Restaurant Reviews


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!



Pork Barrel BBQ on American BBQ Trail

Pork Barrel BBQ was fortunate to have the crew from American BBQ Trail stop into the restaurant and film a pilot for their new series. Please watch the pilot and leave a comment and like on YouTube to help them make the case to get this new series a home on TV! We’re always looking for great new BBQ shows on TV and this would be one!


The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 14: Aaron Franklin

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 14th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 14th Most Influential Person in BBQ is pitmaster and owner of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX, Aaron Franklin. 

Aaron Frnaklin

Aaron Franklin is in a league all by himself when it comes to accolades being showered upon a BBQ restaurant. You name the publication, from Bon Apetit to Texas Monthly to Food & Wine to the New York Times) and Franklin’s Franklin Barbecue has probably been heralded as one of the top BBQ joints in America, if not the top BBQ joint in America. If you want to talk about influence over eating, Franklin has so much influence over the taste buds of his customers that they will wait in line for hours in hopes that they arrived early enough to reach the meat counter before the SOLD OUT sign goes up on the door. Perhaps the most remarkable part of this success story is that Franklin opened his restaurant in 2009 and obtained his status as one of BBQ’s few celebrity chefs in only a few years.


Franklin gained even more notoriety on Destination America’s hit TV show BBQ Pitmasters, where he joined Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone as a judge. Franklin opted to retire as a full-time judge on BBQ Pitmasters in 2013 to focus more on his restaurant and other projects. We can’t wait to see what Franklin’s next project will be, but we’re certain he will continue to influence the world of BBQ restaurants like no one else to the point where they have been elevated to and compared to fine dinning establishments.  

On December 19th we’ll unveil the 13th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 15th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

15th – Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

16th – Sterling Ball, Big Poppa Smokers

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.


‘Southern BBQ Boys: Almost Heartbroken and Hungry in Memphis

‘Southern BBQ Boys: Almost Heartbroken and Hungry in Memphis

by Art Richey – Pork Barrel BBQ Media & ‘Cue-mmunications Contributor

Memphis is known for many things: amazing barbecue, the blues, Memphis Tigers basketball and Sun Records, just to name a few. We were well aware of these Memphis staples and wanted to experience as much of the culture as possible during our short stay.

After our amazing meal at The Germantown Commissary, we headed to our fraternity brother Wes George’s house to drop off our luggage, get some rest and do some work before we ventured onto our next BBQ joint. As we chatted about Tim Tebow’s chances in the upcoming National Championship game, Wes’ dad arrived and told us that he had picked up Memphis Tigers tickets for the whole crew. While an evening of adventure was already planned for the BBQ boys, this news was a great surprise. But first, we had BBQ to devour…

While I personally had never heard of The Germantown Commissary before our trip, our next planned stop was always included on the Richey itinerary when we took a trip to the land of the blues. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous is a place that is easier to locate by smell than by the location as it is located in a basement in downtown Memphis. But this unique restaurant placement doesn’t detract anyone as Rendezvous is one of Memphis’ best spots for barbecue. During the morning drive, I shared my passion for the delicious dry rub ribs and the classic sausage and cheese plate that is a must for any beloved BBQ aficionado. As we hopped in the car and headed downtown, my saliva glands were firing up for what was sure be an amazing meal. Once we found our parking spot and started walking toward Rendezvous, a strange feeling came over me. We were still 4 blocks away but I sensed that something wasn’t right. As we discussed what each of us would get, we turned the corner and saw the Rendezvous sign. It was 6:30 on a Wednesday night. No one was outside the restaurant and the alley it is located in was strangely desolate. Something was wrong. We walked to the door and the huge black bars were over the door. The lights were off. The sign said it was closed until January 16. We felt like little kids on Christmas without any presents underneath the tree. We were devastated. I had to bring Billy out of shock like a boxing manager, “Cmon, Kid, get back in the game”.

