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.
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.
Sandra Dee has been a chef since she was 9, when she first helped her mother and grandmother—both accomplished home cooks—create zesty creole recipes for their Sunday get-togethers. Today, she continues that familial spirit, running the kitchen of her own barbecue restaurant with help from her husband, Jeffrey, their sons and daughters, and one nephew. Within her brick walls, covered on the outside with murals of jazz legends such as Etta James, Sandra Dee slow cooks barbecued beef tri-tips, pork ribs, and other meats, flips barbecued veggie burgers, and deep-fries catfish. These savory plates are complemented by beer, wine, and specialty cocktails, such as the mojito and Old Fashion Manhattan—a mix of bourbon and sweet vermouth that still occasionally wears pantaloons.
Voted Best BBQ by Sacramento’s CBS affiliate five years in a row, Texas West BBQ treats palates to an array of tender cuts hand-rubbed in spices and slow-cooked to exude a signature smoky flavor. The menu foregrounds Texas West’s barbecue platters of tri-tip steak ($13.99) and sliced beef brisket ($11.99). Each dish is laid aside texas toast, and guests can then feel free to use two homemade sides to dress the beefy bundles of joy in coleslaw onesies and top them with macaroni-salad bonnets before holding an optional sweet shower of fresh-baked peach cobbler ($3.99). Meanwhile, parents concerned about televisions hypnotizing their children and convincing them to eat violent video games can treat kids to safe, savory portions such as corn dogs and fries ($4.99).