Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hard Eight BBQ (Coppell)

688 Freeport Pkwy
Coppell, TX 75019


Open M-Thur 10:30-9, F-Sat 10:30-10, Sun 10:30-6

Update: Seeing the huge burner door open to reveal glowing coals of mesquite wood was an impressive sight while waiting in line. I was there at the right time to see a pitman shoveling coals into one of the cooking pits. The next stop was the 'menu' pit.

With all of your options out in the open, it's hard to be selective. The guy working the pit suggested some of the chicken poppers and with the shrimp poppers right there, I had to add them. Again on this visit they were reluctant to provide their recommendation for which of the smoked meats to order. Any good pitmaster knows that a couple of the cuts are turning out better than the others on a given day, so it makes me uneasy if they can't at least guide me a bit.

I got some fatty and lean brisket, pork ribs, and a couple of those poppers. Beans are free in a communal pot, but the cornbread salad I had to pay for. While I enjoy the spicy beans, the 'salad' of stale bread and a few chopped peppers and onions loosely piled together had me scratching my head about what some prep cook must have forgotten to add that morning.

Both options for brisket were plenty moist, but were a bit over tender and falling apart. A nice crust and smokering had formed on the meat and each sliced had picked up some great flavor from the mesquite coals. The spare ribs were a bit thin, so the heavy rub overwhelmed a bit, but salt lovers would enjoy them for sure. The meat came easily from the bone which isn't usually the case for this direct-heat style. The poppers were an utter disappointment. The bacon surrounding the dried out meat was undercooked and chewy.

A saving grace to finish the meal was the homemade banana pudding. A whipped creamy pudding sat atop a layer of both bananas and nilla wafers. Atop it was a fine layer of either more crushed wafers or graham crackers. It was an excellent pudding and a reminder of how well they can do they here when they really try. If this Hard 8 could just get the same consistency with the items that come off the pit, they'd really have something special at this location.

Rating ***

2009: I've been hearing from some folks that this location of Hard Eight had improved, so I went back to give it another shot. I arrived at 2:30 on a Sunday, and unfortunately, once the lunch rush is over, the quality seems to suffer at this joint. I ordered three meats; sausage, brisket and a spare rib. The orphaned spare rib had been separated from it companions for quite a while before it ended up on my plate, and it was dry and less than hot. The brisket was decent, but all of the flavor came from the salt and pepper rub, so any bites without that rub were nearly flavorless. The dry sausage had been sitting in the warming pan for so long that one side of each slice had been nearly petrified. Not even the sauce could save it. On top of all that, even the exposed side of my slice of bread was well on its way to stale. Maybe the food's perfect when turnover is high, but customers need to expect a high quality product no matter what time of day, especially at these prices.

Rating **

2008: This place is an outpost of the original in Stephenville, and is done in the the same style . Meat is ordered straight from the pits before you enter the building, but at this location, the pit "masters" are clueless. I asked if he had a favorite, and he gave the generic and lethargic "It's all good" reply. No help. I ordered brisket and ribs. The ribs were meaty and tender with well rendered fat and a nice crust flavor. The smoke flavor was missing from the center. The brisket was not as good. The crust was evident, but it was not smoky. The tenderness was fine, but it was a little dry. A very average brisket. This joint has a ways to go before it challenges the original.

Hard Eight BBQ on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

The initial visit was average. The subsequest vistits (around a dozen) have all been superior. I am addicted to the turkey poppers. The chopped brisket is moist & has a good smoke flavor to it. After a slow start, I would rank it up with the top bar b q resturants in Dallas.

Sam Maddox said...

Hard Eight is acceptable only because it doesn't require a 3 to 5 hour drive to the Hill Country to get real BBQ. We were served spoiled brisket on one visit - 4 of us at the table agreed there was something terribly wrong with the meat, but the manager said "oh, it's just the flavoring..." Your 2 star rating is about right, if not slightly generous.

Anonymous said...

I tried Hard Eight today around 3:00PM (I know, I know). When the pitmaster replied "Sysco" to my question of the sausage's origin, I decided to stick with the brisket and ribs. Much like the review, I found the texture and moisture to be quite good, but the bark was heavy on salt and pepper. Smoke flavor was moderate but definitely there.

I think I'd give it a 3 star rating based on this one visit, but obviously one visit does not an accurate review make.

Jim said...

The most disappointing BBQ I've ever had was at Hard 8 BBQ in Coppell this past week. After hearing you order from the pits, I was very excited...finally, reall BBQ in DFW!!
The place certainly has the looks, with the porch from The Salt Lick, and the pits from Coopers. But, that's as far as it goes. It was like buying a Ferarri and finding out it has a VW drivetrain. The brisket was flavorless and the sausage tasted like it was from a buffet, no smoke taste at all. I bought a $21 Sirloin steak, and it was so dry and tasteless, it was like dried out roast beef. Over $50 worth of food and none of it worth repeating. Sadly, I won't be back.

allbombguy said...

