As we pulled into Smokehouse BBQ on U.S. Highway 82 in Lindsay, we weren't immediately sure where to go. Out front is a covered parking area for customers picking up to-go orders, like an old-school drive-in. The main entrance for dining in is on the east side of the building, which we only figured out when we saw people coming out.
Stepping inside is like a trip inside a time capsule, perfectly preserved under years of hermetic seal. Vinyl straight-backed chairs cluster around high gloss wooden tables. Every wall is covered in wood paneling and mauve carpeting runs wall to wall. But Smokehouse isn't worn down or dingy — everything is clean and orderly, just lifted from an earlier time, when every barbecue restaurant was a sit-down affair, where families and friends gathered with regularity. And at Smokehouse, it seems they still do; we arrived after the regular lunch hour, but it seemed to be doing a steady business.
We decided on sliced brisket, German sausage, coleslaw and fried okra for our platter, which arrived quickly, topped with a pickle spear and slice of white onion. The sliced brisket came from the lean flat side of the brisket. It had been trimmed of all fat, the way it was always done outside of Central Texas. The bark wasn't the crunchy salt and pepper crust typical of the Hill Country, but there was still a smokiness to the beef that we found enjoyable, and the side of barbecue sauce saved the drier bites admirably.
Sides were served in copious quantities. The coleslaw was finely diced and had just enough vinegar to balance the sweetness of the dressing. We couldn't get enough of the fried okra. A waiter informed us that Smokehouse's version is double battered, and we loved the crunch of each bite that never tasted greasy or soggy.
Smokehouse isn't a trendy barbecue destination, and that's OK. Spots like this are the anchors of simpler times before trends and publicists were just as ingrained as the menu and the staff. The steady stream of patrons at Smokehouse tells us they'll be here long after places that chase the next fad have come and gone, and for that, we're eternally grateful.
Smokehouse BBQ, 307 US Highway 82, Lindsay, TX, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday - Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Road Trip Details
There's no way around it; you're going to spend some time on Interstate 35E. Take advantage of the express lanes when they're available (north of 635, they change direction in the mornings and evenings) and your traffic woes will be notably lighter. From the Observer's downtown headquarters, it's 72 miles north on I-35E to U.S. 82, then a quick 4 miles west to Smokehouse BBQ.
Making A Day Of ItSeize more of the German influences of the area with a trip to Fischer's Meat Market in Muenster. Fischer's has been serving Muenster for over 90 years and is known for the variety of German sausages, meats and cheeses. Fun fact: Fischer's also handles game processing, you know, if you happen to have a deer or hog with you on your trip into town.
Small breweries and wineries dot the towns along the Red River. Don't sleep on Nocona Beer housed in a former boot factory in Nocona, Blue Ostrich Winery in St. Jo (yes, they still keep ostriches) or the Krootz Brewing Co. in Gainesville. All of them have kitchens and dining rooms to pair some food with your libations. Be smart; bring a designated driver.
We'd be remiss if we didn't point out that a trip this far north will have you just 15 minutes from Winstar Casino, if you've got a gambling itch that needs to be scratched. Every time we drive by, it seems the complex has gotten bigger still, living up to the moniker of the World's Biggest Casino. Inside, it's a half-mile stroll end to end, and like it or not, national acts that take the stage at Winstar won't be making a separate stop in Dallas any time soon.