Each week, Justin Bitner goes hunting for DFW's most interesting sandwiches. Have a sandwich suggestion? Leave it in the comments and he'll check it out.
Venue: Hard Eight BBQ
The Sandwich: Sliced Beef ($5)
Bread: Fresh Baked Jalapeño Roll
Toppings: Sliced brisket and a little self-applied barbeque sauce
The Case: There's been some intense debate on our fair blog over the last week relating to the beef sandwich caste system, which I'll algebraically sum up as such: sliced > chopped > loose. In my quest to find the finest bread-bound meat books this city has to offer, I followed this tip from one of our more colloquial commenters, Josh's Broken Groin, and headed to Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell:
"do yourself a favor and lookup Hard 8...it's MAGIC I tell ya!...if'n you don't want sauce you can tell the gal inside when you tell her what kind of bun you would prefer (go with Jalapeno)"
Walking up to the place, I could see smoke methodically seeping out near the entrance, where the large pits were playing host to some serious imbuing. I weave through the line-directing metal pipes and make it to a closed pit with a small man clinging to its giant affixed handle. Sensing my desire to consume ember blessed proteins, he opens the door slowly as I feel my eyes start to get cartoon sized. I look over the brain demolishing array of smoked meats; chicken, sausage and beef glistening so perfectly I expect a rainbow to jump out of the pit and arch into the sky. Making up my mind quickly, I request the sliced beef sandwich and the carvesmith measures out a few strips of brisket, placing them on a scale to make sure I'm getting the proper tonnage. He hands me the basket of cargo and points me inside to retrieve my bread.
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Kicking open the door, I'm instantly greeted by a petite lady who asks me what type of bread I would like. Paying heed to the words of our commenter, I stop her as soon as she utters the word "jalapeno." She pulls back the foil covering a large metal bin and pulls out a square jalapeno roll, which she splits it in half and places it into a small oven to get a coaxing from a little heat. I grab the roll and move down the line to the sauce vats, which consist of a traditional BBQ sauce and a hot apple cider sauce. Ladling a spoonful of each into two little plastic cups, I make my way to the register and then snag a bolted down barstool.
Once at the table, it's time to assemble the sandwich. I transfer the beef from basket to bread, grabbing a straggling piece of brisket to give it a try on its own. The meat was tender with a great smokiness from the mesquite wood used in the pits. I pour a small amount of traditional sauce over a portion of the sandwich, making sure to leave plenty of room to experiment with the over sauce and or a capella. Working through the sandwich, I find that the light lathering of traditional sauce is the way to go. The sweetness of the sauce gets along great with the brisket, while the jalapeno roll provides a better than average base. The fresh baked bread, dotted with flecks of the mild pepper, was the pastry equivalent of a Simmons Beautyrest, soft and responsive. Wonder how it would hold up to a bowling ball.
The Verdict: Not as much of a gamble as the name implies, Hard Eight is easily a 10.
More 'Wich Trials: Granny's Sunday Gravy at Gennarino's The Balis Bad Boy at Mr. G's The Whole Hog at Smoke The Club at Sid's Rainbow Deli The Reuben at Coppell Deli The Italian Hoagie at Fred's Downtown Philly