Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hard Eight Pit Bar-B-Que

STEPHENVILLE: Hard Eight Pit Bar-B-Que
1091 Glen Rose Rd.
Stephenville, TX 76401
Open M-Thur 10:30-9, F-Sat 10:30-10, Sun 10:30-8

I stopped here with a friend to conclude a 2-1/2 day, 14 joint road trip. He wasn't used to the blitzkrieg style of BBQ force-feeding, but he handled himself well during the initiation weekend. We agreed to order the bare minimum, two ribs and two slices of lean brisket. When paying for our order, I noticed two stacks of cups. The tall stack labeled "Fountain Drinks", and the short stack labeled "Water and Beer". I didn't see any beer, so I asked at the register, and the angel behind the counter informed me that the beer was free! Reenergized we sat down for our plates of meat with cold beer.

I ordered just two slices of brisket, but they were each about an inch thick of reddish colored meat. The crust and fat had been removed, but the flavor of the rub and the smoke remained. The slices were perfectly tender and juicy, so we had to finish them even though our stomachs were begging for mercy. The ribs were also enormous with the same heavy salt and pepper rub. The thick meat had smoke flavor all the way through, but they could have been more tender. Overall, this original location is still the best of the Hard Eight bunch, and luckily, it's the closest to home.

Rating ****

Hard Eight Barbeque on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Found one of the best Bar-B-Que joints in North Texas. I flew in a private airplane with a friend to Stephenville, Texas, because so many local pilots were jaw'n about the Hard Eight Bar-B-Que Pit near the Stephenville airport (SEP). It was even featured on the Expermental Aircraft Association's Wings to Adventure national aviation TV program (Episode 1).

The short version is that it was well worth the flight from the DFW area and the 'Q' was heavenly. The cobbler is pretty good too!

The airport has three courtesy golf carts for driving on a dirt pathway a short distance to the restaurant, but because they were all in use, we called the telephone number posted on the side of the FBO (terminal building) and in less than five minutes, a pretty little blonde cowgirl in a pick-up truck pulled up and took us to BBQ heaven. I did notice we used about 400 more feet of runway for the take off after eating there!!!

Jack & James
Commander N1316J

Doug Zedler said...

Two friends and I ate here on a guys' weekend getaway to Glen Rose. We had eaten at Hammond's the night before, which I think made us a little more critical of Hard 8 than we would have been. I loved the whole ordering process - standing in line around all those pits until you get to the front where they have one pit open for you to choose your meat. And you order "as little or as much as you want." Great experience. The next great experience was the clueless fella a couple spots ahead of us in line who asked the server without a hint of irony if the brisket was cooked medium rare. My brother-in-law commented that if the server had been a seasoned pitmaster instead of a kid, that guy probably would have been asked to leave. My brother-in-law was in front of me, and he ordered brisket. When the server had finished serving my brother-in-law, there was only a few slices left on the brisket he had in the pit. I ordered 1/2 lb. of brisket and three ribs, so he went and grabbed a couple more briskets. This allowed me to sample brisket from two different animals. It also gave me a glimpse into how they cook their brisket. When the server unwrapped the new brisket (it was wrapped in foil), the fat layer wasn't black at all. This made me nervous. We all sat down to eat, and about half-way through our plates, we started commenting. My brother-in-law said his brisket had good flavor and smokiness, but that the meat was kind of mushy. My slices that came from the same brisket were similar. But the slices that came from the new brisket were more firm. However, the new brisket slices had a lot of unrendered fat. All of it was smoky enough for restaurant brisket, though. So, I wondered how that fat layer could have not gotten barky and black at all. I figured they must wrap their brisket in foil pretty early in the process. Wrapping brisket while smoking it is not a method I'd recommend, and the earlier you wrap it, the more egregious the offense. Having said all that, I'd go to Hard 8 again. I've had a lot of trouble finding a place as good in DFW. But I'd rather hit Hammond's in Glen Rose two nights in a row.

Harleyman said...

The food was decent, and with free beverages (keystone light) it was an overall good meal. I can't say this would top my list of places to go out of the way for. The brisket was wet, salt/pepper rubbed and juicy. Unfortunately not a hint of smoke ring or flavor. The ribs were better with flavor, but were a bit dry. The sausage lacked the same smokiness that the brisket suffered from. I was not impressed with the sauces, a vinegar hot sauce, and a not so flavorful sweet sauce. I chose to hit the meat plain and left with a full belly. Our group raved more about the onion rings, stuffed shrimp, and free beverages. I would rank it around 2-3 stars.

MarkC. said...

Doug Zedler: I like Hard8's bbq, but I too like Hammond's brisket better. When I'm bbqing at home on my bbq pit, I sometimes use the "cook the brisket for a few hours unwrapped, then wrap the brisket in foil and finish cooking it" method. And occasionally I add on an additional step, which is to wrap the foil-wrapped brisket in an old towel and put the brisket in an empty ice chest, and let it sit for an hour or two. This method ensures a juicy, moist brisket (there are few things worse than a dried out brisket, imo) but it also can result in a brisket like what you described: almost mushy, and the bark isn't firm and crusty enough.


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.