From serving the former First Lady Michelle Obama to almost losing it all in a fire, Smokey John’s BBQ has a long-standing and interesting history in Dallas. But most important of all, their barbecue completely kicks ass.

The restaurant first opened its doors in 1976 and even back then, the wonderful aroma of burning hickory would fill the air and entice anyone who crossed their location at Lemmon and Mockingbird. Hence how then owner, John Reaves, received the nickname “Smokey John”. Smokey John’s has always been a family owned and operated business and now “Smokey’s” sons, Juan and Brent, are running the show.

Tragedy stuck Smokey John’s on September 9, 2017, when co-owner, Brent, got a phone call to hurry to the restaurant; there had been a fire. He wanted to believe it was something small, something that could easily be fixed; but when he arrived and the firemen wouldn’t let him near, as tall flames shot out from the roof, he knew it was gone.

The brothers, however, are relentless and determined. Even with a fire that bad, and issues with insurance, they banned together and resurrected the entire restaurant.  It took a lot of time, but Smokey John’s is BACK and it is just as good as before but now with an updated interior.

So, let’s take a bite, shall we?

When I stopped in, I had to try the St. Louis cut ribs. The term ” St. Louis cut” refers to a butchering style that minimizes the cartilage laden end of the rib, giving a slender look throughout.  At Smokey John’s they work their magic to ensure that the ribs are moist with a layer of seasoning that is so addicting you’ll be licking your fingers for the rest of the meal…and that is totally fine!

Of course, what is a visit to a barbecue spot in Texas without BRISKET? The sliced brisket was clean and smoky all the while being not too fatty, not dry, just perfect. Pour over their house-made barbecue sauce and you have the quintessential Texas BBQ dish. Now, on to their sides.

Most barbecue joints focus so much on their meat that the sides, unfortunately, take a back seat. Buckle up because that is not the case at Smokey John’s. Get the macaroni and cheese, please. I literally am begging you. This mac and cheese is so saucy, so thick, so cheesy-good that if you don’t order it, you’re missing out on a serious staple here at Smokey John’s. The beans are done just right and paired with the mac and cheese, you have the perfect accompaniment to that plate of piping hot Texas barbecue.

Let us all be thankful for the resilience of owners, Brent and Juan.  They never gave up, and because of that, Smokey John’s is back at it, creating masterfully smoked meats and accompaniments. If you’re lucky, Brent or Juan may be there when you stop in. Be sure to talk to them. They’re cool dudes with great character that just adds to the experience!


Smokey John’s is located at 1820 W. Mockingbird Lane in Dallas, TX

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