Restaurant Review – Lockhart Smokehouse in Plano, TX


On a recent trip to Dallas I had an opportunity to have lunch at Lockhart Smokehouse. I’d heard plenty of good things and had a number of my BBQ friends recommend a stop at Lockhart Smokehouse when I was in Dallas – it didn’t disappoint! 



The entire menu looked amazing and the smell coming from the butcher station where the pitmaster was hand cutting orders was beyond amazing. Since I was in Texas I had to give the brisket a try and I was craving ribs so I went with brisket and ribs with a side of baked beans and mac & cheese along with large helpings of Texas BBQ’s favorite condiments, onions, pickles and jalapenos! 



The brisket was good, but the true stars of the meal were the ribs and mac & cheese. Lockhart’s ribs were among the best ribs I’ve ever had in my life. They had just the right amount of smoke and an excellent dry rub on them (it was simple yet complex with a strong cumin flavor that really complemented the ribs well). When you go, not if you go, you must get a couple of ribs! I’m still dreaming about them!!


There really isn’t much, if anything better than Hot BBQ and Cold Beer and if you find yourself in Dallas or Plano, TX and your craving some great BBQ look no further than Lockhart Smokehouse! I know I’ll be back the next time I’m in the area!



Smoked Bacon Brown Sugar Cupcake

Smoked Bacon Brown Sugar Cupcake – from Buzz Bakery in Alexandria – even better than it looks!


Best Mac and Cheese – Fog City Diner Mac and Cheese

Best Mac and Cheese! We had chance to stop at Fog City Diner in San Francisco and try their smoked three cheese Mac and cheese – let’s just say it did not come from a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese!


CraftBar Berkshire Pork Chop, Fried Egg, House Bacon with Polenta and Greens from Top Chef Judge Tom Colicchio

Top Chef Judge Tom Colicchio CraftBar Berkshire Pork Chop with a fried egg on house cured bacon over polenta and greens. Amazing dish!

Top Chef Tom Colicchio CraftBar

CraftBar Berkshire Pork Chop, Fried Egg, House Bacon with Polenta and Greens from Top Chef Judge Tom Colicchio


Oklahoma Joe’s Barbeque

Oklahoma Joe’s Barbeque – there are endless BBQ accolades that could be showered upon the fine folks at Oklahmoa Joe’s restaurant – some times a photo says all that needs to be said – here’s a shot of the Z-Man Sandwich,  Ribs, Pulled Pork, Spicy Slaw, Beans and Fries at Oklahoma Joe’s!  They do their BBQ right – and anytime we are in Kansas City, we are sure to stop by and have our fill!

Oklahoma Joes BBQ


Best Burger – Ray’s Hell Burger

Best hamburger in the nation? Ray’s Hell Burger.  Those are strong words, but for those of us lucky enough to go to Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Virginia, you know what I am talking about.  The burgers are HUGE, the meat is freshly ground right in the store (in fact, I think the legal name of the LLC is Butcher’s Burgers), and the place is a big ol’ dive.  They’ve cleaned up the place since its become a frequent meeting place for President Obama, Vice President Biden and foreign leaders, but it still has the same “charm.”  If you are ever in the Washington, DC area, be sure to make the trip, its just over the river in Virginia, and is a shiny place of food happiness.

Burger Photo

Ray’s Hell Burger

Here are some cool Ray’s Hell Burger links:

Washington Post – Obama, Medvedev chow down at Ray’s Hell Burger –

Huffington Post – Ray’s Hell Burger – Obama and Biden Go Out for Lunch –

Facebook –


The McRib – It’s Back For Better Or Worse


Life is nothing more than a bunch of memories – past, present or waiting to happen? Over the course of our lives we’ll have thousands, if not tens of thousands of them. Some will be good and others will be bad. Although they will all illicit different emotions and reactions, they all will illicit emotions and reactions and contribute to the making of new memories. Sometimes our memories mislead us – in those rare moments when we get to relive a memory we often realize it wasn’t as great as we had remembered. Case in point – the McRib sandwich.

