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Taste Test Thursday: Chopped BBQ Beef in Dallas

Pecan Lodge's chopped BBQ beef (photography by Carol Shih)
Pecan Lodge’s chopped BBQ beef (photography by Carol Shih)

Taste Test Thursday is a new series we’ve started here on D Magazine’s web team island. If you have other foods/drinks/non-humans you’d like to see tested out, send us a note. We’ll give it our best bite. (Two weeks ago, we did donuts.)

Beef.

It’s what all the cool kids are talking about.

(Vegetarians/vegans/whatever-ans, I love you, too.)

If I ever decide to give up my meat-eating habits – which may happen one day; I’m not ruling it out  – I’ll find it hardest to give up Texas barbecue. Ribs. Brisket. Chopped beef. Sausage. Just reading those words makes you salivate a little, doesn’t it?

For lunch today, we feasted on chopped beef from five Dallas barbecue joints. (Technically, six, but we’re not counting one of them because it [Lockhart] doesn’t serve its beef chopped.) You’ve probably heard of all of them, though: Pecan Lodge, Peggy Sue, Baker’s Ribs, Off the Bone, and Sonny Bryan’s. We ate all of their meats sauce-less to find out which you should invest your money and time on.

 

Off the Bone (E) and Sonny Bryan's (F)
Off the Bone (E) and Sonny Bryan’s (F)

THE BEEFY PLAYERS

A. Peggy Sue BBQDallas, TX
B. Baker’s RibsDallas, TX
C. Pecan LodgeDallas, TX
D. Not using this one. Lockhart’s doesn’t serve their beef chopped, so we scrapped it.
E. Off the Bone BarbecueDallas, TX
F. Sonny Bryan’sDallas, TX

THE TASTE TESTERS

Nancy Nichols, brand manager Marianna Dubinsky, People Newspapers staff, two interns, and part of the web team

 

Baker's ribs chopped beef
Baker’s ribs chopped beef

WHAT THEY SAID

*We had 10 taste testers, but only five of them followed the “write your comment down” direction to a tee. 

A. Peggy Sue BBQDallas, TX

Taster 1 – kind of bland, needs more salt
Taster 2 – brown, super chopped, with crust, smoky
Taster 3 – sweet, nice smoked flavor
Taster 4 – nice sweet flavor, but looks like cat food
Taster 5 – moist, chewy

B. Baker’s RibsDallas, TX

Taster 1 – worse than A, needs ton more salt
Taster 2 – super chopped, bland
Taster 3 – pretty standard. a little bland.
Taster 4 – bland, no flavor, lean
Taster 5 – chewy, fatty, not as much tang as A

C. Pecan LodgeDallas, TX

Taster 1 – very good, tender, tasty
Taster 2 – crusty, wet, fatty
Taster 3 – salty. a little too smoky. seems to be a little fattier than the rest.
Taster 4 – I love this! Perfect ratio of char, fat, spice, and burnt ends.
Taster 5 – good flavor, moist, smoky

D. Not using this one. They don’t serve their beef chopped.

E. Off the Bone BarbecueDallas, TX

Taster 1 – tastier
Taster 2 – sweet
Taster 3 – very flavorful. good spices.
Taster 4 – way too sweet. it’s like washing down barbecue with a CapriSun.
Taster 5 – tangy, moist, tastes like sauce is in it

F. Sonny Bryan’sDallas, TX

Taster 1 – back to A+B, not much flavor
Taster 2 – stringy, dry
Taster 3 – very smoky, a little chewy.
Taster 4 – too fatty and bland. The Paula Deen of brisket (*wins best comment)
Taster 5 – too chewy, not a lot of flavor, not so good

Pecan Lodge wins!
Pecan Lodge wins!

THE RESULTS

*WINNER* Pecan Lodge – 7 votes
Peggy Sue – 2 votes
Off the Bone – 1 vote

CONCLUSION

The best: I’m sure it’s a big, big surprise that Pecan Lodge, numero dos in Texas Monthly‘s top 50 barbecue joints and one of the 100 best restaurants in Dallas, won this competition. But, you know, we had to test it out anyways, just to make sure this joint really lives up to all its hype.

Well, there’s a never-ending ant line outside of PL for good reason. You’re definitely getting the best chopped barbecue beef in Dallas!

The worst: Our little group of taste testers agreed that Baker’s Ribs and Sonny Bryan’s definitely had two of the worst offerings. The meat was too bland at Baker’s Ribs and stringy at Sonny Bryan’s. Off the Bone had the sweetest one (they must mix it with some barbecue sauce)