14 Best Barbecue Joints in Dallas, According to Local Pitmasters
Wagyu beef brisket is just the beginning.
Across the vast and diverse landscape of Texas, where people couldn’t be more divergent in their views on everything from politics and religion to which football team to root for, one thing unites us all: our undying love of all things BBQ. Of course, things get a lot more complicated from there. Do you spell it with three simple capital letters or go the longer route, factoring in barbecue, barbeque, bar-b-que, or another creative variation? A single “Q”—or ‘cue, or ‘que—says it all to some. Then there’s sauce or no sauce? Sliced brisket or chopped? Fatty or lean? (OK, that last one shouldn’t even be a discussion—juicier is always better.)
But at the end of the day (or whenever they sell out), BBQ joints all across North Texas bring folks together, sometimes quite literally when the only available seating is squeezing into a lovingly worn communal picnic table. And while we could wax poetic for ages on our personal likes, dislikes, and full-on obsessions within the Dallas-Fort Worth BBQ scene, we figured you’d rather hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. That’s why we turned to a handful of actual industry experts for the inside scoop on the state of BBQ in our little slice of Texas.
To begin our delicious research, we reached out to William Weisiger of Ten50 BBQ in Richardson, a pitmaster with 30 years experience; Jill Bergus, owner of Lockhart Smokehouse in Oak Cliff and Plano; Michael Lane, an experienced fine-dining chef turned pitmaster at OAK’D Handcrafted BBQ, the newest joint on the Dallas scene; and two husband-and-wife teams, Justin and Diane Fourton, owners of Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum, and Travis and Emma Heim from Fort Worth’s Heim BBQ. And believe you me, they sure had plenty to say.
“I think the BBQ scene in North Texas is as good as anywhere in the world. You see the full spectrum of cooking styles displayed, from direct-heat, wood-coal grilling to cold smoking/curing and whole-animal cooking,” Pecan Lodge’s Justin Fourton says. “The quality and cuts of meat are unrivaled—it’s not uncommon to find hand-stuffed sausage links, giant beef ribs, prime rib, wild game, and other exotic cuts. Each joint has its own vibe and all the locals have a favorite spot or enjoy a regular rotation of a few select places.”
There’s truly no place like Texas when it comes to barbecue. You’ll find various styles of its signature slow-smoked, pit-style brisket, pulled pork, and ribs at festivals, food trucks, and restaurants across the state — which means you’re going to need to stay awhile to try them all. Plan your Texas vacation now and travel when you’re ready to have a barbecue experience that’ll blow your mind (or at least your taste buds).
Weisiger and Bergus echo Fourton’s sentiment, describing the current spread as a rich melting pot (er, pit) of cultural and regional influences: “East Coast whole hog to West Coast tri-tip, Texas-style brisket to Kansas City’s sauced burnt ends, and spice profiles from South America to South Korea. If you want it, North Texas has it.”
“We have so many different styles within an easy driving radius, it's a great area for a BBQ tour,” Bergus adds. “We all do something a little—or a lot—different. Also, with great BBQ, it’s the atmosphere as much as the food.”
According to these pros, Dallas-Fort Worth’s BBQ landscape is enjoying a renaissance far more recent than its near 150-year existence in Texas (the first smokeshack on record dates back to 1878).
“When we opened our food truck in February 2015 there wasn't much of a ‘scene’—Pecan Lodge in Dallas was doing great BBQ, but most of North Texas was still old-school places that hadn’t changed for 40-plus years,” recalls Travis Heim of Heim BBQ. “The influence of guys like Aaron Franklin and the craft BBQ scene out of Austin changed all that, and a ton of new food trucks in Fort Worth are doing really good BBQ. It's amazing, but I still feel like Fort Worth BBQ in particular doesn't get the credit it should.”
Aaron Franklin—of Franklin BBQ fame, of course—comes up a lot in this crowd. This summer, the legend himself will officially join Dallas’ restaurant community with the local outpost launch of his Asian-influenced smokehouse joint-venture, Loro, with Uchi’s Tyson Cole. And to say this opening is highly-anticipated would be a grave understatement.
“Aaron really is the godfather—he’s an expert at what he does and a lot of people look up to him,” says OAK’D Handcrafted BBQ frontman Michael Lane. Gifted as Franklin is, however, Lane acknowledges that an irresistible hunk of Grade A Texas brisket’s true worth doesn’t stem solely from the hands that smoked it low-and-slow, but rather from the community it ultimately sustains. “Barbecue is American food, an iconic way of eating,” he adds. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in a restaurant or hanging out with your family at home, it’s fellowship cuisine and that’s the way we want people to feel.”
