Outlaw's Bar-B-Que & Grill (Grand Prairie, TX)
I hadn't eaten anything all day (except for a few of my assistant's french fries), so I decided to cut out from work a little early and grab some grub on my drive home. Outlaw's Bar-B-Que isn't really on my normal route, but it wasn't too far out of the way either. I figured it was worth a slight detour to try and find some tasty 'que.
Normally when I walk into a barbecue joint, I expect to be greeted by the smell of delicious smoke. At Outlaw's, you're greeted by something a little more unexpected: a life-size cutout of a cartoon cowpoke, who I'm assuming is supposed to represent "The Outlaw". His twin holsters are both empty, so I'm not sure how menacing of an outlaw he is. This might be something that children and hillbillies find amusing, but to me it just seemed a little amateurish and juvenile, like a barbecue version of Ronald McDonald.
Outlaw's felt more like an IHOP than a barbecue restaurant. They do serve breakfast every day, so I guess that kind of makes sense. In the corner you'll find an array of slot machines and a dated big screen TV, which also seemed a tad out of place. Although, the furniture reminded me of a 1980s Indian casino, in which case the slot machines fit perfectly. By the look of things, there's actually a smoking section that exists around the slot machines and the table closest to them. Maybe I've lived within the Dallas city limits for too long, because it was really unusual and unsettling to see people smoking in a restaurant.
Since I was extra hungry today, I ordered their 3 Meat Combo: brisket, sausage, and pork ribs with potato salad and mac n' cheese on the side. Their wall-mounted menu explicitly states that all meats come sauced unless otherwise requested. I appreciated the heads up, and asked for my sauce on the side.
The mac n' cheese had a few visible specs of black pepper mixed in, but it added no spice whatsoever. Basically, this was Kraft macaroni with added pepper. The potato salad was much more enjoyable. I liked the finely-diced potatoes as well as the pleasant sweetness. It would have been nice if there had been a little more crunch to it though. The slices of Texas toast that came with my meal aren't worth much description, except to say that they were absolutely drowning in butter.
I started my meat trio with the brisket, which had a nice black crust and a fairly pronounced smoke ring. It honestly looked a little bland and dry, but ended up having a pretty decent flavor. There was a good amount of salt on the edges and a moderate amount of smoke throughout. The slices were a little thinner than I prefer, though I won't fault them too much for that. Even with a leaner cut the meat wasn't dried out, making the sauce unnecessary. Out of pure curiosity, I decided to try the sauce anyway. I couldn't put my finger on it exactly, but something in the combination of flavors just wasn't quite right.
As for the sausage, it wasn't nearly as tasty as the brisket had been. The casings were nice and crisp, although the meat underneath was a little mushy. There was plenty of black pepper mixed in, but I couldn't really taste any of it. I couldn't taste any smoke either. Overall, the sausage was pretty bland. I tried the sauce again here, but it didn't fit with the sausage any more than it had with the brisket. I received a much larger portion of sliced sausage than I cared to finish, so I just cast it aside and moved on.
I finished things off with the ribs. My two spare ribs were kind of raggedy looking, as if the cook's knives had never been sharpened. The meat itself was tender and clearly cooked well. I saw a slight red hue on the edges, but I couldn't taste any smoke. I also didn't find much, if any, seasoning. In fact, the main flavor seemed to be grease, which is just sad. Two of these disappointing ribs was more than enough.
Unless Outlaw's Bar-B-Que can get the rest of their food on par with the brisket, I don't see any reason to go back.