This family-owned joint has been doling out hickory smoked barbecue to legions of fans for over thirty years. All the usual suspects are here, from slow-cooked brisket to juicy ribs and house-made sausages. But don't overlook other standouts like fried catfish and blackened tilapia. Also don't skip on sides, the collard greens, candied sweet potatoes, and mac and cheese are always a hit. Worth seeking out are the daily lunch specials when you can load up on everything from smothered pork chops to turkey & dressing plus two sides and cornbread for $10.95. As for dessert? Three words: Butter Bomb Cake.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Smokey John's is the best place to get a barbecue fix for an exceptionally reasonable price.
Ilene's expert tip: Smokey John's has a secret menu that includes a food coma baked potato. Smoked wings are available on Wednesdays while they last.
This decidedly upscale Oak Lawn meat palace not only specializes in Kansas City-style barbecue (think sweet-glazed ribs and crusty burnt ends), but it also serves up an assortment of chef-created dishes such as grilled salmon served on smoked cauliflower puree, and burnt ends shepherd's pie filled with peas, carrots, and barbecue mashed potatoes. Barbecue aficionados will probably want to go with the "Whole Sha-Bang," which includes a pound of 'cue plus an app, two sides and dessert. Pair it all up with a spicy craft cocktail like the Mexicutioner, made with Cimarron Tequila, mezcal, jalapeno and pineapple.
Recommended for Barbecue because: This is the only place in Dallas to get authentic Kansas City barbecue.
Ilene's expert tip: Score $5 bar snacks, $4 drafts, $5 glasses of wine and $6 cocktails during Happy Hour, from 4-7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
What do you get when you combine two James Beard Award winners, one known for Japanese fusion cuisine, the other famous for Central Texas barbecue? A menu featuring a mashup of smoked meats with Southeast Asian-inspired sauces and sides. Welcome to Loro, a bustling Asian smokehouse by chef Tyson Cole (Uchi and Uchiba) and pitmaster Aaron Franklin (Franklin's Barbecue). Offerings run the gamut from brisket sandwiches loaded with papaya salad, peanuts, chili aioli and thai herbs to oak smoked salmon with cucumber-yuzu broth. Also expect to order at the bar and enjoy it all in a casual, communal space with a pet friendly patio. Did we mention the boozy slushies and candied kettle corn topped with brisket burnt ends?
Recommended for Barbecue because: Loro is for those looking for a more unique style of barbecue.
Ilene's expert tip: Find discounted menu items, beer and cocktails during Happy Hour Monday-Friday from 2-6 p.m. There is free parking on the premises.
This Deep Ellum BBQ spot comes by way of brothers Mike and Mark Black whose family's barbecue roots go back to 1932 when the first Black's Barbecue opened in Lockhart, Texas. Set in a sprawling 11,000 square foot space sporting two massive outdoor patios, Black's serves up everything from brisket to ribs, turkey and sausage which is cooked over post oak wood in offset smokers on the property. The meat is offered by the pound or in sandwiches; and sides include baked potato salad, cole slaw, mac-n-cheese, cream corn, pinto beans, green beans and Mexican rice.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Terry Black's Barbecue is ranked one of the top barbecue joints in the state by Texas Monthly.
Ilene's expert tip: Terry Black's has its own parking lot. They also sell whole slabs of frozen brisket for $28 per pound at the restaurant.
Travis and Emma Heim's Fort Worth's cult barbecue haven now has a third outpost in Dallas near Love Field, and with it comes everything from brisket, ribs and pulled pork to sausages, and of course, their famed bacon burnt ends. Brisket-topped burgers, jalapeño-cheddar-sausage corn dogs and loaded potato skins also make appearances along with scratch-made sides like green chile mac n' cheese and collard greens. Not to be missed is Emma's homemade banana pudding. Breakfast tacos and biscuit sandwiches (served until 11 a.m.) are also a must. Come early, items sell out fast.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Heim is the best place to snag brisket loaded burgers and burnt ends.
