Featured in the Dallas City Guide
Discover the best things to eat, drink, and do in Dallas with our expertly curated city guides. Explore the Dallas City Guide
The Metroplex is too big for just one barbecue guide. Fort Worth already got its own, so this one is dedicated to Dallas and its many suburbs, which are packed with smoked-meat stops both old and new. We have our favorites, of course. Texas Monthly recently published a list of the top fifty barbecue joints in Texas and fifty more worthy of honorable mentions, but our recommendations don’t stop there. You can get a great meal at any one of the joints below.
Before we get to the newer crop, here are some historical spots to visit. The Bryan family barbecue business began with the opening of Bryan’s Barbecue in 1910. Its legacy endures with the original Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse on Inwood (1958), famous for brisket sandwiches and gigantic onion rings, and for being the only barbecue joint in Texas open 24/7. The original location of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit (1941) on the northeast corner of Central Expressway and Henderson Avenue is the oldest joint still operating in Dallas. The chain recently opened its 700th location. Hardeman’s BBQ (open since at least 1948) is still a favorite for ribs and banana pudding across its three locations. Mesquite BBQ has been a favorite in Mesquite (despite smoking with hickory) since 1959. Relative upstarts like Big Al’s Smokehouse BBQ (1974), Back Country BBQ (1975), and Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que (1976) are also stalwarts for good barbecue.
In the city of Dallas
Cattleack Barbeque (Top 10)
It wasn’t enough for owners Todd and Misty David to offer some of the best Texas barbecue in the state. They also took on the challenge of eastern North Carolina–style whole hog barbecue and mastered that too. Now you can get some of the best Texas spareribs, brisket, and sausage, along with a whole hog sandwich with slaw and cracklins, just like it’s served in North Carolina. 13628 Gamma Rd, 972-805-0999
Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ
You can see the namesake Ferris wheel rising up from behind the building as you drive up—and sometimes it’s even open for rides. The standards are all represented here, but things get really interesting with starters like brisket queso and smoked-sausage corn dogs, and specials like smoked fried chicken and chicken-fried brisket. All the sides have a little something extra: jalapeño and bacon in the slaw, barbecue-flavored potato chips crushed over the mac and cheese, and barbecue sauce in the green beans. 1950 Market Center Blvd, 214-741-4141
Heim Barbecue (Honorable Mention)
The Heims ushered Fort Worth into the modern barbecue movement with their tender brisket, colossal beef ribs, and famous bacon burnt ends. In 2020, they brought their barbecue to a new Dallas location, just across the street from Love Field Airport. Outside of the barbecue standards, try the loaded potato skins and the throughly satisfying Heimburger with bacon-burnt-end jam. 3130 W. Mockingbird Ln, 469-397-4346
Lockhart Smokehouse (Honorable Mention)
No, this restaurant hasn’t been around as long as Kreuz Market in Lockhart, but if you want the closest thing in Dallas to visiting the official barbecue capital of Texas, this is the place. The sausage at all locations (Arlington, Plano, and Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts District) is shipped from Kreuz Market, and pairs best with spareribs and sliced brisket served on butcher paper. 400 W. Davis, 214-944-5521
Pitmaster Aaron Franklin and chef Tyson Cole teamed up on this Asian smokehouse. The original is in Austin, but Dallas is home to the second location. The well-smoked meats run the spectrum from brisket to salmon, and all are served with unique sauce-and-herb combinations. Baby back ribs are available Sundays and Mondays only, but the excellent smoked bavette steak is always on the menu. 1812 N. Haskell Ave, 214-833-4983
Oak’d BBQ (Honorable Mention)
A familiar carving block greets you just inside the door, but at Oak’d, that’s where the similarity to other barbecue joints stops. The sandwiches are over the top—the Governor features brisket, candied bacon, and fried onions. A huge variety of sides are available, from roasted cauliflower to some of the best fries in town, and the impressive lineup of desserts includes pies, cakes, and cookies. With breakfast starting at 8 a.m. every day and a full bar that serves until 9 p.m., you have yourself a rare all-day barbecue option. 5500 Greenville Ave, Suite 1300, 214-833-4983
One90 Smoked Meats
Consider this tiny, counter-service storefront a triple threat: high-quality barbecue, smoked cheeses and chilled barbecue for reheating, and peerless sandwiches all under one roof. We especially enjoy the sandwiches, which range from a classic ham and Swiss, made with ham cured and smoked in-house, to the more decadent D.L.T., made with smoked duck breast. 10240 E. Northwest Hwy, 214-346-3287
