Loving Shacks: Hold the Pretentions, Just Gimme BBQ

I am back from a recent lunch at a run-down tiny shack in Lewisville, and I am still delighted at barbecue. I mean, it's just amazing. How does it taste that good? Is it magic? Do they put LSD in it? Why is it that the grimier and smaller the shack, the better the barbecue? How ill am I going to get from meat cooked at a low temperature in a small, dirty wooden building? The answer to all these questions is that I don't care. I just care about the interaction between barbecue and my mouth being consistent and thorough.

Admittedly, if I'm dead from some sort of barbecue-related illness, this interaction will be, well, not impossible, but probably not socially acceptable. Still though, people will be able to say "it's how he would have wanted to go." The worst death, as the flip side of that, would be burning to death in a barbecue-related fire before getting to eat the meat. That would be a tragedy of unmatched proportions. People would say "that is exactly the opposite of how he wanted to go. Hungry for barbecue, surrounded by its smell, but still unsatisfied, and also on fire."

I don't even think this was particularly amazing barbecue, but that still makes it better than pretty much all other food. Anyway, recently I have been to two shacks quite close to each other on Interstate 35 between Dallas and Denton, and now I am going to tell you about them.

First, Tredways BBQ in Corinth, on Swisher Road. The whole atmosphere of this place is amazing. It's a single trailer, fixed in position, surrounded on all sides by smokers. There are a few park benches for you to sit on. I went with the boss, who decided the sensible thing to do for a weekday lunch was to order a rack and a half of ribs. I have never seen so many ribs. The man really likes ribs. I am happy to report that everything was generally pretty good, and the ribs were cooked to the point that it was actually a challenge to keep any meat on the bone. You'd pick it up and be left with a bone and a lap full of delicious meat. That is one of the best, and most confusing, double entendres I've ever written, I'm sure you'll agree. The sausage and brisket were average, but I mean, that's still good. Especially for a tiny trailer in a field in the middle of nowhere. There were pleasingly old regulars, too, who the staff knew by name. All in all, I enjoyed the whole experience.

Then I went to Old House BBQ in Lewisville off exit 454 on I-35. It is the most rundown shack I have ever seen, with a sign that appears to have been badly painted onto some iron by a man with no opposable thumbs. Predictably, the barbecue is excellent. I think I lucked out in getting a fresh brisket, as the darn heat lamps were present out the front, but the brisket was much better than it had any right to be. Tender, moist, incredibly smoky, excellent. Ribs, fantastic. Better than Tredways because they were much smokier. Really, everything here was super smoky. It was like eating smoke, but better, because eating smoke would probably be deadly after a while. Also, this barbecue place has a pleasingly utilitarian approach to sides; the "potatoes in cheese" was nothing more, nothing less. Just potatoes in cheese. No time to call it "cheesy potatoes" or "potato cheese bake." A big part of the appeal is the ridiculous wooden shack and the handwritten "potatoes in cheese" signs. An even bigger part of the appeal is the smoked meat. It's not often I can say I would definitely, 100 percent go back to a BBQ place, but Old House BBQ gets my seal of approval. It's wooden, it's kind of wonky, the meat is clearly heavily smoked, and there is not even a single ounce of pretentiousness. Plus, unlike Tredways, you can sit inside. That's got to be worth something, right?

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Gavin Cleaver
Contact: Gavin Cleaver