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Dallas Barbecue: A Saucy History

Dallas Barbecue: A Saucy History

3 minute read

Texans love an epic story – almost as much as they love a storied Dallas barbecue eatery. This is precisely why The Dallas Morning News has made it their mission to document the histories of North Texas restaurants that have been open for over 75 years. In fact, they created a list to pay tribute to “more than 80 restaurants that have been alive for a half-century or more in Dallas-Fort Worth.” We are thrilled to be among some of these long-established Texas living legends - many of them beloved Dallas barbecue spots. Though Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse opened in 1958, we’ve been a part of the neighborhood since 1910 – that's 112 years!


If you look more closely at The Dallas Morning News’ list, it’s rather fitting to see that barbecue joints are some of the oldest Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants because when it comes to Texas, barbecue has deep roots. Dallas barbeque predates the Civil War, beginning with the Caddo and Spanish shepherds who cooked meat over an open fire. But is widely believed to have gained interest during the 19th century when German and Czechoslovakian immigrants began smoking leftover meat in order to preserve it. Quickly rising in popularity among migrants, meat markets and Dallas BBQ joints began to pop up all over Central Texas. 


Temperature, cooking time, and indirect fire all play an important role in smoking meat, but barbecue technique differs regionally. There are four noteworthy types of barbecue: Memphis, Kansas City, Carolina, and Texas; but here in Texas, barbecue is as different as the Lone Star State itself. Tradition dictates that there’s a unique science – and style – based on location, as well as culture. In East Texas, barbecue is slow-cooked over hickory wood and marinated in a sweet, tomato-based sauce. Central Texas style is made with a salt and black pepper rub, cooked over mesquite wood, and rarely enjoyed with sauce. West Texas barbecue, better known as cowboy-style, is cooked, or grilled, over direct heat - it is not smoked. South Texas style is marinated in a thick molasses-based sauce that gives the meat a sweet and moist flavor. 


When it comes to Texas barbecue, there’s one thing we can agree on - Sonny Bryan’s is a cut above the rest. We slow cook our meat until it falls right over the bone and season it with our secret rub. Our recipe is as iconic as our name; we’ve been in the Dallas barbecue business for so long, it’s in our bones! 


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