Saturday, April 2, 2011

Meshack's Bar-B-Que Shack

GARLAND: Meshack's Bar-B-Que Shack
240 E. Ave. B

Garland, TX 75040


Open Tues 10:30 to 5ish, W-Sat 10:30-7ish

Update: Travis Mayes, the pitmaster at Meshack's, poked hid head out through the side door to ask when he'd get his fifth star. He knows the power that his BBQ has over the locals, and he was feeling his oats today. No wonder with all of the accolades, long lines, and calls from the Food Network who are planning a shoot in the near future. Even with that success in this far corner of Garland, the Mayes family is looking towards Dallas, more specifically East Dallas to find the right place for a new location that is more easily accessible to the larger Dallas population. They also yearn for a place with interior seating, since on a chilly day like this one I had to bid my regards to eat in my normal spot - shielded from the wind in the driver's seat.

The quality of the sausage wasn't noteworthy on previous visits, but the flavors that have been highlighted in these Smoky Denmark links by the deft hand of the pitmaster was amazing. I've eaten many versions of these name brand hot links, but never have they been so perfectly crisp and juicy at the same time. They even seemed to have a bit more kick than normal. What was lacking was the normal Meshack's brisket. While these slices from the lean end looked exemplary, they were missing the signature smokiness and nicely rendered fat that I'm used to here. The meat was plenty tender and moist, but only a few choice bites, thick with crust from the narrow end of each slice released that pecan smoke flavor.

A hearty and pleasantly chewy bark on the ribs held loads of flavor. The fat had melted into the meat for a lusciously moist texture, and the seasoning and smoke had melded together to form and excellent collection of ribs and tips. Given the frequency of my BBQ meals, there is seldom a time where I'm a member of the clean plate club anymore. However, on this day every bite was consumed.

Since my first positive review, the Mayes have always shown their gratitude for my coverage whenever I stop by. There's no family I'd rather validate with a fifth star than this one, but I know Travis wouldn't want me to just give it to him. Given the perfectly smoked ribs and tantalizing sausage, the brisket just needs a slight improvement for that coveted additional star. Since I've eaten far better brisket on several occasions here, I know Travis has it in him and it will just be a matter of time before I find smoked meat perfection at Meshack's.

Rating ****

11/2009: During a recent trip to the Garland area to run some errands, I convinced my wife that a side trip to pick up some brisket was a necessity. Arriving a few minutes before opening, I found owner Travis Mayes working to get things ready for what he assumed would be a busy Saturday. Ribs and sausage each needed about another 1/2 hour on the smoker, so I grabbed a pound of unsliced brisket and some potato salad. While waiting for my order, I was invited inside the tiny shack to check out the operation.

Travis showed off his huge brick smoker which takes up an entire wall of the place. He also noted that the now beige interior had been painted stark white when they opened back in May. The smoke that tints those walls smelled great in the morning and really got my appetite working.

Rushing home I could barley keep myself from digging into my newly procured hunk of meat. I immediately got to slicing when I arrived home, and the meat did not disappoint. While it was slightly dry, the texture was perfect and the flavor was deeply smokey from the black crust, and the fat on the edges had been well rendered. This was a nearly perfect brisket.

I just can't wait until the next visit to get a rack of those ribs. If you stop by, be sure to grab one of their new menus which features the BBQ Snob and this blog's 4-star rating on the cover. It was a small thank you for all the business they've received after the publicity, but I assured them they deserved all of my gratitude. The Mayes' are the ones who do all the work, and they do it well.

08/2009: I can't tell you if the name Meshack's refers to one of the three thrown in the furnace in the Bible's story of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego, but I can tell you that this man uses plenty of pecan wood to stoke his 100% wood burning furnace, and has to sweat through the heat in his AC-less shack.

This tiny shack is run by Travis "The BBQ Man" Mayes and his wife Donna. Travis claims to be well known in the Garland area (please comment if you're familiar with this man's work) from his first venture in this same spot which closed in 1996. He has recently reopened under the name Meshack's in May. Food is take-out only, and ordering is done through a screen window. I grabbed a sack with a sliced beef sandwich and a rib sandwich.

Unwrapping the foil, I could already smell the smoky meat. Lifting the limp white bread revealed slices of beautiful crusty brisket with a substantive smoke ring. Each slice was tender with perfect moisture and line of perfectly rendered fat at the base. There was even a bit of meat caramel evident on some of the slices. This was some damn good brisket!

