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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 31: Pecan Lodge

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Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

The story of Pecan Lodge is a fairy tale stained with brisket grease. A young couple caught up in the world of software consulting found that while the pay was good, a life of deliverables and regression-testing wasn't satiating. They gave up great salaries, paid health care and financial stability to wake up before dawn and watch beef bathe in smoke. Then they sold barbecue for dollars a plate.

Things for Diane and Justin Fourton got bad before they got good. At the darkest, they lost their house while trying to keep Pecan Lodge open. But when you apply the software world's fundamentals of continuous improvement to a quivering hunk of meat, the meat slowly improves, too. And the barbecue served out of their Farmers Market storefront soon earned a reputation and gave other barbecue joints line envy.

See also: Pecan Lodge: Reviewed

Their beef rib, for one, is so good it rivals the brisket and other popular cuts served at many reputable barbecue joints. Get in line early if you want any chance of snagging one. Other cuts pass muster, too. The fat in the fatty brisket melts like ice cream in summer, and you'll know the sausage is made on site the second your teeth snap through the natural casing.

Come late and the favorites will long be decimated and you'll be left with an order of fried chicken. This is the price you pay when your favorite local barbecue joint earns national recognition: Pecan Lodge is a barbecue landmark now, revered alongside legends like Snow's and Mueller's. The Fourtons have become Dallas' smoked meat superstars. They were set free from the shackles of corporate life by a withering wisp of mesquite.

No. 50: Joyce and Gigi's No. 49: East Hampton Sandwich Co. No. 48: 20 Feet Seafood Joint No. 47: Taj Chaat House No. 46: Mot Hai Ba No. 45: La Nueva Fresh and Hot No. 44: Pera Turkish Kitchen No. 43: Tom's Burgers and Grill No. 42: Mughlai No. 41: Russian Banya No. 40: Off-Site Kitchen No. 39: Bachman Lake Taqueria No. 38: Carbone's No. 37: Babe's No. 36: Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo No. 35: Zaguan No. 34: Royal Sichuan No. 33: Spoon No. 32: Bambu

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