Pecan Lodge (Honorable Mention)
Barbecue joints that ground and stuffed their own sausage were a rarity when Pecan Lodge opened in 2010, but owner Justin Fourton led the charge with his own beef links, which still have a starring role on the menu. The buttery beef ribs could make an argument for being the real star, but then again, so could the brisket-stuffed sweet potato called the Hot Mess. 2702 Main, 214-748-8900
A popular lunch destination in Uptown, Sammy’s opened before the neighborhood was even called Uptown. Come for the smoked brisket, either sliced on a plate, or chopped on a bun and covered with some of the best barbecue sauce around. Get a scoop of their famous potato casserole or the fresh cuts fries and hand battered onion rings. All the homemade desserts are great, but we’re partial to the pecan pie. 2126 Leonard, 214-880-9064
Slow Bone (Top 50)
You can fawn over the smoky brisket, juicy ribs, or the best fried chicken in town any day of the week, but the daily specials at Slow Bone are truly worth an extra trip. The smoked and grilled pork chop can be had on Sundays and Mondays, and the stuffed baked potato on Tuesdays is just an excuse to eat buttery mashed potatoes topped with chopped barbecue. The chili mac side, another delicious item, is a hearty combination of brisket chili and creamy mac and cheese. 2234 Irving Blvd, 214-377-7727
Smokey Joe’s BBQ (Top 50)
Kris Manning is the second-generation owner of this South Dallas gas station turned barbecue joint. He replaced the old brick pit with steel offset smokers and began smoking some of the city’s best brisket. The hefty spareribs are smoked over hickory like they’ve always been. Also try the house-made sausages and a wide variety of family-recipe sides like greens, yams, and chicken tetrazzini on the weekends. 6403 S. R. L. Thornton Fwy, 214-371-8081
Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que
Brothers Juan and Brent Reaves carry on their late father’s barbecue legacy at this Dallas institution. When they’re not smoking vast quantities of turkey legs for the State Fair of Texas, the crew at Smokey John’s dishes up some of the best ribs and fried catfish in town (ask for the “Steve White plate” and get them both), an array of soul food sides, and daily specials like meatloaf on Mondays and turkey with dressing on Fridays. 1820 W. Mockingbird Ln, 214-352-2752
Terry Black’s Barbecue (Top 50)
It’s hard enough to serve consistently great barbecue a few times a week. The fact that Terry Black’s does it in two locations (the other is in Austin) for lunch and dinner seven days a week is remarkable. The beef rib is king here, but the brisket won’t leave you disappointed either. The house-made sausages and smoked turkey are also standouts. 3025 Main, 469-399-0081
4T’s Bar-B-Q in Forney
Head east of town for this little joint just off U.S. 80 run by Mike and Cyndi Thomas. The sliced brisket is great, but it’s hard to ignore the many ways you can get it on a bun: the brisket cheesesteak, the brisket grilled cheese, or the Schmitty, with sliced brisket, pepper jack cheese, jalapeños, and grilled onions. 205 W. Broad, 972-552-3363
Hutchins BBQ in Frisco and McKinney (Top 50)
The Texas Twinkie, which is Hutchins’s version of a jalapeño popper (stuffed with brisket, of course) is so famous that it’s been copied across the state. The joint’s consistent quality—serving lunch and dinner every day of the week—is harder to replicate. Try the glazed pork ribs, brisket burnt ends, or smoked chicken finished on the grill with sweet barbecue sauce. 9225 Preston Rd, Frisco, 972-377-2046; 1301 N. Tennessee, McKinney, 972-548-2629
Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery in Garland
From the daily specials to brunch, this might be the most fun menu in Garland, and we haven’t even gotten to the beer. Choose from over a dozen brews on tap to pair with barbecue nachos, the brisket sandwich, or the MacRib sandwich, which has pulled rib meat and mac and cheese. 509 W. State, 972-272-2400
Local Yocal BBQ and Grill in McKinney
You can get all the barbecue you want during lunch, but we suggest waiting until dinner service to try the nicely priced sampler platter. It makes a great appetizer for a large table, and then you’ll get to enjoy excellent steaks from locally raised cattle or the smoked chicken-fried steak. 350 E. Louisiana, 469-225-0800
Meshack’s Bar-Be-Que in Garland (Honorable Mention)
Travis and Donna Mayes have built the quintessential barbecue shack on the east side of Garland. They cook with pecan wood in an old brick smoker built into the wall of the kitchen. The Mayeses crank out excellent ribs and juicy sausage. The chopped brisket sandwich is mammoth, and the smoky meat is a perfect pairing with the family-recipe barbecue sauce. 240 E. Avenue B, 214-227-4748
Smoke Sessions Barbecue in Royse City (Honorable Mention)
