Today you’ll hear from both Rachel and myself as we review Bodacious BBQ in Arlington, TX.
The setting of this little restaurant in a rather industrial part of Arlington seems at first…strange. Like an unexpected oasis. The smell of smoke is very faint as you exit your vehicle, but really grabs you as you walk into the door. Overall, a pretty decent place to grab a plate of BBQ and one that we would visit again.
I must be honest. I was a little concerned about going to get BBQ at a place called “Bodacious.” I kept thinking of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or some wrestler from the 80’s. I didn’t know what to expect. I ended up “Google”-ing Bodacious BBQ thinking, “How many Bodacious BBQ’s can there be?” WOW! Was I wrong! It is apparently a very popular name for a BBQ establishment. In usual BBQ style, there are many claiming they are the original and not to be copied. I guess we would have to see if Bodacious was going to be “rad” or “gnarly” or just sad. In spite of the name, I was pleasantly surprised.
Atmosphere: 3 Rachel: This must be a popular place for lunch, because it was very quiet for dinner. Upon entering the building you turn directly to the left and head to the counter to order your food from a cafeteria style setup–trays and everything! From wagon wheel chandeliers to old license plates and antiques hanging from the walls, the decor feels randomly put together. Like most BBQ restaurants, they aren’t as concerned about the environment as they are the food.
Matt: Side comment: The atmosphere explained above does seem to be a “normal” part of BBQ establishments that are not in a rural area. These city BBQ joints all seem to have random “antiques” on the wood walls. I guess they are trying to make up for the fact you don’t pass by a pit, or the floor isn’t dirt. Somehow, BBQ equates not only to delicious meat, but random objects thrown on the walls that were going to otherwise be thrown out but someone said, “Hey that would look good in a BBQ restaurant!”The flipside is, because this is the “norm,” if you go to a place that is elegant and claims it is BBQ, run away…fast! It is a deceitful trick all to charge you more because it is “upscale.” Good BBQ joint equals pit. If no pit, then there needs to be old junk on the wall. If no pit or junk, just say no. If not, you might as well throw your wallet into the nearest pond.
Brisket: 3 Rachel: I’m a huge fan of brisket. I almost always accidentally end up ordering chopped, but because I was being guided by peers, I managed to get sliced. The brisket didn’t have a rub, it seemed like the intent was to let the flavor of the smoky meat shine through. Unfortunately, the pieces I had were a little dry and lean, so not as much flavor; however the meat did pair really well with the sauce.
Matt: The point of this brisket was to showoff the meat and the smoking technique. It lacked flavor for me on its own. It didn’t really seem to be seasoned. It was very lean which did at times seem to make it dry. Yet, it was still tender as it would almost fall apart when trying to pick it up from the plate. The brisket paired very well with the sauce which brought it all together for a very good bite. Also, one thing to look for in brisket is the smoke ring and bark. There was not much of a bark, if any, and the same for the smoke ring, it was barely there. Good brisket will have a very nice smoke ring about .25 to .5 inch smoke ring.
Sausage: 3 Rachel: My go-to choice is usually brisket first and sausage second for judging BBQ restaurants, so I like to think that I know a thing or two. Well, unfortunately, the sausage here wasn’t especially noteworthy except to say it was spicy which I was not anticipating. The texture wasn’t very coarse ground, but it did seem hand-made.
Matt: The sausage left me unsatisfied. It had some nice spice to it and went very well with the sauce. I like a little “kick” in my sausage, so I was happy with the spicy notes. The texture was very “smooth” and not coarse. It reminded me of a mass produced sausage link you could buy in the store. While there is not anything wrong with it, as that has its time and place, I just don’t expect it at a BBQ joint, let alone a Texas BBQ joint.
Ribs: 3 Matt: I love ribs. These pork ribs were decent (Note: Only pork ribs are offered. Bodacious does not serve beef ribs). They were not fall off the bone but still very tender. One thing that I really enjoyed about them was the “juiciness” of them. They were moist and had a decent bark to them. The rub was good, although I found it had a touch of sweetness to it, like they included brown sugar. Not complaining, just an interesting flavor note.They were good, but not memorable. The ribs also paired very well with the sauce.
