Pecan Lodge – Dallas, TX

Restaurant Name: Pecan Lodge
Address: 2702 Main Street, Dallas, TX 75226 
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / INSTAGRAM / WEBSITE

As I’m writing this blog post the US in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. During my time stuck in my house, I figured I’d dig up some old BBQ adventures of mine that I haven’t written about yet. This post is about the Pecan Lodge in Dallas, TX.

The Pecan Lodge sits in Deep Ellum district of downtown Dallas. My first experience with the Pecan Lodge was when my boss from work brought back some BBQ from here when we had a job site in Dallas nearly 10 years ago. Since then I’ve been to the Pecan Lodge twice…once was on my very first BBQ Tour in 2014 and then most recently for a work trip and a day of vacation. Here’s their awesome menu board:

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On this particular day, which was vacation, I had just wrapped up a pretty successful round of sporting clays so I rewarded myself for my lunch before heading back to Indy. My lunch consisted of a pork sausage link, beef brisket burnt ends, collard greens, mac ‘n cheese, and peach cobbler.

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When my name got called this tray was waiting for me and I about passed out in the glorious view of my lunch. Everything looked absolutely delicious! Most appealing to my eye is probably the amount of bacon in the mac n cheese. The sausage link and the brisket burnt ends had a great color and I could tell they were legitimately smoked. The mac n cheese also screams CREAMY and it most definitely was. The collard greens looked fresh and it was a good size serving. I will admit that I barely finished this platter for my lunch but of course I did finish it LOL. Here’s some closeups of the individual items I got.

Let’s talk about the flavor experience that Pecan Lodge is. Traditional Texas style BBQ is beef, salt, & pepper. The brisket burnt ends match that pretty much perfectly. Paired with a sweet sauce though it was off the charts delicious. It was super tender…almost fork apart tender. The pork sausage was a good spicy with good hints of smoke. The casing had a solid snap when you cut into it AND bit into which is a texture I really like in smoked sausages. 

Of the two sides and dessert that I had the mac n cheese was definitely my favorite. The greens and peach cobbler were delicious but the mac n cheese took this meal completely over the top. The macaroni noodles were super soft, the cheese sauce was super creamy, and the fresh chopped up bacon on top was a delicious salty delicacy that makes all tastebuds put a cowboy hat on and say “Yeehaa!”.  The collard greens had a great smokey flavor as they had some pulled pork in it and it was very balanced with onions as well. The peach cobbler was a great finish to the meal and probably put me close to gluttony but not quite. It was warm, smooth, and the crust was solid. 

Very tough to find a true “negative” at the Pecan Lodge. The burnt ends may have been a bit too tender for me as I do enjoy a good chew. Ice cream would’ve been nice to have on the cobbler but I guess you can’t expect them to be excellent at everything. 

SUMMARY

The Pecan Lodge in Dallas, TX is an absolute must visit if you’re in Dallas area. GET THERE EARLY! There is always a line usually wrapped around the building just to get in to the building…you still have about another 100 feet or so to go before you actually get to the counter to place an order but I 100% GUARANTEE you the food will be worth the wait and worth the money. 

Lyles BBQ – Lexington, KY

Restaurant Name: Lyles BBQ
Address: 3101 Clays Mill Road, Lexington, KY 40503 
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The 2019 Bang Bang BBQ Tour comes to an end and Lyles BBQ in Lexington, KY is the restaurant in the clean-up position. Will they hit it out of the park or will one of the earlier five places take home the championship for best BBQ experience in Kentucky & Tennessee? Let’s find out!

Lyles BBQ sits in a street facing storefront off of Clays Mill Road on the southwest side of Lexington and only a few miles away from the University of Kentucky. On the outside they have a cool looking sign with an American flag hanging just below it. I found out the place was started by a veteran so that was awesome to hear!

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For my final meal of the trip I went with a classic! Beef brisket sandwich, baked beans, and mac & cheese. I also ordered an extra side of hushpuppies. My friends with me ordered the pulled pork sandwich, beef brisket, same sides as me, but we also split a 1/2 pound of burnt ends.