With our tails between our legs, we made our way over to Beale Street. We organized ourselves and decided to walk Beale Street. We walked into B.B.King’s bar. It was mediocre. Imagine the corporate feel of a Hard Rock Café but with B.B. King’s name slapped on everything. The charismatic host suggested the ribs but we knew better. We grabbed a quick drink and headed to the game. We arrived at the FedEx Forum. We found out seats, which were five rows from the top, and sat down. We looked at each other and confirmed that we were living the good life. Still craving ‘Cue, Wes suggested that we try the barbecue nachos that are offered throughout the arena. My tastebuds perked up like a bird dog.

Ignoring the pre-game commentary, Wes and I began our trek to find BBQ nachos. Pushing through the ocean blue of the Memphis faithful, we found it. It was a simple stand with a simple meal: stadium nachos, pulled pork, barbecue sauce, nacho cheese, and a dry-rub seasoning garnish. While walking back to our seats, it was torture to smell the devilish concoction without getting a bite. I felt like Rocky running up to my seats. Once we reached what seemed like the top of the Memphis Mountain, I put down my Mountain Dew and dove in. What an interesting taste. The nacho and BBQ sauce mixture was a pleasant taste of velvety and creamy cheese with a smoky punch. The pork was what I expected: slightly greasy but good enough to please the palate. I finished the nachos, used my tenth napkin, and threw my platter down like a champion. This ‘Cue was not Rendezvous but it was a worthy substitute. Back to the game, we found Mitchell Dean and he claimed to have better tickets for us. Matt and I headed down from our nose-bleed section and meet with Mitchell. He gave us the golden tickets…fifth row. We made it to our seats, where there were more suits and Rolexes than Memphis hats and Miller Lites. We were wide-eyed college kids in a world of big money. The game was lackluster but it was such a memorable experience. From the disappointment of Rendezvous, the pleasant surprise of BBQ nachos, and the upgraded seats, it was a successful night for the ‘Southern BBQ Boys.

ART’S RECOMMENDATION FOR RENDEZEVOUS BARBEQUE & MEMPHIS TIGERS GAMES: Try the dry rub ribs with the cheese and sausage plate at Rendezcvous…but beware, the restaurant is closed for the first two weeks in January to give their employees a little break. So if you head to Memphis anytime soon and want some Rendezvous ribs, don’t make plans for early January. However, I strongly encourage anyone to check out a Memphis Tigers game and grab a tray of BBQ nachos while you’re there. Tell’em the BBQ Boys sent ya.

Art Richey is a “Southern BBQ Boy who grew up in Northwest Alabama and as kid was able to eat a half slab of ribs before he could talk. In his spare time he is a member of the Pork Barrel BBQ Competition BBQ Team and a Media & ‘Cue-mmunications Contributor to Pork Barrel BBQ.


‘Southern BBQ Boys: An Introduction

Last week we posted a blog introducing you to Art Richey, Pork Barrel BBQ’snew Media & ‘Cue-mmunications Contributor. This week we’re pleased to introduce you to his new blog feature on his travels with the ‘Southern BBQ Boys.

‘Southern BBQ Boys: An Introduction

by Art Richey – Pork Barrel BBQ Media & ‘Cue-mmunications Contributor

For most, college is a time period where an abundance of knowledge is acquired in and outside of the classroom: an appreciation of the Greek classics; effective time management; the skill of writing an 8 page paper in one night; and the perfection of the gameday cocktail, among other things. I worked hard to acquire some of this knowledge during my college experience but one particular academic study developed a skill set that will truly benefit me throughout my life: the knowledge of great southern barbecue.

Yep, you aren’t misreading that last sentence. I actually studied barbecue while I was in college. At Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, students are required to take one class during the month of January with the purpose of this Interim term being to focus on subjects that are not normally offered during the year. However, if a student does not find a course to their liking, he or she may create an independent study as long as a professor agrees to sponsor the study and a committee of professors approves the academic merit and curriculum of the course. After gaining the inspiration to organize this course from a pork sandwich lunch at Dreamland BBQ, I convinced three of my closest fraternity brothers (Will Foster, Matt Lee, and Jeff Vaughan) to enroll in this study of swine. We organized our study as an academic journey of food and travel writing, with a developed curriculum and required literature. Additionally, we created a blog to record our writings and share our journey with family, friends and fans. We assumed the moniker ‘Southern BBQ Boys, and our official study, “‘Southern Barbecue 360: A Survey of Southern Barbecue through Food and Travel Writing” was approved to begin on January 7, 2009.

