We here at the Dallas Observer may be occasionally guilty of focusing our food attention on restaurants within two miles of downtown Dallas. When it comes to barbecue, we’ve got our favorites in the city, but our neighbors north of the loop have some great smoked meat options in their own back yards, with no need to drive into the city. For that matter, these are worth the drive for city dwellers who think there's nothing good in the suburbs. In no particular order, these are our picks for barbecue in the northern reaches of the metroplex.
Lockhart Smokehouse, 1026 E. 15th St., Plano
This may seem like a cop-out, what with the original Lockhart’s location in the Bishop Arts District, but bypassing Lockhart just because it’s the second location is foolish when it comes to barbecue this good. Everything you’d want is here: dedicated smokehouse in back, a full bar along one side of the downstairs space, and of course, the same delicious brisket, sausage, ribs and poultry as the original Dallas location. True to the original, utensils are discouraged.
Modeled after Central Texas barbecue greats like Franklin’s in Austin and Snow’s in Lexington, Ten50 BBQ in Richardson touts itself as serving "Authentic Texas BBQ served with a heaping side of Texas hospitality." Ambitious standards for sure, but after some experimentation and menu simplifying, Ten50 is cranking out some tasty ‘cue. Sides are made from scratch, and the desserts shouldn’t be missed.
Hutchins Barbecue, 1301 N. Tennessee St., McKinney
From the outside, the McKinney location of Hutchins (they’ve got a second location in Frisco) doesn’t look like much. But the lines of people on the weekends obviously know it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Hutchins’ brisket is so melt-in-your-mouth tender that schoolchildren should study it, while the tender ribs have a slightly sweet char that’s as black as your ex’s soul. Ice cream, banana pudding and peach cobbler are gratis, assuming you saved room for dessert.
3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House, 4226 Preston Road, Frisco
Burnt ends are manna from the barbecue heavens. At some places, they’re a specialty item that’s not always available, but 3 Stacks Smokehouse deserves mention here for serving them every day in two different styles. Original Kansas City-style burnt ends are doused in 3 Stacks’ sauce, then tossed back on the smoker to crisp up. If you’re a purist and sauce isn’t your thing, you can order them “3 Stacks Style," large chunks of charred bark-covered beef minus the sauce. There’s an expansive menu of sandwiches, salads, pizzas and wings, should anyone in your party want something other than barbecue, but why are you friends with these people?
Bet The House BBQ, 508 E. Elm St., Suite 109, Denton
“We’re all in until we’re all out” proclaims the website of Bet the House BBQ, the Denton joint that has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Plan on arriving early so the all-outs don’t throw a wrench in your dining plans. Co-owners Shawn Eagle and Cody Smithers had been catering since 2012, then launched a Kickstarter campaign to open in a strip mall east of the UNT campus. Smoky brisket is superb regardless of your preference for lean or fatty. Sweet and peppery ribs and pulled pork are also standouts, and you should save room for the rotating dessert of the day.
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Winner's BBQ, 3200 14th St., Plano.
Winner's BBQ is new to Plano, but don't let that dissuade you from visiting — they're already serving some of the best barbecue in Plano. The ribs are so good they could cause even the most staunch vegan to reconsider his lifestyle, and the brisket is expertly smoked, as well. Admittedly, the restaurant is a work in progress (owner De'Andre Jackson focuses on the food instead of the interior decorating), but that's fine in our book. Look for an in-depth review soon, but for now, take our word that Winners is a winner.
PLEASE COME BACK SOON: Clark’s Outpost, 101 US Highway 377, Tioga
“Where the hell is Tioga?” was Dean Fearing’s question when Warren Clark and his wife Nancy told him of their little barbecue spot near Lake Ray Roberts in the early 1980s. Fearing fell in love with the smoky ribs and brisket that cooked for three days and brought everyone from Julia Child to Stephan Pyles to try it. The building, which dated back to 1900, caught fire the morning of January 18, and was a total loss. Clark passed away in 1997, but co-owner James Hillard, who started at Clark’s three days after it opened in 1974, promises to rebuild. We’ll be waiting.