Living up to the Hype – Pecan Lodge


It’s way too often I hear about a BBQ place getting a lot of attention and accolades and then I go and eat there and all the hype has ruined it and it just doesn’t stand up.

Pecan Lodge in Dallas certainly lived up to the hype. I’ve read and heard all the stories about when they were located at the Dallas Farmers Market and the long lines. Well, luckily they’ve moved into a new location in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas and from what I’ve heard the quality hasn’t suffered a bit. The good part about moving was they don’t run out of meat at lunch.

I was actually traveling out of state, headed to North Carolina (yes I was driving), but more on that later. It was around lunch time and instead of fast food drive through I figured I’d make a small Q detour, going about 20 minutes out of my way for some smoked goodness… at least that’s what I was hoping for.

The move from the farmer’s market was good for me since I got there a little after 2pm, which from what I’d read would have meant they’d be out of meat at the previous location. Which was also good since the “line” I had to wait in consisted of three people.

I decided on getting the “holy trinity” brisket, ribs and sausage. I did go a little off-book with my side though, normally I’d get beans, but after seeing the mac n cheese someone had when I walked in I went for that. A great choice by the way!

The meat, which is the real reason I was there was fantastic! After picking up my order from the window, I could hardly wait the 20-30 steps to my table. Needless to say it passed the “eye test” with flying colors! The brisket had a nice thick pink smoke ring inside of a good crust of bark, along with a perfect sized layer of “flavor” or fat as some like to call it. The rib looked just as good with a nice thin glaze on it.

The brisket just fell apart in my hands, and the rib did just about the same thing falling right off the bone with little effort. The sausage, I got jalapeno and cheese, had a great snap and added good flavor from the jalapeno and cheese, but not overpowering the meat in the least.

All of it tasted just as great as it looked. The brisket had a great flavor coming from the smoke and the fat, same with the ribs. The sausage, as I said before, had great snap from the casing and jalapeno, cheese and spices didn’t overpower the meat and smoke flavor. The mac n cheese was the added bonus! It was topped with crumbled bacon and was delicious and creamy, I didn’t regret for a second not getting beans.

All in all, it was totally worth going out of my way, heck, it would almost be worth making a special trip from Abilene, and I don’t know of many places I’d drive three hours for just for lunch or dinner. I was really happy to see that something had finally lived up to its hype!

Ok, Let Finish This Drought Already!

I can deal with having a brown yard with no grass in it, it just cuts down on my time in the summers pushing my lawnmower around the yard.
But when it starts to effect my eating, I’m ready to lead the charge in praying for rain. Remember a few years ago when beef prices were hitting record lows? Mostly because the drought was causing ranchers to sell off their herds because they had no water to keep them. Well, now the flip side is hitting us. The lack of cows from ranchers selling off their herds has caused a shortage of cows and beef prices are hitting record highs.

The obvious effect to barbecue is immediate, especially in Texas where brisket is the king. In the last year I’ve noticed the price per pound of brisket going up at least a dollar a pound. And when you’re buying it 15-20 pounds per cut of beef, that’s quite a hit to the wallet.

On the piggy side of the smoker, things aren’t looking a whole lot better. The effects of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) that killed millions of pigs earlier this year has spiked pork prices up to. The good news is there hasn’t been a whole lot of news about the virus since this summer, which hopefully means is coming under control and pork prices will stabilize soon.

So, even though your brisket and ribs plate may be a little high, you can get a rib plate for a reasonable price.

One good piece of news is poultry prices seem to be down from last year. So, while your Christmas ham may be a little high, that turkey sitting next to it was probably a little cheaper. Hopefully by next year PEDv will have gotten under control and West Texans’ rain prayers will be answered and beef and pork prices will be a little lower.


Want to try some of the best barbecue from all across the state and all in one place? Get you tickets now for Texas Monthly’s TMBBQ Fest 2014 on Sept 14 in Austin. Tickets went on sale today and judging from years past they won’t last very long. Dropping $80/person may sound kind of steep, but given the lineups they’ve had in the past and are sure to have this year, it’s not too bad given the great meat coming in from all over the state, and once you’re in the only thing left to pay for are the beers! I’ll even make it easy to get your tickets, here’s the link: TMBBQ Fest 2014

Fast Food BBQ?? NO!!!!

I’ve recently been seeing a lot of the fast food restaurants are wanting to get in on the barbecue craze. This is a bad idea. Now, don’t get me wrong, the McRib is a guilty pleasure I make sure to partake in every Fall when McDonalds brings it out. However, never will I EVER call this barbecue.

But now we’ve got  Arby’s bringing out a sandwich they claim to be slow smoked brisket, Burger King had some kind of barbecue sandwich and a McRib knock off and now Subway with this applewood pulled pork sandwich. Just because you doused some meat that was “slow-cooked” in a giant vat then vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag and sent all over the country with some canned BBQ sauce that tastes like over sweetened ketchup does NOT make something barbecue!

If you want to eat this stuff, that’s your right, but please for the love of all things good, do not confuse this with real barbecue, it’s not! If it hasn’t ever been exposed to real smoke (that liquid garbage doesn’t count!), it is not barbecue, just meat (hopefully) on a bun.

