Dickey?s Barbecue Pit has smoked beef brisket in-house nearly every night since 1941, painting each morsel with a tangy house-made sauce. Pulled pork, turkey breast, and polish sausage round out the menu with meals that are heartier than a burrito wrapped in Paul Bunyan?s plaid shirt. Boxed lunches and catered buffets brim with homestyle sides such as coleslaw, mac 'n' cheese, and jalape?o beans. Once the last pickle has been crunched and the last finger has been licked, guests can savor one of the restaurant?s most cherished traditions: a vanilla cone, on the house.
The scent of barbecued meats fills Railhead Smokehouse, the aromas of chicken, sausage, and beef all blending together. Those meats appear in the dining room on platters alongside staple sides like slaw and potato salad or on sandwiches dripping with sauce. That sauce is so well known that the restaurant sells it online all over the country, though they also sling smoked turkey, jalapeno sausage, and ribs dry rubbed in the Saint Louis style. Neon signs and framed photos above the bar encourage diners to stay a while for a beer after their meal, though there's also a sunny patio ideal for post-lunch chatter.
Cousin’s Bar-B-Q’s sauce-soaked menu teems with classic dishes made with chopped and smoked meats, plus a medley of hearty sides. Carnivorous concoctions including pulled pork ($7.99) and chopped beef brisket ($8.99) join sides such as sweet ranch beans and carrot-raisin salad, giving jaws a workout while toning tongues’ six-pack abs. Sandwiches stack one protein ($4.89) or two ($5.99), and a cavalcade of smoked meats including boneless chicken breast ($10.99/lb.) offers unadorned taste that far surpasses an all-dough pizza or an ice sandwich. Cousin’s Alliance Town Center location, known as Cousin’s Urban BBQ, boasts additional sandwiches and eclectic entrees, such as the Texican tacos plate, a border-blurring pile of chipotle-mango salsa, coleslaw, and cilantro atop brisket, pulled pork, or chicken ($7.99 for 2, $8.99 for 3).
A community institution since 1956, Vance Godbey’s all-you-can-eat Sunday buffet promotes festive feasting across four sprawling dining rooms in a historic converted ranch-style house. Spirited family gatherings and incorporeal families of spirits can refuel with as much high-quality homestyle cooking as each eater desires. Grab a juicy filet mignon or sidle up to some tender brisket meat and adorn it with a side of sweet potatoes, sautéed spinach, or buttered corn. The salad selection abounds with corn, pasta, and crabmeat, and sweets-loving patrons can munch on flaky peach cobbler or run their hands through an endless supply of banana pudding.
Dickey's Barbecue Pit may have expanded into hundreds of franchises throughout the country since first opening in Dallas in 1941, but each restaurant's dedication to creating the best Texas-style smoked meats remains the same as the original's. Every new franchise goes through a training process called Barbecue U, where owners learn the ins and outs of food preparation and customer service as founder Travis Dickey practiced more than 70 years ago. And considering two of Travis's primary tenets were authenticity and barbecue sauce, it's not surprising that both of those things rank high on Barbecue U's curriculum.
Yet despite all these other points of focus, pit-smoked meats—from beef brisket to fall-off-the-bone pork ribs—are still the core of what makes Dickey's great. Because these tried-and-true staples never fail to keep customers coming back for more, Dickey's changes very little about its menu. In fact, the first major change in 50 years happened just recently: a spicy cheddar sausage intended to be a limited-time offering was so popular that it was inducted onto the menu permanently. Aside from that, Roland Dickey, Jr. (Travis's grandson) stays true to his family's original vision, aiming for a friendly, down-home ambiance where guests can help themselves to free extras such as buttered rolls, soft-serve ice cream, and breathable oxygen.
Those who have visited the original Cooper's in Llano might have an odd sense of déjà vu upon arriving at the Forth Worth location. That's because the sprawling 26,000-square-foot establishment is a carbon copy of the restaurant that started it all, right down to the wafting scents of mesquite-smoked meats that have been tantalizing appetites since 1953.
Any visit to Cooper's begins at the pits, where barbecue masters hoist open large, metal doors to reveal rows upon rows of ribs, brisket, sausage, and chops—all cooked over the flavors of the mesquite coals. Once you have selected your bounty of tender chicken and succulent pork or beef ribs, head toward a counter packed with Southern sides such as corn on the cob, coleslaw, and potato salad.
Though some have trouble making it to one of the communal dining tables before digging in, those who do will be thankful to find rolls of paper towels in lieu of wimpy napkins. Lively chatter rises from the restaurant’s patio, where diners enjoy views of the Fort Worth skyline and distant rigs pumping barbecue sauce from the earth’s depths.