We're calling it now: Cattleack Barbeque is no longer Dallas' best kept secret when it comes to barbecue. We're partly to blame; we've sung the praises of Cattleack's sauce and burnt ends and named them Best Barbecue Restaurant of 2015. Even though the jig is up, it's still a joint that's not familiar to everyone. Part of the mystique comes from their off-beat location in an industrial park near Midway and Alpha roads in North Dallas. The place itself was small with three or four picnic tables inside and a line that snaked out the door on Thursdays and Fridays, the only two days they were open.
Cattleack closed up shop for the last two weeks while they finished a remodel of their digs and expanded into the space next door. The wait was worth it, and they reopened on Thursday. The new space will easily seat three times as many people as before, while the original spot is dedicated to the line of hungry visitors who now can wait indoors for some of the area's best smoked meats. The picnic tables remain, and the walls are clad in wood and corrugated aluminum, a vibe that keeps with owners Todd and Misty David's vision of a backyard barbecue at a friend's house, just on a slightly bigger scale.
For now, Cattleack will remain a two-day-a-week operation, although Todd David thinks adding one Saturday a month may be in their future now that there's more room to work with. But since Cattleack started as a second career for the Davids (after selling a successful cleanup and restoration business), it's important for them not to make the restaurant bigger than it needs to be.
"An average week for me was 80 hours a week for 30 years," Todd says. "So when we started catering, we thought we would work when we wanted for who we wanted." But customers asked for a way to get their food besides catering, and they started opening on Fridays in 2013.
"It was takeout only; you couldn't even sit inside," David says of the original space. Opening for lunch one day a week helped people who wanted to try the catering before ordering, as well. David sacrificed his office to make room for more customers and add a serving line, then added Thursday lunch.
Thankfully, Cattleack barbecue hasn't changed. The briskets are still smoked over post oak, but now in a larger John Lewis smoker named Brutus that lives in a new smokehouse out back. The sausage is still made in-house, which is important to Todd.
"Making homemade sausage is a big deal, to make it really good," Todd says. "It's a three-day process just to make the sausage."
Beyond the pulled pork, turkey and beef ribs, there's always a different special on the menu each week, from several variations of burnt ends to the brisket Que-T Pies that are a favorite of regulars. Cold beer on the house is available for the asking.
Simply put, the goodness of Cattleack remains, but in a larger, more accessible space. Sure, it's only open two days a week, but this barbecue is well worth the trouble.
Cattleack Barbeque, 13628 Gamma Road
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