(06/14/06) (09/24/06) (10/08/06)
There's an old line about sex, I think made famous by Mae West, that says, "even when it's bad, it's still pretty good." It's been said about pizza, and you could even apply it to barbecue. Unfortunately, Dallas BBQ is the exception to this rule. My first Dallas BBQ visit was about 4 years ago, long before I ever contemplated this site and before I considered myself a student of barbecue. Even then, I wasn't impressed.
For the purpose of this site I visited Dallas BBQ three times. Both of the locations I visited had the same sterile look you'd expect in a coffee shop. Both (and I assume all) locations feature table service, with a full range of alcoholic beverages, as well as a take-out counter.
On my first documented visit to Dallas BBQ, I got a pulled pork sandwich for a weekday lunch to go at the Eighth Avenue branch. The meal was served with cole slaw and fries (I could have had baked potato or rice) in a round aluminum container with a plastic lid, the kind you see at salad bars. The sandwich was in a not-so-fresh poppy seeded bun, with the dry meat clinging to the bottom. A nondescript sauce didn't do all that much to bail the meat out. French fries were overdone. Tangy cole slaw was just okay.
Visit number two was at the Third Avenue branch on a Sunday afternoon, this time dining in. I wanted to try the ribs and the brisket, trying in vain to work out a menu substitution that would be a win-win. It seemed even a brisket-for-steak swap (which would be in their favor) wasn't in the cards, so I settled for the brisket platter. The brisket was thickly sliced and coated in a bland red sauce. The meat wasn't smoky and there was no sign of a smoke ring. The few pieces without sauce actually had somewhat decent flavor, but even the sauced slices were very, very dry. Fries were better this time, but nothing special.
I returned to the Eighth Avenue Dallas BBQ on another Sunday afternoon, getting their "lunch ribs" to go, this time with rice. There was no cole slaw, but I did get a piece of stale cornbread. The rice was thrown onto the ribs, which had about four times as much sauce as the last visit. As I first gazed at the ribs, I was surprised at how meaty the two ribs were. Then I realized that these weren't two ribs, but two racks, each with about eight of the tiniest ribs I've seen outside of an Applebee's. The ribs weren't any better than Applebee's, I'm afraid. They were moist due to the sauce, but dry inside, probably never having seen a smoker.
The bottom line: If you like ribs done in the style of 1980s-era chain restaurants, you might like Dallas BBQ, but I put it in the same league as airline food.