Central Texas has developed quite the reputation for world class barbeque, but Dallas is home to some fine smokehouses, too. A fairly new addition that shot straight to the upper strata is the Pecan Lodge, taking up residence in Shed 2 at the Dallas Farmers Market and on D Magazine’s Best New Restaurant list in 2010. Within the year, Pecan Lodge was the darling of the Dallas dining scene and was featured on Guy Fieri’s Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. They say, if the line is less than an hour long, you’ve hit the jackpot. True? We were there to find out.
We walked in just after noon, hoping to avoid the long lines, and were greeted by the delicious aroma of smoked meats which instantly stoked our appetite and anticipation. It was a Wednesday and most of the Dallas Farmers Market was closed, so it wasn’t surprising to find the building mostly empty. But when we took our place in the surprisingly short line, about seven deep and moving fast, there was a moment of doubt. Was it luck or was the joint over-hyped? Soon enough, we would know. We hit the counter and ordered brisket, ribs, pulled pork and sausage. For sides, the greens came highly recommended; we also got coleslaw, fried okra, and mac & cheese with bacon.
During our visit, Men’s Journal magazine was shooting for an article and took a few pictures of our order as it came out, as did we before carrying the giant platter away, past the neighboring Vegan/Juice vendors who nearly cut us in half with laser stares. Cruel irony, those two being neighbors. We sat down and dove in, sharing so everyone got a few bites of each meaty nirvana. Juicy, tender, smoky, tasty nirvana. You know it’s a good meal when all conversation – even about the meal itself – stops, save for the occasional “wow” or muffled ecstatic “mmmm.” Plastic utensils, normally useless against slabs of beef and pork, sliced easily through the brisket, savory and juicy with a nice char and the rich, pink smoke ring you only get by going “low and slow.” The sausage was great with a thin, crisp skin, firm texture and robust flavor. The hot links were equally good without being overly spicy. The pulled pork was tender, juicy and full of flavor, but ribs are always my favorite, and these were big, meaty beef ribs that slid right off the bone, and not overpowered by a spicy rub or sweet sauce.
Speaking of sauces, several were served, ranging from a sweet Kansas City style sauce, to a Low Country Mop Sauce, though perhaps with a Texas twist. I generally stay away from sauces unless the meat can’t stand on its own. Not a problem at Pecan Lodge. This was seriously good barbeque.
Greens and okra are definitely “a Southern thing” and, for some, an acquired taste. I still don’t like okra, but the greens were among the best I’ve tasted. I’m not a coleslaw fan either, but am told it was very good. The mac & cheese with bacon was rich, creamy and tasty, like any good comfort food should be, but I found it’s even better when you mix in a little pulled pork.
While we never saw the line get to the hour plus wait we’d heard about, I wouldn’t be surprised to find it on a summer weekend. The trick, I’ve decided, must be to go “off peak.” We happened to choose a blustery, winter weekday and were in and out in under 90 minutes, fat and happy, as they say. Timing is very important as Pecan Lodge is only open 11am to 3pm, Wednesday through Sunday, and once they’ve sold out of meat, they’re done.
Sandwiches are under $10; two- and three-meat plates are $14 and $16. You can also order meats by the pound, or bring the whole family/gang/office and split a Family Style Platter – about four pounds of BBQ goodness for $65. There are other items on the menu but…Why? You’re going there for the ‘cue, right?