A few weeks ago I was telling a coworker how challenging things were at work and how everyday just seems to be a beating. He suggested that if I have something to look forward to, then maybe things get better. I am always up for trying to find some hope. After some discussion on where we would go for lunch, we came to the conclusion to try Hard 8 BBQ in nearby Coppell. I had been to the Stephenville location probably 6 years earlier, and did not have any bad memories of it, so I was up for trying it out. Plus, what better way to give you something to look forward to and have a sliver of hope than the beautiful BBQ. Rachel would probably tell you that I could eat BBQ everyday which is probably correct.
Atmosphere/Logistics: We took the short drive from work and we both found ourselves looking forward to some good BBQ. As we pulled in, the parking lot was full but we found a spot. After parking, we had no idea which way to go. Somehow we parked on the backside but didn’t know this at the time. We went all around the building looking for the entrance and finally found it. However, once entering we were greeted with two lines. There was no signage anywhere. One line moved faster than the other, but we could not figure out if one was for to go or what was happening. The line was also moving slow so this just added to our angst. We stayed where we were and the line eventually started moving. The best thing about Hard 8 is how the line takes you right in front of the pits so you can see all that the restaurant has to offer. The only bad thing about this is that it gets really hard to narrow down the selection to just a few items and not just blurting out “give me everything”. After getting the meat, you go through a door and can pick out your sides. But they are all “a la carte” and can add up quickly. But the first time we go through this, it was a little confusing as to how it worked or if something came with an order. But now we know.
The atmosphere was fantastic and everything that you would want in a BBQ joint. The smoke from the pits filled the air while you waited in line. The interior was everything you could probably imagine in a BBQ joint. There was wood everywhere and different beer signs all over the place. Even with the lunchtime crowd, there was still plenty of space.
Meat: 4/5. Maybe it was because I order a sandwich, but I got chopped brisket and was not given the option for sliced. The brisket was still amazing though. It was moist and juicy, not too much fat. It had a nice bark and smoke ring to it even though it was tough to see since it was all chopped up. I also ordered some regular sausage that was very good. The texture was fantastic and the various spices that filled the sausage were fantastic. In my opinion the sausage wasn’t too spicy and shouldn’t be considered too hot for anyone that doesn’t like spicy items. The ribs were good and decent but were not fall of the bone. They had a decent taste and texture but were slightly dry and should have been tenderer.
Sauce: 4/5. The sauce was wonderful and went with the meat so well, especially the brisket. There are two sauce options, the regular sauce is around the other main sides and is easily distinguished and seen. The spicy or hot sauce is near the pickles and desserts and is a little hidden (my coworker completely missed this). Both had a wonderful thick texture that if you were to stick a fork into the sauce, some sauce would still be on the fork. Some sauces are way too thin that they won’t even be on a fork. The regular sauce had this great consistency and was spiced so well. On its own, it was very good, but when put on the brisket, the flavors of the sauce and the brisket came alive. It had this wonderful dark red color to it and was served a touch warm that definitely helped out. The spicier sauce was not too hot, but it did have some kick to it that it did detract a little from the meat. However, if you like things spicy, the hot sauce is a great way to go.
Sides: 2/5. The sides were a bit of a disappointment to me. The potato salad was just average and really not memorable. Slight bit of mayo taste but had lots of dill that is a dill lover’s dream, but didn’t work for me. The mac and cheese was ok, but more of a letdown.
Overall: 4/5. Hard 8 is a wonderful BBQ join in North Dallas and gives the other Dallas powerhouse BBQ place a run for their money. In spite of the poor signage, the brisket and sauce make up for those sins. The atmosphere is amazing and you truly will leave smelling like smoke (so be careful what you are doing next and be ok with smelling like smoke). While there are some things that need improvement, like the sides, Hard 8 is a place to go back to and enjoy. The prices are a little high but on average with other BBQ places.