The first time I tried Doug Pickering’s barbecue was nearly a decade ago at the late Work bar in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas. He was ahead of the curve in Dallas in 2013. Before Pecan Lodge made its move to Deep Ellum, Pickering was serving craft barbecue inside a sports bar. He refers to that time as his barbecue internship. His newest venture, which opened in University Park’s Snider Plaza in May, is anything but a joint. Through the wooden door is a well-appointed bar. Tables are set with cloth napkins, silverware, and stemware. Reservations are recommended for dinner, when steaks and seafood outshine the barbecue, which includes the most expensive smoked brisket I’ve seen in Texas.

The $44-per-pound price for brisket would be a bigger shock if Douglas Bar and Grill were the kind of place where you’d actually order barbecue by the pound. Here you’ll order it by the plate or on a sandwich from your server, and it will be sliced in the kitchen. Mike Sharp, formerly of Arlington’s Hurtado Barbecue and Dallas’s Ferris Wheelers (where Pickering also worked until 2019) and Smoky Rose, runs the Ole Hickory smoker in the pit room. He only smokes Wagyu briskets from Rosewood Ranch. Pickering explained the high cost of the brisket by citing the premium price for the raw product plus the premium price for the real estate in a historic shopping center. He also reminded me that the late Peggy Sue BBQ, a Snider Plaza mainstay for decades that closed before the COVID-19 pandemic, was charging $33 per pound before the price of beef spiked over the last two years. Either way, the high price won’t faze most folks in University Park, one of the richest neighborhoods in the state.

Nevertheless, if you’re charging that much, the brisket better be good. It certainly was during lunchtime, when I had the chopped brisket sandwich ($21 with a side). The meat had a great balance of bark, beef, and fat on a buttered bun, and though I love dill pickles, the sweet and hot house-made pickles and peppers that come on the side were addictive. The sandwich is served with two barbecue sauces, one a classic tomato-based sauce and the other a more acidic mustard sauce. I’d save the latter for the juicy pulled pork sandwich, which comes topped with the excellent slaw, a lightly dressed mix of red and green cabbage, carrots, green onions, bacon, and a touch of horseradish.

For the two-meat lunch combo platter ($32), I got three St. Louis–style ribs, a thick slice of smoked brisket from the fatty end (over half a pound), and two sides. Wagyu brisket is generously marbled, and its fat has a lower melting temperature than that of standard brisket. Those qualities make Wagyu beef desirable, but they also make smoking and handling it more difficult. At lunch, the beef was incredibly tender, if a bit overcooked, and well seasoned, with a stout bark and a good dose of oak smoke. The restaurant smokes just one batch of briskets per day, and by dinner the fat had mostly melted away from the brisket we were served. Douglas also smokes just one batch of St. Louis–style ribs per day, which were tender with a sweet glaze at lunch. For dinner, Pickering suggests ordering the baby back ribs, which come off the smoker around 4 p.m.

Pickering has stockpiled frozen turkey breasts at the Douglas, so despite the turkey shortage, you can still get the spectacular turkey club at lunch. It features slices of crisp bacon and a generous layer of bacon jam, which brings sweetness to the peppery turkey. Try it with the creamy mac and cheese, topped with toasted bread crumbs, for a plate of pure comfort. I also enjoyed the eggy potato salad, with chunks of red potatoes so creamy they hardly needed the mayo-and-mustard dressing. The pinto beans are made hearty with the addition of brisket chunks, and they’ll warm you up with the surprising spice.

Much of the menu changes at dinner, when the oak-fired wood grill overseen by Robert Baloga takes center stage. Allen Brothers supplies the steaks, like the perfectly cooked strip steak we ordered, along with filets and ribeyes. Pickering has added a 45-day dry-aged, bone-in ribeye special to the fall menu. Items that thankfully won’t be on the fall menu are the smoked chicken breast, which was painfully dry, and the broccolini, which was charred beyond enjoyment during our visit. Better side options include the rich mashed potatoes with Boursin cheese, the tower of golden-crisp Parmesan truffle fries, and the sweet, tender carrots. That decadent mac and cheese crosses over from the lunch menu. “We don’t want to be a steakhouse,” Pickering said, “but if people define us that way, we’re happy to be that.” I would embrace the steakhouse identity during dinner, when the professional service and more-than-adequate wine list complement the feel.

When Pickering ran the DWP BBQ school between restaurant jobs, one of his specialties was smoked salmon. He said he’s perfected its process at Douglas, where Verlasso salmon filets are brined before going onto a cedar plank, then into the smoker for ninety minutes. When ordered, each filet is liberally splashed with a honey glaze and broiled until medium-rare. The one that arrived at our table was one of the finest pieces of salmon I’ve had at a restaurant. The glaze formed a shell that cracked under my fork, and the juicy flesh beneath was perfectly cooked.

Brisket bullets, pimento cheese with fried Saltines, and the jumbo shrimp.
Brisket bullets, pimento cheese with fried saltines, and jumbo shrimp.Photograph by Daniel Vaughn

While a visit to Douglas does cause some sticker shock, there are some considerable deals to be had during happy hour, from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays. Most all the food items are $10, including the brisket bullets, which are jalapeños stuffed with brisket and cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. We also loved the pimento cheese with fried saltines and the jumbo shrimp, served cold with grated horseradish and a powerful cocktail sauce. The simple Wagyu-and-cheddar burger was also stellar. The bigger BBQ Burger, which adds pulled pork, pimento cheese, and barbecue sauce, was so good my daughter insisted on ordering her own on two separate visits. “It kills my margins, but it gets people in,” Pickering said about the popular happy hour specials. After getting a few cocktails, including an excellent old-fashioned, and ordering almost all the food items, our bill was $130. An hour later, the same order would have been $180.

Pickering was first drawn to Snider Plaza in hopes of taking over the old Peggy Sue BBQ location, which was bulldozed earlier this year. Instead, he renovated a space that formerly housed a clothing store. Pickering saw a need for barbecue in the area after Peggy Sue and its famous fried pies departed. The fried apple pie on Douglas’s menu is a worthy homage, served piping hot from the fryer with a drizzle of caramel and a scoop of crème diplomat. If you’d rather have a chilled dessert, the banana pudding layered with homemade vanilla wafers doesn’t disappoint.

While the barbecue can get lost amid the myriad dinner entrées, Douglas is still a solid Dallas barbecue option. “If you want true barbecue, come at lunch if you can,” Pickering said. I agree, though the newly announced smoked-beef short rib available for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays may change my mind. Douglas is one of a growing number of what I’d call fancy barbecue options in the area, which include Smoky Rose, 18th and Vine, Pappas Delta Blues Smokehouse in Plano, and Local Yocal BBQ and Grill in McKinney. They all have full waitstaffs, cocktail menus, wine lists, and much more than barbecue to offer. As a Dallasite, I can say it’s fitting that this type of gussied-up barbecue restaurant is trending here. We’ll see if it spreads, though I hope each new review doesn’t include news of the most expensive brisket in Texas.

6818 Snider Plaza, Dallas
Phone: 214-205-5888
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 11–9, Sunday 11–3
Pitmasters: Doug Pickering and Michael Sharp
Method: Oak in a gas-fired rotisserie
Year opened: 2022