When my food came out, the very first thing I noticed was a FULL PLATE of food! Every square inch of the metal tray pretty much covered with food or had food within an inch of it which makes the meal even more delicious when it comes to me. They do say that you eat with your eyes before you do your mouth and this plate didn’t disappoint. 

The brisket sandwich was really good. It had a great tenderness that wasn’t falling apart and it surprisingly had a really good smoke flavor even though the brisket slices really didn’t have a smoke ring that we typically see with smoked brisket. The baked beans actually had chunks of brisket in it which was an intriguing add to beans as it’s very common to see pulled pork added to it. I will say the brisket did add a nice texture to the beans that was different in a good way. It added the smokey flavor I like in beans and overall the beans were tasty. The mac & cheese was really good but lacked the creaminess I like in mac & cheese. The choice to use shells in lieu of macaroni was a nice twist. There was a subtle hint of smoke to the mac & cheese as well. I just wish the cheese portion was more creamy vs. sticky. The hushpuppies were FIRE! Near PERFECT! I like my hush puppies to have a crunch on the outside and a fluffy, airy, soft inside and these hush puppies were super super close to reaching that. I’m thinking 10 more seconds in the fryer and they would’ve been 100% spot on to the best hush puppies I’ve ever had. 

Lyles has an array of sauces at the table and 1 sauce on ice near the counter you order at. The highlight of this meal was the Alabama white sauce…the sauce at the counter that was on ice. If you’re unfamiliar with the Alabama white sauce and why it’d be on ice you should know the base of this sauce is mayonnaise vs. vinegar or tomatoes but has horseradish and a few other spices mixed into it for a creamy and robust flavorful sauce. The white sauce at Lyles was awesome. I put it on the brisket sandwich, burnt ends, brisket, and hush puppies and it made every bite even better.

The only “negative” I have about this meal I had mentioned earlier and it was the lack of a smoke ring on the brisket. Not sure if the meat just “grayed” on them or not as it was still smokey but just not visually speaking smokey. 

SUMMARY

Lyles BBQ was a place that interacted with me on Instagram when I mentioned I was coming and they said they were looking forward to having me there and they’re product performed excellently. The experience was so good it earned them the championship of the 2019 Bang Bang BBQ Tour! They scored an adjusted BGI (BBQ Guru Index) of 4.617 points out of 5 possible points running away by .367 points to Knoxville based Sweet P’s BBQ. Congrats Lyles BBQ!

Archer’s BBQ – Knoxville, TN

Restaurant Name: Archer’s BBQ (West Knox)
Address: 10205 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922
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Our original plan for Sunday’s dinner was to journey up to Lexington, KY and enjoy Lyle’s BBQ. We ended up doing a round of sporting clays at Chilhowee Sportsman Club right at the foot of the Smokey Mountains and it was AWESOME! A great scenic view pretty much on every station. This round of sporting clays took us longer than usual and we weren’t going to be able to make it to Lyle’s in time for dinner so we pushed that place to lunch tomorrow. 

Our dinner tonight featured another place highly touted in the Knoxville, TN area for really good BBQ and that’s Archer’s BBQ. Archer’s has 4 locations in the Knoxville, TN area and since time was short, we went to the West Knox location. If I could’ve done a little bit more research I would’ve chosen a different location as this location doesn’t cook any meats on site, instead they’re delivered each morning which means the meats are all kept in warmers all day and that poses some challenges to smoked meats. 

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My friends and I each ordered the meat trio plate which consisted of some pulled pork, some pulled chicken, and about 3 pork ribs. My plate had sides of collard greens and the BBQ baked beans. 

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When you order at the counter the food is plated in front of you very similar to Sweet P’s BBQ. When I look at my plate it looks like a typical weekend BBQ cookout with your friends plate…but I did notice the very fine attention to plating that the people at Archers BBQ did as they kind of layered the meats on top of each other. The bottom of the plate was a thick cut piece of Texas toast with half of it covered in pulled pork and the other half covered in the pulled chicken with the trio of pork ribs on top. That attention to detail gives me hope that the food is just as good as their detail.

