If the original Bodacious Bar-B-Q in Longview were located in Austin, you'd be waiting several hours in line to order. Trust me. It's still one of the best BBQ secrets in Texas, despite the joint's No. 4 ranking by Texas Monthly.
We were so impressed after our first visit in early February that we went back two weeks later. It’s a two-hour trip each way from Dallas and one well worth it if you’re seeking some of the best barbecue in the state.
Now for the “secret” part. On our first visit, we arrived at 10:45 a.m. and waited just 10 minutes in line to order. Our second trip was on a rainy Saturday. We arrived at 11 a.m. and were first in line. We stayed for a while both times and the line remained steady and constant, but very welcoming by big-city standards.
"If this joint was in Austin, you'd be waiting four hours in line to eat on a Saturday,” observed Posse member Bruce Tomaso.
The original Bodacious location on Mobberly St. was opened in 1968 by Texas barbecue legend Roland Lindsey. Other locations began to sprout up around East Texas in the coming years. The original Bodacious remained a local favorite for over 40 years until Roland had to close due to health issues.
Along came a classically trained chef, Jordan Jackson, who just happened to be Roland’s son-in-law. After attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin, Jordan worked in Austin and then joined Stanley’s in Tyler, where he studied the BBQ business and honed his pitmaster skills over the next year.
After getting the blessing of his in-laws, Jordan reopened the Bodacious location in 2015. The Longview News-Journal caught wind of the reopening and published a preview. The place was greeted by a long line of loyal customers when it opened the doors again. Le Cordon Bleu classmate and fellow chef Scott Turner joined the team and they hit the ground running. The original Bodacious was back.
As a classically trained chef, Jordan has one foot firmly in the Roland's traditions of great East Texas barbecue and the other foot in the new age of Texas craft meats and chef-inspired sides. This is a don't-miss stop on the Texas BBQ trail.
“I can't remember the last time I was more pleasantly surprised -- amazed, really -- by a first visit to a joint," Tomaso said. "Jordan and Scott are turning out meats on a par with the best of the best in Texas. And their formal culinary training shines through in their creativity. Who the hell ever heard of French onion and Gruyere sausage?”
Bruce's wife, Patty, was also there. “Patty and I shared a beef rib (perfectly crusted in black pepper), two pork ribs (with a slightly sweet but not overpowering rub), the French onion and Gruyere sausage and the burnt end boudain," he said. "Then I got back in line for a taste of the smoked turkey. There was nothing we tasted that wasn't first-rate. Nothing I wouldn't order again in a heartbeat. I can't wait to head back there.”
Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper and Jordan sampled pork ribs hot off the smoker. Marshall counts them among the best he's ever eaten, calling them a "10 out of 10." Everything we ate on both trips was cooked perfectly, not an easy accomplishment for a BBQ joint.
While Jordan has the creativity and drive of the new breed of young Texas pitmasters, he also has a deep respect for the traditions of the business, particularly the East Texas barbecue he grew up with. Roland is still a fixture at the restaurant, hanging out in the pit room that he manned for over 40 years. They still use some recipes from 50 years ago along with new creations from the team of young chefs.
Jordan prefers to hire trained chefs to work on the cooking side. We were there for Scott Turner’s last day on Feb. 17, he’s moving the Seattle and planning to spread the gospel of Texas barbecue to the Pacific Northwest. Pitmaster and chef, of course, Bryan Bingham joined the Bodacious cook team in August and will take Scott’s place on the pits and cutting board.
Their creativity was on full display on our second visit. The Saturday special was a blueberry and ginger waffle, jalapeno jelly pork belly burnt ends, carrot and pear salad. It was unlike anything I've ever had at a barbecue joint, more like an hors d'oeuvre at a five-star restaurant. Marshall, Bruce and I were blown away by the flavor explosion from this offering.
Bodacious often cooks briskets for 20-plus hours, averaging from 20-40 briskets a day. “BBQ is patience," Jordan says. "They're ready when they're ready.” He also has no interest in expanding or going anywhere else, though he is consulting with a couple of other Bodacious stores to help them lift their BBQ game.
Daniel Goncalves, long-time Posse member adds, “Jordan is the type of pitmaster you want to do well and be recognized for his hard work and creativity. Having sampled the house sausage (nice snap, not greasy), burnt end boudain, baby back ribs (slightly sweet in a good way) and the brisket, they all would fair well against the top in the state. Well worth the two-hour drive from Dallas.”
After two visits to Longview, Bruce has added Bodacious on Mobberly to his list of best joints in the state.
“Bodacious has flown onto my short list of places, alongside Snow's, Louie Mueller and Franklin for sure, and maybe la Barbecue, Pecan Lodge, Cattleack and Hutchins, that I'd take an out-of-state visitor to for the essential Texas barbecue experience,” he says.
Bodacious Bar-B-Q, 2227 S. Mobberly Ave, Longview, 903-753-8409. Open Tues–Sat 11am–5pm or until the meat runs out.