Ilene's expert tip: Heim features $2 corndogs and $2 domestic drafts and bottles on Tuesdays.
Named after the official barbecue capital of Texas, this popular Bishop Arts smokehouse serves what many locals consider to be the most authentic Central Texas-style barbecue in town. Which is no surprise since co-owner Jill Bergus happens to be a member of the family who owns the legendary Kreuz Market in Lockhart. In fact, several of Kreuz Market's specialties show up on the menu here, including their famous sausages, and a special cut of beef known as shoulder clod. Rounding out the offerings are spareribs, pork chops, smoked turkey, chicken, and of course, brisket. Not sure about what to order? No worries they'll let you sample the goods before you decide.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Lockhart is the only place in Dallas where you can get Kreuz Market's legendary sausage.
Ilene's expert tip: Happy hour drink specials are on offer from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Note that Lockhart also has locations in Plano and Arlington.
Regardless of which location you go to (Frisco or McKinney), trying to get a table at this family-run smoked meat mecca usually involves a little patience. Which should come as no surprise since this place ranks as one of the top BBQ joints in the state. The brisket might be the biggest seller here, but don't sleep on the slow-smoked St. Louis-style spareribs, jalapeno sausages or the "Texas twinkies" (brisket and cream cheese stuffed jalapeño poppers wrapped in bacon). Head here on the weekend when you can score some gargantuan beef ribs, seasoned and smoked to perfection.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Hutchins BBQ is rated as one of the best barbecue joints in Texas.
Ilene's expert tip: Score free peach cobbler or banana pudding when you dine in.
After garnering a devoted following for his Tex-Mex style barbecue served from a trailer, Brandon Hurtado's long-awaited brick-and-mortar spot in Arlington opened just three weeks before the pandemic struck. But despite the COVID-19 restrictions, the restaurant not only survived, it thrived, thanks to a booming takeout and delivery operation. Now back open, expect to find everything from prime brisket, house-made sausages and beef ribs to smoked quail, birria brisket tacos and green chile pulled pork. Also available are family-style platters (think meat, sides and tortillas for 2-10 people) as well as cold vacuum-sealed meats.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Hurtado is the best place in the metroplex to find Tex-Mex inspired barbecue specialties.
Ilene's expert tip: Breakfast barbecue items are sold all day Friday-Sunday. Order online and skip the line. Note that a second location is now open in Little Elm.
Featured on such shows as Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Man Fire Food, this Deep Ellum hot spot is as famous for its long lines as it is for its epic barbecue. But as they say, good things come to those who wait, and those good things include house-made sausages, mesquite smoked brisket, mouthwatering ribs and more. Try it all by ordering "The Trough," where you and four of your carnivore friends can dig into a feast of beef rib, pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork and sausage links. Other hits include fried chicken, and a brisket and chipotle cream cheese stuffed sweet potato dubbed the "Hot Mess." Don't get us started on the peach cobbler.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Texas Monthly magazine ranked Pecan Lodge as one of the best in the state.
Ilene's expert tip: Bypass the lines by dining at the bar or by ordering 5-lbs or more of meat at the express counter.
Just getting into this cult destination can feel like cause for celebration. After all, it's ranked the sixth best barbecue joint (according to Texas Monthly) in the state. So as expected, you'll most certainly encounter a line. And oh yeah, the place is only open from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and the first Saturday of the month. But for those looking for smoked meat nirvana, this is the place. The pork ribs are massive, the smoked ribeyes are perfection, and the intensely marbled Akaushi beef brisket is the stuff barbecue dreams are made of. Best pick? The Toddfather, a sandwich made with a trifecta of brisket, pulled pork and hot link sausage.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Texas Monthly ranked Cattleack as Texas' No. 6 barbecue joint.
Ilene's expert tip: If you don't want a long wait, arrive at least 30 minutes before opening. And be sure to sign up for the e-newsletter to stay in-the-know about Cattleack's food specials and upcoming events.