With the help of these Dallas-Fort Worth BBQ bigshots, we’ve curated a list of the absolute best places to get your smoked-meat fix across the metroplex. And remember—it’s always okay to lick your fingers.
Weekly specials are a good starting point for experiencing some of what makes Cattleack stand out from the pack. Featuring lesser-seen items like pork steaks, chopped whole hog, and beer-bacon-and-beef sausages, Ten50 BBQ chief William Weiseger calls this “serious-minded BBQ” and Lockhart Smokehouse’s Jill Bergus says she absolutely “loves the brisket.” Of course, you can’t go wrong with other standards, including beef ribs, burnt ends, and the Pitboss, a sandwich made with a hefty trio of brisket, ribs, and sausage piled on a bun with pickled red onion and jalapeño. And don’t forget the cheesy chipotle corn and decadent crack cake for dessert.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order catering via the website (five-pound minimum).
Half the fun of visiting Slow Bone is walking through the line and picking out exactly what you want from the vast assortment of meats and sides. Pecan Lodge duo Justin and Diane Fourton both recommend the place while Bergus exclaims, “OMG!” in reference to the fried chicken. Other must-eats include the Texas Nail, a sandwich made with slow-smoked Prime brisket, cheddar cheese from brewery darling Revolver Blood & Honey, smoked mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted green chiles, lime crema, and jalapeño BBQ sauce as well as the hangover-annihilating Frito pie. Braised greens, brussels and cauliflower au gratin, roasted squash casserole, and pea salad headline a huge list of creative takes on typical sides, a selection so tasty Travis Heim dubs it “probably the best sides in BBQ.”
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, call 214-377-7727 for take-out, or order delivery online.
Travis Heim first visited Pecan Lodge when it was a tiny operation at the Dallas Farmers Market and loves that they’re still serving up “consistently great super smokey, delicious meats.” For those in-the-know and newcomers alike, the Trough is the best way to sample a little bit of everything that has made this wildly popular spot so famous: Brisket, pulled pork, housemade sausage links, pork ribs, and one enormous one-pound(ish) beef rib, all smoked on a combination of hickory and oak. Or check out the Hot Mess, a jumbo salt-crusted baked sweet potato filled with South Texas-style barbacoa, chipotle cream, cheddar cheese, butter, and green onions. Everything pairs well with green chile mac & cheese, and all meals should end with a heaping serving of Aunt Polly’s banana pudding.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 214-748-8900 for take-out.
Prime beef can be found on nearly every Dallas steakhouse menu, but it’s always a treat—and quickly become the norm for top BBQ spots. Here, you’ll find everything that makes that endlessly tender USDA Prime brisket worth the extra cash along with showstoppers like their hulking nine-inch beef ribs, the whole 1.25-pound mass having been smoked for hours over Post Oak. Made-to-order hand-cut fries and onion rings, as well as brisket torpedoes (AKA meaty stuffed jalapeños) shouldn’t be missed, and neither should the juicy BBQ chicken, sold by the half-bird.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, call 1-855-QUE-1050 and order online for take-out, or get delivery via Grubhub and Favor.
The Hutchins family’s love affair with BBQ dates back to at least 1978 when patriarch Roy commissioned his very first pit. And today, they operate one of the most popular brands in the northern suburbs. “They do a very good job, and they’re good people,” says OAK’D’s Lane. Fellow pitmasters Bergus and Emma Heim recommend the “phenomenal” weekend-only Twinkies, which aren’t actually the indestructible pastries of yore but large jalapeño peppers stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in thick-cut bacon (no joke). Daily fixtures include Prime brisket and jalapeño-cheddar smoked sausage, which Emma Heim similarly vouches for.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 972-377-2046 and order online for take-out.
Fort Worth, Love Field
After expanding from a starter food truck to two brick-and-mortar locations in Fort Worth, Travis and Emma Heim opened their first Dallas location in 2020, a joint Bergus calls a “great addition.” Bacon burnt ends have become a popular signature item, but all the smoked meats shine, especially the turkey, a dish which all too often disappoints elsewhere. Because burgers are as popular as barbecue in North Texas, make sure to check out the best-of-both-worlds Pitmaster, featuring a single beef patty, American cheese, and a full quarter-pound of melt-in-your-mouth smoked brisket. Corn dogs are also worth a try, made here with their spicy smoked sausages.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, call your nearest location for take-out, or order catering online (five-pound minimum).
Opened in November 2020, this Old Town joint on Lowest Greenville aims to elevate BBQ through the fine-dining pedigree of pitmaster Michael Lane while still maintaining a casual counter-serve vibe. Serving only Prime and Wagyu brisket, they pay careful attention to every aspect of the menu. The cocktails (and fully-stocked bar) make for a nice upgrade from the usual bottled Shiner fare (though that’s perfectly acceptable here, and always ice-cold). You can get sauce on the side if you really want it, but you definitely won’t need it. Make sure to save room for desserts created by their pastry chef, including a decadent red velvet cake and s’mores pie. And to keep the good feels going, you can feast happy knowing Lane and his team surprise a local firehouse each week with boxed lunches for the entire crew.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 214-242-8671 and order take-out via Toast.
