For this post on the first legitimate barbecue joint in Grand Forks, we’re giving you two (and a half) reviews for the price of one! Read them both, then run to Dickey’s.
Barbecue is as American as a food can get. The mix of sweet and heat, crunchy charred bits and tender, juicy meat is irresistible for most. And the glorious sides that come with it, like mac and cheese, baked beans and coleslaw are almost as important as the smoky meat. Almost.
So the addition of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit at the intersection of Washington and Demers is, needless to say, welcome. There has not, to my knowledge, been a real deal barbecue joint in town. Yes there are places that serve up ribs or brisket, like Wild Hog or Speedway, but for something as important as good barbecue, a town really needs a place that does only that.
Dickey’s opened a few weeks ago where Mi Mexico used to call home and Hardee’s before that. It’s one of the busiest intersections in the entire state, but getting into the parking lot if you’re not coming from the south isn’t the easiest to maneuver. But it’s worth it.
Owner Josh Becker and team have transformed the Mexican-themed restaurant into a room that transports you to Texas, with blue checkered table coverings, wagon wheels and other decorations.
A friend and I sidled in on Saturday around 5:30 to find the place nearly packed, with about 10 people already in line. The wait was about 15 minutes, but the people ahead of us had a pretty big order. Ordering is done in a typical fast-casual type of way, sort of like Qdoba if you’re familiar. You tell one guy what type of plate you want and another what kinds of sides. You can also order sandwiches like The Lil’ Hoagie, the Big Barbecue Sandwich or The Westerner (choice of 2 meats with cheese). The “plates” include the 1 meat plate, 2 meat plate, rib plate or the quarter plate.
Meats include Texas style chopped beef brisket, Virginia style ham, Southern pulled pork, marinated chicken breast, turkey breast, polish sausage, spicy cheddar sausage and pork ribs.
Sides feature barbecue beans, jalapeno beans, coleslaw, potato salad, mac and cheese, fried okra, fried onion tanglers and others.
I opted for the Texas chopped beef brisket with jalapeno beans and fried onion tanglers. Unfortunately they were out of mac and cheese, but I’ll try that next visit.
Over by the drink station are three pots of piping hot sauce you can ladle onto your plate. I slathered nearly everything in the spicy sauce (not sure if it had a name) and grabbed a big pickle (free!) from a big bin next to the sauces and found a table.
Digging into the brisket, it was cooked perfectly, with a discernible smoke ring. It was tender and tasty, but just a bit too fatty. The sauce was actually fairly spicy, which I liked. The jalapeno beans were even spicier than the sauce, but not too much for me. They, along with everything else, were piping hot. The fried onion tanglers were crispy and obviously onion-y and the portions of the sides were surprisingly big. Every plate gets a roll, which I found to be adequate but nothing amazing. I would split it open, throw some brisket on and top it with onion tanglers and spicy sauce to make a damn good mini sandwich.
I spotted the owner Josh Becker, a Texas native donning a cowboy hat, handing out rib tips (I think) to the hungry customers waiting in line. He was even tinkering with the iced tea and soda machine, showing he’s serious about running a smooth operation, which it looks to be. Becker came over to our table, asked us if everything was good and thanked us for coming in.
Dickey’s caters and even has a drive-thru. While I only had the chance for one visit, I will be a repeat customer, exploring every inch of the menu. Next up for me are the pork ribs and (hopefully) the mac and cheese. But I’m sure everything is great. The joint is definitely a great new place to check out in Grand Forks.
Now for the next take on Dickey’s, from the same guy who brought you the controversial Pizza Ranch review:
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is Worth a Try
I really like going to grand openings of restaurants. Most “foodies” will tell you that’s the worst time to go because the restaurant is working out the kinks and is much better to try after the establishment has been opened for at least 30 days. I tend to disagree. Simply because this is where customer service will need to shine to make sure the business gets people to come back and eat there. I also feel that if they’re confident in their product and are willing to open, then there should be no need for a 30 day tinkering period.
Dickey’s, I would say, seems to have this right. I arrived at 11:30 on opening day and found quite a line coming out the front door (the only downside to grand openings, long lines). The wait wasn’t too bad as we stood in line for about a half hour until we ordered. Their friendly staff eased the waiting time by passing out menus for both in-restaurant eating and catering, as well as handing out cards for free barbecue sandwiches.
Dickey’s has a variety of choices for the meats it offers. Beef brisket, pulled pork, ham, turkey breast, polish sausage, spicy cheddar sausage, pork ribs, and chicken breast can be served up with as many sides as anyone could ask for.
I ordered the beef brisket and a pulled pork sandwich with a side of creamy coleslaw (because it ain’t a barbecue unless it’s got slaw!) and a side of the waffle iron fries. As you walk through the line to order sides, I was also asked about what I would like on the sandwich which generally has pickles and onions on it. I opted for the onion only and proceeded to the register.
After I paid and headed to the drink station, Dickey’s provided its barbecue sauces to put in a cup or to be drizzled over the meats. Dickey’s original, spicy, and sweet barbecue sauces sit in heated pots to keep the barbecue sauce flowing. I tried Dickey’s original on all the meats I had on my plate.
I sat down and was surprised at how much work Dickey’s did to the interior. They did a great job of making it look like a traditional barbecue pit with wagon wheels hanging from the ceiling with lamps attached, checkerboard table cloths, and paper towels for napkins. I couldn’t help but still feel like it was a fast food place. I understand it used to be a Hardee’s, but after walking through the line and with a drive-thru, it was a barbecue pit that was fast to serve. I don’t mind this because if you have a short lunch break in the middle of the day and are hankering for some barbecue, Dickey’s fills this need.
I took my first bites into the pulled pork sandwich and I have to admit it was only fair. The meat was moist and juicy, which I completely appreciated, but it seemed to lack a smoky flavor that I had come to expect. The sauce did little to enhance the flavor of the pork.
My second bites went into the beef brisket and I was impressed. The beef brisket had the smoky flavor and Dickey’s original barbecue sauce complemented it extremely well. A bit of advice when you do get the brisket, make sure you get about a full cup of the barbecue sauce to toss on the brisket.
The sides I was able to dig into and found them to be tasty. The creamy coleslaw had a rich flavor and was very tangy. The waffle iron fries had a very simple seasoning to them, which according to the establishment’s manager was call “FooFoo”. Yes, “FooFoo” which is the seasoning mix that is thrown onto the waffle iron fries and fried okra that gives those sides a nice seasoned taste to them.
Overall the Dickey’s experience is positive. For a chain barbecue pit, it exceeds expectations. The friendly staff acknowledging and complementing the selections I had made to the tangy flavors of the barbecue sauces, this would be a “must eat” when you’re craving that Texas style barbecue.
Just because we can, here’s a mini review from Grand Forks Foodie:
Last week we ventured out to Dickey’s BBQ. Service was amazing. They were very attentive and helpful. I got the basic BBQ sandwich (redeeming my coupon from the Target parking lot). It was good but from someone that loves her own homemade pulled pork, I was glad they had a condiment side to add a little more sauce.
The side dishes were all great. The kids loved the mac and cheese (very reminiscent to grade school cafeteria mac and cheese) and they also loved the chicken nuggets.
This place seems to be consistently busy. So congratulations to the new business here in town!
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit / 623 South Washington Street / 701.203.4464