Longoria’s BBQ in Everman


I’m always skeptical about going to any restaurant, let alone a BBQ place near closing time. So, during a recent trip to DFW when I got to Longoria’s BBQ in Everman a little more than an hour before closing time I was hoping they’d still have plenty and the quality would be as good as I’d heard about.

I wasn’t disappointed at either.

The main reason I was there was for the sausage, it’s unique in that they use 100% brisket, rather than pork like most places do. So, in order to satisfy my porky temptations, I went ahead and got the pork and ribs plate. The total with a drink was about $15. When the girl brought out the plate of food she was holding it with both hands under it and after she dropped it off I could see why. I pulled the plate a little closer to me and it felt like there was a ton of food on there. I’m guessing if she wasn’t using both hands to carry it that poor little styrofoam plate may have split in two. This place had already earned points and I hadn’t even taken a bite yet, that’s a good sign.


Then, I dug into the food. The first thing I went for was the sausage since it was the main reason I was there. It did not disappoint. It was totally different than any sausage I’d eaten before, but it was great. It almost had a brisket texture, which would make sense since it was made from brisket, but it had sausage spices in it. It was not only great but really unique. Next I went for the ribs, which were also great, the meat pulled right off the bone and left the bones clean, again, a good sign. The meat was nice and tender and had a good bark to it as well.

For sides I got the beans and fries. The fries weren’t anything special, but they gave me a lot. The beans were decent, but not the best. Since, I’m more interested in the meat, I won’t knock a place for middle of the road sides, they certainly hit it out of the park with the sausage and ribs, and that’s why I was there in the first place. I ended up needing a to go box to bring home a rib and some sausage, which warmed up nicely when I got back home.

I’m pretty sure next time I’m in the DFW area I’ll be going out of my way to make another trip to Longoria’s.

Ben Pace (right), with the Smokin' Bones cooking team, cuts up chicken as Ronny Huff prepares ribs to be turned in during the Meat Ya at the Gap cookoff on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at the Red Dirt Pavilion in Buffalo Gap.

Ben Pace (right), with the Smokin’ Bones cooking team, cuts up chicken as Ronny Huff prepares ribs to be turned in during the Meat Ya at the Gap cookoff on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at the Red Dirt Pavilion in Buffalo Gap.

Last weekend in Abilene there was a whole lotta barbecue going on. If you weren’t one many Dyess airmen and their families to get fed the thousands of pounds of meat cooked up for the World’s Largest Barbecue at the Abilene Civic Center, there was still meat to eat.

I went out and covered the Meat Ya at the Gap cook off at the Red Dirt Pavillion in Buffalo Gap and found some great Q out there. Sadly, I had a pretty busy day and couldn’t spend a whole lot of time there, but I did happen to get there just in time to see some of the teams getting their rib entries ready, and boy was I glad I showed up when I did!

The great thing about pitmasters is they are proud of the product they put out and love to “force” their wares on you. I ended up sampling some really great ribs and even a little chicken from the Big JAM BBQ team, Son of a Dink and Smokin’ Bones teams.

It’s really great to talk to pitmasters and see their differing opinions on everything from cooking time to sauce to wood. The latter usually being the most varied. Of course, you can smoke with any kind of hard wood, but the flavors given off in the smoke differ in the flavor of the final product. I’ve always smoked with either hickory or pecan, mostly because that’s what I have. Pecan is pretty easy to find and I have a few friends happy to give it away after a big thunderstorm.

Ronny Huff, of the Smokin’ Bones team from Buffalo Gap said he uses mostly mesquite because it so easy to find. The key though is making sure it’s pretty dry. “A little green is ok, to make more smoke, but if you get too much it will give it a real bad flavor,” Huff told me. I was also told apple and cherry woods are good to throw in, especially with ribs to add a sweetness.

As you get further down south, towards the Hill Country many of the places are using oak. It’s all a matter of taste, and I have found some meats work better with different woods. However, the most popular, hickory, mesquite and oak seem to work well with almost anything. And, as long as your putting enough smoke to it and smoking it for a long time, chance are it’s going to be good… just some will be better than others, but it’s fun (and tasty) to experiment.

Happy Smoking!

It’s all about the ‘cue

Hi, my name is Tommy and I like sweet smokey goodness, aka barbecue.

I grew up in the southeast, but have been in Texas for the last 14 years.

I guess I could say I’ve had the best of both worlds in terms of barbecue. I also have had some of the worst.

And since I’ve moved to Texas I’ve become inspired to try my hand at the mastery of the pits and smoke.

A pitmaster, however, I am not. Maybe a pitapprentice.

Having lived in two distinct areas of the barbecue I understand both sides of the pig vs. brisket arguments. And I was wholeheartedly in the pig corner until I had brisket done at its best.

Though that will never take away from my love of a perfectly smoked pork butt. Though it did make me understand both how to appreciate good brisket, as well as, just how good it is to do brisket right.

This blog will serve as a diary of my meaty adventures, my rants about bad ‘cue, and my culinary misadventures in smoke.

Anywhere in the southern half of the United States you will find strong opinions of barbecue, I know, I have plenty of my own.

Whether it is whole hog vs. shoulder vs. brisket, or vinegar-based vs. tomato-based,  or pig vs. cow.

I will happily talk about them all.