The Hard Eight in Stephenville was our third stop on the Brazos & Beyond BBQ Tour. The posse was eleven strong as we rode into the town, described as "The Cowboy Capital of the World" by some folks.
The posse was all over the board when it came to critiquing Hard Eight Barbecue. Some thought it was great, some average. However, on one issue we were all in agreement --- the free beer on a hot day was great!
Here are a few Texas BBQ Posse member observations on the Hard Eight, just named by singer Jewel in a People magazine story as her & hubby Ty Murry's favorite BBQ joint in the world.
One has to wonder when you are just using mesquite coals if you are not losing a lot of smoke flavor in the meat. It was puzzling to me how subdued the smoke flavor and smoke ring was on their meat. On the flavor profile I personally found their flavors a tad bland and I believe this had to do with the lack of any rub on the 1st stage of cooking. I would have preferred a spicier rub.
As far as Hard Eight…it’s like the A&M Aggies. All about tradition. The Cadet Corp has the "Keepers of the Spirit", H8 are the "Keepers of the Meat." They have the modern day era twin bonfires burning outside to feed the half dozen outdoor pits. I love that you can basically pick your choice of meat right from the pit. We had the pork chop on the bone, dipped. I don’t know what was in that vat but the chop was one of the best I’ve had.Tried the brisket. I was partial though after being spoiled by the folks at Loco Coyote. A must try is the spicy bbq sauce.
The Hard Eight pit arena was fun and interesting to observe but it appeared they "push" their pits for production not quality. The brisket was tender but sub-par as there no rich smoked flavor. as one would expect for true BBQ. The ribs were the same but not tender as if they were not done, due to "pushing" their pits. The pork chop looked great but was dry as hell. The sausage was good. Overall the place seemed to cater to tourists and large groups.
Hard-Eight Barbeque: 1091 Glen Rose Road (Hwy 67), Stephenville, TX, 76401, (254) 968-5552, Open: Mon-Thur 10:30am–9pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am–10pm, Sun 10:30am–3:00pm.
If you want a shorter drive from Dallas, Hard Eight also has a DFW location in Coppell.
Photos ©Tom Fox, R.J. Hinkle and Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse