A pitmaster tends the smoker at Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

North Main BBQ has lots of fans. We know that. Ever since the very first Posse tour five years ago, readers have told us that we need to get to the Euless joint, which is only open Friday through Sunday.

Tardy but determined, we finally made it during our Mid-Cities mini-tour.

North Main was our second stop, sandwiched between Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse in Arlington and Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell. It was nice, relaxed tour, covering 60 miles in 3 1/2 hours.

After we ordered at North Main and as we were sitting down, a server who discovered we were the BBQ Posse came over and chewed us out.

"We've been open 33 years and you're just now getting here?" he said.

We pleaded guilty. He went and got owners Ray and Hubert Green, son and father, and we had a nice talk while we waited for our food.

In the beginning, the Greens' main business was trucking. You can see the sign -- Green's Trucking -- on the building behind the barbecue joint. Cooking barbecue started as a way for all the subcontractors they worked with to get together and review the week's progress.

"Redneck networking," Ray said.

The sign at North Main BBQ in Euless say it all. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com)

As word got out, people started showing up to buy barbecue, ribs, onions and sauces at first. And the Greens started selling. Open initially only from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Fridays, they would sell a couple of hundred pounds of ribs a week.

"You had to call in an order by Wednesday to get it Friday," Hubert said.

Eventually, they expanded into the current building and opened a real joint.

Now boasting "The Best Barbecue Anywhere" and with some "World International" rib championship banners to support the claim, the place cooks about 4,500 pounds of meat a week, Ray said.

That's 1,800 pounds of brisket, 1,800 pounds of ribs, 400 pounds of chicken, 300 pounds of sausage and 200 pounds of pork butts.

"In Texas, barbecue is a food group," he said.

Along with the main production smokers, which are gas-fired with hickory wood added for flavor, the joint also has one of the most unusual rigs we've ever seen: an anatomically correct armadillo. Put wood in the mouth and smoke comes out the tail.

BBQ competition trophies line the wall at Main Street. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com)

What about the food?

We ordered brisket, ribs, chicken breast, sausage and pulled pork.

"I don't think there were any parts of those meats better than the first place," Posse member Jim Rossman said, comparing North Main and Crossroads Smokehouse.

Other Posse members agreed, with one reservation.

The rib I ate was cooked perfectly. The meat needed only a slight tug to get off the bone. But it could have used more smoke flavor and more kick in the rub.

Ribs & brisket at Main Street BBQ. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves)

Our next stop was Hard Eight, which finished second to Hutchins BBQ in McKinney in the recent readers poll by The Dallas Morning News. Hard Eight is a huge place, like Kreuz Market in Lockhart.

Some of us had been to the Hard Eight in Stephenville, Jewel's favorite bbq joint. But we had not been to the Coppell location.

The setups are similar. The pits are located at the entrance. This allows barbecue to become performance art. As diners get ready to order, they can watch workers shovel hot coals from the burning station into the cooking pits.

For briskets, Hard Eight seals the meat at high temperature on direct heat, then wraps in foil and finishes at much lower heat. Total cooking time can be about 12 hours, a pit tender in a cowboy hat said.

We ordered brisket, ribs, sausage and a specialty item: bacon-wrapped chicken with jalapeño.


Meats on display at Hard Eight BBQ. (Photo by Michael Meadows)

"This sausage is not bad," said Michael Meadows, president of the Dallas Zoological Society, on his first tour with the Posse.

After a few moments, Meadows modified his stance.

"I would move that to outstanding," he said. "I like the jalapeño kick. That's probably why I'm not a big fan of the sausage at Pecan Lodge."

He thinks the sausage at Pecan Lodge, considered by many to be the best joint in North Texas, is a little tame.

Overall, the Posse didn't give the food at Hard Eight high marks.

"The beans are the best thing here," said Georges Badoux, an accomplished chef and custom tour guide making his first trip with the Posse.

Georges got no argument from Posse regulars.

North Main BBQ, 406 N Main St, Euless, 817-267-7821. Open Fri-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

Hard Eight BBQ, 688 Freeport Pkwy, Coppell, 972-471-5462. Open Mon-Thurs 10:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am-10pm, Sun 10:30am-6pm.

Watching over the pit room at Hard Eight. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com)


Diners on a Saturday afternoon at Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com)


Hard Eight also has a huge outdoor seating area for barbecue diners. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com)

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