The food was pretty tasty. My favorite had to be the ribs. They were seasoned very well and didn’t have any sauce which let me try a variety of their house made sauces all themed in different regions like Memphis and Kansas City. The best sauce though was 1000% the Carolina mustard sauce. That sauce was the BOSS! The ribs were good, the pulled pork was good, the chicken wasn’t up to my par…it was saved though by the mustard sauce. I put the mustard sauce on every meat and it complimented every single bite. The beans had really good flavor, but not the texture I like. I like my beans thick & chunky and almost sticky but they were full of flavors of smoke and their rubs. 

I was disappointed in the chicken. It could’ve just been a bad batch or could’ve just been because it was the end of the day sitting in a warmer but the chicken that I had was dry and no visual hint that it had even been smoked. As I mentioned earlier, the Carolina mustard sauce saved the chicken. The collard greens were good but I think they needed to be chopped a little bit more. They were really tender but each bite ended up being a lot of greens and I just prefer them a little more chopped up. 

SUMMARY

For a last-minute, on the go, change of plans place Archer’s BBQ held strong especially for a location that doesn’t do cooking in house. Next time I’m in Knoxville, TN I’ll definitely try to visit one of their locations that has a full kitchen and pit and see if it’s the same or not. The West Knox location I’d definitely recommend for lunch as I’m assuming they get everything a little bit before 11 AM when they open and those meats are prolly only an hour or so off the pit.

Sweet P’s BBQ – Knoxville, TN

Restaurant Name: Sweet P’s BBQ (Downtown Dive)
Address: 410 W. Jackson Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / INSTAGRAM / WEBSITE

Lunch today took us to downtown Knoxville, TN to Sweet P’s BBQ. Me and my friend Ryan passed through Knoxville on our East Coast BBQ Tour in 2015 and had a really good experience at Dead End BBQ. Since I had already revisited a place on a previous tour (Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ) on this tour, I wanted to try something new and Sweet P’s BBQ came up on a lot of lists of people’s favorite BBQ joints in Knoxville.

At Sweet P’s, I ordered the chicken plate dinner which consisted of a chicken quarter, a side of mac & cheese, a side of smoked pinto beans, and a slice of cornbread. I added a BBQ burrito and a bacon chocolate chip cookie for dessert. My friends ordered a two meat plate of ribs & brisket with mac & cheese and one ordered a pulled pork sandwich a side of mac & cheese and slaw and a ¼ rack of ribs. 

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You order at the counter at Sweet P’s and they assemble your plate in front of you. One thing I thought that was really unique to Sweet P’s vs. other BBQ restaurants I’ve been to is they apply a finishing rub to all their smoked meats. The meats appear to be smoked low and slow and not sauced but finished with a fresh application of their house rub. The finisher rub really makes the meat pop on the plate which is always good. The mac & cheese has some of the charred top in it which adds a nice visual color change. The pinto beans were OK to the eye and looked like beans. They were out of the “greens and things” that I was really hoping to try. The cornbread comes already cut and saran wrapped along with the bacon chocolate chip cookie. You could see the bits and pieces of bacon in the cookie though so that was appealing to the eye. The burrito is wrapped in foil so no seeing the finished product until you roll it out. 

 

Taste wise, big fan of the chicken quarter, mac & cheese, and the burrito. The chicken was smoked perfectly and had a very balanced flavor of smoke and the rub and best of all, CHICKEN! Chicken is a tough meat to BBQ as it’s easy to lose the flavor of chicken with all the rubs and sauces that people add to it but Sweet P’s lets the smoke & the rub compliment the natural flavor of the chicken. The chicken was also really moist & tender. The skin though not bite through like a competition was really tasty when I ate it. The mac & cheese was delicious and dreamy! The noodles had a really good chew and the cheese mixture was really creamy. You could eat the mac & cheese with either a fork or a knife and you would’ve been able to get a really good bite. The burritto was simply a BBQ plate wrapped up in a tortilla. It had a really “explosion” of flavor from the smoked meat, the beans, the slaw, and the BBQ sauce all conglomerating together into a single bite and it was really good.

