In honor of Sunday's sold-out Meat Fight, we're celebrating smoked animal flesh all week long in our inaugural Meat Week, in which we celebrate the procuring, cooking and face-stuffing of dead-animal flesh.
One of the things that makes barbecue places great is that some of them are just so strange. The sort of places a man with a smoker happened to be one day and declared the need for an eatery of some sort. Traditionally, he would then decorate it with things he found in his yard, like dead animals, license plates and, in the case of one place in Dallas, denim.
This state of affairs then continues for decades, because who gives a shit as long as the meat is good? Here are the five weirdest ones I've encountered in my travels. All of them would make excellent stories on their own.
Tredways (pictured above), Swisher and Parkridge Drive, Corinth, Not Really at an Address as Such -- Full Review
Like being invited to someone's over-the-top garden party, Tredways is a fixed food truck in the middle of a field down an abandoned-looking path somewhere vaguely near Interstate 35 in Corinth. Sitting next to an always-closed flavored ice trailer, and with opening hours that are exactly whatever the staff feel like, this is the smallest and worst food truck park of all time. Not worst in terms of the food, which is pretty good, just worst in terms of, "How is this a viable business model?" Offering patio furniture, an array of garden ornaments and a fine display of smokers, Tredways is Texas' take on the Queen's garden party, if the Queen lived in the middle of fucking nowhere.
Smokie's Barbecue, Dallas (6869 Frankford Road) -- Full Review
A barbecue place that takes up approximately a quarter of a convenience store that looks suspiciously like a gas station, the husband and wife team here smoke the meat elsewhere and bring it to the store. There's nowhere to eat it, though, because obviously this is a small convenience store and not a restaurant, which is where things get frankly baffling. Even stranger, if you ask nicely the proprietor of said store will show you around his inexplicable fridges full of English meat pies. Nope. No idea.
Off The Bone, Forest Hill
No, not OTB on South Lamar Street (which is also a pretty weird place, given that it's really just a glass box with a smoker inside, a terrible idea if ever there was one). The Off The Bone far away in something called Forest Hill, vaguely near Fort Worth. It's so clearly a former gas station you could almost smell the fumes, if they weren't obliterated by smoke. Parking up in the forecourt, you proceed through to the former register, which is now just where the brisket is distributed rather than the packs of smokes or barely heated pizza slices. The front is all glass, obviously. It's very disconcerting, especially given that you just turned off the freeway and drove past an eerie motel with a sign out the front that says "JACUZZIS AND HBO -- GOD BLESS AMERICA." Incredible ribs, though. Jesus wept, they're good.
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Like trying to order barbecue from the doorkeeper in Wizard of Oz. A barely visible employee will shout something muffled through a small slot in the front of the shack, and upon replying, "What did you say?" they will assume you wanted ribs, and politely inform you there are no more ribs. Then, upon ordering brisket, they will tell you it's going to be a while and offer you some water. While their barbecue is among the best in all of DFW, it's difficult to tell if the location is worried about being robbed (something that presumably happens to all their ribs every morning, in fact), running some sort of water-based scam, operating a sauna or just worried about temperature control. Either way, the air conditioner hanging on the roof at an angle is working overtime.
The Original Sonny Bryan's, Dallas
No, not the ones that are everywhere now. They are depressing chain restaurants. The ancient one on Harry Hines Boulevard and Inwood Road is one of the strangest experiences you can have. Built entirely out of wood, a frankly awful plan for a business based around burning wood, the OG Sonny's has strange malformed school desks instead of tables, designed to make it actually impossible to eat a meal of any sort. The vibe is sort of school canteen, if the school canteen was a log cabin in a forest. But it's a wooden building by a Salvation Army thrift store in one of Dallas' more run-down areas. The whole thing is bizarre. You've got to love the warm barbecue sauce inside used beer bottles, though. Shit is classy.