The ‘Southern BBQ Boys

The main goal of this study was to travel the South, experience great barbecue, and sharpen our food and travel writing skills all while making memories as the mile markers passed by. For most of us, we grew up with barbecue but didn’t know much about the history, the technique or the differences in tastes and styles across the regions. This study was an opportunity to strengthen our understanding of BBQ; however, we had no idea that we would become obsessed with this divine delicacy while earning more national attention than we could ever imagine.

Our journey would take us over 2,100 miles in 17 days to visit 21 barbecue restaurants in 5 states (Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia)…in a 1998 expedition named “Babe.” While we wanted to share our story with as many people as possible, we didn’t think our study would get much attention beyond the Birmingham area. Boy, were we wrong. At the end of the trip, we had appeared in over 200 newspapers, 5 local TV stations, a national AP story, dozens of local interviews and a live appearance in New York City on Fox and Friends on Fox News. It was an exciting experience to share our story and our knowledge of ‘cue with as many people as possible.


In the coming weeks I’ll be writing a series of posts where I will share some of our experiences from this study and what we learned about the world of barbecue: the differences in BBQ taste, sauce and technique across the South; the characteristics of a great barbecue restaurant; how to properly conduct a BBQ road trip; and our recommendations for barbecue spots across the Southeast. At the end of the day, the ‘Southern BBQ Boys earned an “A” for our project, which included over 30 pages of work per person plus an 8-10 page final paper from each member.

Story-telling and barbecue are both inherent parts of Southern culture. Here, I hope to combine the two to tell you about the places, people and tastes that make this heavenly food truly unique.

Art Richey is a “Southern BBQ Boy who grew up in Northwest Alabama and as kid was able to eat a half slab of ribs before he could talk. In his spare time he is a member of the Pork Barrel BBQ Competition BBQ Team and a Media & ‘Cue-mmunications Contributor to Pork Barrel BBQ.


Great Chicago Tribune Article – “On the BBQ trail”

On the BBQ trail

We drive to some of the barbecue joints in the Midwest and South deemed essential by aficionados.

By Kevin Pang, Tribune Newspapers –

May 29, 2010

There’s a swath of our country that’s built upon the foundation of meat plus smoke plus sauce. What a beautiful formula. It’s too wide of a swath, however, to cover in three days, which was the amount of time I had set for a barbecue road trip.

My goal: drive to some of the barbecue joints of the Midwest and South deemed essential by aficionados, the restaurants with championship trophies on mantels and blue ribbons on walls.

Having been exposed to subpar ribs and brisket in my brief lifetime, I owed myself a visit to the Midwest and South, regions where barbecue is not just a cooking method but an ethos. Certainly, I will receive flak for not hitting enough holy grails — Kansas City, Texas, the Carolinas were too far off course — but this was by no means a comprehensive trip through barbecue Americana. I just wanted to find good food.

Did I ever.

17th Street Bar & Grill

In his book “The Man Who Ate Everything,” Vogue food critic and Iron Chef judge Jeffrey Steingarten described the pork ribs from pit master Mike Mills as “profoundly delicious, satisfying every need that the human body and soul have for food.” Mills now serves these very ribs at his flagship restaurant, 17th Street Bar & Grill, in Murphysboro, 90 minutes southeast of St. Louis. The ribs? Glorious. These baby backs are pull-apart tender, giving a bit of resistance without “falling off that bones” (most barbecue lovers hate that phrase). It has just a light slather of mustard-colored sauce (containing bacon and apples) that accentuates rather than overwhelms the apple-wood-smoked meat. One of the finest ribs I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.

Four locations in the area, but the mother ship is at 214 N. 17th St., Murphysboro, Ill. 618-684-3722,

Dexter Bar-B-Que

I’ve never been a fan of pulled pork. I might go as far as using the word “hate,” because most versions are stringy bits of flavorless protein. After visiting Dexter Bar-B-Que in southeastern Missouri and trying the pulled pork, though, I was won over. Served with thick slices of Texas toast, this version was chopped rather than pulled from the bone, with a pork-intensity verging on cured bacon. The hot sauce-spiked vinegar dip (a splash is all you need) pairs perfectly with the hickory-smoked pork shoulder, luscious and tender.

