One Saturday in July, I found myself craving BBQ (which I love), and fighting Arlington traffic (which I loathe), and I remembered one of our readers suggesting Bodacious Bar-B-Q awhile back -- primarily because I was driving past it at the time. I made a U-turn in the middle of Division Street and found a parking space.
Bodacious Bar-B-Q sits on Division, practically in the shadow of Cowboys Stadium. It has been around since 1960, when it opened in Duncanville (the Arlington location opened in 1991; there's now one in Burleson, too). It's a proper BBQ joint, in its own building, with little or no outside decoration.
Inside, things get even better, with '60s-style wagon-wheel room dividers (and chandeliers), and a serving line to get your food. I ordered the three-meat combo, my standard order of pork ribs, brisket and sausage ($11.99). For sides, I chose potato salad and a slice of pecan pie ($2.59). The staff was friendly, but not in a plastic, fast-food sort of way.
Atmosphere gets a 9 out of 10 -- this is no strip-mall chain store. We were directed to the back room with a promise of better air conditioning, and if I were going to spec out the perfect 'cue dining experience, this would be it. We had the old, yellowed acoustic drop ceiling; black marks around the A/C vents indicating that the place has been on fire at some point (a great sign -- I just don't trust a BBQ joint that hasn't been on fire); a massive antique steel clock that looked like it was salvaged from an old Little League field; a '60s modern Wurlitzer jukebox (unplugged); and fantastic faux-wagon-wheel light fixtures. Yes!
And when I walked in, Stevie Wonder's Superstition was playing on the radio. It's nice to get some classic pop with my ribs.
Speaking of the ribs, Bodacious nailed both flavor and texture on these pigsickles. We're talking St. Louis-cut pork ribs (dry rub, not drenched in flavor-killing sauce). The rub didn't overpower, and the ribs weren't overcooked to the point of falling apart. They weren't the best I've had, but they were in the top 10.
On the other hand, let's talk about the brisket. There was a good smoke ring (the place uses mesquite), but the meat was overcooked a bit, just to the point of breaking up in strands. Brisket should be tender (the whole point of slow smoking), but it shouldn't break down. Other than texture, the brisket did have a good flavor, and wasn't dry in the least.
As for the rest, the sausage was decent. I'd say the same for the potato salad, and can you really make a bad pecan pie?
The BBQ sauce was thick and somewhat sweet -- tasty, but I didn't feel the need to use much of it. As any BBQ hound knows, good meat doesn't require much sauce.
So if you want to show an out-of-town visitor a quintessential Texas BBQ experience, you can't go wrong with this one. (Just don't let the guests hear you use a word like quintessential. It'll ruin the effect.) But get there early: When the folks at Bodacious are out of meat, they shut the place down. I'm glad to have found this spot, but I'm still looking for the elusive Holy Grail of 'cue. Any suggestions are welcome.