The Original Sonny Bryan's versus Mike Anderson's in a Brisket Showdown
You'll be pleased to know I have not spent my downtime improving my photography skills
In honor of Sunday's sold-out Meat Fight, we're celebrating smoked animal flesh all week long in our inaugural Meat Week, in which we celebrate the procuring, cooking and face-stuffing of dead-animal flesh.
An oft-overlooked brisket is the lunchtime variety, guaranteed to make your afternoon at work a slow and lazy one. Two lunchtime establishments just north of downtown have been around for eons now, and are about fifty feet from each other. I like to imagine the owners peer at each other's buildings from the windows of their restaurants, possibly using binoculars, to see what the other one is up to. If there isn't some sort of rivalry there, I'd at least like to pretend there is one, okay?
Sonny Bryan's OG Smokiness Was possibly once wafted near some smoke of an indeterminate nature
Tenderness Was veering towards dry, but not quite there, still pretty tender
Beefiness Sliced too thin to be described as really beefy
With sauce Delicious, because all sauce should be served in a used beer bottle
Without sauce Like eating some beef, but in a school canteen from the 17th century, so pretty cool I suppose
Cost $7.99 for a brisket lunch plate with two sides
A symphony of wood and smoke, the original Sonny Bryan's has been open since before the Bible was written. As soon as the cow was invented, Sonny begun to smoke it. Some people said he was a madman, but he knew that, centuries later, everyone else would catch on. Unfortunately, since then the art of a really well-smoked piece of brisket has been lost to the ages. No doubt, somewhere within the dusty confines of Sonny's there is a secret recipe, some might say an ancient text, that will tell the employees of Sonny, or the disciples as they are undoubtedly called, how to apply smoke to meat. There are, however, yet to find it.
Look, it wasn't all bad. It was pretty tender, and combined with the sauce, distinctly delicious, because it's almost impossible to go wrong with that combo, no matter how unsmoky the meat is. The tenderness was good, it just wasn't smoky enough for a good Texas piece o'brisket.
SLABS, MAN, SLABS
Mike Anderson's Smokiness Smoky enough for you to take a bit and go "this is definitely some smoked meat right here." So about a 7/10.
Tenderness Pillow-soft, but not quite fatty enough to be an excellent experience.
Beefiness Real man slices, the sort that Justin Lookadoo would declare to be fit for a wild, untamed Man of God.
With sauce Goddammit Mike Anderson has the best sauce. He really does.
Without sauce Still distinctly edible, lovely smoke, nicely tender.
Cost $5 for a brisket sandwich, $10 with two sides
While not quite as weird as SB's, Mike Anderson's fine establishment, which boasts more cow-hide than a place with a lot of cow-hide, has been a fixture on Harry Hines for decades. Before I was born, Mike Anderson was chopping animals for hungry Dallasites. As a man who stands there, day in, day out, chopping meat smoked in his place, what do you think he eats for dinner? It's got to be a salad or something, right? I put on five pounds just by looking at Mike's gloves.
Although the heat-lamp warmed brisket is no world-beater, it's undoubtedly several steps above SB's in every department, and you can't beat being served meat by the man whose name is above the door. When you combine the better brisket with some of the best sauce in town you literally cannot go wrong. And $5 for a sandwich? That's like $1 more than a 7-Eleven sandwich, and when was that ever served with a smile and a vat of sauce? I would buy Mike Anderson's sauce in a bucket if it was served that way. No matter the cost of the bucket. This battle of Ancient Nearby Lunch Places is no match -- the whippersnapper Anderson takes home the gold.
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