As may not be surprising, I am not a big fan of chain barbecue restaurants. There is nothing wrong with them, of course. And I regularly enjoy solid barbecue from Spring Creek, Rudy’s and others. But as a general rule, I’d rather eat my barbecue from non-chain restaurants. While I was in the Dallas area recently, I realized that I was working just down the street from a unique chain barbecue joint called Pappas Delta Blues Smokehouse. The Pappas family is well-known in Texas for their stable of different restaurants – from Mexican food (Pappasitos) to cajun seafood (Pappadeaux) to steaks (Pappas Bros. Steakhouse), seafood (Pappas Seafood), and a number of other styles. And of course they have Pappas Bar-B-Q, which is just fine ‘cue, but not craft barbecue.
But Pappas Delta Blues Smokehouse is most definitely not the same as their standard chain barbecue. On their website, they advertise PDBS as an “elevated barbecue experience”. And I can confirm that is true. There are only two locations, as compared to the ~20 Pappas Bar-B-Q locations all over Texas. The original PDBS can be found in Webster, TX, which, even though it is technically in the Houston metro area, it is way too far from home for even a dedicated barbecue nut like me to drive to for lunch. Their second one recently opened in north Texas, in Plano, on the east side of Dallas North Tollway, a couple miles south of the Sam Rayburn Tollway. Walking in the front door you immediately notice it has a different feel than your typical barbecue joint. There is no counter at which you place your order. Instead, like other Pappas properties, PDBS offers table service, with waiters/waitresses and menus, cloth napkins and fancy plates and cutlery. No paper towels, plastic cutlery, etc. can be found anywhere. And their service is outstanding. It is also clear that they really focus on the quality of the food. You will pay a premium here – but the quality of the ambiance, the service and especially the quality/quantity of the food you get makes it worth the money.
For our lunch group we started off with some incredibly-flavorful pork belly burnt ends, what they call “Sticky Pork Belly Bites”. I am a sucker for burnt ends – and these did not disappoint, with their cherry cola glaze and decadent flavor and mouth feel. For my meal there were so many delicious choices that I had a difficult time making my selection. I ultimately went with a barbecue combo, which included brisket and one other meat. I asked for moist brisket and then chose jalapeño & cheddar sausage for my second meat. I had read great things about their pork ribs and really wanted to try them as well. So I was very happy to learn that I could order a single St. Louis cut pork rib for $4. I also struggled to choose between all the different sides. I ultimately went with the collard greens and the creamed corn pudding. The brisket was immaculate, with a beautiful dark bark and a great smoke ring. The fat was perfectly rendered and the smoky flavor was outstanding. The sausage had a great flavor, the casing had a great snap to it, and the grind was excellent. And the pork rib was a great, with an excellent chewy bark and moist meaty flavor, with the meat pulling away from the bone with a tug. I was equally happy with both sides. Additionally, they make their own barbecue sauces – three different kinds (original, mustard and espresso, as well as a house-made hot sauce. And they make their own pickles. The attention to detail is clearly shown in both their ingredients and the preparation of everything on the menu.
My experience at Pappas Delta Blues Smokehouse was outstanding from beginning to end. Though I still wouldn’t likely drive the ~60 miles from home to the Webster location just for lunch, if I am anywhere near either location, I will find a way to get there and enjoy this truly-elevated barbecue experience again. If you get the chance to go, don’t miss it.