Agreed. Brisket had little or no smoke flavor, which resulted in me using the extra extra sweet sauce.

The ribs were pretty good though. Good rub and decent amount of smoke. If I go back, it will be for the turkey poppers and ribs.

For brisket I will drive a little further to Bartleys.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what kinda crack you people smoked before you went but I LOVE the Hard 8 and have never had a bad meal there.

Jim said...

OK, so I put down my crackpipe and decided to give Hard8 one more try today at lunch.

I had brisket, pork ribs and a bacon wrapped chunk of pork and pepper. I swear, the brisket and ribs tasted like I bought it from a grocery store deli the day before and microwaved it. It was incredibly dry, so I just broke it up and soaked it in sauce. What little crust there was on the brisket had a strange maybe lighter fluid or something... The bacon wrapped pork was just okay. Next time I'm in Coppell I'll try Coppell deli.

Anonymous said...

After 3 very dissapointing trips to Hard 8 in the first year it was open, I went back two weeks ago on a Saturday at noon with friends who "had to go there." This trip was vastly different than my prior trips. Brisket was extremely moist and falling apart tender, full of good smoky flavor and had a tasty little dark strip on the oustide of concentrated smokey flavor. Chicken kabobs were 3 oz cubes of chicken breast on a skewer with peppers and onions. Chicken was moist, tender with some mesquite flavor. (Sorry, I know I lost most of you by having chicken as my second meat. What can I say, I had to stay awake that day and brisket plus ribs = sleep)

In short, both of these meats were darn tasty and I will be back. I think the comments about the meat suffering if you are not at peak times is likely right on point. At peak times, it was delish.

I know you don't do sauce, but for anyone who does, I highly recommend you go 50/50 with the sauce they serve up warm, which is very sweet and bland with the jarred pepper barbeque sauce also bottled by hard 8, which is nicely spicy and vinegar laden. Those two sauces together make a really fine sauce. (I can't imagine why the Hard 8 folks don't do this.) So, if your cardio vascular system can take it and you run out of local joints, you might try Hard 8 one more time. I did and was glad I did.

Anonymous said...

"When the pitmaster replied "Sysco" to my question of the sausage's origin..."

I believe that would be "Cisco". You know, as in Cisco, TX.

Anonymous said...

I am from Chicago. When I moved down to Dallas, I had to try Good Texas BBQ. I saw this site and took some pointers. I went to Sonny Bryans, Lockhart's, etc. We went EVERYWHERE. Probably have been to 20 different places from Fort Worth to Tyler. I thought "If this crap is the good BBQ, then Texas don't know food." Then . . . I stumbled upon Hard Eight. This is my Favorite restaurant . . . Period. Brisket is ALWAYS moist, Ribs are out of this world and the sausage is perfect. So far, this is the only BBQ worth anything in Texas

Signel said...

Consistency... Hard8 Coppell suffers from lack of it. They obviously do some insane volume. We've been as early as 11:15 on a Wednesday and still there was a line out the door.

The one side we've never liked is the one you decided to try. Instead, check out the jalapeno cheese corn. They have great pork chops and will grill up a huge steak for you if you want (off to the side). They will dip the corn in some rendered butter vat as well. Yummy...

I'd agree with 3 stars but the rest of the food at this place bumps it up over the average Q in town. I know you judge on specifics though so its fair.

todd said...

FYI, closing time on Sundays is 6 PM, not 8 as is listed above.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the corn bread salad: You pour the bean juice over it. Then it gets good.

BBQ Snob said...

Good call on the cornbread salad and bean combo. By the end of the meal I'd mixed the two together, and it was the only way I could figure you could make the cornbread salad worth eating. said...

In february, hard 8 opened it's newest addition in roanoke,tx (the unique dining capital of texas). It started rough dry burnt brisket and dry everything, about 3 months in they changed there pitmaster(the guy actually cooking not the cutter) and quality has gone up. It's a young kid with a proud mustache and that butcher charts for a cow and pig on his forearm. He is getting right down there. We have been a dozen or so times and the only thing is to get there around lunch, any day but monday, yes we have learned his schedule. He makes the atmosphere fun when he has a chance and you can see the love and passion for Bbq in him and on his arm lol. I would recommend checking his work out.

Brian T said...

I checked out the Coppell one today around 3pm. Ribs and brisket were decent although when he cut the brisket he kind of mangled it. The bacon wrapped turkey they were giving samples of was so so and not worth adding to my order. The free beans were awesome and I also really liked the apple cider sauce.

Anonymous said...

Wondering if this is someone who is upset at the restaurant for some reason or is a competitor? Why would someone keep going back somewhere that is not cheap if they didn't like it the first time around? Clearly they liked it enough to keep going back for more...


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.