Sweet Georgia Brown Bar-B-Q (Dallas, TX)
My afternoon court hearing fell through, so I decided to play hooky and treat myself to some barbecue. Sweet Georgia Brown has been on my radar for a while, and it was recently named as one of D Magazine's "Top 100 Restaurants" for 2013. That was all the motivation I needed.
I've read several other reviews which detail the sheer terror and discomfort at dining in this area of Dallas. This isn't a neighborhood where I'd want to be stranded at 3am, but I didn't feel the least bit unsafe in broad daylight. I guess it might be a little intimidating if your usual stomping grounds include Highland Park and Uptown. That being said, if you have a concealed handgun license like I do, it's probably not the worst idea in the world to pack some heat. With my trusty Springfield XDS-45 strapped to my ankle, I walked right past the "No Weapons Allowed" sign and headed inside in search of delicious barbecue.
Everyone at Sweet Georgia Brown was extremely friendly and welcoming, from the knife man at the buffet counter to the busboy refilling drinks. They have quite a few soul food options to choose from, but I wanted my meat smoked rather than fried or smothered. I ordered a Two Meat Combination Dinner: ribs and sliced beef with sweet potatoes, macaroni & cheese, and black eyed peas on the side.
Upon unboxing my order, the first thing that caught my eye was the absolutely gigantic portion of food I had received. I had to start somewhere, so I picked the mac and cheese. Some of the cheese was grainy and hadn't melted properly, with big chunks of re-solidified cheese scattered throughout. The flavors were good though, and all things considered it was a pretty solid side dish. The sweet potatoes were homey and delicious. They were mashed, but there were still decent-sized chunks of potatoes left in. They also had a good sweetness to them. The black eyed peas came swimming in a sort of brown gravy. I found a slight spiciness on the back end which caught me a bit off guard. This was probably my favorite of the three sides.
My brisket had a beautiful red smoke ring and nice bark to boot. The meat was very tender and pulled apart easily. It wasn't too lean or too fatty - this was definitely some Goldilocks brisket. The smoke flavor wasn't overpowering, but it was definitely there. I found just the right amount of seasoning, both on the bark and on the meat beneath. I had the option of sauce when I ordered, but declined without hesitation. Looking back, I wish I had at least gotten some sauce on the side so I could sample all of their cooking abilities.
I saved the ribs for last, and they ended up being a really great end to my lunch. The ribs were so tender that they were barely still intact from the plating. In fact, most of the meat had already come off the bone before I touched them. Maybe they were slightly overdone, but not enough to ruin things. The meat was moist and succulent and had a great amount of smoke. The crust packed a lot of flavor, and I also found a mild sweetness to it that was really enjoyable. Without sauce, I was able to relish in all of the different flavors packed into the ribs.
Although their barbecue may not be quite as good (definitely close) as restaurants like Lockhart Smokehouse, Pecan Lodge, or Slow Bone, Sweet Georgia Brown definitely deserves their place on the Dallas Top 100 list. With food this good only 5 minutes from the VA Hospital, it's easy to understand why so many of my wife's patients have weight problems.