Texas is famed for its rich tapestry of barbecue traditions, with several influences from the Southern states converging in an explosion of flavors and styles in Dallas. From robust servings of sweetly marinated meat – cooked so slowly that it’s falling off the bone – to hefty portions of chopped meat drowned in heavy, sugary sauces atop a fresh bun, there are a delightful array of ways and means to get a decent serving of smokehouse pork in the big D. But searching for the perfect ribs joint in Dallas is like searching for the perfect hot dog in New York; a profusion of options necessitates some local knowledge to sniff out the real gems among the countless options. For those in pursuit of the ultimate plate of Texan ribs, we’ve narrowed down the Dallas favorites to these five best ribs joints in the city.
Despite the unassuming exterior of this former gas station-turned barbecue joint, Off The Bone’s ribs are a favorite amongst Dallas foodies in the know. The menu offers all the traditional BBQ staples, including thick cut Texas-style brisket, but the house speciality at Off The Bone is the smoked pecan baby back ribs. Drenched in a sweet sauce – and offset perfectly by a classic savory side of potato salad – the ribs here are provide a hefty serving with plenty of meat on their bones.
A Dallas fixture since the late ’80s, this joint in Snider Plaza is a good ol’ fashion taste of authentic Texan barbeque serving up pit-smoked meat with all the fixins. A kitsch (and slightly crowded) interior compliments the kitsch (and slightly crowded!) menu. The baby back ribs served here, however, make this restaurant a necessary stop-off for any ribs fans. They’re doused in the house sauce; not as sweet as your average ribs sauce and generally superior, with a more complex, spicy kick. There’s plenty of options for getting your 5-a-day in, too, with a huge range of both traditional and unusual veggie-centric sides including a delicious cheesy squash.
A relative newcomer on the Dallas ribs scene, Pecan Lodge has been blazing a trail since it was founded back in 2010. Located in Dallas Farmers’ Market, you’ll have to be an early bird to nab an exclusive and much sought-after plate of ribs from this joint. It opens from 11am until they sell out, from Wednesday to Sunday, and there’s an inevitable line-up. But a huge portion of famed meat-heavy beef or pork ribs are waiting for you at the end of that line. The ribs’ bark is crispy and glazed to perfection while the meat is almost impossibly tender. Pair your ribs with the incredible, bacon-sprinkled homemade mac ‘n cheese.
Angelo’s is a favorite among Dallas-Fort Worth locals. There isn’t a hint of pretension about the determinedly authentic decor; it’s a good bet that most barbecue loving meat-eaters probably won’t mind the stuffed animal heads adorning the walls. The sides are generous and the beer is cold, but regulars know the real reason for coming here is the inimitable Angelo’s seasoning. The ribs are rubbed with a blend of spices that serve to enhance the smoky quality of the honest plate of ribs without overpowering the meaty flavors. And travelers who fall in love with Angelo’s will be glad to learn they can buy the seasoning on-site to bring home.
With two locations in Dallas – one in the Bishops Arts District and one in Downtown Plano – it’s a testament to the quality of Lockhart’s menu that there’s almost always a queue outside both establishments at lunch time. They boast the best brisket in town – and the tender, chunky slices made to order are certainly something worth boasting about – but the ribs are a menu highlight that’ll have you coming back for more. The "no sauce" policy here means all the flavours are packed into the meat’s bark, which is bursting with a spicy, smoky mélange of flavors. Traditional sides like deviled eggs and potato salad are more adventurous than they sound, and add a gourmet twist to the simple but delicious BBQ fare on offer.