Ribs were nearly as good. Some unrendered fat and dryish texture kept them from perfection, but the crust and meat were both smoky to the core. Each rib had a bold flavor, and may have just been seasoned with smoke. Next time I can't wait to try Donna's "famous" potato salad and baked beans.

If Mr. Mayes wasn't well known enough to keep his joint going before, he should get a name for himself soon with the good stuff he's churning out these days.

Meshack's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I had it for lunch today. Got the mixed combo which was ribs and sliced beef with potato salad, baked beans and white bread for $9.50. It was pretty dang good.

Go by and support these folks, pretty good stuff.

Gene Rickman said...

Had it for dinner tonight at boy was it delicious. That is some of the best brisket I have ever had. Hot links were so so, but he told me that he was going to be getting some different ones soon. He asked if I saw him on the web and that he probably has had 20 people come by just from seeing this post

BBQ Snob said...

I'm glad business is picking up for them. This guy really does it right with just wood smoke. I can't wait to get back there.

censormonkey said...

I just finished off a sliced beef sandwich and a rib sandwich. (Yeah, I’m a big eater) I will definitely be back. Next time I’ll get the sauce on the side because my bread was drenched. The brisket could have used more salt but that is easily fixed. The smokey flavor is top notch.

Thnx for the Dallas area recommendation. I wish we had more places like this.

Anonymous said...

I stopped in after reading this blog on Thursday, Travis is a good guy, I ordered a sliced beef snadwich and some ribs, both were very tender and smokey, the brisket could use just a bit more salt, but the meat flavor stands on its' own, the ribs were perfectly chewy moist the fat rendered just right, and the crusty bark was perfect. I'm hooked!
I live down the street and never knew this place existed until this blog; Thanks!

Anonymous said...


G-man said...

The wife and I hit this place up on Saturday and they did not disappoint. The smoke had penetrated every piece of meat from our chopped and sliced sandwiches to the ribs we ordered.
We've been to some of the higher ranked places here in town and this little "Shack" is without a doubt the best we've had in Dallas. The wife said as good as Louie Mueller in Taylor.....the jury is out on that, but it's damn close.
This is gonna be our go to place from now on, and by shear good fortune, it's five miles from home and we had no idea what we'd been missing out on.
Thanks BBQ Snob!

Stephanie said...

I love the quantitiy for the price,great flavor,not just a snack! My daughter begs for the sliced beef sandwhich. Go try some and support Mr and Mrs. Mayes.

PM Summer said...


Meshack's was for years a legendary BBQ joint on Oakland near Forest Ave in South Dallas. Mr. Meshack (a Czech-Tex) stayed long after the old neighborhood had changed, becoming the rare white pit boss in a black neighborhood. Good stuff.

The building was still there a few years ago, but the plaace closed in the early-mid '90s.

So... this fella related?

PM Summer said...

Tried it out yesterday. Brisket and a rib. First rate stuff. I had the sauce on the side (I got the "hot"), and the meat doesn't need it, but it's a good compliment. Thin and vinegary, with a good bite.

First of many visits, I'm sure. I forgot to ask about an Oakland Ave/Malcolm X Meshack's connection.

Anonymous said...

We tried the brisket and ribs Friday night...yum! We stood and visited with Mr. Mayes for a while and yes he is of the original Meshack's (his FIL I believe, but don't hold me to that). Potato salad was yum as well, very sweet.

Meredith said...

Congrats on review #200, FCGBBQ!

Can't wait to try Meshack's one of these days.

Unknown said...

Just stopped by there, excellent food all around. Got a two meat combo plate and have plenty left over. Tender ribs, the meat gives with a gentle tug.

Definitely recommended. I will be going back even though it is a 45 min drive for me.

Ken Cramer said...

From disappointment to satisfaction a brief review of Meshacks.
Friday September 25, 2009 while sitting at home enjoying time with my girlfriend the all too familiar sounds from my stomach broke the silence. I glanced at Stephanie and saw the same look in her face. Hmmm we’re both hungry but now for the dreaded question. I take a deep breath and ask “What do you feel like for dinner”? Now to my surprise I do not receive the regular “I don’t care” sparking off the endless listing of places to go until finally one is selected. She simply replies “I am craving bar—bq. SWEET!!!! MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT!!! I think to myself. There is a little shack just down Walnut, less than a mile away. Feeling exuberant I grab the keys and pile into the car. We arrive at the shack just a minute later only to find it closed. Mind racing I desperately think for the next closest location of a bar-bq joint. Then it hits me. That little white shack on highway 66 not 2 miles from here. I have driven past it tons of times but never stopped in. After a few more minutes of driving we pull into Meshacks Bar-BQ only to find that they are just locking the door for the night. The sweet smell of the meat is still hanging in the air.

