This Is The Ultimate Dish To Help Determine The Quality Of A Barbecue Restaurant

platter of barbecue meats and sides
platter of barbecue meats and sides - Bhofack2/Getty Images

The smoky aroma, down-home atmosphere, tender flavor-packed meats, and homemade sides are all reasons why a meal at a barbecue restaurant or smokehouse is so comforting. There are plenty of highly-rated barbecue restaurants across the United States, so you might be accustomed to standing in a long line and paying top-notch prices for a meal at one of these eateries. With so many options to choose from, Tasting Table asked Robbie Shoults, a third-generation owner of Bear Creek Smokehouse in Marshall, Texas, about the stand-out dish that proves a barbecue establishment is high quality — so you know whether it's worth your time.

"The brisket would be the first order of business for me to check out if I were visiting a barbecue joint," Shoults says. "Brisket is the most popular cut of meat served at barbecue restaurants from coast to coast and if they can get the brisket right, then everything else on the menu should fall into place." Smoking brisket is a common cooking technique because the cut is rather tough before it goes through the low-and-slow cooking process. That means a solid serving of brisket tells you the restaurant is slinging quality meat and cooking it properly.

Read more: 13 Underrated Cuts Of Meat You Should Be Grilling

How To Spot Quality Brisket At A Restaurant Like A Pit Master

platter of meats and sides
platter of meats and sides - Rebeccafondren/Getty Images

If you aren't already a brisket aficionado or pit master, Shoults has some advice on how to spot high-quality brisket. "There are several things to look for when eating smoked brisket," he says. "Appearance-wise, you're looking for a nice bark on the outer edge and a reddish-colored smoke ring just below the bark surface." Another expert tip: "Check for doneness and tenderness; if all the stars line up, your pit master knows what's going on!"

The bark Shoults refers to is the layer of dry rub and seasonings, which should be dark and even a bit crunchy. Meanwhile, the rest of the sliced brisket should be so tender that it falls apart — no knife required. Other signs of well-cooked brisket include juicy meat, not too much fat, and a smoky flavor. Brisket should also be rested before it's sliced and served. No one wants cold meat though, so another sign of a well-established barbecue spot is if the chefs and pit masters store it under a heat lamp. Cold brisket is not a good sign, especially considering the price. And before you go out to find the best brisket, consider the different styles regional BBQ in the U.S. so you know what to expect from the barbecue restaurants in your area.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.