David’s Barbecue, nestled in the small town of Pantego (which is surrounded by the city of Arlington), is a barbecue joint that has some deep Texas barbecue roots. David’s is run by the great grandson of Elias Bryan, who opened his first barbecue restaurant in Oak Cliff in 1910. Elias is also the grandfather of “Sonny” Bryan, the founder of Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. Knowing this history sure did make for some excitement on the trip to David’s.
David’s is located in a shopping center along Park Row drive, between Fielder and Bowen roads in Pantego. There isn’t a very large sign, however you can easily locate it thanks to the large David’s catering van in the parking lot. Barbecue and sides at David’s are served cafeteria style, with a line forming to the right once you’re inside. David’s offers the standard choices of beef, ribs, ham, sausage, and turkey. The selection of sides includes, barbecue beans, cole slaw, potato salad, french fries, fried okra, and fried onion rings. Sandwich plates include 2 sides and are priced around $7. Dinner plates come with 2 sides and a piece of buttery texas toast and run between $8-$10.
After going through the line and sitting down to a plate of sliced brisket, beans, and cole slaw, it was time to eat. All of the hope and excitement that had built up after reading the history quickly fled. The brisket had some pieces with a faint trace of a smoke ring, however it tasted as though it had seen a short amount of time in a smoker and was finished in an oven. There was no rich smoky flavor and tasted more like roast beef than beef brisket. The barbecue sauce offered lacked any spice, however it did help make the meat taste better. The beans were along the same disappointing lines. They lacked everything that would be in barbecue beans. No spice, no sweet smoky flavor, and a definite canned beans taste. The cole slaw did offer a small glimmer of hope as there was a nice small peppery kick that helped balance the creamy tartness of the cabbage.
Overall David’s was a let down for this barbecue lover. If you’re passing by and get the ‘cue craving, it’ll make do in a pinch. However they definitely could do much better.