The first time we wrote about Lockhart Smokehouse was in January 2011, before they opened their first restaurant in the Bishop Arts District of Oak Cliff. Their opening, along with that of Pecan Lodge in the Dallas Farmer's Market, signaled a major change in the then-mediocre Dallas BBQ scene.
The Posse joined in as Lockhart Smokehouse celebrated their first anniversary a year later, then we reported that great Texas barbecue had finally come to Plano when they opened their second location in February 2014.
Fast forward to August 2018, what a difference eight years makes. I joined longtime Posse member Michael Ainsworth and owner Jeff Bergus for a tour of the third Lockhart Smokehouse, located at the new Texas Live! entertainment complex, next door to the new Globe Life Park. The future home of the Texas Rangers is scheduled to open for the 2020 baseball season.
Texas Live! also features restaurants including Troy’s, from former Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman, Guy’s Taco Joint from celebrity chef Guy Fieri, Pudge’s Pizza, from former Texas Ranger Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and numerous other restaurants and bars. The complex cost $250 million and covers 200,000 square feet.
The new Lockhart Smokehouse opened in early August and more than holds its own against the other dining options at Texas Live!. It's one of the most impressive barbecue restaurants I've ever seen, along the lines of The Switch near Dripping Springs.
As they say in real estate, "location, location, location."
The first thing you notice is the great location that Jeff and wife/partner Jill Bergus were able to secure for their new restaurant, it's probably the prime spot in the entire complex. Their front door is right outside the main plaza entrance for the new stadium. Their outside patio and bar adjoins and has direct access to the Arlington Backyard outdoor concert venue, which hosts events for up to 5,000 people.
They also have an outdoor kiosk on the plaza that will be open for games and large events, where you can skip the line inside and get a brisket or Kreuz sausage sandwich with chips for $9.50, far cheaper than you'll be paying once you get inside the stadium. Beer and soft drinks are served at the kiosk, which houses two custom-made Bewley smokers. Four more are in the main pit room.
Texas Live! is a short walk from AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, and is across the street from the current Globe Life Park. Lockhart Smokehouse had their biggest day yet recently, when TCU played Ohio State at AT&T Stadium. They sold 1,800 pounds of meat to hungry football fans on that Saturday. The 14-story Live! by Loews Hotel is under construction next door as well.
Jeff began our tour in the pit room, which houses four massive custom-made wood burning Bewley smokers. The operation is run by pitmaster Jared Gray, who utilizes each pit for a specific meat or groups of meat, allowing better control over cook times and overall consistency. Restaurant veteran Lindsay Skae is the general manager of the Texas Live operation, which has a staff of 20-plus employees.
The inside of Lockhart Smokehouse at Texas Live! will remind their fans of the other two locations, with deep red walls covered by Texas barbecue decor. When they were designing the Texas Live location, Jeff stressed the synergy between the three restaurants, wanting the same look and feel for all. Customers queue up in line and can watch as their meat is sliced, interacting with the cutter, a classic Texas BBQ tradition.
I've seen BBQ stands inside ballparks, like Boog's BBQ at Camden Yards, owned by Orioles legend Boog Powell. I can't imagine there's anything in the barbecue world that approaches what Lockhart Smokehouse is bringing to the new home of the Rangers. Hopefully they'll have a winning team again, to go with some great BBQ, when the new Globe Life Park opens in 2020.
Lockhart Smokehouse at Texas Live!, 1650 E Randol Mill Rd, Arlington, 817-769-1747. Open 7 days a week, Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-midnight.