I recently reached a new level of Texan. Now before y’all spit out your Lone Stars, I assure you that I’m Texan, born and raised.
However, I do believe that there are a few Texan rites of passage — y’all know: things that every Texan’s gotta do at least once in life. These things include — but are not limited to — seeing a West Texas sunset, fueling a road trip with Buc-ee’s Beaver nuggets, jumping into Barton Springs and immediately wondering why you did because it’s freezing, remembering/visiting the Alamo and waiting in a ridiculously long line for some good ol’ Texas BBQ.
Now many will knock the last one off their list at one of the Hill Country greats like Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin or Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. I, however, earned my smokey stripes at Dallas’s Pecan Lodge. But here’s the catch: it was FREEZING outside.
My family and I went at a random time on a winter weekday, thinking we had some how outsmarted the ‘que crowds. But we were very, very wrong. Despite a 37 degree temperature and a wind chill somewhere near freezing, the line for Pecan Lodge was out the door and around the corner of the building.
Yet for some reason, perhaps early stages of hypothermia or the insanely enticing smell of roasting meat, we decided to give the line a chance, thinking that it would fly by. But, oh boy, it did not.
Ten minutes turned to 30 freezing minutes, but our optimism remained as we hoped that some of the people in front of us in line would leave because of the cold. But — wouldn’t you know — Texans are a proud folk… meaning that none of us in our hardly-winter-worthy windbreakers budged.
At one point, I could see it in all of my family’s eyes that we were about ready to give up, no longer able to feel our toes and no closer to the door than when we started. But just then a huge gust of brisket-laced breeze wafted our way and we made a pact to stick it out, no matter how many appendages we lost to the cold.
The hardest part was reaching the front steps. The temperature seemed to drop 15 degrees as we waited no more than five feet from the door to a warmth we couldn’t quite reach. We were stuck in this infernal spot for at least 20 minutes, waiting literally right outside the door, with our faces pressed to the glass as we glared at families inside. Finally after what felt like a frozen eternity — but was really just an hour — we made it inside.
The wait was far from over, but we didn’t care as we basked in the glorious warmth of Pecan Lodge. Angels sang and the heavens rejoiced as our stiff fingers, noses and toes slowly thawed out.
Next, it was time to put together our BBQ Plan of Action…you know, the meats and sides we’d be getting. No one could quite narrow it down to which cuts we wanted, but we all agreed that we needed a huge pile of meat after a wait that long.
Luckily, Pecan Lodge offers just that and it’s aptly named: THE TROUGH. This superb stack of meat comes with beef ribs, pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork and sausage.
Finally we’d ordered and reached our table, falling silent as we took in the dazzling mosaic of juicy ribs, tender brisket and tasty sausage. After our first bite, we instantly knew that everything — the numb toes, cold sniffles and wind chapped cheeks — was worth it for this taste.
The brisket was peppery and flavorful, the ribs were fall-off-the-bone perfection and even the okra was top-knotch. We’d waited in a two-hour line for 20 minutes of pure barbecue bliss and we had no complaints.
All four of us ate to our heart’s content and, even so, we hardly made a dent in the monstrous TROUGH. Leftovers were just another perk.
It was a crazy and cold experience, but one I’d gladly repeat in a heartbeat.
Although, now that I’ve successfully attempted the “bunny-slope” of BBQ Lines, I think I’m ready to cross the big one off my list. Next up: Franklin’s 4+ hour wait!
See Chet’s experience with this BBQ joint that has meat so great it’s got Texans braving the cold, in this clip from the Dallas episode.