So I’ve known the Just Grubbin guys for a couple of years now, and have been a big fan of the JG brand since they rolled it out. I’ve low key wanted to write for them for the longest time but was always nervous about asking. Rewind to a month ago, I was bored at work flipping through my Facebook and I saw an article that JG reposted about someone going around Austin doing food reviews. All the restaurants chosen were chains that are well known throughout Texas, but really didn’t depict the best places that Texas is known for. I copied the link and sent it to @jaymo134 and @mattwalker67, outraged and upset with the restaurant selections. I told them I could find much better places and write a better blog, asking if they thought the guys would let me write for them. “Put together a little something and send it to us to read” is what I got back. I am familiar with Texas, coming often over the last 5 years with my old job, and now being an actual Texan since relocating to the Houston area. During my visits, and now residing here, I seek out the most local and authentic places around to experience the true taste of Texas.
Texas is culturally rich melting pot. The food ranges from Tex Mex to Cajun, and surprisingly Asian food, but what I’m most passionate about, and what Texas is known for, is BBQ. Not only is it delicious, it’s also fascinating to me. Listen, I’m an Italian kid grow who grew up in Southern NJ, lived in South Philly for a year right down the block from the Italian Market, why should I be so into BBQ? I was raised on pasta with meatballs and gravy (and yes it’s called gravy), but since my first trip to Texas I have become all about it. The way you combine different rubs with the smokes of different woods is a science. I’ve read all about the art of it, watch BBQ Pitmasters religiously, and pick the brains of the pitmasters at the places I try. I love to cook and eat BBQ. With a planned trip to Dallas, Matt had read an article about places that were worth a wait and this BBQ joint called the Pecan Lodge was high on that list. Named one of the greatest places in the world for BBQ, Matt thought this place would be perfect for my first blog. I took his advice and set out for the Pecan Lodge.
The Pecan Lodge is nestled in the Deep Ellum section of Dallas, reminding me a lot like Fishtown in Philly. Lots of beards and flannel running around that joint. Arriving there around 11:30am there was already a line out the door and down the block.
I got in line, waited, and waited, and waited and waited. During this wait there was a husband and wife in front of me and in front of them was a family. Well in this family was the smelliest guy I had ever encountered in my life. I mean we were outside, in open air, and I could smell this dude, almost ruining the experience. Even when we got inside I could still smell him after he had vacated the spot he was standing in, and I had a buffer in between myself and him. To take my mind off the smell I started looking at the decorations on the walls. They were covered with articles written from various food magazines boasting about how this place is one the world’s greatest BBQ restaurants, along with different awards they have won. It even had a picture and t-shirt from Guy Fieri since he had eaten there.
My eyes then locked onto the menu. It was your standard BBQ menu; pork ribs, brisket, sausage (jalapeno cheddar and regular), pulled pork, and coupe de gras was the beef ribs. The beef ribs were only sold in singles and by the pound. When a beef rib is ordered they’d go to the back and weigh the rib and come back out and be like “hey the rib is 1.35 lbs.”, and at $22 dollars a pound, that was one expensive rib. I was hungry, but not hungry enough to whack a 1+ lbs. beef rib, so I went with the 3 meats and a side combo. Before arriving, I did my homework and found out they’re known for their homemade sausage, that’s made on site, so that was a given for a selection. I paired it with the brisket, pork rib, and of course mac and cheese.
When your order is up they call your name over the loud speaker where you walk up to a window from the kitchen to pick up your food. After my name was called and first laid eyes on my order, I knew my taste buds were in for a treat. I glanced over my order, looking at the beautiful smoke lines on the brisket and ribs, the wetness of the meats, the smokiness of the sausage. When I sat down I didn’t know where to start first, so I just dove into it trying a bite of everything. I threw my fork into the brisket. It was cooked to perfection to where I was able to pull it apart with just my fork. It had just the right amount of flavor to it from the rub, without taking anything away from the taste of the meat itself. I then moved onto the pork rib where the meat just fell off the bone the minute I took the first bite. The rub on this was a little sweeter, and left a little bit of heat behind, but not enough for need to cool it down with taking a sip of sweet tea. I couldn’t help but to finish it before I made my way to the smoked sausage. When I cut into sausage it gave a nice “pop” from the crispiness of the outside and perfect moistness of the inside. Opening it up I found nice chunks of jalapenos and cheddar cheese which went perfect with the homemade seasoning they use for their pork. That too had the exact amount of heat so it could be enjoyed without having to cool your taste buds down. It’s difficult to mass cook sausage without drying it out, but pitmasters did it right.
I finished all the meats before diving into the mac a cheese just so I didn’t fill myself up. The mac and cheese was the cherry on top of the entire meal. It has a nice smoky flavor that was a combination of all the meats put together since it was cooked alongside them. The creaminess of the cheese blend was enough to make it possible to eat with a fork and not lose it to the sides of the container. After that last bite I then succumbed to the meat sweats and all its glory. The Pecan Lodge lived up to its name as one of the Best BBQ Spots in the world. Over the 5 years I have been coming Texas, and now living here, this has been the best I have eaten. Everything was on point and I can definitely see why people stack up down the streets of Dallas to grab bite from this place.
If you enjoyed this, check out more posts from the Just Grubbin team here! Also make sure to listen to The Just Grubbin podcast to hear us go into further detail about this and to hear all of our random irreverent takes on food, drink and whatever else.