It's getting dark and I'm a little lost. Even the navigation system in my car can't tell me where to find Winner’s BBQ in Plano. I have to go old school, counting building numbers until I end up at 3200 14th St., where I find Winner’s tucked into a shopping center — a good three-quarters of a mile east of where my navigation system thought I should be.
I’m glad I'm able to find it, because Winner’s is a winner when it comes to barbecue. We recently named it one of North DFW’s best barbecue joints. Don’t judge based on looks. Yeah, it’s in a strip mall, with a patio out front for warm weather dining. And inside, the huge space appears to be an interior decorator’s work in progress. A large, unfinished bar area is on the left side (Winner’s license to pour is pending) and a long counter-height table bisects the main area. Place your order at a counter in the back and wait for your name to be called.
I start with a two-meat plate ($14), which includes two generous slices of brisket with a chunky black bark and three ample pork ribs, along with beans, mustard potato salad and several slices of white bread. Thirsty? Order any of the meat plates and your drink's included. Want more? You can add any meat to your order by the pound as well.
The meats are simply phenomenal. The brisket is perfectly rendered and moist, and the fat melted through bites of smokey meat. As delectable as the brisket is, the ribs are the star of the show. They’re heavily seasoned with a dry rub of spices and cooked flawlessly.
Winner’s also does a mean baked potato topped with your choice of their meats, plus butter and cheese. A one-meat potato is a bargain at $10, but you can add a second meat for $2 more, or a third meat for another $2. The one-meat (with chicken) is more than a meal in itself (I took half of it home), so add more meats with caution. The chicken's amazing — bits of light and dark meat, along with bits of crunchy skin, completely blanketed the potato. It gets better after excavating down to the bits of buttery potato.
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The sides on my meat plate are solid choices: The potato salad had a good zing from the mustard and the beans would make any Texan beam with pride. The only dessert on the menu is a banana pudding that’s so thick, you could frost a cake with it. I can't find any discernible chunks of banana, but it's still super tasty.
Winner’s has been open since summer of 2015 and admittedly, there are still a few rough spots. My hope for mac and cheese as a side is nixed when I see it listed on the “sold out” board, and mixed greens are only offered on the weekends. There’s also a turkey leg listed on the menu online, which is absent at the counter. On the night of my first visit, they ran out of iced tea as well. How is that even possible?
These are minor hiccups in what is otherwise a great barbecue joint. Once the bar is up and running, there’s no reason not to stop in. Get there early to avoid finding any of your favorites listed on Winner's sold-out board, and check your directions before you go, lest you get lost and end up missing out.
Winner's BBQ, 3200 14th St., Plano.