Oak Cliff, Plano, Arlington
Good barbecue doesn’t to be fancy—a little dinge is integral to the cuisine’s charm. Regardless of locations, customers have their pick of Central Texas-style slow-smoked brisket, hearty shoulder clod, moist turkey, pork chops, pork ribs, and Kreuz sausages imported all the way from Lockhart, each pulled right from the smoker and carved to order. Cloaked in butcher paper, the heavy packages of meat transport well for take-out, as do enticing sides like blue cheese slaw, baked beans, and brisket-stuffed deviled eggs. (Don’t worry, they taste just as good onsite if you can’t wait to indulge.)
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, call your nearest location for take-out, or get nationwide shipping via Goldbelly.
Travis Heim grew up frequenting this Fort Worth icon, long revered for its old-school vibes, ice-cold schooners of beer, and what the esteemed pitmaster deems “the best BBQ sauce in town.” Plates come with three sides, so arrive hungry. Greatest hits include the sliced brisket, of course, alongside less traditional options like housemade barbecue salami and pork loin. Mac-n-cheese lovers can turn their beloved side into a full meal by topping with any of their delectable smoked meats.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, call 817-332-0357 for take-out, or get delivery via Uber Eats.
When this Austin-based original sought out a second Texas location for its budding BBQ empire, Dallas was a no-brainer (and a grateful recipient at that). Terry Black’s simple, timeless style gets its start in one of five 1,000-gallon smokers, prepared with a focus on quality and old-world, straightforward technique. “They’re very honed in at what they’re doing,” stresses Lane, who favors the brisket and ribs, while Emma Heim seconds the “perfect” brisket and notes the “great bar in a super-cool building.” Brisket, beef, pork ribs, turkey, and sausage are the signature by-the-pound and sandwich offerings, and family packs serving up to 12 arrive flanked by craveable sides like creamed corn, pinto beans, and Mexican rice. Throw in a mini pecan pie or peach cobbler for dessert.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, call 469-399-0081 for take-out, or get local delivery via Favor and nationwide shipping via Goldbelly.
Far North Dallas
Innovation reigns supreme at Blu’s, starting with a shipping container attached to the dining area to accommodate the kitchen and smokers. From there, the pitmasters smoke meats for daily specials in addition to their standard offerings of brisket, sausage, ribs and all the usual suspects. Must-order items include Fred Flintstone-worthy wagyu beef ribs, prime rib, smoked brisket jalapeño poppers, and smoked chicken wings.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 972-316-7478 and order online for take-out.
With only a handful of stools lining a single counter, the bulk of this Lake Highlands’s business has always been aimed at home consumption—or in the front seat of your car if you couldn’t wait. The brisket’s killer, but a surprise all-star is the DLT: Succulent layers of smoked duck breast, green leaf lettuce, and vine-ripened tomatoes, plopped upon toasted rustic bread and finished with a smear of nose-tickling cherry-jalapeño sauce. The chili mac comes in a close second, with its ooey-gooey noodles piled high with brisket. Nearly every protein option can be purchased in vacuum-sealed bags, too, making reheating at home easy as pie.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 214-346-3287 and order take-out via ChowNow.
Legacy Food Hall is known for having a little bit of everything, and that list would be sorely incomplete without barbecue. Enter Brisket Love, a one-stop-shop for top-quality meats smoked onsite over Post Oak wood for a deeper, richer flavor profile and visible smoke ring. USDA Prime brisket (chopped or sliced), pulled pork, smoked turkey, and jalapeño-cheddar sausage comprise the bulk of the plate and sandwich menu. Baked potato salad and heaping platters of chips and queso round things out, helped along by housemade cane-sugar slushies in four different thirst-quenching flavors.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out and delivery via Grubhub and Uber Eats.
Little Forest Hills
The perfect antidote to a muggy Dallas afternoon, Smoky Rose near White Rock Lake and the Dallas Arboretum boasts one of the biggest and breeziest patios in town. They’ve got a damn fine lineup of BBQ standards, but our pros suggest starting with the smoked chicken wings, smoked chicken flautas, or brisket queso before digging into a game-changing twist on a gut-busting Texas classic: chicken fried brisket, smothered with pepper gravy and served beside a mound of buttery mashed potatoes. Live music on the weekends is a sure-bet bonus.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 469-776-5655 and order take-out via ChowNow.