The brisket at Yearby’s Barbecue & Waterice, in Pilot Point, was so good last year that I had to write a review, even if the business wasn’t at full strength yet. CJ and Sabrina Henley were serving a small menu from a food truck parked next to their brick-and-mortar, which was under renovation at the time. They prepared sides and smoked meats off-site at a commissary kitchen. Last summer, the couple finally received approval to build a new pit room big enough for their thousand-gallon offset from Big Phil’s. It was completed last September, and the dining room was ready for customers in November.

I stopped in on a recent Saturday to see the new digs and try the expanded menu. The Henleys are Muslim, and their menu is fully halal, so I was expecting plenty of beef—and I got it. But if you want one of the massive beef short ribs, you’ll need to visit on a Saturday. Because the beef is halal, the raw racks come at a premium, anywhere from $8 to $11 per pound. Yearby’s sells them for $35 per pound, and they’re worth every penny.

I usually order a beef rib when I’m dining with friends, so we can share by cutting the meat from the bone and into chunks. I was dining alone this time, so I saw no reason not to pick up that giant bone and take a voracious bite from one end. The smoky bark collapsed around the juicy meat, and I was in bliss. I tore off a few more nuggets that barely clung to the bone. When I get back home with leftovers, I usually chop all the meats together into a pile, vacuum seal it, and save it in the freezer for a future pot of beans or chili. This rib was so good, I carefully sliced it and froze it separately, so I could warm it up and enjoy it on its own.

The smoked brisket was just as good as on my last visit, and the Henleys are smoking a whole lot more of it now. That means more trim, so Sabrina came up with a new recipe. “[Meat loaf] was another way for us to use some of the brisket trimmings without throwing it in the trash,” she said. The meat loaf is heavily spiced with garlic and is basted with barbecue sauce while it smokes. The seasonings reminded me of the taste of a garlicky Southeast Texas–style beef link. The rest of the trim goes into CJ’s new hot link, which is all beef in a sheep casing. I asked them not to slice it, and the link gave an audible pop when I bit into it. Unsurprisingly, it had some spice as well. “The flavor profile we go for has cayenne pepper,” Sabrina said, noting CJ’s upbringing in New Orleans.

CJ still visits New Orleans to see his father and to enjoy some red beans and rice. He adds those same red beans to the hearty brisket chili, which is warm with spices. Smoked chicken quarters are more tamely seasoned but are plenty moist. I enjoyed the sides, like the creamy mac and cheese heavy with onion powder and the spicy elote. An eggy potato salad was a nice addition, as were the green beans with potatoes. Sabrina says she has more sides to offer as the seasons change.“I’ve been cooking since I was eight years old with my great-grandma, my mom, my grandma, and it’s something I love to do,” she said.

Sabrina’s roots are in Philadelphia, which is why the specialty of water ice—like a slushy snow cone—is in the name and on the menu. She said it was far easier to find halal restaurants to enjoy in Philadelphia than in Dallas, let alone where the couple lives, in Anna, just north of McKinney. “If you want halal American food, you probably have to cook it at home,” she said, which was part of her and CJ’s reasoning for offering an entirely halal menu. “I consider us the halal barbecue joint of the Dallas–Fort Worth area,” she said, although Yearby’s also brings in customers from Oklahoma. Frozen packages of the barbecue have even been shipped as far away as Karachi, Pakistan.

Being up-front about the halal menu was always part of the Henleys’ strategy. “Halal BBQ is what we do!” is printed on the side of their purple food truck. They wanted to attract customers looking for the preparation and show unfamiliar customers that the barbecue they grew up with has plenty in common with halal cooking.

At first, the Henleys weren’t certain if a small, rural town like Pilot Point would accept them. A restaurant owned by a Black Muslim woman (the restaurant ownership is in Sabrina’s name) serving halal food was unprecedented for the area, but CJ was happy to say of the community, “They have been very supportive of us.” And what’s not to like about eating great barbecue underneath “The Barbecue Joint of Brotherly Love” painted on the dining room wall?

Yearby’s Barbecue & Waterice
209 S. Washington, Pilot Point
Phone: 469-894-7034
Hours: Thursday 11–3, Friday–Saturday 11–7
Pitmasters: CJ and Sabrina Henley
Method: Oak in an offset smoker
Year opened: 2023