After a brief conversation with the owners, they hand us some menu’s and business cards and ask us to come back again. Depression begins to sink in. I have one last shot at food tonight. Soul Mans Bar-BQ a few miles down Hwy 78. I arrive and get my food. Not bad but this is not a review of Soul Man’s.

Flash forward to today Tuesday September 29, 2009. After reading some of the reviews on this site I decide it is time for lunch and Meshacks it will be. I take the short 5 minute drive from my house to Meshacks and pull in to find his son splitting large chunks of Pecan wood and smoke drifting out of the old red and white shack. Now having studied the menu I know exactly what I want. I step up to the screen and order a sliced beef sandwich with HOT Bar-BQ sauce on the side and a bottle of water. The smells of smoke crusted beef, sausage and chicken drift from the shack and it is all I can do not to drool while waiting. Then out from the screen pops a brown paper bag containing a foil wrapped sandwich and a small cup of sauce and a bottle of water. The price $5.50, not bad. I get to my car and begin to feast.

The Sandwich – Two plain white pieces of bread with a mound of sliced brisket.
The Meat – Perfectly cooked, tender enough to bite easily but firm enough not to fall to pieces
The Sauce – Warm vinegar based with a mild touch of heat in the back ground
I always order sauce on the side so I can determine if it’s good food or just good sauce. The meats flavor was mild but delicious. The sauce added a perfect accent to the meat but was not needed to be a good sandwich.
I recommend this place to anyone. There is no seating, no waiter, no beer no music, no A/C, just a simple shack that you walk up to and get good, simple, old fashioned food.
I smoke meat at home. I have a smoker that is cook off ready. Built on a trailer and can hold 8 briskets, 6 racks of ribs and sausage. I really love smoked food. This little place is my kind of joint. It celebrates the simple things. It provides an excellent product without a bunch of fuss getting in the way. Come on down and give them a try.

Ken Cramer

Douglas Potts said...

It was soooo good, that we at twice in one day.

We went there yesterday based entirely upon this review. It was raining, and cold, but the smell from the smoker kept us warm as we waited for our order.

Since we couldn't eat inside, we thought about driving home with the food (Lake Highlands) but the smell was overwhelming. We pulled into the parking lot of the Dallas County offices to eat.

The meat had smoke flavor all the way through. The black crust was crispy and juicy. We had sliced brisket sandwiches and a rib sandwich, and they were delicious.

My son and I always go to Sonny Bryan's on Inwood when he visits, and we did about a week ago. But yesterday's brisket was simply divine. The sauce was great...not over powering but complimentary to the meat. My son had the hot BBQ sauce, and he loved it.

The beans were spectacular. Smokey flavor, not too sweet. Unfortunately, they were out of potato salad when we arrived at 3:00 PM. Travis says he runs out most every day.

After eating in the car, we drove back to Meshack's, and ordered a pound of brisket, a pound of ribs, and a large beans, took them home, and had them for dinner that night!
You MUST try Meshacks if you like Texas barbecue!

Racer x said...

Ate at Meshacks today - a bit of a drive from Keller - but worth every mile. They are proud of the "old School" way of smoking meat, saying he started the brisket the day before and uses no foil. Amazing black crust, carmalized fat, juicy, smokey and tender. Very good potato salad. If you like small town reat Texas BBQ this place is for you. Nice folks - very welcoming.

C Key said...

I Asked Mr Mayes to provide for 22 folks for the Troops Winter Hi-Adventure Awards dinner tonight. I picked up the sliced brisket, saugage, beans and potato salad and sealed up the meat in a cooler as tight I could so I would not be tempted before before serving. I unsealed the meat at the dinner prior to serving and could hardly keep the people out of my kitchen as they followed the smoky aroma. After the official serving I could not finally get to eat my own plate for telling the others where the que was from and how they could get there.
Mr Maynes had a great day at the pit today and made 21 new coustomers.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

My first visit to Meshacks after reading about them in D Magazine was just at closing and all they had were Hot links and ham so I ordered a pound of both....Best Hot Links i ever had great smokey flavor and the ham was really good also. Next day I got there at 2:30pm and same thing they were out of the Brisket, so next try was right when they opened at 10:30am and let me tell you its some of the Best! Brisket and ribs I have ever had and blows anything away in DFW

Anonymous said...

