The executive chef at Back Forty Texas BBQ Roadhouse and Saloon scripts a menu of authentic Texas recipes that pile plates high with tender meats and down-home sides. As diners stroll into the bright red roadhouse, noses sniff out smoky tendrils emerging from custom Southern Pride cookers where pork ribs, beef brisket, and barbecue chicken turn slowly for 14 hours, much like exceptionally sleepy astronauts.
Today, the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit sign may be a ubiquitous symbol representing good ol’ Texas barbecue, but when Travis Dickey first opened his Dallas shop in 1941, the sign had to share space with advertisements to help pay rent. In the 70 years since then, the Dickeys have done well for themselves, with their initial store spawning a slew of franchises throughout the country. Though the barbecue at each outpost is no longer under the hand of one of Dickey’s descendants, each shop still smokes their own meats in-house to create the signature Texan flavor that infuses their briskets, pulled pork, and fall-off-the-bone ribs.
Meals can come in any size, from the a la carte sandwiches to platters that incorporate a chosen number of meats with a buttery roll, pickle, ice cream, and two homestyle sides. Whether serving up their dishes in the dining room or packing them up for take-away or catering, the staff ensures that each client gets a taste of Texas home cooking without the hassle rubbing every dish on a campfire crock-pot.
Hand-rubbed with a signature seasoning, char-roasted over an open flame, and then smoked in the oven until the center reaches the perfect shade of pink. Buckhorn Grill’s certified-Angus tri-tip is not just the franchise’s signature item—it’s the reason behind its initial creation. After selling thousands of these tri-tip sandwiches at the Napa Chef’s Market, the founders knew they had something great, leading them to open the very first Buckhorn Grill in Metreon. That was in 1999; today, Buckhorn has expanded to nearly a dozen locations across California and New York.
At each location, chefs pile their perfectly charred and tender tri-tip atop half a dozen sandwiches, such as the Bacon-Cheddar Buck or the Roadhouse Buck topped with red ranch and blue cheese. They also use that same certified-Angus in their burgers, topping the 1/3-pound patties with everything from apple-wood smoked bacon and avocado to simple lettuce, tomato, and onions. Beyond beef, the eatery smokes its own sausage, slow roasts barbecued chicken, and even marinates and grills portabellas for vegetarians and finicky pet rabbits.
After walking under the turquoise awning and past the brick façade of Abby's Grill, diners can dig into grilled seafood and pork marinated in the restaurant's secret sauce. The polished surfaces of wood tables gleam in the light streaming through the eatery's tall windows, which provide opportunities to watch passersby or attempt to intimidate parking meters with icy glares.
The cooks at Smokey J's prep handmade, slow-smoked barbecue dishes, making their own sauces and sausages in-house. They rub meats with brown sugar and a secret house spice rub. Pulled pork and brisket are slow-smoked for 12 hours in a medley of maple, mesquite, and whiskey barrel wood chips, and collard greens and baked beans simmer in a chicken and pork broth. Zesty spices and sauces augment many of the meats, such as the piquant North Carolina sauce and the house dry rub.