Barbecue and Fourth of July weekend combine for a match made in culinary heaven.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is a family-owned restaurant chain based in Dallas. Founded in 1941, it is the largest barbecue franchise in the United States according to its website.

Even so, I’d never heard of it until I happened upon an announcement that a new location had opened recently in the Tiger Point area just east of Gulf Breeze. There also are stores in Pensacola and Panama City.

 

THE FOOD

Dickey’s is all about the meat, pit-smoked daily on-site.

Choose your pleasure from among pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken breast, pork ribs, Polish kielbasa sausage, jalapeno cheddar kielbasa and turkey.

You can enjoy it as a plate in one-, two- or three-meat size, which includes two sides and a roll. The “Texas-sized” Westerner plate and a classic sandwich plate also include two sides.

There are sliders, classic sandwiches and a Westerner sandwich. You may add toppers to the sandwiches, such as cheese, jalapenos and cabbage slaw, for an additional charge.

Dickey’s also has stacks and tacos. The tacos are self-explanatory, but I asked a server to describe the stacks.

There’s the Texas Fritos Pie Stack, which is meat piled onto a bed of Fritos corn chips, sort of like nachos, but not nachos, and there’s the Brisket Mac Stack, which is meat piled onto a bed of macaroni and cheese.

The server recommended the Mac Stack with pulled pork instead of brisket. Good call.

We shared and ate it like an appetizer, and it was mouth-wateringly good. The macaroni was cooked to cheesy perfection, and the moist, lean pulled pork on top made it a complete meal. I suspect they might let you have whichever meat you want on it even though the menu specifies brisket, probably the same with the Fritos Stack.

My guest also had a two-meat platter with pulled pork and chicken, both of which were delicious. He chose waffle fries and potato salad as his sides.

Neither of us is a big fan of waffle fries, but Dickey’s waffle fries might have converted us. They were excellent and definitely earn their notation on the menu as a “local favorite.”

The potato salad was a solid version of a classic.

Dickey’s offers daily deals for $9.99. I decided to try as my entrée Saturday’s deal, which was a brisket sandwich with two sides and a drink. I chose green beans and something Dickey’s calls baked potato casserole as my sides.

The sandwich was moist and flavorful with and without the sauce available at self-serve counters. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The green beans had an unexpected, pleasant kick to them.

The baked potato casserole tasted fine, but it was not what I was expecting. It more like mashed potatoes than a casserole.

Other sides available include barbecue beans, cabbage slaw (the two items I want to try next time), Caesar salad, mac & cheese, creamed spinach, jalapeno beans, fried okra and assorted chips. I can’t imagine anyone going with chips when so many other more tantalizing options are available.

Desserts at Dickey’s are prepackaged to keep things moving along. They are pecan pie, chocolate chunk cookie and a blondie/brownie.

Dickey’s also offers something I’ve never seen before: Soft serve vanilla ice cream is available at the drink counter as a bonus for everyone. No additional charge. They even provide cones.

Various condiments are available at self-serve counters as well including dill pickle slices, onions and, of course, barbecue sauces.

Special menu items for kids are a meat or slider plate and chicken nuggets. In addition, kids eat free every Sunday with purchase of an adult meal.

Four family packs are available, and Dickey's offers a catering menu that ranges from box lunches to full service.

Another small disappointment was the store seemed to be out of or running low on its trademark Big Yellow Cup. One was supposed to come with my Deal of the Day, and we thought we ordered one a la carte to go with my guest's meal.

However, my cup was small, and we were charged separately for only a child's drink. In fact, we saw only two diner with large cups, an older couple seating beside us, everyone else had small cups, too. Because we could refill them at our leisure, it didn't matter all that much.

 

THE ATMOSPHERE

Dickey’s décor is a unique blend of farmhouse charm and sleek industrial. Lots of eye-catching items cover the walls while metal chairs seat diners at wood-colored tables spaced well on hard floors.

Only a few other diners were eating there when we arrived right before noon, but it quickly got busy as we enjoyed our meal. It’s definitely a place for all ages.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s slammed during weekday lunches.

 

THE SERVICE

Diners line up to order at a counter, starting with the main dish. Then you move down to give another server your sides, and your food is mostly ready when you get to the cashier. The waffle fries were the only thing that had to be brought to our table a couple of minutes later.

Everyone was friendly and ready to explain the process and the products to us.

 

A FINAL TASTE

This new location is at the extreme western edge of what technically is our geographical coverage area, but I’m glad we found Dickey’s. It was tasty, economical — especially with the Deal of the Day — and fun.