GREAT GREAT BBQ!!! If you like bbq with that Great smokey flavor through and through this place is for you! Best BBQ in DFW

Happy happy joy joy said...

GOD is good I have been trying to find a local barbeque place that's authentic and I was blessed to find this place. I have been to all the other barbeque places but the taste wasn't really good or authentic. I appreciate quality food especially barbeque!

Cherylannette said...

Thanks for all the great info. After taking spouse and three older kids on a Father's Day- 10 stop BBQ trail tour last year, I am busy planning the second installment for central Texas (west of 35) Anyway. Took your advice and went to this place since it is within a 5 miles of my home and my husband says "The man certainly knows what he is doing!" and proclaimed it close to the best he has ever tasted (next to his own- which he always compares everything to). So happy to have found him a place to cure his cravings when he doesn't have 10 hours to smoke his own his way. This man's BBQ is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

happened to be in Garland for a few days last week. we got ribs, sausage, beans, and potato salad and took back to the office and 4 of us ate. i also got a chopped beef sandwich. Everything was very good and the sausage was easily the best I've every had. The beans were exceptional also.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed my first trip with some caveats. I forgot to request that the sauce be on the side.
The ordering process was a sad comedy. I go to the window & whom I assume was Mrs. Mayes takes my order down on a pad that appeared to be on the same page she had used all day.
So scribbled in no particular order on a corner of the page is my $25.00 + order. The result of this odd process is that she called me back to the window no less than 3 times to verify my order. I got plenty of chances to peek inside due to this & am shocked to see Mr. Hayes feverishly cutting up a brisket with an 8" knife if not shorter. Just crazy inefficient.

This place is all about the "Q" & while you do have to drive it does deliver!

Anonymous said...

Disappointing... After reading a quick blurb about this place in the Dallas Morning News, I decided to drop in on a Saturday to see what the fuss was about.

I wasn't impressed, but I'm willing to give this place another shot.

Yes, the wait was really long, but I was able to put up with it so I could try a new BBQ joint that had "win" written all over it. Small family business? Check. Wonderful smokey smells coming from the building? Check. Long line? Check.

After waiting in line a solid half-hour, we placed our order and waited a little bit longer. As we waited, several patrons walked up to pick up large call-in orders. One man had ordered chicken, which wasn't on the menu - this intrigued me and makes me want to come back for another shot.

I sampled the sausage and brisket along with the beans and potato salad. I'm not sure if it was homemade (or at least local), but the sausage was good - smoky and spicy and still moist. The potato salad was more of a mashed potato salad, and it too was tasty - very sweet and southern and mayonnaise-intensive. However, the brisket and beans weren't that good. The brisket was dry and I couldn't taste any kind of a rub on it. The only flavor component was the smoke, and it just overpowering - no subtlety whatsoever. Only the sauce made it tolerable. And the beans tasted like they came straight out of a big can - very underwhelming.

I'd still like to go back and try the ribs and the elusive "off-the-menu" chicken, but I wasn't encouraged by my first visit.

dbc said...

I went last fall and failed to post a comment then. I went late one Saturday afternoon after reading the D Magazine article. All they had left was chicken and brisket. I wasn't interested in chicken, so I ordered a pound of brisket and ran home. It was the best brisket I've ever had in my life: tender, moist, smokey, delectable. My friends and I are planning to go earlier on a nice day and try everything they have. I'll write another review then!

BlackDogBBQ said...

Went today for lunch and man is this place the real deal! Got a sliced brisket sandwich (moist) and ribs with the "hot" sauce. Brisket had some great smoke penetration and overall was tender and tasted great.
Had some incredible bark and this meat was done the right way. Got the ribs as well and they were fantastic. Cooked/smoked perfectly with a true "old style" smokey taste where the meat was able to truly shine through.
Since reading the posts here about the place I had a good idea what to expect and was prepared for some solid bbq. Also knew they didnt use a dry rub or at least not much seasoning and was thinking the meat might be a little bland. Well I was wrong and the sufficient smoke was just perfect for these great cuts of meat. As a BBQ fanatic this place is the real deal and has just jumped to the top of my list in the DFW area. Nice work folks of Meshacks! Ill be back soon.

blackdogbbq said...

