Brisket is sliced at Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse in Arlington.  (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com)

It has been a few months since the Posse went on a barbecue tour. So, it was nice to get back on the trail again this past weekend, if only briefly.

We ate at three joints during a 60-mile, 3 1/2-hour mini-tour through the Mid-Cities between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Over the course of the tour, a couple of Posse members made cameo appearances, but our main group numbered 8, including some newcomers: Michael Meadows, president of the Dallas Zoological Society; Mark Vamos, who holds an endowed chair in business journalism at SMU; and Georges Badoux, an accomplished chef and custom tour guide.

The itinerary for our mini-tour, developed by Jim Rossman, included Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse in Arlington, North Main BBQ in Euless and Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell.

Hard Eight, a chain of three joints, finished a close runner-up to Hutchins BBQ in The Dallas Morning News’ recent barbecue poll of reader favorites.

Surprisingly, Crossroads was the standout on the day of our tour. The chicken breast, brisket and sausage were good, the ribs flavorful if a bit mushy, and the homemade bread terrific.

“That bread’s great,” Meadows said. “Can you imagine making a barbecue sandwich out of it?”

“I just did,” Posse member David Woo said.

On tours, the Posse usually avoids side dishes and only eats meat.

“This is big,” co-founder Chris Wilkins said. “This place has bread so good the Posse has to eat it.”

One reservation. Tour goers agreed that the barbecue at Crossroads and the other places we visited would have benefited from more smoke flavor and spice rubs with more pizzazz.

Crossroads is a big joint located in a strip center across the street from AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. When we stopped Saturday, workers hadn’t yet finished installing the letters of the sponsor’s name on the near side of the stadium roof. The sign read:

“A  T  T     T A D I U  ”

General Manager Dawn Brooks said Crossroads had been closed for a while, re-opened less than a year ago and now plans to launch night time service — until 8 p.m.  — at the end of March.

Our sampler platters of fatty brisket, ribs, chicken and sausage.  (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

She said the place has hosted as many as 3,000 for a tailgate party. There is an outdoor area with tables and a small bandstand behind the restaurant.

Eddie Deen, of course, is the caterer who runs Eddie Deen’s Ranch near the Dallas Convention Center. The main staging area for the catering business is in Terrell.

Brooks said the brisket, ribs and chicken we ate were cooked in Terrell and driven to Arlington, an hour away. The sausage was cooked at the Arlington location.

Deen uses Oyler wood-fired pits and Southern Pride smokers, Brooks said, both common brands for large volume operations. Southern Pride’s commercial smokers are mainly fired by gas, with some wood used for smoke flavor on their ribs and chicken. Briskets are cooked with all wood on the Oylers.

Meadows, who likes sausage with a little kick, said Crossroads’ sausage had “a nice finish.” Vamos, the SMU professor, called it “zippy.”

Long time readers know everything is usually fair game on this blog. If, for instance, a Posse member confided that his first trip to Louie Mueller’s in Taylor was much like his first trip to Wrigley Field when he was overcome by emotion and cried, it just might be published.

But with Vamos, who also reportedly cooks good barbecue, we have some restrictions. Since he does restaurant reviews for The News, we can name him and quote him, but we can’t show him in a recognizable photo.

Food critics cherish their anonymity.

For the Posse, anonymity is almost impossible. We show up with so many people, cameras blazing, that it’s hard to avoid attention.

Soon after we ordered and found a table at our next stop, North Main, a server came over and let us have it:

“We’ve been open 33 years and you’re just now getting here?” he said.

Technically, it was a question, but it really was an accusation.

Guilty as charged, we said. Show us what you got.

We’ll write more about North Main in a future post.

Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse, 1004 N Collins St, Arlington, 817-795-6900. Open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm or until the meat runs out. (Note: Crossroads will be adding evening hours beginning April 15, 2014)

Dining room and counter at Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse. (Photo by Michael Meadows)

 

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