For a city of its size, Plano should have more barbecue options. Sure, we're still fans of Lockhart's in downtown, and Winners BBQ is still humming on Plano's eastern side. But a quick Google search for Plano barbecue returns results that are overrun with chain options. Plano is home to four Dickey's locations, with a fifth in Carrolton that would be in Plano if it were on the other side of the street.
We read recently that Dickey's is rolling out a special cup for their 80th anniversary, but we were more excited to learn of a new Plano barbecue option, as Burnt BBQ & Tacos softly opened last week. Putting aside their name for a moment (the bark we so lovingly crave in great barbecue comes from the Maillard reaction, not because it's burnt), we learned of Burnt BBQ via their Facebook page, and were taken in by the photos of barbecue basics that looked orders of magnitude better than any Sysco-sourced stuff you get along with a yellow cup at Dickey's.
What the photos didn't show is just how small of an establishment Burnt is. Four square tables occupy the small dining room, with a third of the space occupied by the ordering counter. All the meat magic takes place behind the closed doors of the kitchen. While socially distanced dining appears to be a tall order, Burnt is already well-equipped to send your food with you to-go, whether you place your order in person, over the phone or through Burnt's online ordering link on their website.
Burnt's menu is easy to navigate. Pulled pork, brisket and pork belly burnt ends are all sold by the quarter-pound ($4 for sausage, $5 for the rest), while ribs are priced in half- ($11) or full-rack increments ($22). Burnt's pinto beans, French fries, potato salad and slaw are just $2 for the "single" size, with pint and quart sizes also available. The low price of sides, along with pricing meats by the quarter-pound, makes it easy and affordable to build a combo tray just to your liking.
Eager to try a bit of everything, our plan was to order a quarter-pound each of all the meats, but we just missed out on the day's burnt end supply when we called. We bumped our brisket order to a half-pound to make up for it, added slaw, beans and brisket queso ($9), and told them we'd be there to pick it up in 25 minutes. True to our word, we walked in 23 minutes later, and two minutes after that, our food appeared from the kitchen for us to take home.
Burnt's barbecue fare travels quite well. Our meats filled a hefty Styrofoam container and were further insulated with several slices of Texas toast. We were also pleasantly pleased by several small containers of Burnt BBQ's house-made sauce, as well as pickled cucumbers, onions and jalapeños. The only hiccup in the ordering was with our brisket, where we ended up with all moist brisket instead of the lean and moist mix we asked for.
Burnt advertises its brisket as made with coffee grinds, and while the bark and smoke ring were impressive, we failed to pick up much of the coffee flavor, but the moist slices were still delectable. Poblano sausage could have been spicier as well, as if it's blended not to offend. We were more impressed with the roasted garlic pulled pork, which manages to infuse touches of garlic with the succulent pork. However — and call us purists — we were disappointed to find the pile of pork pre-sauced in our container. Burnt's sauce is a balanced combo of tangy and sweet, but we'd still like the option of adding it ourselves.
Burnt's take on barbecue beans mixes pinto beans into a thick sauce that tastes at once familiar. More adventurous was the jalapeño-citrus slaw. The slaw had a decent crunch and a mild citrusy start but could have used a little more sugar to balance the bitterness of the cabbage. We're also suckers for brisket queso and couldn't resist sampling Burnt's version. We weren't disappointed by the taste, but a half slice of lean brisket floats on top of the queso, requiring a couple of forks to shred and appropriately distribute the brisket. DIY'ers may rejoice, but it's not exactly user friendly.
Overall, our quibbles with Burnt are minor, and given the recent soft opening, a little more time to tweak some of the fare would surely be of some benefit. Besides Burnt's solid food, we're also pleased by its affordability, which isn't something we often get to say when discussing new barbecue. We hope it's a combination that nudges Burnt's Plano neighbors out of their chain dining ruts.
Burnt BBQ & Tacos, 2929 Custer Road, Ste. 302-D, Plano; Tuesday - Sunday, 11 a.m. until sold out.
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