Went Monday for lunch and even though they are closed Monday Travis was in and had some tasty brisket ready to go. Asked for a order of brisket with the spicy sauce and a few pieces of bread and it did not disappoint. Brisket was tender, moist with some nice bark and smokey taste. He did sauce the meat with was unnecessary and I will remember to get it on the side next time. Travis knows how to smoke some meat and the portions are more than you need.
Way to go Meshacks, you guys are the goods.

Anonymous said...

Reall, really, really hope they don't move. That setup they have now is fine; you get in, get your food and get out.

I worry that moving, expanding, etc. could bring that business down. Nothing wrong with where they are now.

Really, really hope they don't move. That guy is a master of that pit, don't get caught up in getting big.

Keep doing what your doing.

Anonymous said...

Finally got to try some of their brisket (lean and fatty) it was very tasty good smoke, rub and crust was perfect - i think the brisket is worthy of 5 stars. The ribs were fall off the bone tender had reasonable smoke but were a bit dry. The Sausage snack is a bargain at a dollar and had good smoke and flavor. The ribs are holding him back. Definitely worth a return trip.

Anonymous said...

May be the best ribs in the state. Brisket is very uneven. Sides are horrible.

Unknown said...

Whoever goes here and doesn't like this Que doesn't know what they are talking about. I am a food and BBQ snob and this was the best brisket sandwich I've ever had. Three pieces of white bread and almost a half pound of meat. Moist, smoky, tender. What else is needed? And the spicy sauce was awesome too!

Kim said...

I have to say that the hot links and "hot" barbecue sauce have made me feel like a junkie! I crave the flavor and talking about it makes my mouth water EVERY TIME! My husband and I tried it first in the early 1990s and loved it then..but it just seems to have gotten better! I am there AT LEAST once a week now and just never seem to get tired of's delicious! If you haven't tried it,you're missing out on some of the best barbecue I've ever had and delicious baked beans too!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes Meshack is just really good barbecue, but on Fri 10-28-11...

On Fri. Mr Mayes was on his game. Our pound and a half of sliced beef was a masterpiece. It was like being at one of those events where $500 will buy you the privilege of taking a tiny sip of some rare and legendary wine or spirit. Except instead of a tiny sip, I had a plate full, and instead of stacking up the Benjamins I was paying about what I would pay to eat at Jack in the Box.

The smoke, the sauce, the beef, and the fat sang together gloriously. It wasn't necessary to look for each flavor as is sometimes the case. They were all there at once, each one clear and distinct but harmonized and balanced.

I'm thinking that central Texas barbecue epiphany angel chorus may need to check their maps and make sure they know how to get to Garland on short notice. Just in case they need to pop up here and do a little number.

Anonymous said...

My nephew found this place. Got a plate of top-cut aka "fatty" with mild sauce. First bite was this crunchy, smoky explosion of flavor. Wow. Even the lean was tender perfection. Sides are awesome as well. Save your calorie intake by giving the bread to the birds.

This is now my all time favorite BBQ place.

Anonymous said...

Your love of this place is the reason I won't ever trust your taste in BBQ. I went there a while back based solely on your gushing praise. I'm sorry... not only did it fail to live up to tentative expectations, it was easily some of the worst BBQ I've ever put in my mouth.

I sampled the sliced brisket and the sausage, along with the beans and potato salad. The sausage was decent - smoky and spicy and still moist, if a little greasy. The potato salad was more of a mashed potato salad, and it too was tasty - very sweet and southern and mayonnaise-intensive, but it could have easily come from Kroger. However, the brisket and beans were damn near awful. The brisket was dry and didn't appear to have any kind of a rub on it - nothing but acrid smoke flavoring the dry, chalky beef. Only the sauce made it tolerable. And the beans appeared to be straight out of a big-ass Ranch Style can - very disappointing.

Brandon said...

I got the sliced beef with mild and spicy sauce on the side. The brisket was quality stuff. The baked beans were piping hot with scraps of brisket or some type of meat mixed in. The beans were out of this world. All for $7 + $1 tip. The coke can they gave me was 75 cents and the aluminum reeked of pit smoke when I got it in my car--not that that's a bad thing.

M. A. Ndoje said...



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.