Sauce: 4 Rachel: The sauce at Bodacious was honestly pretty good. It is served warm by the bowl full, so we gathered that it a pretty important condiment to the success of the establishment. The wonderful thing about the sauce–it paired SO well with everything we tasted. That is a complete win!
Matt: The sauce was very good. It seemed like Bodacious smoked and made their meats just for the purpose of showing off the sauce. The spices in the sauce made the meats come alive and brought out new flavors that were not previously there. It did seem like it was heavy on the vinegar, yet there are these notes of sweet that contrasted the vinegar and spices. The color was a deep red which as was previously noted in our rubric, is very important!
Potato Salad & Beans
Sides: 5 Rachel: The standard and favorite sides at Bodacious are beans and potato salad. The beans were by far my favorite part. At first, it looked like we were only getting pinto beans in a slightly watery sauce. Lo and behold, I was so surprised to find the flavor of the beans was incredible–they were smoky, salty, slightly vinegary, and had a kick to them. If you enjoy really sweet beans or a lot of the “sauce” that they are soaked in, these are not the beans for you. The potato salad was equally as good–one of our other authors said that it tasted “like momma’s recipe”! The potato salad is definitely mayonnaise based, with very little or no mustard, so keep that in mind. Otherwise, there are hints of salt, celery seed, black pepper, and a slight touch of vinegar. Delicious!
Matt: I have my own thought on those beans in the sauce (aka “Ranch Style beans”) but I will save that for a different time. But, back to Bodacious. Honestly, I am not a fan of beans. For some reason, people love beans and BBQ. Personally, that is a recipe for disaster and I might as well kiss my wife and kid bye for a while since I will be in the bathroom (TMI, I know). Beans are not my go to side, but for many they are. These were actually very good and tasty! They have a very nice spice to them. It is almost immediate and it is not understated at all. It is the “Texas style” of an in your face kick. It is like saying, “Hey, I know I am a bean, but who cares because I am about to judo chop you in the palette with this taste of pepper! So back off!” The spice mixture that Bodacious used is fantastic and it can even be bought if you would like make your own Bodacious beans. As for the potato salad, this is one of my go-to’s. I am a potato salad fiend. I ask Rachel to make it as much as possible but I think she is wise to my shenanigans. Bodacious’ potato salad is not about the mustard base. (Another great debate about should potato salad have a mustard base or not. Even the authors of “From Texas to Beyond” do not agree). The potatoes were well cooked and well seasoned. It was mainly mayo, salt, pepper, celery seed, and pimentos. I thought it was good. It reminded some of home or like moms. Even though it wasn’t mustard base, it was good. I tend to prefer the one with mustard and really enjoy the one mentioned in the previous post.
Service: 5 Rachel: The two ladies working at Bodacious were exceptionally friendly and helpful. Your only real interaction with them is upon ordering and walking down the “line”. We told them we were first-timers and asked what the top choices were–they were informed, and so helpful as we navigated the restaurant. Huge bonus that one of the authors needed to charge his cell phone and they gladly offered to do that for us while we enjoyed our meal! That is service!
Brisket at Bodacious BBQ
Other things to note: Bodacious is BYOB for those interested. They do meet the requirement of offering cheap white bread, but they also offer a toasted buns instead which is great. They do offer desserts in the form of the popular banana pudding and pecan pie. The price is average for BBQ, although they could be considered on the higher side of the average.
Bodacious doesn’t look like much on the outside which is fine with me, I love dives. The service and sides were phenomenal. The meat was just okay and on its own, lacked flavor. The sauce complemented the meat so well and brought good flavor notes. The atmosphere was fine with its old signs and knick-knacks. From Texas to Beyond would go back to enjoy some good BBQ.
For a complete guide to the perfect Texas Barbeque experience, refer to From Texas to Beyond’s Ideal Barbeque Pit.