Food critic Mark Stuertz searched the land for the top BBQ joints in Collin County. Take a look at what he found.
Chances are, if you watch any major Dallas professional sports team when they’re on national TV, you’ve seen Hard Eight BBQ. Inevitably, a fade-in shot from the commercial break talks about how you can’t say “Dallas” without saying “BBQ,” and then they’ll show the out-the-door line of people waiting at Hard Eight’s location in The Colony (they have five throughout the state). The meats are great, especially their jalapeno sausage, but the draw is the sights and scents. You can smell the smoky goodness all the way down Highway 121 (and on a clear day, you can see the smoke as you drive in from Frisco). Then you walk past the giant barbecue pit to get in line, so your mouth waters long before you even have your plate. It might not the best of all the area’s BBQ institutions, but it’s the best place to take your out-of-town guests if they want the Texas BBQ experience.
Launched in 1978 as Roy’s Smokehouse in Princeton, Hutchins BBQ has grown into a Texas Q powerhouse. It captured a slot in Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Best BBQ Joints
in Texas 2021. Feast on tender brisket, tumble-off-the-bone ribs and smoke-kissed peach-habanero sausage. We found the pulled pork to be the best we tasted: moist
and savory with seasoned zing. Or try the Texas Twinkies, jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese and brisket, wrapped in bacon, smoked and grilled. Get yourself a belt hole puncher before you visit. You’ll
Billed as the “Barbecue Capital of Texas,” Lockhart features mouth-flooding brisket, sausage, ribs and juicy pulled pork smoked
over Texas post oak and served on sheets of butcher paper (plates optional). Meat is pulled off the smoker and sliced to order. But don’t just drool over their meats. Save some room for Lockhart sides, which will blast the socks off your little piggies: creamy mac ‘n’ cheese laced with habanero and jalapeno, coleslaw hopped up on sriracha, smoked deviled eggs (which makes biblical sense when you think about it). Full bar, too. Savor Lockhart at additional locations in Dallas’ Bishop Arts District and Texas Live! in Arlington.
This is true North Texas destination Q. Tender Smokehouse pitmaster and owner Dante Ramirez has one helluva slow-and-low resume. He’s had stints at Red Hot & Blue and Bone Daddy’s, and consulted on barbecue projects in Paris, Moscow and Italy’s Lake Como. As a kid in El Paso, he slow-cooked meats in the ground. Those are some serious roots. He parlayed this experience into a no-nonsense menu featuring giant beef short ribs, wagyu and
prime brisket, jalapeno cheddar sausage and “tender style” Frito pie. Brisket bulges and drizzles over two thick slices of Texas toast buttered from top to bottom while packing onions, pickles and a sassy house-concocted barbecue sauce. A great smoky bark in every bite.
In terms of achievement, slow cooking brisket into tender ecstasy is the equivalent of a successful manned moon mission. (If you think it was faked, stop reading now.) Wood & Time Smokehouse goes beyond
the moon. Their brisket melts in your mouth. And that ain’t no NASA fibbin’ (because we know you didn’t stop reading even if you think the moon landing was faked because you love BBQ too much, you poor ignoramus). It’s got hang time too—
you’ll crave this stuff long after you leave the Farmersville town square. And don’t forget to check out their pulled pork and East Texas links. To quote the pitmasters: “We are competition barbecue … without
the competition.” Put that in your rocket and launch it.
Scanning for vegetarian options in what are essentially temples of Texas carnivorous indulgence may seem foolhardy; a quest akin to looking for the plug-in hybrid competition at a monster truck and tractor pull. Starched Prius and Chevy Volt piety simply can’t compete with the Grave Digger or the Megalodon (Google them). Plus: There is no “Impossible” or “Beyond Meat” brisket. Yet.
Still, you can find vegetarian options at barbecue joints such as slaws, mac ‘n’ cheese, fries, loaded spuds, fried okra, potato salad and beans (beware of sausage and bacon lacings).
This story was published in the May/June edition of Local Profile, see the full issue.