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.
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.
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.
Executive Chef Tommy Simpson pulls inspiration for his menu from 18 years of traveling the world—he's studied at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, bustled about kitchens in South America, and experimented with recipes in Europe. Today, he crafts innovative American dishes at One2One Restaurant and Bar, which took four bronzes, one silver, and one gold in Plano Profile's 2012 Best Eats Restaurant Survey. Simpson's creations include steaks topped with wasabi mash, blackened chicken sliders smeared with chipotle mayo, and rock shrimp paired with sriracha. He also stacks a wood-fired oven with crispy pizzas and brushetta breads that are speckled with gourmet toppings of lobster, prosciutto, and fig.
The kitchen looks out onto the restaurant’s cavernous dining hall, where light trickles down onto rows of black booths and stone-tiled walls. Blue lanterns surround the granite bar, spotlighting bartenders as they uncork bottles of fine wine and whip up cocktails. An awning stretches out over the outdoor patio, where diners can admire the front lawn’s fountain, which erupts with majestic streams of water and grants three wishes to those who’ve never cheated on a math test.
Though The Frisco Bar initially opened to provide the people of Frisco with a neighborhood hangout, the eatery is far from a typical bar. Sure, the menu is dotted with traditional bar food, such as burgers, pizza, and fish and chips, but these hearty meals also share page-space with more upscale feasts, including fish and tenderloin tacos, sweet-potato fries, and lumpia rolls packed with ground pork, carrots, and sprouts. To complement meals, bartenders pour glasses of cabernet, sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigio, and concoct nine unconventionally flavored martinis, from chocolate-covered raspberry to cinnamon apple pie. During their visit, patrons can sink into the eatery’s soft leather and velvet seating, play shuffleboard and darts, or test new pick-up lines on sports announcers broadcasted across the bar's collection 50-inch HD TVs.