Matt Dallman, owner of the soon to open 18th & Vine BBQ, seems like a pretty nice guy. I was trying to get him to badmouth Texas barbecue (Dallman hails from Kansas City) but he wouldn’t have anything to do with it. I couldn’t even get him to talk smack about the sorry state of Dallas barbecue when he first moved here 13 years ago — when places like Sonny Bryan's ruled the local brisket scene. The most critical thing he would say was that he missed the smoked meats he grew up on. That’s what prompted him to get a smoker and eventually open up a Kansas City-style barbecue restaurant here in Dallas.
“We’re not out to fight Texas barbecue,” Dallman said, as I continued to prod. “We just want to show everyone something different.”
Kansas City barbecue, according to Dallman, has a bad rep, and he’s hoping the restaurant he’ll soon open with local chef Scott Gottlich will clear up some common misconceptions about the art form. “People think of it as sauce,” he said, blaming KC Masterpiece for helping to sully the reputation with a thick blanket of corn syrup. Sure, Kansas City embraces embellishments, but a better way to make the comparison is that Dallman's style focuses on layering flavor.
Take Dallman’s brisket, for instance. Where a Texan might only rub the cut with salt and pepper, he makes use of salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, celery seed and other spices, along with sugar. His rub sits on the cut for at least five hours and then he employs what he deliciously refers to as a mustard slather. That concoction makes use of mustard and beer, adds another layer of flavor as the meat smokes and helps keep the sugar from burning.
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Another difference in the brisket that might confuse Texans is a more aggressive trim. Dallman removes more of the fat than Franklin’s or Pecan Lodge does, though he stops short of describing his brisket as health food. His finished slices should be thinner, too.
As for sauce, customers should check recollections of those plastic grocery store bottles at the door. Dallman will offer an assortment of sauces, and unlike with Texas barbecue where the stuff is frowned upon, customers at 18th & Vine are encouraged to dump their choice of spicy and sweet or vinegar sauce over whatever they like. If you’ve felt judged for getting saucy at Texan smokehouses, Dallman plans to serve your redemption. Chopped meat sandwiches will arrive swimming in the stuff.
His restaurant is scheduled to open October 6, in the new construction that was originally meant for Herrera’s. That's the new building on Maple Avenue, dangerously close to Observer headquarters. Come to think about it, I’m predicting a slooow news day. See you there?