100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes, No. 57: Rib "Sandwich" at Baby Back Shak

To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

I'm a little late to the game. Tiffany Derry and her Hungry Investor friends got their meat beaters wrapped around the Baby Back Shak earlier this year, and I've only now gotten around to checking out their work.

And honestly? While all the paint, murals, pictures and other trinkets scattered around have definitely given the place a facelift, I prefer Baby Back Shak the way it once was. I miss the patina of smoke, grease and time that was shellacked over every surface. I miss the old character.

Thankfully, the facelift didn't change the heart and soul of the place. It's still filled with police officers and firefighters and barbecue devotes who have come in search of Memphis-style barbecued ribs. That's right, Dallas: There is more (though not much) to barbecue than brisket. Barbecued pork parts slide in at a very close second.

The menu describes a "sandwich," but you should know that's not at all what you'll get. It's like Matt McCallister walked into the place and conjured up a "sandwich deconstructed" comprised of five or six ribs, thinly shaved onions, pickled jalapeños and two sad slices of doughy wheat bread.

The ribs were hot, but I picked one up anyway. It was a little dry, but tender and full of cracked pepper and smoky flavors. The meat didn't fall from the bone but you could pull it away easily with your teeth, and it was a welcome reprieve from the heavy beefy flavors typically associated with Texas barbecue. Not that I'm not planning on a brisket sandwich or two for tomorrow.

After they cooled a little, I decided to play along and make my own sandwich, pulling the meat from a rib and folding it up in a slice of bread, like a taco. I added a little of the onions and jalapeño. I added some of the tomato-based, vinegary sauce and a forkful of creamy cole slaw. The bread barely held everything together long enough to shovel the mess into my mouth, but when all those flavors danced together as one it was phenomenal. It turns out it was one hell of a sandwich after all.

No. 100: Pastrami Egg Rolls at Blind Butcher No. 99: Chicken-fried Steak at Tom's Burgers and Grill No. 98: Pasta with Uni Butter at Nonna No. 97: Camarón en Agua Chile at La Palapas No. 96: The Wings at Lakewood Landing No. 94: Chicken Kebab at Afrah No. 93: Trompo Tacos at Bachman Lake No. 92: Fish and Chips at 20 Feet No. 91: Canelés at Village Baking Co. No. 90: Banh Mi from La Me No. 88: The Burgers at Off-Site Kitchen No. 87: The White Album at Spoon No. 86: Ramen at Tei An No. 85: Tacos at Revolver Taco No. 84: Stuffed Chicken Wings at Sakhuu No. 83: Korean Fried Chicken at Bonchon No. 82: Grilled Branzino at Tei Tei Robata No. 81: The Toddfather at Cattleack Barbecue No. 80: The Biryanis at Chennai No. 79: Shish Tawook at Qariah No. 78: Arepes at Zaguan No. 77: Goat Momo at Everest Restaurant No. 76: Steak Tartar at Gemma No. 75: Escabeche at Joyce and Gigi's No. 74: Spicy Fish in Oil at Royal Sichuan No. 73: Pupusas at La Pasadita No. 72: The Kathi Roll at Simply Dosa No. 71: The Chicken Wings at Teppo No. 70: Cheesesteak at Truck Yard No. 69: Chicken and Waffles at Jonathon's No. 68: Birria Tacos at Los Torres Taqueria No. 67: Bulgogi Cheesesteak at Say Kimchi No. 66: Suadero Tacos at La Banqueta No. 65: Brian Luscher's Post Oak Red Hot No. 64: Banana Flower Salad at Mot Hai Ba No. 63: Cinco Leches Cake At Mesero Miguel No. 62: Cabrito a la Parilla at El Ranchito No. 61: Reuben at Kuby's No. 60: Plain Cheese Pizza Cooked Extra Crispy at Zoli's No. 59: Enmoladas at Mesa No. 58: Pig's Head at CBD Provisions

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Scott Reitz
Contact: Scott Reitz