Three locations in Southeast Missouri, one in Jonesboro, Ark. 124 N. Main St., Sikeston, Mo. 573-471-6676,

The Bar-B-Q Shop

The idea of barbecue spaghetti sounds like some Southern gimmick. But it’s much more than replacing tomato with barbecue sauce. At Midtown Memphis’ The Bar-B-Q Shop, the dish begins with a sauce base that’s smoked on the hickory pits for 12 hours. Spaghetti is then added; it sops up the smoky sweetness, giving the noodles a burnt orange color. Chopped smoked pork shoulder goes on top, along with a squirt of spectacular house barbecue sauce — tangy, spicy, with notes of hickory smoke. I may never eat spaghetti again without barbecue sauce.

The Bar-B-Q Shop, 1782 Madison Ave., Memphis, Tenn. 901-272-1277;

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q

The year was 1925. Big Bob Gibson, a strapping 300-pound man who stood 6-foot-4, was known for one thing when he began serving barbecue in his hometown of Decatur, Ala.: white sauce. It’s a peppery, mayo-based sauce that transforms smoked whole chicken into something ethereal. To this day, chickens are smoked skin-side down for four hours (crispness, they say) before getting dunked in a vat of white sauce upon removal from the pit. As is, the chickens have a terrific charred flavor, moist and smoked to the bone. The white sauce, with an apple cider vinegar and horseradish base, gives the hacked chicken a rich tanginess, similar to coleslaw dressing.

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, 1715 Sixth Ave. SE, Decatur, Ala. 256-350-6969,

Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn

Along the south shores of the Ohio River is Owensboro, Ky., a town that prides itself on a barbecue meat singular in style: mutton. That would be sheep, and it’s an acquired taste: not necessarily gamey, but a more assertive flavor than lamb. The pungent hickory smoke takes some of that edge off, and the result is a succulent meat that needs no sauce and falls apart at the nudge of a fork. I know of many people who were leery of mutton, tried it and are now converts.

Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, 2840 W. Parrish Ave., Owensboro, Ky. 270-684-8143,

See the interactive blog and map (with video) of this trip at


Restaurant Review – Bodean’s (London, UK)

I recently went to the United Kingdom and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into some of the UK’s finest cuisine – fish & chips, bangers & mash, and Guinness Pie. The one thing I never planned on eating while there was barbecue – and good barbecue at that. But that is exactly what I ended up doing thanks to a couple good friends who call London home. We planned to get together for dinner and wanted to find a location where we could watch the NCAA Basketball Tournament (this is fairly difficult to do in London). My friends knew I loved barbecue and they knew that the games would be on at Bodean’s – London’s Original BBQ Smoke House.

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first – barbecue in London? Yea, right?!?! When we arrived I have to say it looked legit – not too fancy, lots of TV’s with sports on, cold beer flowing, lots of people, and to my surprise a wall of famous American barbecue sauces on display behind the counter including some of my Kansas City favorites like Gates and Arthur Bryant’s. Then they gained a bit more of my respect as I noticed the framed photo’s around the restaurant of the one and only Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City!!!
They at least showed me right off the bat that they at least knew what great barbecue is. The next thing they had to do was prove to me that they knew how to produce their own great barbecue. We started with an order of their Hot Buffalo Chicken Wings and were very happy with the first taste of home we would experience that night. I followed up the wings with a slab of Baby Back Ribs, Fries & Coleslaw and they were top notch ribs. I’ve had better here at home, but I’ve also had much worse. I’d give Bodean’s a 7 on a scale of 10 – which is at least 4 or 5 points higher than I could have ever imagined giving a London based barbecue restaurant.

