Rating: 4.25 Opened: 2009 Pitmaster: Travis Mayes, age 64 Method: Pecan; indirect-heat pit Pro tip: Do not fear the enormous sandwich known as Da Jasper.
Meshack’s takes the concept of a barbecue joint and reduces it to its most basic element: the meat and nothing else. There are no tables at which to sit and enjoy your food, no whimsical décor, really no ambience at all. Just a cinder-block shack crudely painted with images of ribs and sandwiches, a couple of stumps to sit on while you’re waiting, and a weedy parking lot on a street lined with second-hand auto dealers and storage facilities. The rich smell of pecan smoke improves the atmosphere somewhat, but basically this is a 100 percent carryout operation (your food will emerge from the window wrapped up to go). We can’t fault them, however, for putting the emphasis on the meat, not when the brisket we unwrapped back in our car had a perfect smoke ring and expertly rendered fat. The smoke flavor was bold—a little more so than at the oak-and hickory-fueled joints that predominate in the Dallas–Fort Worth area (as owner Travis Mayes says, “Hickory is the king, oak is the queen, pecan is the choice of professionals”). Both sauces, mild and spicy, were worth a dip, though neither was necessary to moisten the tender meat. They keep the menu simple at Meshack’s: besides the brisket, there are pork ribs, sausage, baked beans, potato salad, and turkey legs. The ribs are prepared with a spicy dry rub and have a nice smooth crust; each flavorful bite pulled gently away from the bone. Meshack’s doesn’t make its own sausage, but the Smokey Denmark links had a nice dark-reddish color, a good snappy bite, a slightly coarse grind, and spicy a kick. Don’t be deterred by the humble setting—this is great barbecue done right.
240 E. Avenue B, 214-227-4748. Open Tue 10:30–5, Wed–Sat 10:30–7.