, it looked so dark inside. We did then notice the flashing neon "OPEN" sign round the side of the entrance and felt rather stupid.

Inside, it's pretty stark, with a few tables and an empty stage, and the lights are so dim that I can barely make out the menu, although this might just be old age setting in.

It's a sit-down, not a meat-counter sort of place, but I'm back to ordering by the pound and feel like a real man again. Texas barbecue truly is a manly pursuit — you're asking someone to bring you a particular weight of smoke and fire-cooked meat, and that particular weight is almost always excessive. No one needs to personally consume a pound of beef, but there is a primal joy inherent in doing so. We get half a pound of chopped brisket, half a pound of sausage and half a pound of the baby back ribs, because I am ignorant as to how those will taste. The barbecue sauce is extra cost (!) and our waitress takes one look at us and decides we definitely need the mild one.

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31 comments
FarleyFlavors
FarleyFlavors

'In Britain, we treat each other with a lingering sense of suspicion, and if someone tries to talk to one of us, we normally take it to mean they are either insane or want something'.

Absolutely true for where you hail from and absolutely false for the North and Scotland. Don't tar us all with the same brush, you fat wanker.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Still can't wait for the curry spinoff.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

Gavin, keep on keeping on..I very much enjoy hearing about the Great State through the eyes of a Englishman.  You need to head down to Lockhart,Tx and trudge through Black's, Smitty's and Kreuz..maybe stop by Franklins on the way back.  (Franklins is the finest brisket I've ever had, and I've had a large herd of brisket inhabite me intestines over the eons.)

WestTX_BBQ
WestTX_BBQ

@BBQsnob When reading my inner voice was in a British accent the whole time.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Please don't tell us your middle name is Ray or Wayne, because that picture is, well... unsettling.

Gavin Ray Cleaver? Very catchy - in a serial killer sort of fashion. (The actual cleaver is a nice touch, though. Very cheeky.)

Keep up the good work, and good call on the idea to review BBQ as a novice. It's fun to get a look at our culture from your POV.

EliotLandrum
EliotLandrum

Keep it up, sir! I get a hearty laugh and amusement out of your posts. And I'm usually in complete agreement. Love it.

EnglishmanInBBQ
EnglishmanInBBQ

@nickrallo I hope as the architect of this insanity you are proud of yourself... you've collectively lowered Dallas' IQ

kenlowery
kenlowery

@rusty_shackles @jessnevins @jason1749 Rusty are you down for this, I have a four-door sedan and can drive.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 MABOT. MEAT AND BEER ORGY TOUR. Maybe it needs work I dunno

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 I am OK marking off a week next summer (or spring or fall or whatever) to do this.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 We need a Meat & Beer Orgy Tour of Shiner, Dublin and Lockhart.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins I haven't been baaaaaackkkkkkk #shameonmyhouse

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 To be clear: it's Lockhart Smokehouse (with Lockhart sausage) IN DALLAS, not the town itself.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 I was a little overwhelmed.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@rusty_shackles My brother swears by Off the Bone but I haven't been yet.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@rusty_shackles Lockhart is GREAT. I went there for the first time when @jason1749 is in town. Didn't get the sausage, stupidly.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@rusty_shackles Sonny Bryans is kind of inevitable if you live here, but yeah it's our go-to if we don't want to drive a lot.

DallasLockhart
DallasLockhart

@rusty_shackles @kenlowery check out our Facebook page if you need more #Qporn !

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Big Kitty saw your picture and she's fallen head over paws in love.

ewanmacdonald
ewanmacdonald

As a fellow expat from the British Isles this had me nodding in agreement throughout. Perfectly said. Y'all here in Texas are just fuckin' brammer, by ra way.

cohenesque
cohenesque

@Dallas_Observer c'mon, you made that byline up.

OakClifflady
OakClifflady

You need to go to Odom's BBQ and try their ribs.  There is one on Singleton Blvd in Dallas and one on Oriole Blvd in Duncanville.  Great ribs and the best fully loaded baked potato.

DallasLockhart
DallasLockhart

@RoadrunnerEats Isn't it!?! and it was such fun to shoot

kenlowery
kenlowery

@DallasLockhart we are in line!

RoadrunnerEats
RoadrunnerEats

@DallasLockhart though I expected @EnglishmanInBBQ to look more like Hugh grant and less like @gordonkeith

kenlowery
kenlowery

@DallasLockhart You too. We're all very sleepy.

 
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