We also understand that day-tripping may not be everyone's inclination. Maybe you just want to get your barbecue fix closer to home, and that's fine by us, too. And while everyone knows where to find heavy hitters like Cattleack, Pecan Lodge, Slow Bone or the like, there are still prolific pit masters churning out stellar barbecue in Dallas County.
The county line is where we're going to set our boundaries for this effort, and we know full well that there's going to be someone's favorite that we missed. But that's where you, dear reader, take to the social media to lambast our lack of taste, because nothing else feels better than telling us how we've let you down. Listward, ho!
3025 Main St.
Your humble author likes to play a game when scrolling through photos of Dallas barbecue and see if he can identify the establishment without reading the captions. Terry Black's is almost a gimme: bright red plastic tray, great looking proteins, and almost everyone gets the verdant green beans as one of their sides. Everything excels at Terry Black's, including one of the best beef ribs in the city.
4444 W. Illinois Ave., #304
Come to D Jackson BBQ in Oak Cliff for the pork ribs, which are just about perfect. They’ve been smoked long enough to have a deep smoke ring with tender meat that slides up from the bone with a gentle bite. Stay long enough, and proprietor and musician Dennis Jackson may take the stage for a song; sing some karaoke, and you get a discount on your bill. Barbecue and a show? Hell yeah.
6403 South R. L. Thornton Freeway
Smokey Joe's barbecue influence runs the gamut. Brisket is straight from the Hill Country, while hot links would be equally at home in East Texas, and ribs are devoid of the heavy rubs and glazes that many would expect at a Texas barbecue joint. All those different styles have a home in a spot that's been serving barbecue for 35 years, where traditions of others are more of an asset than a rival.
261 Highway 67, Cedar Hill
Harris Bar-B-Que moved north from Waxahachie to Cedar Hill in 2019, and we're ever so glad they did. Of course, the superb barbecue that made Harris a member of Texas Monthly's Top 50 was worth the drive, but having it closer to home is even better. So good is Harris' fare that, while editing our previous story about the place, our editor-in-chief stopped what he was doing to email and admit that the photo of Harris' pork rib was making him drool.
421 W. Main St., Grand Prairie
We keep finding reasons to head to Grand Prairie to take in fare from Zavala's Barbecue. After the winter storm temporarily closed the restaurant, Zavala's reopened with a larger dining room. Thankfully, the barbecue is just as good, with dashes of heat in the rubs, and those tortillas and chimichurri live in our dreams. And let's not forget about Mas Coffee, Zavala's during-the-week alter-ego serving coffee and breakfast tacos. One visit will make a believer of you too.
5500 Greenville Ave., #1300
Judged solely on the basics, OAK'D would be a solid choice for Texas barbecue. Add in a bar, a smartly executed pastry program and an expansive patio with live music, and the reasons not to visit become fewer and fewer. OAK'd is a newcomer to Dallas, but their success has already prompted a second location in Addison.
1901 Abrams Road
Lakewood Smokehouse gets a nod here for several reasons beyond predictably great barbecue. One, it's a sit-down full-service establishment that's open seven days a week, both of which are rarities in the barbecue business. Two, there's a full bar, with plenty of beer, wine and spirits to satisfy all tastes. And three, the barbecue comes in a number of less-traditional ways; tacos, salads, pizzas and sandwiches like your author's favorite, the brisket cheesesteak, or the occasionally appearing smoked and fried bologna shown above.
3933 Main St.
Update: Unfortunately, Mac's Bar-B-Que has closed.
On the edge of Deep Ellum is Mac's Bar-B-Que, a spot that has been free of gimmicks since Billy McDonald helped his dad build the restaurant in the early 1980s. You want a chopped beef sandwich and one of Billy's homemade sides. You want Mac's sauce, and you want to douse your sandwich with that sauce. You want to take in your meal in a spot that continues to defy the changing world around it.