Barbecue

BBQ Road Trip: Slaughter's BBQ Oasis Is a Haven for Barbecue in Sulphur Springs

With barbecue this delicious, we can't imagine Slaughter's BBQ Oasis staying a secret for much longer.
With barbecue this delicious, we can't imagine Slaughter's BBQ Oasis staying a secret for much longer. Chris Wolfgang
After spending last year at home, we're ready to gas up the car and go somewhere. BBQ Road Trip is a series where we take a day trip to visit barbecue spots outside of Dallas just in time for summer road trip season.

Unofficially speaking, Memorial Day marks the start of summer. But on this morning, with the three-day weekend just six days away, summer appears to have not gotten the memo. Instead of azure skies and bright sun, a light drizzle falls from a blanket of gray, soulless clouds as we get in the car and head towards East Texas.

Traffic is agreeable despite the weather, and both the number of cars and the volume of rain taper off as the suburban sprawl becomes a speck in the rearview mirror. An hour and a half slips by, and we bail off of Interstate 30 in Sulphur Springs.

click to enlarge Slaughter's BBQ Oasis plays up the oasis theme in Sulphur Springs. - CHRIS WOLFGANG
Slaughter's BBQ Oasis plays up the oasis theme in Sulphur Springs.
Chris Wolfgang
We're on the lookout for Slaughter's BBQ Oasis, and oasis is an apt description: We spy the modest trailer and a screened-in aluminum porch rising out of the parking lot of the Sulphur Springs Fix & Feed, a half-mile or so north of the interstate. David Slaughter has called this spot home to his barbecue haven since 2018. What started as a Saturday-only affair quickly found a faithful following, which prompted Slaughter to leave his job as a manager for Ben E. Keith and run the restaurant full time in 2019.

"It really became too much," Slaughter tells us of the early days of the Oasis. "We were just open on Saturdays, but I'd come up Thursday night and start trimming briskets, then get off work Friday to start cooking for Saturday, and I did this for almost two years."

Momentum kept growing, including a mention from Texas Monthly's barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn, but the long hours forced Slaughter to choose between continuing his day job or running the restaurant. After discussing with his wife, he couldn't bring himself to let the barbecue business go.

"I had worked [for Ben E. Keith] for almost 20 years, so at the time, it was terrifying," Slaughter recalls. "But I love it. Things have gone well for us."

click to enlarge The driver may have to skip the beer, but the Little Vaughn tray will feed a carload of hungry road trippers. - CHRIS WOLFGANG
The driver may have to skip the beer, but the Little Vaughn tray will feed a carload of hungry road trippers.
Chris Wolfgang
If there's a secret to Slaughter's success in Sulphur Springs, it lies in the tray of barbecue greatness in front of us. Slaughter's BBQ Oasis cranks out brisket, pulled pork, turkey breast, pork ribs and sausage, and all of it hit their marks with authority. Meats can be ordered by as little as a quarter-pound or on a plate with two sides. The "Little Vaughn" tray includes a half-pound of all the meats, a half rack of ribs and three sides. It's $65, but it also feeds a carload of people (or one person who barely gets through a third of it and brings three meals worth of leftovers back to Dallas.)

Brisket slices are smoky and succulent, and the peppery turkey breast impressed us right away. Expertly executed ribs had a sweet glaze that made each bite almost dessert-like, and the jalapeño sausage had just the right amount of peppery kick.

click to enlarge It seems small to us, but David Slaughter turns out incredible barbecue from his smoker in Sulphur Springs. - CHRIS WOLFGANG
It seems small to us, but David Slaughter turns out incredible barbecue from his smoker in Sulphur Springs.
Chris Wolfgang
The enjoyable flavors continue with the sides. The potato salad is a creamy gem that stopped us mid-bite, fork in mouth, in awe of the delicious taste. Jalapeño slaw offers a playful mix of cool cabbage with bites of heat from the peppers, and the pinto beans sparkled under a cilantro and tomato topping.

What's even more impressive is that the variety of proteins are all smoked on a relatively small oak-fired smoker in a shed behind the trailer, and all the sides are made by Slaughter, his wife Kimberly, and two employees in the tiny trailer.

"We're elbow to elbow in there," Slaughter says. "We're probably going to have to make a decision about more space here soon."

To hear Slaughter tell it, it's not difficult to imagine the need for more space. Despite the rain holding down the foot traffic on the day of our visit, Slaughter tells us he sells out most days he's open.

His barbecue is gaining more notice outside of Sulphur Springs, too. Slaughter's BBQ Oasis had just returned from the Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival in Tyler, where they cooked alongside some of the biggest names in Texas barbecue. Slaughter tells us they've already been invited back to cook next year. Still, he doesn't take his success for granted.

"We get a good mix of people here from Dallas, and people from Texarkana," Slaughter says. "But you pass two barbecue spots right off the interstate before you get here, so I'm always amazed that people come find us."

With barbecue like this, Slaughter's BBQ Oasis won't be a secret for much longer.

Slaughter's BBQ Oasis, 1000 Gilmer St. (in the Fix & Feed parking lot), Sulphur Springs. Open Wednesday - Saturday, 10 a.m. to sold out.

Road Trip Details

From the Observer's offices in downtown Dallas, Slaughter's BBQ Oasis is a breezy 79-mile jaunt east on I-30 to Sulphur Springs (Exit 124), and the drive should take under ninety minutes if traffic cooperates. If you, like your humble author, start your journey on the north side of Dallas, we suggest taking TX-121 out through McKinney, then picking up US-380 east through Princeton, Farmersville and Greenville for a more scenic drive.

Making A Day Of It
  • On the way to Sulphur Springs, the Audie Murphy Museum in Greenville highlights the life of Audie Murphy, one of America's most decorated soldiers in World War II. Murphy was born in Hunt County and grew up around Greenville before lying about his age to join the Army at the start of the war.
  • The Southwest Dairy Farmer's Museum celebrates Hopkins County's history of dairy farming and production, which was once the epicenter of dairy farming in Texas. The museum is open Monday through Friday, and kids will love the ice cream at the end of the visit.
  • The Celebration Market is a farmer's and artist market that runs in Sulphur Springs' downtown area every Saturday evening from May to September and features a variety of vendors and family activities.
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Chris Wolfgang has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2015. Originally from Florida, Chris moved to Dallas in 1997 and has carried on a secret affair with the Oxford comma for over 20 years.
Contact: Chris Wolfgang