Formerly operating in a truck, this joint finally opened in a brick-and-mortar last year. The restaurant is now housed in one of the most handsome buildings in Texas barbecue, featuring a full bar and large patio. Come for the smoky ribs, tender brisket, and excellent house-made sausage. 307 State Hwy 66, 469-723-5092
Stiky Ribz BBQ in Forney
Transitioning from food truck to brick-and-mortar in late 2019, Stiky Ribz has thrived in its spot just off Interstate 20 east of Dallas. Fill up on the generously stuffed barbecue baked potatoes, sandwiches, and nachos. And of course, try the namesake “ribz,” which are sweet and tender. 9675 Helms Trl, 469-925-5213
Tender Smokehouse in Aubrey, Celina, and Frisco
The barbecue is solid on its own at this small Texas chain with three locations, but try it in a sandwich on Texas toast, on a Frito pie, or stuffed into a roasted sweet potato. 26781 E. Hwy 380, Aubrey, 214-612-0059; 224 W. Pecan, Celina, 469-202-3000; 4226 Preston Rd, Frisco, 214-494-2080
Getting the week started with barbecue can be a challenge with so many joints closed, but there are a few great options in the Dallas area open on Mondays. From the Top 50, you’ll find Hutchins BBQ, Slow Bone, and Terry Black’s open. Lockhart Smokehouse, Oak’d BBQ, and Pecan Lodge are Monday options from our honorable mentions list. As for our other favorites, you can visit Back Country BBQ, Big Al’s Smokehouse BBQ, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ, Hardeman’s BBQ, Mesquite BBQ, and Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse, the last of which is open 24/7 at the original Inwood location.
A full breakfast menu is available at the Tender Smokehouse locations in Aubrey and Frisco, while the Celina location offers breakfast tacos and toaster sandwiches. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit locations offer breakfast sliders, tacos, and burritos. Oak’d BBQ serves a full breakfast menu every Saturday and Sunday, and breakfast tacos Monday through Friday. Heim Barbecue offers breakfast tacos every day they’re open. Wait until Sunday and you can enjoy the creative brunch menu at Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery, which includes chicken and waffles, burnt-end gravy and biscuits, and country poutine.
Dallas is home to the State Fair of Texas, which boasts all manner of deep-fried concoctions. It might have influenced some local barbecue joints to think outside the pit. From the Top 50, Slow Bone is famous for its fried chicken, and the fried catfish at Hutchins BBQ isn’t famous enough. The smoked-sausage corn dogs at Heim Barbecue are golden and fluffy, and at Ferris Wheelers they’re small enough for an appetizer. Ferris Wheelers goes even further with a fried version of its smoked turkey sandwich, a fried brisket special on Saturday, and smoked fried chicken on Sunday. Pecan Lodge’s fried chicken is reason enough to visit, as is the fried catfish at Smokey John’s. On Mondays, Oak’d BBQ pounds out Wagyu tenderloin for the chicken-fried steak special. There’s just a hint of smoke flavor on the chicken-fried steak at Local Yocal, available for lunch and dinner.
Check the websites and social media accounts of Pecan Lodge and Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ for their live music schedules. Both host live bands on their patios. Local Yocal BBQ and Grill has an indoor stage for live acts.
Wet your whistle
Sometimes you’d like something stronger than iced tea or Dr Pepper with your barbecue, and these joints can help. Cocktails, wine, and craft beer can all be had at Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ, Local Yocal BBQ and Grill, Lockhart Smokehouse, Loro, Oak’d BBQ, Smoke Sessions Barbecue, and Terry Black’s Barbecue, which serves a signature black margarita made with a mystery ingredient. Local draft beer and wine are at the bar at Pecan Lodge and Tender Smokehouse. Slow Bone offers craft beer on draft and by the bottle.
Barbecue is associated more with lunch than dinner, mainly because so many joints sell what meat they can smoke as quickly as possible. That means many of the best spots will be sold out by early or midafternoon, but there are still plenty that are open late—or at least late for barbecue. Back Country BBQ is open until 8 p.m. every day except for Sunday, when it closes at 7 p.m. Big Al’s is open until 8 p.m. most days of the week. Hardeman’s BBQ is open until 8 p.m. or later most days, and Lockhart Smokehouse is open until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Loro is open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Oak’d BBQ is open until 9 p.m. daily. One90 Smoked Meats is open until 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Pecan Lodge is open until 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Smokey Joe’s is open until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Terry Black’s Barbecue is open until 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. All three locations of Tender Smokehouse are open until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.