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BBQ Restaurant Review: Hard Eight, Grapevine, TX

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    BBQ Restaurant Review: Hard Eight, Grapevine, TX

    **Correction** This location is Coppell, just north of DFW airport. Not Grapevine.

    I know this site is dedicated to the cooking of our own que, but sometimes, it's just more practical going to a restaurant. I have a circle of friends who live in 5 different areas of 4 states: St Louis, KC, Bloomington (IN), and Cleveland are the out of towners and then there are 4 of us in the DFW area. We all travel to see each other 3 times a year, and in 11 years, we'd never taken the gang to a legit BBQ joint. We've been to Tim Love's Woodshed a couple times, but that's more high-falutin'. So I suggested we make the trip to a good TX BBQ joint and Hard Eight was the consensus converngence of location, size, ease of access, and being open on the day/time needed. So we went there on Friday.

    I've made comments here in the past that I'm not a an of brisket. Largely because I almost never have had good brisket. It's always dry, crumlbly, flavorless and disappointing. The few good ones I've had were home-cooked. So usually I judge a BBQ joint by its pork ribs, pulled pork, and turkey.

    We went to Hard Eight and were immediately enticed by the aroma of smoke that wafted through the parking lot. Smelled legit. I was kind of surprised by their serving method. They have already cooked all their food for the day by noon, for the most part. Makes sense for BBQ, you really can't "cook to order." But instead of storing their meats in a cambro or similar device, they are all displayed on a pit that is being heated the whole time... essentially continuing to cook the meat while the "pit master" carves the meat to order as you walk by (you pay by the pound for meat, regardless of what kind of meat it is.)

    I opted for brisket and sausage and a pork rib for my entree. Since none of us had ever been there before, the pit master handed out chicken poppers to everyone which were pretty good. They also had shrimp poppers, but I passed because I didn't see how logistically a bacon-wrapped shrimp isn't over cooked by the time the bacon is cooked. Anyway... the reason I chose the brisket was because I could see as the pit master was carving the brisket, it was juicy and tender and had the "wiggle" that an overdone hunk of meat doesn't have. Otherwise, I would have passed. It was the best brisket I've ever had. Recall though that my personal bar for good brisket is very low. It was juicy, tender but toothy, just the right amount of fat. The burnt end was decent as well. The sausage... well... one sausage is pretty much like another. I like it, but comparing one joint's sausage against another is like comparing the tap water from restaurants in the same city. The pork rib, sadly, was very disappointing. It was overcooked, lacking in flavor and fell apart as I was trying to eat it. My very first batch of pork ribs was many times better than it was, and I've improved my results since then. I suspect they were going for "fall off the bone" when cooking and it continued to cook while it was sitting in the pit display. Unfortunate. Red Hot and Blues has better ribs, sadly.

    Sides: The mac and cheese is one of the best I've ever had. It was outstanding. Cheesy and thick, but there was no glopped congealed cheese on top, and no wallpaper-paste sauce that has no hint of cheese flavor. The pasta was shell-shaped and not overcooked. It stayed al dente. The pinto beans (unlimited and free) were very good. Not the best I've had, but the best I've had from a restaurant. The fried okra was average. Tasted good, but I wouldn't get it again. I didn't try the fries, but they looked tasty. Crisp but not burned.

    Dessert: Blackberry cobbler was quite tasty, but not in my top 10.

    Price: Overpriced, not worth the amount/quality of food I got. My bill, including a beer and a tip was over $27. I had less than half a pound of meat on my tray, the mac and cheese was 2.79, so was the cobbler.

    Overall: decent brisket, great mac and cheese, but overall not worth the money I paid. Probably won't go back unless someone else specifically wants to go.
    Last edited by Buck Flicks; October 30, 2018, 02:40 PM. Reason: Location correction

    #2
    Over the past weekend I sampled some brisket and sauce from Hutchins BBQ in McKinney and it was very good. The event had a bunch of restaurants but only a couple BBQ places all only giving out a certain sample. Ribs I would say Slow Bone is good they had samples of ribs at the event.

    I've had really good burnt ends from Lockharts in Bishop Arts. Pecan lodge Deep Ellum I have had good brisket and ribs but the lines sucks....cheat move is to sit at the bar if there is space.

    Totally agree that many Texas BBQ joints over cook ribs to be mush. Brisket is usually on point. In fact at Franklins BBQ I did the line and was not impressed with the ribs....the brisket was the best I have ever had (maybe a tie with Lockharts burnt ends), Lockharts only does burnt ends on a certain day....think it is Wednesday.

    Comment


    • Buck Flicks
      Buck Flicks commented
      Editing a comment
      You're the 2nd person to recommend Hutchins to me based on this story. I live in Lavon and my two sisters in law and my brother in law all work in McKinney. Maybe I should make an effort.
      I haven't been to Pecan Lodge yet, but it's near the top of my list. So is Lockharts. And Heim.

    #3
    I actually went to a Hard Eight last Nov. Was in Fort Worth for a Cowboys game and went to the one nearest the airport. It was an experience. Funny thing is when I was there the Brisket (which I was looking forward to) was tasteless and fatty. Actually it was pretty gross. But the ribs and sausages were really good. I guess when youre making that much food on giant pits , consistency is difficult. Honestly , felt I did a better job in my NJ backyard. What is incredible is the amount of BBQ Texans eat on a regular basis.

    Comment


    • Buck Flicks
      Buck Flicks commented
      Editing a comment
      That's the one I went to, the Coppell location is just a couple minutes from the airport.

      I can definitely see how their offerings would be inconsistent. Would also depend on the time. We were there toward the end of the lunch hour.
      Last edited by Buck Flicks; October 30, 2018, 02:51 PM.

    • BriggsBBQ
      BriggsBBQ commented
      Editing a comment
      Very true. I have seen fluctuations in quality from Hard Eight, Pecan Lodge and Lockharts. Jon Liebers you are right Texans eat a ton of BBQ. There's a really crappy place down the street from me. Still in business. The local restaurant that had great homemade empanadas didn't make it.

    • Buck Flicks
      Buck Flicks commented
      Editing a comment
      I've noticed Soulman's has been opening locations like crazy lately. There are two in Rockwall that I pass on my way home, within blocks of each other. It's decent for the quick-service-chain-BBQ places. Better than Dickey's or Spring Creek. I think I saw three different new locations in the mid-cities this weekend.

    #4
    Im not really a fan of Hard Eight, the review by Texas Monthly didn't help (although it is somewhat dated).

    https://www.texasmonthly.com/bbq/hard-eight-bbq-2015/

    Hutchins is great, they even have an all you can eat buffet one night a week for $20.

    Their schedule is tricky but check out Cattleack in Dallas/Addison...they're doing some good stuff.

    Comment


    • Buck Flicks
      Buck Flicks commented
      Editing a comment
      That explains why I enjoyed the brisket and none of the other meats.

    #5
    If I had a food establishment I would for sure run wood-fed rotisserie with convection.

    Comment

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