Along Alpha Road you’ll pass a few furniture stores, a discount mattress outlet and a block or two of banal single-story retail buildings. When you turn north on Gamma Road you’ll think for sure that you’re in the wrong neighborhood, but look for the sidewalk signs advertising BBQ. There will likely be a line out the door that’s right beside the pig-shaped neon sign. That means it’s Friday at Cattleack BBQ. The husband and wife team of Todd and Misty David spend most of the week catering, but they’re open for lunch on Friday. Because they’re only open one days week, there’s no need to spend much on rent. That’s why they’re out here in North Dallas. If you’re a serious barbecue fan, you’ll be out here before long too.
Just inside the door is a cooler full of free beer. The walls are lined with photos of pit masters from all over the country. A chalkboard on the back wall displays the menu. I started with a half pound of everything – plus a beef rib which was about a pound and a half. There isn’t anywhere to eat on site, so I headed to a friend’s house. The first meat to emerge from the our takeout bag was the brisket, and it was a doozy. The black crust, the rosy smoke ring, and the tender line of fat made for beautiful lean slices. The meat was wonderfully smoky. The tenderness and moisture were exemplary, especially for lean brisket. That this came out of a Ole Hickory makes it more impressive. The fatty brisket was even better.
The pork ribs had gathered more smoke than the brisket. It was on the verge of too much, but the overall flavor was still great. These St. Louis ribs were thick with moist meat that came nicely away from the bone. It was easy to clean the bones. If only the lifeless pulled pork had borrowed some of the intense flavors in the ribs.
A sausage link was just average without being offensive. This is a rare occasion where I’ll recommend the turkey instead. Thick slices of well seasoned breast meat were moist and plenty smoky. It was great, but it was all just a warm-up for the main event.
I love smoked beef short ribs. There isn’t a better meat for the smoker. They use plate short ribs at Cattleack which are extra large, and they have consistent fat distribution throughout. This calls for a long, low cooking time to allow it all to break down, and most pitmasters would seek to melt the fat out during that process. Instead, Todd David smoked these until the fat was tender enough to eat, and still intact.
While the cross section looks as if it would be chewy, it is incomprehensibly velvety and melted on the tongue. If anything, all that fat that remained made it almost too rich…almost. I couldn’t stop eating although I found myself slicing it thinly with a sharp knife rather than tearing off chunks like I normally eat a beef rib. It would be good with either eating method, just make sure to get a beef rib when you visit.
Todd isn’t the only cook. Misty found a great way to incorporate chopped beef into the menu. She mixes it with cheese and onions and folds it into a meat pie which they call a Q-T Pie. I understand if you want to fill up with meat on your first visit here, but make sure to get a Q-T Pie on your second trip. It’s a joint worth coming back to anyway, and it should be added to Dallas’s must-visit barbecue list. You’ll just have to wait until Friday.