If you were drafting a dream team of Texas barbecue pit masters in 2018, your first two picks arguably would be Todd David of Cattleack Barbecue in Dallas and Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ in Austin. If ESPN covered this barbecue draft like it does football, hours would be spent analyzing each man’s credentials, techniques and “intangibles," along with an assortment of talking heads pontificating over who should be No. 1.
We don’t need to indulge in such fantasy any longer — David and Franklin are the headliners of a new barbecue festival in Dallas. On June 17, Birthright Barbecue Fest will let attendees soak in the history of Texas barbecue using the smokehouse on the grounds of Dallas Heritage Village.
Whom do we thank for this gift from the barbecue gods? Tip your hat in the direction of Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn, who helped arrange the pitmaster lineup. Along with David and Franklin, others expected to be on hand are Brent Reaves of Smokey John’s Barbecue in Dallas, Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ in Houston, Evan Leroy of Leroy and Lewis Barbecue in Austin and Elliot Moss of Buxton Hall in Asheville, North Carolina.
But this isn't a typical barbecue festival. For once, beef isn't the star of this Texas barbecue fest — and smokers aren't, either.
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According to the festival website, attendees can "smell and taste barbecue cooking over an open pit, just like they did it in the 19th century when whole steers (all right, we’ll have just half a steer), goats and hogs were more common than ribs and brisket."
While Franklin may have the national notoriety, we’re not the only ones who recognize the wizardry of David’s smoking prowess.
“If we’re going to put brisket together in Dallas, he’s the man right now,” Vaughn says of Cattleack’s owner. The barbecue editor describes David’s brisket as “earth-moving."
It’s not every day that a heavyweight lineup of barbecue greats gathers in your backyard. Tickets to the fest are $65 in advance or $75 at the door — assuming it doesn’t sell out. Given the long waits patrons usually experience at Cattleack and Franklin, $65 for a chance to dine under the eye of David and Franklin at the same time strikes us as a bargain.