Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas)
Day two in Dallas started how day one ended. More BBQ!
I started the morning bright and early with a trip out to Grapevine for my first task of the day. Once that was completed, I had several hours before my next task back in downtown Dallas. I was still on my own as a couple of co-workers weren’t flying in until the next day, so I had a little bit of time to explore and seek out something delicious for lunch.
My first stop was at Pecan Lodge, but the lunch “rush” had a line out the door and wrapped around the block. I don’t care how good it is, I’m not waiting in that line. I had another place on my short list though. In fact, I was going to go there for dinner, but I just moved it up to lunch and headed back back south on I-35E towards the Bishop Arts District.
Lockhart Smokehouse has two locations in North Texas with one in Plano and the other in the Dallas bourough of Oak Cliff. The restaurant sits on the corner of West Davis Street and North Bishop Avenue in the Bishop Arts District neighborhood. The area around the restaurant is a highly developed boutique shopping area with a number of eclectic dining options. The neighborhood streets are pretty tight and I didn’t notice any parking lots in the immediate area. I eventually found street parking about three blocks away from the restaurant.
The little corner restaurant was packed when I walked in just before 1:00 on a Tuesday afternoon. I entered from the Bishop Street side of the restaurant which brings you in to the main dining room and bar area. I looked around and didn’t see any open tables nor did I see any servers. I started walking back towards the bar when I realized that this is a counter service place and you bring the food to a table after ordering.
The counter is in the back of the restaurant. There’s an entrance to it off Davis Street or you can just walk through the building down a small hallway to find a couple of guys slicing meat to order. There was a little bit of a line, but nothing that should have taken too long, so I decided to stay. It smelled so good just walking through the building it would have been criminal for me to leave at that point.
Lockhart does what they call Central Texas Barbecue. Counter service with meat wrapped in butcher paper sliced fresh right out of the smoker. Prices are by the half pound although you don’t have to order that much if you don’t want to….but seriously, why wouldn’t you. The main event is the brisket and shoulder clod which they claim is a better cut of meat. It’s leaner and has a beefier flavor. I should have asked for a taste, but I didn’t. I regret that now.
Brisket may be what most people were getting, but they also have pork chops, spare ribs, chicken, turkey, and sausage. No pork butts or baby backs though. That’s more of a Memphis thing. As for sides, typical BBQ sides that include, baked beans, two kinds of slaw, mac & cheese, potato salad and deviled eggs. The day I was there they even had a Jalapeno Mac. Sides come in either a small or large size. I wish I had been there on either a Wednesday or Thursday because their weekly specials are two of my favorite things. Wednesday is beef ribs….it’s almost impossible to find those any place I’ve ever been before and Thursday is burnt ends….
The counter is manned by two guys working in tandem. One is slicing meat while the other takes care of the register. There really is no formal ordering system. When the guy at the table points his knife at you, you just sort of yell out what you want.
When my turn came, I was still undecided. I wanted it all. I passed on the sides and just stuck to meat. I really wanted some mac & cheese, but I thought that would be way too much food since I was ordering a 1/2 lb of brisket and a 1/2 lb of ribs. The for that pound of meat came out to right around $20. As the meat was sliced, it was thrown on to butcher paper and then wrapped up. The ribs were done the same way. When the two packets of meat were handed forward, they were wrapped together in another layer of butcher paper. That turned out to be a good thing because the juicy meats soaked through the first layer on my drive to my next assignment.
I had considered sitting at the bar and grabbing a drink with my lunch, but had to pass. I needed to get to my next job site and since I was in an unfamiliar town with unfamiliar traffic, I decided it was best just to get where I was going early and I’d eat out of my car when I got there. It’s too bad I had to pass because they do have some Texas beer on draft to go along with the usual bottled stuff.
The brisket was the thing I couldn’t wait to get to. The restaurant brags about having meat so tender and flavorful you don’t need sauce or a fork. I found out right away that’s true, but you do need lots of napkins.
Steam rose off the pile of brisket when I opened the butcher paper and that first piece was practically begging me to eat it. The brisket was so tender it fell apart in my hands as I picked it up. I grabbed what I could from the pile of fallen beef and stuck it in my mouth as quickly as I could. The meat had a strong beefy flavor to it compliment by a very strong salt and pepper crust. I was almost regretting at this point that I didn’t sit at the bar and have a drink because the brisket was pretty salty, but it was oh so good. I couldn’t stop eating it. It was addicting and every salty bite left me wanting more. At some point, I had to run out though and that was OK because I still had the ribs in a butcher paper package right next to the empty brisket wrapping.
I’m typically more of a baby back ribs guy just because I have a hard time cooking spare ribs or St. Louis style ribs. They never come out as tender as the baby backs do, but in this case, I decided to give them a try. The ribs still contain the rib tip portion of the spare rib, so even though there were only two of them, there was quite a bit of meat on each one. The ribs were fall of the bone and had a delicious smokey flavor, but didn’t have a strong flavor profile like the brisket did. I still greedily scarfed down the two ribs wishing, again, that I had more.
Lockhart Smokehouse did not disappoint. I didn’t think it would it, but that brisket. Holy cow, that brisket was delicious. It has such a memorable flavor to it that almost a week later my mouth is still salivating thinking about it. Lockhart is another one of those authentic Texas BBQ places that you need to make time for when visiting North Texas.