The Englishman Reviews Taste of Dallas' BBQ Scene
Brisket at Lockhart Smokehouse's tent
Photos by Stephen Masker
Note: Today's blog from our resident Englishman, whose regular gig is sampling Texas barbecue, is best played in tandem with the "Let's Get Farheinhammered" drinking game. It's also not strictly a review of a barbecue restaurant. Obviously. Normal service will be resumed next time.
I am not used to heat. It's warm in Texas. It is decidedly not warm in Britain. Here's a fact: I had never seen an air conditioning unit before moving to Texas. As soon as Britain hits 80, the entire population runs to beaches which are often just a collection of large stones (not sand) near some ice-cold water. These are obvious and boring statements to make. Nevertheless, I feel as though this is something that anyone completely not used to heat, planning on spending several hours outside, standing up, in the middle of summer in Dallas, should probably take note of. I do not.
I relentlessly try to man up against the Texas heat. I completely refuse to submit to taking any of the necessary precautions. Water? For sissies! Shade? Who needs it! Irritability? Inevitable! Once you slap on a bit of sun cream, what's the worst that could happen? I always, without fail, spend the evening in the dark, groaning and drinking some garishly coloured sports drink. It's like a hangover, but without the fun part of the actual drinking before it to make it worthwhile.
I'm done moaning now. That's enough. It's entirely my fault anyway. I just wish that Texas would calm it down a bit, you know? Wow.
As we set off in the car, it began to absolutely tip it down with rain. I was delighted. Finally, BBQ on my home turf.
Daddy Rex's brisket taco
Defiantly eating sodden meat in a rainstorm. It's the British way, and I could feel my heart swell with patriotic pride as we inched closer with the downpour continuing. Alas, no such luck. By the time we had got round to parking, usual service was resumed and the furnace had been switched back on. I didn't care by this point. I was too excited about a myriad of BBQ food, and the undeniably good excuse I now had to keep eating more BBQ food after one serving of it. It will probably taste different! I have to try them all in case. Yes. I withdrew far too much money and started scoping my targets.
First was Lockhart Smokehouse's tent, just inside the front entrance. I have heard so many good things about Lockhart. So many. It's probably been built up too much. One thing I truly underestimated when starting this blog was not only the passion Texans have for BBQ, but the sheer amount of recommendations. It's insane. Everybody has an opinion, and that's great, but they keep telling me like I'm some sort of discerning eater. I'm not. "You'll love the brisket here." I will. You're right. I will eat it and be delighted. That is absolutely no reflection on the establishment. Anyway, everyone loves Lockhart's, so I was pretty excited. I got a brisket and sausage mix ($5) and, even though I was horrified by prepackaged, mass-made Kraft BBQ sauce, got down to business. There was no need to worry. It was astonishing. The brisket was juicy and delicious and beautiful and other overexcited words, but the sausage. My goodness. It crumbled but kept the firm satisfying outer layer, and it was insanely divine.
I am going to go to Lockhart's proper this week, and I hope for their sake they have stocked up on that stuff, because I don't have much concern for the feelings of other people who might want sausage. I'm going to take my own sauce, though. I obviously don't appreciate subtlety in BBQ, and I still crave the delicious sauce. Kraft is no Mike Anderson's Backyard BBQ, but I'm not sure I can ever go there again now without feeling bad (sorry about last week Mike).
There were a couple of stalls doing BBQ sauce sampling, which is a lot more my pace. I'm thinking, maybe we change this blog up so I'm just either doing straight shots of BBQ sauce or putting BBQ sauce on unlikely objects and then eating them and reporting back. I'm not cut out for being discerning about meat, and the latter has a kind of Jackass feel to it that I'm sure would be entertaining for at least a week. I am obviously happy about the BBQ sauce samples. They are excellent.
Next, Daddy Rex's had some BBQ brisket tacos ($3), which were amazing, but obviously again lacked any BBQ sauce whatsoever. Can you see a theme developing here? I have some really good ideas for the next Taste of Dallas, and foremost amongst them is a huge fountain of sauce in the centre. In fact, that whole water bit at the front? Fill it with BBQ sauce. Not only is it a statement of Texan pride, but people would definitely swim in it, potentially for charity.
In between all this, I found a Dallas Observer City of Ate stall, and thought I'd go over to say hey. "Hey, I write a blog for you guys!" "Oh, that's cool. Would you like to sign up for our newsletter?" No, I say, my hopes of making new friends in this cruel, inhospitable environment crushed. Another lesson -- never dream.
There is also a Korean BBQ Banh Mi truck, Nammi, which is super delicious. One thing the Koreans got right -- the meat is on the sauce. If you wanted to remove it, it would take some serious dedication and some excellent kitchen towels. It's a baguette sort of deal, with cucumber and carrots and marinated pork ($3). I love it. I want another six.
Really, though, by this point, the heat had gotten to everyone. No amount of $1 watermelon could fix that. We retreated home, via H Mart, to get some more pre-marinated Korean BBQ so we could have our own cook-out. Until I master the sauce, I'm going to have to trust in Koreans to make meat delicious for me, and really, they are doing an outstanding job of it. The pork belly ($4.99 lb pre-marinated) is stupidly good.
Taste of Dallas then. It was too warm, the food was excellent, interesting, tasty and relatively cheap, and Lockhart's should be afraid.
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