The brisket is out of the butcher paper. Texas Monthly posted their latest top 50 barbecue restaurants list and both Pecan Lodge and Lockhart Smokehouse made this year's cut. A look at previous years show just how far Dallas has come in the world of barbecued brisket.
A long, long way ...
Sonny Bryan's and Baker's Ribs were mentioned in the 2003 list. I didn't live in Dallas then, but I've eaten at both restaurants since I got here. Their inclusions sounds more like a consolation prize than a real award. Actually, they feel more like an error or the mark of a bad list. Maybe things have changed and these restaurants used to turn out amazing brisket, or maybe the rest of Texas sucked back then too. Nowadays they don't come across as top 50 anything.
In 2008 Sonny Bryan's got dumped, leaving only Baker's to contend with the likes of Snow's, Kreuz Market and Smitty's -- true legends of Texas barbecue. It wasn't even a fight.
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This year things look different. Pecan Lodge and Lockhart Smokehouse aren't two restaurants receiving participants' ribbons, they're real contenders. Pecan Lodge was named one of the five best in all of Texas by Daniel Vaughn in his just-released book The Prophets of Smoked Meat. The brisket is so good it's saving marriages. Lockhart, meanwhile, has gained a reputation for reliable wood-smoked brisket and great sides.
Texas Monthly's list isn't ranked yet, so we don't know how Dallas fares against the competition, but given Vaughn's open affection for Pecan Lodge and his recent appointment as barbecue editor of the glossy magazine, I've got some warm and fuzzy feelings.
It would seem Dallas stands a good chance at being firmly on the barbecue map. And this time we deserve it.