Worth the Drive
Essential ‘cue joints found in far-flung locales
BBQ on the Brazos
9001 E U.S. Highway 377, Cresson,
» Tucked into a Texaco gas station in the tiny town of Cresson, BBQ on the Brazos is among the best ’cue spots in North Texas. Pitmaster John Sanford is an old pro, having worked at restaurants near and far for the better part of his 60 years. Here, he slow smokes brisket, ribs, sausage and other ’cue essentials in an Ole Hickory smoker for hours, over post oak, garnering results that landed him a spot on Texas Monthly’s recent Top 50 BBQ Joints list. Just about everything he does is top-notch, from the beautifully smoked brisket to meaty St. Louis-style ribs to sausage that snaps when you bite into it. Sides aren’t run of the mill. See the cornbread salad, a glorious mess of green onions, sour cream and cornbread crumbs. On Saturdays, the place is a madhouse; get there early.
Don’t miss: Few turkey sandwiches can best the beauty of theirs, topped with melted mozzarella and fried onions and served on jalapeño cheese bread.
Hot tip: The restaurant opens early, at 6:30 a.m., Tuesday-Friday, and 9 a.m., Saturday, for breakfast tacos, stuffed with chopped brisket and salsa and wrapped in housemade flour tortillas.
Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ
1620 Las Vegas Trail N., Fort Worth,
» Owned and named after bounty hunter-turned-BBQ-pro Billy Woodrich, the original location of Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ is housed in a charmingly ramshackle building in far west Fort Worth, down a winding stretch of Las Vegas Trail that some people don’t even know exists. Look for the “Beer” sign, and you’re there. Woodrich was one of the first local pitmasters to take a more craft-inspired approach to barbecue, as most of his sides and desserts are made in-house. Using pecan as his primary wood, he utilizes two smokers — one left behind years and years ago by an earlier ’cue restaurant and a wood-burning Oyler — for brisket, ribs, sausage, turkey and pork, the latter of which is his calling card, with its smooth, silky texture and outrageously smoky flavor; there’s not a better pulled pork sandwich around here. The wise will save room for any number of housemade desserts, from cakes to pies to banana pudding — there’s not a dud among them. Billy’s second location will open any day now at 7709 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Don’t miss: No one will bat an eye if you pop in just for dessert, namely the fantastic banana pudding, topped not with boring ol’ vanilla wafers but with chessman cookies.
Hot tip: On Thursdays and Sundays, go for the excellent chicken-fried steak.
100 Christopher Drive, Fort Worth,
» Of barbecue’s holy trinity of meats — brisket, ribs and sausage — the latter is often considered least important by ’cue restaurants, with most opting to buy commercial or premade links. But at the 22-year-old Longoria’s, located on the outskirts of Everman, next to a residential area, sausage is the main attraction. The Longorias — first Fred, then son Danny, now Danny’s brother David — have attracted a loyal following to their friendly, tin-roofed ‘cue shack, primarily on the strength of their housemade sausage, made from coarsely ground brisket. Smoked over oak and pecan, as are all Longoria’s meats, it has a deep, rich, peppery flavor. The recipe is held in such secrecy that David once turned down a chance to appear on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” because he would have been required to reveal it. Boy, Guy would have loved this place.
Don’t miss: Get the sausage by the link and eat it with your hands. Now you’re a BBQ lover.
Hot tip: The brisket used to make the sausage is also put to excellent use on smoked brisket burgers.
Meat U Anywhere BBQ
919 W. Northwest Hwy, Grapevine,
» Grapevine hasn’t exactly been known for good barbecue. That changed in 2013 when onetime corporate ’cue executive Andy Sedino opened his first location of Meat U Anywhere (the odd name made more sense when Sedino just did catering). The massive crowds took Sedino so off guard, he hired a valet company to handle the nutso parking. Sedino was ahead of the craft-’cue curve, insisting on using high-quality meat, cooked in wood-burning smokers, and making sides from scratch. It’s hard to have a bad meal here: Crusty brisket is sublime; St. Louis-style ribs pack a lot of seasoning and sweetness; and monolithic beef ribs can feed up to three or four. A second location opened in Trophy Club, another town in need of good ’cue — well, not anymore.
Don’t miss: Not many ’cue joints can get chicken right, but Meat U’s is excellent — tender, moist and smoky.
Hot tip: On Saturdays, the restaurant serves prime rib, tenderloin and bone-in pork loin.