Next time you’re in London and you’re craving a little bit of home why not drop into one of Bodean’s locations in Soho, Tower Hill, Clapham, Fulham, or Westbourne Grove? Check out Bodean’s on the web at


Restaurant Review – Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que (Sedalia, MO)

About half of my formative years were spent roaming the streets of Sedalia, Missouri.  If you’re not familiar with Sedalia it’s a small town of about 21,000 folks about an hour and a half to the East of Kansas City.  Sedalia has a few claims to fame:

1.) During the Great Depression it was judged to be the second most economically damaged city behind Gary, Indiana – not a great claim to be able to make, but a claim none the less.
These are all interesting facts, but the two Sedalia claims to fame I particularly remember deal with food – the Guber Burger at the Wheel Inn and the BBQ at Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que! I’ll save the Guber Burger and the Wheel Inn for another post – this post is about one of the Best BBQ Joints in America – Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que!
It was always a special event for us to get in the car and head to Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que when I was a kid.  Over the years some things have changed (it has a much larger and more diverse menu), but the thing I remember the most has stayed the same – Dickie Doo-Bar-B-Que has the best B.B.Q. Beans I’ve ever had – they are amazing and will put a smile on your face!!  The ribs are good as are the other BBQ dishes.  I can’t speak for some of the non-BBQ dishes, because I never get them, but others who have seemed happy.  If you’re ever in Sedalia drop into Dickie Doo’s and enjoy a great meal. Check them out on the internet for more information.  If you’re looking to make some great BBQ Beans of your own visit Pork Barrel BBQ’s website and order some of our Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub!!!

2.) Since 1901, the Missouri State Fair has been held in Sedalia.

3.)Scott Joplin, the “King of Ragtime” music made Sedalia his adopted home.


Restaurant Review – Jammin’ Joe’s BBQ (New Baltimore, VA)

Jammin JoesIf you live in the Washington, D.C. area and travel to Charlottesville, VA on Route 29, then you probably know about on of our favorite roadside BBQ joint’s – Jammin’ Joe’s BBQ!

Jammin’ Joe’s address is: 5282 Lee Highway in New Baltimore, VA (5 miles South of Gainesville on Route 29) – BE CAREFUL– it is easy to miss, but you will be sad for the rest of the day if you miss it (trust me, I know). They operate out of a mobile BBQ trailer that looks like a log cabin. They were one of the inspirations behind us deciding to start Pork Barrel BBQ – it showed us that if you deliver quality product, even if its on the side of a highway, the people will come!

We are a huge fan of their Pulled Pork Sandwich – they provide a very generous portion, with a great sauce. Also, be sure to try their beans, I think they use 7 different beans! Check them out at on the web and in person next time you’re in New Baltimore, VA. They are big BBQ competitors and have recently opened a Florida location – be sure to try them out – you can say you knew about them before they become a household name!
You should also stop by and check out Pork Barrel BBQ on the web before we become a household name!  Stop by and get some of our All American Spice Rub!

Restaurant Review – Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue (Kansas City, MO)

Oklahoma Joe's

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a great lunch inside a gas station? If so, look no further than Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kansas. Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue is situated inside of a Shamrock Gas Station – why not fill up your stomach at the same time you fill your car up?

Oklahoma Joe’s was conceived of on the competitive barbecue circuit in the early 1990s. The team that eventually went on to open Oklahoma Joe’s was know as “Slaughterhouse Five” and they won many Grand Championships, including the American Royal. Their first restaurant, Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue and Catering opened its doors in January 1996 in Stillwater, Oklahoma and their Kansas City location opened a few months later in August 1996. The Oklahoma location is now closed, but the Kansas City restaurant is going stronger than ever, in fact a second location has been opened in Olathe, Kansas.

Oklahoma Joe’s has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, The Food Network and PBS to name a few. Zagat rated Oklahmoa Joe’s as “Excellent” and the hometown Pitch Weekly gave it 3.5 Stars.

I’m a fan of the beef brisket, but can honestly say I’ve never had a meal at Oklahoma Joe’s that I didn’t enjoy and the novelty of the ambiance even makes the food taste better. Next time you are in Kansas City, Kansas stop by and give Oklahoma Joe’s a try. You can check them out on the web here.

Now go fill up your stomach and your car!!!  If you’re not in Kansas City and your looking for great bbq be sure to visit Pork Barrel BBQ on the web!