When you’re in Texas, you need to eat as much BBQ as you can. And I did.
One of our friends recommended Hard Eight. It popped up on a few of the “best bbq in Dallas” lists I looked at, so that was all the vetting I did. We showed up and could find the entrance to the place. Someone literally snuck us in a plastic flap behind the stage where a band was tearing down equipment. We went through every door we could find and kept discovering we were still not in the right place, but we eventually made our way to the front. And then waited in line for a while.
But, the waiting in line at a BBQ place isn’t like a normal wait in line at a restaurant. It gives you tie to really decide what you want to eat. See what other people are getting. See what they’re running out of. See what you don’t recognize, but are sure you need to try. This snake-y line walked you past the grills multiple times, so it really helped you get dialed into what you wanted to eat. They also had a manager standing near the line asking if people were first-timers and needed help with how things work here. SUPER smart. If you want a steak, you can bypass the standard line and get one cooked to order. Otherwise, things in this line are generally by the pound. So you tell them you want a half pound of X, and a quarter pound of Y, and a third of a pound of Z. Simple.
Well, it’s only simple if you don’t want everything. Hahaha. I got half slab of ribs, a quarter pound of brisket, and some chicken poppers. Then I headed inside to pick up the sides I wanted. They give you some white bread if you want it, and you can pour your own sauce. Inside, there’s a sort of cafeteria line with all kinds of crazy sides. Potato salad, cole slaw, corn bread, mac and cheese, onion rings, jalapeno sweet corn, and a bunch of other stuff. I had my eye on that mac and cheese, so I picked some up.
We paid for our food and then headed to the dining room. Near the fountain sodas, there’s a HUGE pot of baked beans where you can scoop as many as you want, as many times as you want. I’m a bean fan, so I got myself a dish.
The ribs here are fantastic. Seriously great. The meat, like most Texas joints, is served dry, so you can sauce it or not. I like it both ways, so I was pretty pleased with that. The ribs were extremely tender with just a little bite to them, and pretty good bark. Great actual smoke flavor, as well. The sauce is a welcome addition, but definitely not necessary. I was glad I tried it, but it definitely isn’t a crutch like at some places.
The brisket was also good – actually, quite good. Really moist with good marbling throughout, without being gristle-y.
The chicken poppers are like little pieces of chicken wrapped in bacon. I thought they’ve have some sort of jalapeno or cream cheese aspect to the, but they didn’t. They were fine, and tasty, but I don’t think I’d get them next time – just to save on stomach real estate.
The mac and cheese was some of the best I’ve had in Texas, however. Everyone at the table was raving about it and for good reason. It wasn’t from a box or from frozen. It had multiple cheeses in it and was cooked really perfectly – not always easy in such huge quantities. Totally worth getting this again.
Overall, this place was fantastic. I like the winding line where you keep changing your mind on what you’re going to get, but you can see it all being cooked in front of you (and you smell like BBQ, which is always a win). They have a lot of sides, and the staff are actually really helpful here. I’ll be back, if I’m in Dallas again. Great work, Hard Eight!