The pinto beans I wasn’t a big fan of. They seemed a little dry but they were a little smokey so that was something going for it. The cornbread I could’ve done without. It was very dry and no butter around…probably just a bad batch but it wasn’t appealing for me. I had high hopes for the bacon chocolate chip cookie but it ended up tasting mostly like a chocolate chip cookie. There were some subtle “salty” enhancements I think from the bacon pieces but I was expecting a little bit more bacon flavor than what I got. 

SUMMARY

All in all, Sweet P’s BBQ in Knoxville, TN was a great visit and you should visit it too if you’re in town. They have a cool looking chalkboard menu and a great “part of the neighborhood” feel and the food backs it up.  

Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ – Memphis, TN

Restaurant Name: Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ
Address: 2265 S. Third Street, Memphis, TN 38109
FACEBOOK / WEBSITE

While looking in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee for some of the best BBQ around we had to swing through Memphis. Probably the most staple of a BBQ city in the state there’s always a trio of places to visit when looking for BBQ in Memphis. A lot of people will talk about the ribs at Rendezvous or the crazy rubs at Central BBQ, but when looking for the best “overall” BBQ experience, I had to go to Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ.

 

Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ is actually a place that I visited on my very first BBQ Tour back in 2014 with my friends Ryan and Jon. Since the original visit, Interstate BBQ has grown into a couple more locations include the airport in Memphis, but the one we visited was the one on the west side of town. The building appears to have had some refinishing done to it as the giant mural I had a picture with on my first trip was gone. The building may have had a little bit of a facelift, but the food was tried & true just as I remembered.

On my first trip, my friends and I were in the hunt for the best ribs in the country. On this trip, my friends and I are looking for the best overall BBQ experience so we each got a spread of our own food and we like to sample different meats and sides. I went with an order of the rib tips with a side of baked beans and potato salad and a side of BBQ spaghetti. Yes, you read that right…BBQ spaghetti! My friends both ordered the sampler platter which had pulled pork, brisket, smoked sausage, pork ribs, & beef ribs with sides of BBQ spaghetti, coleslaw, & beans.

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I REALLY liked the food I ordered! The rib tips look AMAZING when it comes out to you. About a dozen tips, each one probably 2 ounces each sitting in a bed of the house sauce covered in the house sauce and smelling smokey delicious and they definitely were. The meat itself if you get your fingers into it, which you have to do in order to really investigate them, has a nice smoke ring to it, is super tender, and the sauce compliments the meat so well. The sauce is sort of tangy and a little runny but it is definitely NOT lacking in flavor. 

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BBQ Spaghetti!

The sides of potato salad and baked beans were good and traditional sides. The beans did have a good smokey flavor as well so if you like that hit of smoke in your BBQ baked beans definitely order them. The BBQ Spaghetti…the one thing I was definitely looking forward to because it caught me so off guard from when I first came here 6 years ago and it still is uniquely delicious. Your first thought when you read “BBQ Spaghetti” is probably one of “Huh?” or “What the?” and I was in that boat when i first read it on the menu 6 years ago. I ordered a 4 oz side of it last year, i did a 12 oz entree of it this year and it brought back all the feels of when I first put my taste buds to the experience. It’s a simple dish: spaghetti noodles, pulled pork, BBQ sauce, and dry rub…mix it all together…and it’s DELICIOUS! It is a little spicy, but it’s nothing crazy. 

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Sampler Platter

This place really makes it difficult to find anything “not quite as I expected” as it was all excellent. Our server was great. The food was phenomenal. The only thing I could knock them on is the presentation of the food. I love my smoked meats and sauce, but maybe not everything completely smothered in it. It’s nit picking I know but had to come up with something. 

SUMMARY

In summary, this go around at Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ was a GREAT experience! I loved the food and the atmosphere and it’s definitely a place that I recommend everyone visit if you’re in Memphis or passing through it. The saying of “everything is good” is so true when it comes to the smoked meats. You MUST MUST MUST try the BBQ spaghetti if you visit, even if it’s the small 4 oz side portion. It’s a great experience that I know every taste bud would love to go on.

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