First Look: Post Oak Smokehouse Brings Stellar Central Texas-Style Barbecue to Irving

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I recently polled my friends on Facebook to ask if a restaurant flier left on their cars' windshields would make them more or less inclined to try said establishment. Mind you, it's a small sample — and highly unscientific — but the vast majority of respondents hate the idea, with responses ranging from "it's annoying" to "that's littering" to "you kids get off my lawn!"  

I was right there with them, until the most recent flier landed on my car and a picture of succulent bark-crusted brisket caught my eye. The flier shilled for Post Oak Smokehouse, a newly opened barbecue spot in Irving. The menu on the back of the flier seemed to have the barbecue basics covered.  Now it's certainly possible to throw some stock photography on a flier and hope people don't notice, but barbecue aficionados aren't easily fooled. Irving has been wanting for a serious barbecue joint since FM Smokehouse closed its doors in March, so a visit was definitely in order to see if the food delivered on the promises made by the photos.

Tucked on the end of a new strip mall near Royal Lane and Riverside Drive in Las Colinas, Post Oak Smokehouse sports a covered patio, and the sweet smell of smoked meats greets visitors when they first step inside. It's not an overwhelmingly large space, and the decor is straight up new-Texas barbecue: painted barn wood and a giant red Pegasus dominate one wall, and several Texas road signs are scattered on the others. Customers order cafeteria-style at the back of the restaurant before grabbing a seat at one of several picnic-style tables that make up the dining room.

Post Oak's menu offers up brisket, shoulder clod, chicken, turkey, pork ribs and chops, as well as two varieties of homemade sausage.  There's also a daily meat special, and burnt ends were the order of the day on my visit. Meats are available by the half pound or as part of a combo plate with two sides, with the standard barbecue accompaniments.

My excitement level spiraled upwards when I placed my order for a two-meat plate with burnt ends and moist brisket, and the meat cutter grabbed a charred brisket from the hot box behind him. It looked just as good as the photos, if not better, because it was about to go into my face. I served myself a side of green chile mac and cheese (not on the menu, but a welcome surprise) and brisket beans to round out the plate. My dining companion chose lean brisket and smoked turkey, with green beans and brisket beans on the side.

The meats definitely didn't disappoint. Of the two brisket choices on the table, I actually enjoyed the lean brisket better; it was expertly smoked with a small fat cap separating the meat from the salty bark. The moist brisket was also good, but seemed to be lacking the seasoning punch and beefy flavor that the lean slices enjoyed. The burnt ends were the star of my combo, not too salty, with bits of caramelized bark and fat adding sweet notes to the tender brisket morsels. Across the table, the smoked turkey was also a winner, with great smoke flavor throughout the moist slices.

Dipping into the sides was a spicy endeavor. The mac and cheese had a sharp bite from the green chiles liberally sprinkled in the cheese sauce, but spicier still were the brisket beans. I didn't detect much brisket, but sliced jalapeños added quite a bit of heat. There's a lone sauce available for those who want it, a tangy Texas-style sauce that was curiously chilled in the bottle I picked up, but a good compliment to the meats.

Being new establishment, Post Oak still has some wrinkles that could be ironed out. The menu is thorough but somewhat disorganized, especially when it comes to prices. The flier on my car advertised a two-meat plate for $13.99, but there's no such price on the menu board at the restaurant. Also listed on the menu were two sizes of deviled eggs that lacked a sales price, too.

Finally, our cashier mentioned that they were probably going to run out of food when I visited at 11:40 a.m. on a Tuesday. Die-hard barbecue fans may be accepting of their favorite place running out of meat, but more casual diners, especially those who make up Las Colinas' daytime population, might be less than thrilled. That said, no one appeared to walk away disappointed during our visit, and everything we wanted to order on the menu was available. Maybe the cashier was trying to build some excitement.

Owner and pit master Eliodoro Aguilar opened Post Oak Smokehouse in late July, he says, as he wanted to bring a Central Texas-style barbecue joint to Las Colinas. The meats are smoked on site (with post oak, naturally) for 16 to 18 hours in a Dallas-built AN Bewley smoker — no gas smokers here.

"It's not just about making great smoked barbecue, but also treating our customers with the warmest and kindest service possible," Aguilar says. "I want everyone to enjoy Post Oak Smokehouse like it's their place."

The staff is certainly accommodating, and as much as I wanted to dislike them for leaving a flier on my windshield, the smoked meats we sampled were surprisingly good. Post Oak Smokehouse makes a welcome addition to the dining choices in Las Colinas. 

Post Oak Smokehouse, 411 E. Royal Lane # 180, Irving

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