Today, McDonald’s is banking on the fact that hundreds of thousands of us will dust off old memories of happier times – times when we believed barbecue could come in the form of a rib sandwich, or better said, a rib sandwich that contained no ribs. That’s right, McDonald’s will answer the call of countless McRib loving fans across the country by once again offering its McRib sandwich at all of its U.S. stores. The fact that the McRib is once again for sale from coast to coast and boarder to boarder is the bad news. The silver lining, if one can be found, is that this smoke and mirrors “rib” sandwich will only be offered for the next six weeks.

I can understand as well as anyone the emotions that can be brought about by food, especially food that I once enjoyed on frequent occasions that can’t be had at the drop of hat today. Over the course of my 36 years on this planet there have been more times than I can count where I craved a certain food so much that the pain in my stomach wasn’t solely caused by the hunger of an empty stomach. Be it Wheel Inn’s Goober Burger that I ate as a kid growing up in Sedalia, Missouri, or my Mom’s homemade fried chicken – I can relate to a food need so bad that if I had to wait 16 years (this is the first time in 16 years that the McRib has been available at all McDonald’s in the U.S.) I too would have stood in line like I was trying to get one of the two $15 50-inch HD TV’s on Black Friday. But those were good memories of good food. How can anyone feel this way about a piece of mystery meat that is formed into a patty that is a sorry excuse for an attempt to look like ribs?

As a kid I grew up in a barbecue family – my Dad would grill or smoke meats in the winter, spring, summer and fall in the sun, wind, rain, or snow – too me, he is the Post Office of Barbecue, no matter the time of year or weather he’d delivery great barbecue to our dinner plates! I suppose my early exposure to real barbecue allowed me to never venture down the path towards fake barbecue – namely, the McRib. Knowing that so many folks didn’t have the luxury of growing up in a rich tradition of barbecue I still have to ask myself how anyone could find themselves lost on the McRib path? There are so many amazing barbecue joints in this country in every nook and cranny of the 50 states that sever authentic barbecue – ribs, brisket, chicken, pork, sausages…you name it they serve it and its all real!!!

There is a time and place for fast food – thankfully we don’t have to settle for fast and fake!!! We can walk into the thousands of barbecue joints across this country and make ourselves a memory that we won’t regret reliving down the road. A memory that will leave pains in our stomachs because we want nothing more than a real slab of ribs from our favorite barbecue shack!!! Do yourself and barbecue a faovr over the next six weeks. If you get the craving for a McRib over the next six weeks, get in your car and drive to the closest barbecue joint in your area and support “real barbecue” by buying a slab of ribs.

You’ve got to ask yourself one final question – can anything really be that good if a giant in the food industry like McDonald’s keeps it off of its national menu for 16 years? Now go out and support real barbecue and get a great meal at the same time!!!


BBQ Ribs

BBQ ribs – just the words make your mouth water!  We think BBQ ribs are a great tailgating meal for all your fall football cookouts.  If you havent tried cooking ribs, its surprisingly easy – simply trim your meat, remove the membrane, add Pork Barrel BBQ All American Spice rub and smoke grill side down for 3-4 hours.  You can even cook on a gas grill with a little zone control.  We like to add Pork Barrel BBQ Sweet Sauce on ours in the last 15 minutes of cooking – simply apply with a brush and sit back and wait for amazing ribs!  Here are some photos of ribs we’ve cooked at our BBQ competitions on our Lang Smoker and in our backyard on our Weber Smokey Mountain Cookers:


Barbecue Ribs on the Lang Smoker

BBQ ribs

Barbeque Ribs on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker


Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

We like to highlight great tasting bacon products whenever we can – one of our favorites? The guys over at Bacon Salt.   Another bacon product we think we would love? Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn.  Even better?  Add some Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce or All American Spice Rub.  Check out this amazing bacon photo:

Beer Bourbon Popcorn

Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn