In 1941, Travis Dickey decided his barbecue was too good not to share, and he lit the fire in his inaugural pit to craft brisket and ham for hungry folks. Over the years, his menu grew and his sons took over and expanded the operation, but those first recipes remained, sauce and all.
The chefs at the Rowlett location still hickory smoke each tender piece of meat behind a brick serving counter, which clatters beneath plates of polish sausage and glasses of iced tea. Black-and-white photos bedeck walls of corrugated metal siding and hardwood walls, and powder-blue checkered tablecloths re-create the feeling of dining in a rustic farmhouse without all the hours spent trying to figure out what a cornucopia is for.
The tradition of Sonny Bryan’s award-winning barbecue started more than a century ago on February 13, a date that would become circled on the calendar again and again throughout Bryan’s Barbecue history. February 13, 1910, marked the opening of Elias Bryan’s Oak Cliff restaurant, Bryan's Barbecue. Exactly 20 years later to the day, his eldest son, William “Red” Jennings Bryan, launched his own restaurant. When February 13 rolled around again 28 years later, Elias’ grandson, William "Sonny" Jennings Bryan Jr., and his wife, Joanne, opened another restaurant, the first Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse.
Although a different Dallas family now manages multiple locations of the restaurant chain in Utah and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the legendary barbecue lives on. Sonny Bryan's original barbecue sauce spices up its savory pulled meats and ribs, which have been devoured by US presidents, famous entertainers, sports legends, and A-list animated Disney characters alike. Sonny's seasoned chefs also cater heaps of fresh brisket and smoked chicken to parties and events.
Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse has been on the culinary radar since 1989, snapping up awards and publicity from Food Network, the Travel Channel’s Man V. Food Nation, and Emeril Lagasse’s The Originals with Emeril. The modest joints have also earned some highbrow epicurean chops through a 2006 Zagat rating and a 2000 James Beard Foundation award for Culinary Excellence and Achievement.
Succulent smoked meats dominate the menu at former Dallas Cowboy and Pro Football Hall of Fame–inductee Randy White’s restaurant. The cooks rely exclusively on wood-burning pits to sear all of their sliced beef, pulled pork, and baby back ribs, avoiding any gas burners or lightning bolts entirely. Seven pieces of fried catfish don cornmeal crusts for the Big Catch platter, and two patties of 100% Angus beef add heft to the Tough Man burger. Stained wood of different shades pervades the dining room's décor, from the light-brown vertical boards that form the walls to the dark-gray planks that compose the booths and act as a backup in case the fire pits run low on logs.
At Conway's Bar & Grill, formerly The Venue Bar & Grill, the clack of pool balls and the buzz of sports games accompany a lengthy menu of burgers, pizza, and sandwiches. Plates of chicken wings bathed in zesty sauces mingle with meaty burgers stacked with jalapeños, bacon, and grilled mushrooms. Chicken-fried steaks and tacos fuel postmeal rounds of darts and serve as backup ammo if the darts are out for repairs. Each Wednesday, patrons can celebrate with karaoke or toast professional bands during weekly live-music events. College flags and banners hang from the ceiling, a testament to the hangout’s love of NCAA athletics and embroidered fabrics.
Andria's Cajun Cuisine assembles recipes plucked from the table of restaurant owner Precious Wyatt's childhood. Wyatt grew up in New Orleans and after relocating to Plano, she found herself longing for the distinct flavors of the Crescent City. To reclaim the dishes of her youth, she enlisted the skills of Nappy Modjulua, who received intense culinary training in West Germany and later honed her abilities as an executive sous-chef in Louisiana. The executive chef's worldly background in Italian, French, and African cooking styles enlivens the menu of Cajun specialties, which includes classics such as blackened fish, crayfish étouffée, and crab-stuffed eggplant along with desserts capable of convincing any child to eat all of his math homework.