At Mike Anderson’s BBQ House, The Sides Go Up Front.
Welcome to Cued Up! In this new feature, we’ll bust out the wet naps and get elbows deep in sauce in order to find what makes the region’s best barbecue spots tick. We don’t just want to know what makes their ‘cue so damn delicious, though; we’ve got to cut down to the bone of these pitmasters to learn what makes each one of them so special — and why they’ve dedicated their lives to one of the most fundamentally Texas cuisines.
This week, we chowed down on Mike Anderson’s BBQ House.
Fast Facts on Mike Anderson’s BBQ House.
Where: 5410 Harry Hines Blvd.
When: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Seating: Easy to find a spot.
Line Speed: Fast.
Woods Used: Hickory.
Mike Anderson’s BBQ House, which has been providing Dallas with quality barbecue for 30 years now, is located on Harry Hines Boulevard, not far from Parkland Hospital. It’s is a family-owned, serving-line style barbecue joint that’s established such a strong reputation in the community that it’s not uncommon to see regulars waving as they pop in for lunch.
“We build relationships,” Mike Anderson Jr. says.
The seating is plentiful and the line moves fast, making it a great place for lunch — and not just for the meat, but for the home-style sides, too.
“We just kinda take it up a notch from your usual barbecue joint,” Anderson says.
Anderson’s father, Mike Sr., was caught up in the corporate layoffs of the late ’70s and ended up looking for a new job. He found inspiration for his next career through a friend of his son’s.
“I grew up rodeo-ing and playing ball with a kid by the name of Tom Marshall,” Anderson says.
The two were good friends, and their families became close as well. Tom’s father Charles just so happened to be the founder of Marshall’s Barbeque in Garland. During one of the events the boys were in, Mike Sr. and Charles struck a deal and started taking steps toward opening a barbecue joint together.
After doing some looking, they found a barbecue restaurant that was going out of business by the name of Epps Smokehouse. The building was rundown and needed a lot of work.
“It was like a Restaurant Impossible kind of restaurant,” Anderson says.
Charles was a silent partner and helped with stuff like recipes and smoking.
“Dad just put all that he had left in to it,” Anderson says. “I was a senior in high school at the time, so when I got out, he needed some help.”
In May of 1982, the Anderson family finally re-opened Epps Smokehouse to try to keep the name alive — but, around 1985, they changed the name to Anderson’s BBQ House. In the beginning, running a business was a little different for them.
“It took us a while to figure out how the hell to run a business,” Anderson says. “Neither of us had done it before.”
They were on a very tight budget at first, and a lot of those early years were filled with trial and error. After some time, though, they got the hang of things, and started catering as well.
“I kinda fell for the business as I got to know it a little bit,””Anderson says. “But it took me 10 years before I was committed to it.”
Around the late ‘90s, after some discussion, the younger Anderson took over the business and changed the name to Mike Anderson’s BBQ House.
The Pitmaster and His ‘Cue.
Smoking was a bit of a new game for Anderson when his dad opened the restaurant, but cooking was old hat. When his family would take lake trips, they worked together to make every meal on the grill.
“I’ve always cooked,” Anderson says. “Now I cook like crazy. I do five-star meals and stuff at home.”
Some of the recipes he uses today were handed down from the original Epps Smokehouse and from their pals at Marshall’s Barbeque. Over the years, though, the Andersons have tweaked, changed and added to their menu. These days, Mike Anderson’s BBQ House has all the staples of a classic Texas barbecue joint, along with a few other things that you can’t exactly find anywhere else.
Among those special items are the Prairie Chickens — a smoked quail marinated in a zesty Italian dressing and herbs, stuffed with jalapenos and wrapped in bacon. Then there are the Texas Strawberries, which aren’t strawberries at all, but rather whole jalapenos stuffed with brisket, cream cheese, blue cheese, cilantro and wrapped in bacon. Their monster barbecue baked potato, meanwhile, is loaded with butter, sour cream and cheese, then topped with green onions, bacon and your choice of meat. They also offer a two-meat version dubbed the Spuddzilla, which weighs in at almost three pounds.
Long-time customer Jeff Demuynck is especially a fan of the quail and the Texas strawberries.
“The quail is really good,” he says. “It’s rich, and it will fill you up. And the strawberries are just great.”
Says Anderson: “From a side order stand point, I’m really a lot more unique than the rest.”