Probably the best-known barbecue restaurant in Dallas, Pecan Lodge started as a Dallas Farmers Market stall before finding a permanent home in Deep Ellum. Now the stall is a memory, and it feels like Pecan Lodge has been here forever; like there has always been a line snaking out the door and around the corner, back to where the smokers warm the restaurant’s side wall. The best meats here include fatty, fork-tender brisket and crisp burnt ends. Jalapeño-cheddar sausage, by contrast, is a tray-soaking grease bomb. After a small pit fire this fall, the restaurant was back smoking within hours.
Top pick: Grab the Hot Mess, an enormous baked sweet potato topped with a tangle of barbacoa, a hidden layer of cheese and green onions. Using sweet, rather than regular, potatoes is an inspired move. Make sure to grab some jalapeño slices to finish the picture.
The downside: Pecan Lodge falls behind against rivals like Cattleack, The Slow Bone and new neighbor Terry Black’s on side dishes. The bacon-topped mac and cheese is the best of the bunch, while the pinto beans are rather ordinary and the ultra-sweet-and-sour collard greens downright strange.
Fun fact: Owners Justin and Diane Fourton started a charity in response to the coronavirus, the Dinner Bell Foundation, which feeds first responders and medical personnel. Supported by donations, the Foundation offers heavily discounted meals to the workers who need them.